Burger King lists ingredients on Whopper wrappers to highlight natural flavors

The fast-food chain is continuing the real-food message it introduced so memorably with the Moldy Whopper campaign.

Burger King’s memorable Moldy Whopper campaign got a lot of attention when it broke in February. 

On Thursday, the fast-food chain said it would do something equally unthinkable: put a list of ingredients on the wrapper of all Whopper sandwiches to highlight its commitment to natural foods.

To accompany the wrapper launch, Burger King is dropping a new spot by agency DAVID Miami that shows people on the street reacting to the fresh ingredients and closes with the message that the burger is going natural.  

“To highlight the real food in our iconic Whopper, we are placing the Whopper recipe front and center for a limited time only, in every single sandwich wrapping for everyone to see,” said Fernando Machado, global CMO at Restaurant Brands International, which also owns the Popeyes and Tim Hortons brands.

The new wrappers list the eight ingredients in a Whopper: beef, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun. (Although the pickiest among us might ask, what’s in the mayonnaise, ketchup and bread?) 

But the campaign aims to hone in on the bigger point that Burger King is phasing out artificial colors, flavoring and preservatives. The sandwich wrapper also promises no more MSG and high-fructose corn syrup.

“I think the ‘no’ label is funny,” said author, nutritionist and New York University professor Marion Nestle. “Why would anyone expect a hamburger to have artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, MSG, or HFCS?  They must think their customers are worried about such things.”

Nestle has a point. Burger King’s Moldy Whopper ad graphically depicted what happens to a Whopper after a month to highlight its lack of preservatives. Last November, the brand ran footage of foodies blind tasting food from Burger King and McDonald’s, and praising the Whopper. 

The initiative to move away from artificial additives is part of a global campaign at Restaurant Brands International, which is rolling out natural ingredients across global markets.

“We believe that real food tastes better,” said Machado. 

Burger King estimates that about 85% of its permanent food menu is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, and has a goal of reaching 100% by the beginning of 2021. 

The new wrapper does not appear in the new spot, but Machado says it will pop up in various ads and promotional materials across the country as it phases out of stores. 

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