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McDonald's Plays "Catsup" With Giant Angus Burger

McDonald's is "following the herd" and field-testing a massive new Angus Third Pounder sandwich in Southern California, CNBC's Jane Wells reported -- burger in hand.

Rivals Burger King and CKE Restaurants have already had such offerings for years. (CKE's Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains gained further notoriety -- and free secondary marketing buzz -- with those racy Paris Hilton carwash ads.)

Why is the world's No. 1 eatery chain following a trend, rather than setting it?

WD Partners executive vice president Dennis Lombardi commented, McDonald's "has had one of the most amazing comebacks" in recent years. Part of that turnaround has hinged on McDonald's focus on healthier offerings such as salads.

One imagines that Mickey D's, once accused of corrupting Americans' dietary habits, would indeed be cautious about launching a delicious new guilty pleasure.

Still, McDonald's competitors have made strong profits, if slim margins, from their own versions of the giant "steak" burgers, Wells said. And as Tony Brenner of Roth Capital Partners said, "If egg rolls became wildy popular, McDonald's would start making them" -- just as it aped Starbucks' premium coffees, to great acclaim.

But McD's competitors aren't scared: John Schaufelberger, Burger King's VP of product marketing, said, "we've been in the Angus steakburger business for three years -- and we're consistently ranked No. 1." And CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, who wowed the Western U.S. with the Monster Thickburger, said, "We're not concerned about it. We're pretty sure" that McDonald's new offering is merely "a McAngus product."

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