Burger King this week will announce new summer menu LTOs that include the returns of the Carolina BBQ Whopper/Chicken and Memphis Pulled Pork sandwiches. But there will be one audacious difference: The menu includes a boneless BK Rib Sandwich that can be seen as an answer to rival McDonald's popular McRib.
Sweet Potato Fries (below) also return from last year's first "Summer Menu," and chain sources say Burger King will introduce a BBQ Salad with chicken that is a new product. The Texas BBQ Whopper/Chicken sandwiches from last summer's menu were not asked back this year. A Burger King spokesperson would not comment on the summer LTO lineup.
McRib first appeared on the McDonald's menu as a limited-time offer in 1981. It was offered in the U.S. back in December. Since its creation, it has reappeared irregularly while building a very loyal fan base (see @McRibWatch on Twitter) that clamors for it to be offered permanently. Its popularity is global. McDonald's stores in Austria last year introduced a deep-fried-patty version called McRibster. And Australian consumers cheered when the Atlanta Pork McRib arrived there last summer as part of a special Summer Olympics menu.
During those 32 years, no other QSR has developed a serious competitor for McRib. In May 2010, Burger King rolled out Fire-Grilled Ribs, bone-in ribs with barbecue sauce. Despite a steep price--an 8-piece meal was $9 or more in some markets--the product sold well, according to the chain. It has not been repeated, however. But Burger King, with its open-flame grills, is well positioned to create a boneless BBQ rib product that could give McRib some competition. Details of Burger King's summer menu will be released later this week.