A menu hack is when someone orders items that are on the menu to create something that isn’t. You might put fries on your burger or order tacos, a bunch of sides, and a tortilla to make your own megaburrito at Chipotle (CMG) .
Most of these hacks are unofficial, but some chains have embraced them. McDonald’s promoted some popular ones, though customers still had to build the combined items themselves.
Fast-food chains sometimes like menu hacks because they let customers create the innovations. Two benefits arise: The companies don’t have to invest to add items to their formal menus, and the customers who create the hacks do the advertising over social media.
At the corporate level Restaurant Brands International’s (QSR) Burger King has been an innovation leader, constantly reinventing its signature Whopper in interesting ways. The chain has also been willing to try side dishes beyond french fries, with onion rings and mozzarella sticks appearing on its menu.
Adding an onion ring as a burger topping hardly counts as innovation or a menu hack because it’s a common idea. Putting mozzarella sticks on top of a burger, however, is something a little newer.
Burger King has never officially embraced the Mozzarella Stick Double Cheeseburger, but fans have been making it on their own since the chain added the cheesy side. It seems like an obvious official menu item or limited time offer for the chain, but it has never done it.
Wendy’s (WEN) , however, might have some executives who are familiar with this Burger King menu hack.
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Wendy’s Goes Beyond the Baconator
Wendy’s has not innovated at the level Burger King has, but it has steadily added new items to its menu. The biggest of those innovations is the Baconator, a cheeseburger with a lot of bacon on it, and the company has used it as a platform. That has led to the Breakfast Baconator and Baconator Fries.
Now, the chain’s New Zealand locations have taken the Baconator idea — perhaps with some inspiration from Burger King — and turned it into a “limited-time line of Baconator burgers, including the Cheesenator, which is a Baconator with a crispy-fried mozzarella patty,” Brand Eating reports.
“In addition to the crispy-fried mozzarella patty, Wendy’s Cheesenator also includes two beef patties, creamy cheese sauce, and bacon on a toasted Kaiser bun,” the website reported. “A previous version from back in 2018 came with two slices of cheese instead of the mozzarella patty. The Cheesenator joins the Chickenator and Baconator Mushroom Melt to make up the limited-time Baconator Range.”
The Chickenator, as you might imagine, trades out the burgers for fried chicken patties and substitutes the cheese sauce for two slices of natural, as opposed to processed, cheese. It also comes with both mayonnaise and barbecue sauce.
The Baconator Mushroom Melt comes with two beef patties, two slices of cheese, creamy cheese sauce, mushrooms, and bacon on a toasted Kaiser bun.
Wendy’s Has Been Quiet in the U.S.
Since it launched its summer menu, featuring the returning Summer Strawberry Salad and the Strawberry Frosty, the chain has been quiet in the U.S. That suggests that Wendy’s soon will make a menu change, but its recent focus has been on value.
In late August the chain brought back its $5 Biggie Bag, a popular offer that includes fries, four-piece chicken nuggets, a drink and the choice of sandwich among the Crispy Chicken BLT, Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, and the Double Stack, a two-burger patty sandwich.
Value has become a key focus in the fast-food space, with Burger King offering similar deals but at higher price points. McDonald’s (MCD) has generally not offered this sort of paclage deal