Food & Beverage

Burger King's newest menu item: Grilled Dogs

Burger King to sell hot dogs

Forget the burger wars, Burger King betting big on the hot dog wars.

The fast-food chain just revealed it will be tapping into a new category come Feb. 23: Grilled Dogs.

Burger King will offer two types of hot dogs: Classic and Chili Cheese. The Classic is a flame-grilled hot dog topped with ketchup, mustard, chopped onions and relish. The Chili Cheese Dog comes topped with warm chili and shredded cheddar cheese. All the dogs are 100 percent beef and served on baked buns.

Of course, there is room for customization, said Alex Macedo, president of Burger King North America. Customers can add or cut toppings to stick with Burger King's motto: "Have it your way."

"We wanted it to be the Whopper of hot dogs," Macedo told CNBC. "The Whopper is America's favorite burger, and we want this to be America's favorite hot dog."

The new — and permanent — menu item arrives to Burger King's 7,150 restaurants after more than 18 months of testing. The company brought the item to five markets last year — Salt Lake City, Memphis, Baltimore, Detroit and Kansas City — but made sure to steer clear of New York City and Chicago.

"We wanted to keep it under the radar ... we wanted to catch people by surprise," Macedo said.

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Burger King is trying to take a bite out of an enormous business. Americans eat more than 20 billion hot dogs every year, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

Sonic, which has more than 3,500 restaurants, is Burger King's most obvious competitor in the national sector. Still, this particular industry appears to be driven predominantly by local markets.

"It's more regional, very localized, because every region seems to have a favorite kind of hot dog," said Brian Todd, head of economic data for the Food Institute.

New Yorkers tend to enjoy hot dogs with steamed onions and a pale, deli-style mustard, while Chicago natives lean toward hot dogs loaded with mustard, relish, raw onion, pickles, peppers, tomatoes and celery salt.

In Atlanta, hot dogs are topped with coleslaw, and Kansas City dogs feature melted Swiss cheese and sauerkraut.

For the big menu rollout, the company made in-house instructional videos for employees featuring rapper Snoop Dogg and singer Charo. Burger King released the videos on its YouTube page on Wednesday.

"This is probably the most obvious product launch ever," Macedo said. "It was right in front of us. The difficulty is trying to keep it simple and aligned with the essence of the brand."

Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International, partnered with Kraft's Oscar Mayer to make the hot dogs. 3G Capital controls both companies.

The Classic Grilled Dog is slated to retail for $1.99 for a single hot dog and $4.49 as part of a combo meal. The Chili Cheese Dog will cost $2.29, or $4.79 as part of a combo meal.