Late-night burger chain White Castle announced this week that it will start offering a 99¢ veggie slider, essentially a vegetarian version of the mini beef burgers the chain is known for. Coming from a company that sells sacks (and even crates) of tiny cheeseburgers to the munchie afflicted, the move is something of a surprise. Especially because veggie burgers and other fare marketed as "healthier" than typical fast food have barely moved the needle at other chains so far.
Veggie burgers remain few and far between in fast food. Burger King offers one, but Wendy's never has. In 2011, McDonald’s then-chief operating officer (and now chief executive officer) Don Thompson told investors that the company had attempted several times to launch veggie burgers in the U.S., including in Southern California in the early 2000s. But "we ended up serving four a day,” he said. Salads typically sell poorly, too, with only 2.3 percent of orders at burger fast-food chains including a salad main dish and 1.3 percent including a side salad, according to data from NPD.