Friday, April 13, 2007

Canadian health food?

McDonald’s Snack Wrap may be the mightiest small fry since Doug Flutie. And, like the legendary pint-sized quarterback, it’s proving every bit as versatile and tenacious. Executives cited it Friday morning in explaining how a 50-year-old chain managed to generate a 6.3 percent rise in comp-store sales for March. And the little sales engine that could shows no signs of faltering. Several alternative versions are in test, and new “occasions” for its purchase, to use the industry’s jargon, continue to be blazed by customers.

After all, this was a product that started as a deluxe extension of the chain’s line-up of everyday bargains. Priced at $1.29, or an inch upscale from McD’s Dollar array, it was intended to be a short step-up to something more luxurious—the fast-food equivalent of a Neon with power seats.

It worked on that basis, and also succeeded in generating more stop-bys between lunch and dinner, as it lived up to its name as a snack choice. But, to the apparent surprise of McDonald’s executives, it also drove up mealtime checks. As they’ve noted since the introduction, patrons have been popping for the Wrap as a complement to their Big Macs and Quarter Pounders at lunch or dinner. It’s become a savory dessert of sorts.

Now, with its rollout in Canada, the Snack Wrap is being positioned as yet another sort of sales driver. In introducing the product north of the border, local press reports note, McDonald’s executives are emphasizing the wrapped chicken finger’s healthfulness. One article quotes McDonald’s menu master Don Coudreat as touting the Wrap as a less-fattening alternative to the Big Mac, with a mere 320 calories versus the burger’s 540.

Although the chicken in the Wrap is fried, its fat content is also about half that of the burger, or 15 grams versus 29 grams.

The Wrap may be making the biggest bang we’ve seen from a small item since the invention of the cherry bomb.

By the way, Flutie played pro football for awhile in Canada, and was profoundly successful.

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