Bakery cafes should take note of a hot new trend in foodservice. Hot dogs are battling burgers for their spot on quick service restaurant (QSR) menus. While burgers have long been the fast-food frontrunner, consumers are starting to take notice of the underdog, according to Sonic Corp.
“Hot dogs are still, to some extent, a new, playful category,” said Claudia San Pedro, executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Sonic. “We see our consumers use it both as a meal and as a snack, depending on the daypart and depending on the car and the ticket. It has been a great product category for us. It continues to be one that we think has room for growth.”
Last summer, the chain debuted the Croissant Dog, featuring Sonic’s signature 100% beef hot dogs served in croissant rolls. In 2013, Sonic introduced Pretzel Dogs – hot dogs nestled in pretzel buns. San Pedro said they continue to be popular sellers in the newer markets where they still are offered.
The drive-in chain offers a slew of hot dog varieties, ranging from foot-long chili cheese dogs to premium beef hot dogs in four different styles.
Burger King recently got in on the hot dog game with the launch of its Grilled Dogs. The flame-grilled hot dogs, introduced in February, consist of 100% beef and come in classic and chili cheese varieties. So far, the burger giant is winning with the wieners. Since the chain introduced the dogs in February, the launch has been the most successful product launch Burger King has ever had from a media and public relations standpoint, said Andrea John, director of investor relations at Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International, Inc.
Burger King now holds the crown for the biggest restaurant chain serving hot dogs in the United States, but when it comes to quality and variety, Sonic said it sees no threat of being dethroned in the hot dog category.