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Will Burger King's Menu Revamp Look McFamiliar Again?

Burger King's "Big King" sandwich

Photograph by Burger King via AP Photo

Burger King's "Big King" sandwich

Burger King (BKW), in its latest attack against arch rival McDonald’s (MCD), declared last week that its Big Mac alternative will now be even bigger. Here we go again.

The Big King will now have 0.8 ounces more beef than the Big Mac, although Burger King demurred when asked exactly how much extra meat was being added in this latest effort to stick it to McDonald’s. “The size of the former Big King patties is proprietary,” a representative said in an e-mail. Burger King is far less coy about turning McDonald’s own ideas against it.

The Whopper creator recently shifted its menu strategy to have “fewer and more impactful launches,” as executives describe the shift. Judging from the Big King, however, inventiveness isn’t the primary focus. Alex Macedo, president for North America, said during an earnings call Thursday that Burger King will focus on developing breakfast and chicken items. Given its fondness for copying the golden arches, what would that mean for the menu? Maybe, say, a King Egg White Delight breakfast sandwich? Or perhaps seasoned and fried King Mighty Wings?

Big King aside, the chain’s other recent launches seemed shockingly familiar: Rib Sandwich is a riff on the McRib, Chipotle Chicken Wrap hit menus as a limited-time item around the same time the McWrap became available nationwide. Not to mention Burger King’s sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, which was even marketed in ads as a rip-off of the Sausage McMuffin with Egg.

Considering that Burger King’s comparable store sales in North America fell 0.9 percent in 2013, while McDonald’s fell 0.2 percent, it seems consumers are less impressed by rehashed ideas and not exactly clamoring for the originals.

It’s not like Burger King never has original products. The company credited its new, lower-calorie Satisfries for a sales bump in the fourth quarter. It’s an item that, as Macedo has claimed, ”differentiate[s] the Burger King brand as a true innovator.” At least it’s something different.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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