There's a new burger on the block. On Aug. 28, the Big King--Burger King's first new sandwich offering since it introduced the BK Broiler in 1990--went patty-to-patty against McDonald's Big Mac.

Burger King execs say that with 75% more beef and considerably less bread than the venerable Big Mac, the flame-broiled Big King is faring well in taste tests. "It is a winner and is looking to this head-to-head competition," says Jim Watkins, Burger King's senior vice-president of North America marketing, describing what he calls the sandwich's "personality."

Will the Big King cannibalize sales of Burger King's signature Whopper, which reached 1.6 billion burgers in '96? Burger King says no. But Burger King isn't on easy street yet: McDonald's is serving a new burger, dubbed Big & Tasty, with condiments similar to those on a Whopper, in select California markets. A McDonald's spokes- man says the company isn't cowed by Burger King's new threat. "There's only one Big Mac. It can't be duplicated," he says. May the battle of the burgers begin.

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