NEW YORK – Burger King wants people to feel less guilty about gobbling up its french fries.
The world’s No. 2 hamburger chain is launching a new crinkle-cut french fry on Tuesday that it says has about 20 percent fewer calories than its regular fries.
The chain says a small order of the new “Satisfries” clocks in at 270 calories because of a new batter that doesn’t absorb as much oil. By comparison, a small order of its regular fries, sans crinkles, has 340 calories.
The concept of taking an indulgent food and removing some of the guilt isn’t new, of course. Supermarkets are filled with baked potato chips, 100-calorie packs of popular treats. Such creations play on people’s inability to give up their food vices, even as they struggle to eat better. The idea is to create something that skimps on calories, but not on taste.
Burger King executives say people won’t be able to tell that Satisfries are lower in calories. It says they use the same ingredients as its regular fries — potatoes, oil and batter. To keep kitchen operations simple, they’re even made in the same fryers and cooked for the same amount of time as regular fries.
The difference is that the proportions of the batter’s ingredients are adjusted so that it blocks out more oil, Burger King says. The crinkle-cut shape is in part so workers will be able to easily distinguish them from the regular fries when they’re deep frying them together.
Alex Macedo, head of North American operations at Burger King, said the chain worked with one of its potato suppliers, McCain Foods, to develop the lower-calorie fries. He said McCain can’t sell the fries to other fast-food clients and that different suppliers might have a tough time imitating them.
Burger King is betting Satisfries will be so popular that people will be willing to fork over more money for them. The suggested price for a small order of Satisfries is $1.89, compared with $1.59 for regular fries. That’s a 19 percent markup.
Satisfries is the latest gambit by Burger King to revive its image after a series of ownership changes.
3G Capital, the Brazilian private investment firm that bought the chain and took it private in 2010, unveiled a revamped menu last spring right before announcing a deal to take the chain public again.
Burger King’s stock price is up 37 percent over the past year and trading close to $20 per share.