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Inside Burger King's $190 Burger: It's All About Igniting the Senses

190burgerWhen the cost of gas causes people to rethink their travel priorities, it is up to local businesses to find new ways to tell great stories that compel people to visit.

You don't have to be an upscale New York hotel with a new spin on the TV dinner to play the game. You can be a local Burger King franchise with a $190 burger, as reported by AdAge (registration required).

Determined to show the world that it takes meat quality seriously, this Burger King sandwich is only available Thursdays at a single location. All proceeds go to a local children's charity. So what goes into a $190 burger?

"...(The sandwich is) made from Wagyu beef, topped with white truffles and Pata Negra ham (which owes its nutty flavor to the fact that the pigs are fed on acorns), the burger nestles in a bun spread with organic-white-wine-and-shallot-infused mayonnaise, plus pink Himalayan rock salt, and dusted on top with Iranian saffron. It is served with Cristal champagne onion straws and a garnish of lamb's lettuce."

By all accounts, the meat is good but all the other stuff is great -- the mayonnaise, truffles and Pata Negra are all something special. Customers were especially surprised to find that the saffron's aroma really did put their nose in synch with their taste buds.

Of course, the sandwich is only part of the experience. You have to call in to reserve your spot. Once you arrive, you are ushered through a red velvet rope and up some steps to a private upscale dining room. There is crisp table linen and free-flowing 2003 Tapanappa Cabernet Shiraz from the Whalebone Vineyard in South Australia. And at your table, you're presented with a free limited-edition bottle of Coca-Cola.  And, as Riedel connoisseurs know, the shape of the bottle does affect the taste of the beverage.

People want to go places where they can experience new things. Even though the venue is Burger King, every step of the experience is laden with information that the consumer can take home with them, whether it's trying Pata Negra ham or trying to recreate Cristal champagne onion straws at home (hint: try adding herbs de provance). Companies need to do less so-so stuff and really try to ignite the senses.

Just about any restaurant can re-create this same type of experience. By asking people to reserve a spot in advance, your risk goes down because you only order what you need, and only cook when they arrive. You can bring in locally grown produce (because as Whole Foods knows, everyone wants to know the story behind what they're eating), and instead of a Coke, give them a customized coffee table book that contains fascinating stories about the region and delicious recipes from the locals.

And as for Burger King? So far 30 of the burgers have been sold and there are plans to introduce the $190 burger in Spain and Germany, also for a limited period.

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