Meat Industry INSIGHTS Newsletter

971259 McDonald's Testing "Big Xtra" Hamburger

December 27, 1997

Chicago - McDonald's Corp. said it is launching an over-sized hamburger, the McDonald's Big Xtra sandwich, in certain markets, but does not have a plan yet to introduce it nationally.

McDonald's said Friday it introduced the Big Xtra -- a 4.5-ounce beef patty on a large sesame seed bun -- Friday in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Kent and New Castle Counties in Delaware. The burger is served with lettuce, tomato and a blend of ketchup and mayonnaise.

McDonald's began testing the burger in September in Burlington, Vt., and is also rolling the sandwich out in Tucson, Ariz., Des Moines, Iowa; and Rochester, Watertown, and Plattsburg, N.Y.

A wider or national roll-out of the Big Xtra would depend upon how well the burger sells in test markets, said Steve Reiff, Northeast Division marketing manager for McDonald's.

The Big Xtra competes in the "lettuce-and-tomato" burger category, which is dominated by rival Burger King's Whopper sandwich. McDonald's said the Big Xtra has 20 percent more beef than the Whopper.

McDonald's other entrant in the lettuce-and-tomato hamburger category is the Arch Deluxe, which it launched in May 1996. Many analysts have criticized the Arch Deluxe for not helping to bolster McDonald's U.S. business in the face of intensified competition.

Although some analysts have said they expect the Arch Deluxe to be phased out, Reiff said it is not being replaced by the Big Xtra in the test markets.

"It's in addition to the Arch Deluxe," said Reiff.

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