Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s launched Monday new backwards websites to promote the more healthful “other side” of their mostly indulgent menus.

At the same time, the indulgent side of the menu got even richer with the rollout in late June of new sticky-sweet Cinnamon Pull Aparts, a breakfast item the company is promoting with yet another edgy commercial that makes a not-so-veiled reference to masturbation.

Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for parent company CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., based in Carpinteria, Calif., said Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have long been known for their big, messy burgers, but the menu in recent years has grown to include a number of more healthful alternatives.


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Carl's Jr. commercial: Pull one
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The new websites are designed to literally show that flip side.

In the case of Carl’s Jr., for example, the website is rjslrac.com — Carl’s Jr. spelled backwards — and Hardee’s’ is seedrah.com, or Hardee’s spelled backwards.

Both websites highlight various “better-for-you” options, or ways to customize the menu to meet specific health goals. At Carl’s Jr., for example, a Jalapeno Turkey Burger has 500 calories and can be ordered with a wheat bun, without a bun and wrapped in lettuce, or without mayo or cheese.

Guests can “veg it” by dropping the meat altogether and piling on lettuce, tomato and guacamole. A combo can be made more healthful by swapping out the soda and fries for water and a side salad.

None of the items are new, said Haley. But, to many, they may come as a surprise.

“One of the things that led us to this point is we have a good number of better-for-you or healthier menu items, but people really weren’t aware of them,” he said. “It really shows there is a demand.”

CKE is among a growing number of indulgent brand operators to realize the benefit of adding or promoting menu items that appeal to nutrition-conscious guests.

Still, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s both target an audience of “young, hungry males” between the ages of 18 and 34, so it’s no surprise a new breakfast item involves something covered in sugar and white icing.

The new Cinnamon Pull Aparts make use of the chains’ made-from-scratch biscuit dough, which is rolled into smaller dough bites, dipped in cinnamon sugar, then baked together in a cup and topped with white icing. The result is a pastry also known as monkey bread.

In the commercial, which began airing nationally on June 30, an interviewer offers customers a taste and asks where or when they might like to “pull one off.”

The ads are reminiscent of a 2009 “Biscuit Hole” campaign when CKE invited guests to “name our holes,” resulting in a number of rude suggestions.

Haley said such ads are what CKE’s target audience expect.

“Our target is the Millennial male, and they like their ads provocative and edgy,” he said. “Sometimes we do it with attractive women and sometimes with edgy humor.”

Meanwhile, Haley said Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have also been testing a biscuit-donut mashup called a “bisnut” using the same biscuit dough shaped like a donut and fried, then topped with either vanilla or chocolate icing with sprinkles.

The test period for the product is over for both brands, but Haley said the company has yet to review the consumer analysis to determine whether a rollout is in the bisnut’s future.

In late June, the Carl’s Jr. chain, which is mostly in the Western U.S., also rolled out a new breakfast limited-time offer featuring Mexican style chorizo.

A new Made from Scratch Chorizo, Egg & Cheese Biscuit features the sausage with egg topped with pepper Jack cheese and served on a warm buttermilk biscuit for a recommended $2.29.

In addition, a Chorizo, Egg & Cheese burrito, with scrambled egg, sausage, Jack and cheddar cheese is also stuffed with hash brown nuggets and fresh pico de gallo in a flour tortilla for a recommended $3.49.

For dessert, Carl’s Jr. is bringing back its Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich, with vanilla ice cream packed between two large Oreo chocolate wafers for a recommended $1.49.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout