Forget bacon. The fast-food ingredient of the moment is something far less costly and upscale: the potato.
At least three major quick-service restaurant chains have added dishes in recent weeks that liberally incorporate potatoes, usually in hash brown form, into the entree-type items. Unsurprisingly, given the typical cost of spuds, the items are usually priced at the lower end of the chains’ price ranges. Taco Bell is charging $1.49 for its entry, while Jack in the Box added its three new items to bring transactions below $5 a head.
Here’s a look at how potatoes are getting a star turn on QSR’s marketing calendars.
Chick-fil-A’s hash brown meals
The anchor of what Technomic calls the QSR Plus subsegment has replaced its breakfast burrito with a new Hash Brown Scramble, available in bowl and burrito forms.
Both combine Chick-fil-A’s tater tot-style hash browns with scrambled eggs, two types of cheeses and either chicken nuggets or sausage, yielding a heartier meal than the breakfast burrito provided. The Scrambles are served with a jalapeno-spiced salsa.
Both the bowl and the burrito are priced around $3.49.
Jack in the Box’s $3 meals
The newest limited-time offer from Jack in the Box is a line of single-dish meals based on hash browns and sold late at night through the chain’s Munchies menu. The Munchie Mash-Ups all incorporate “hash” into their name, a hook consistent with the chain’s reputation as a place for weed lovers to indulge their heightened hunger.
The H’Angry Chicken Hash features chicken nuggets, hot sauce, ranch dressing, white cheese sauce and hash browns, all mashed together in a single-serve container that looks like a french fry boat. The Jack’d Jalapeno Hash subs bacon and jalapenos for the chicken, and pepper jack cheese replaces the white cheese sauce of the chicken version. The Wakey Bakey Hash features eggs, bacon and the white cheese sauce. All sell for $3.
Jack in the Box CEO Lenny Comma told investors last month that the line is “a great example of how we can engineer innovative products to a lower price point to do under $5 transactions.”
Taco Bell’s new value offering
The Tex-Mex master is fly casting for lovers of dollar menus with its new Beefy Potato-Rito, a burrito where the standout ingredient are what the chain describes as “seasoned, crispy potato bites.” Mixed into the hand-held meal are seasoned beef, cheddar cheese, and creamy chipotle and nacho cheese sauces.
It sells for $1.
Taco Bell’s website teases that it may someday hold the beef and offer a meatless, potato-rich burrito.