Food makers copy iconic brands to challenge a dominant player or capitalize on a craze.
Last year, Burger King unveiled the Big King sandwich, featuring two beef patties, a thousand island dressing-style sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a three-part sesame seed bun. The sandwich, so closely resembling rival McDonald’s signature Big Mac in name and composition, begged the question: Shameless rip-off or a smart play?
Burger King challenged McDonald’s last year with another menu mimic: the BBQ Rib sandwich, a McRib lookalike at a lower price point. Both feature boneless rib patties topped with sauce, pickles and onions.
In January, Nestle challenged the Hershey Co. with a new peanut butter cup product under its Butterfinger banner. Hershey said it would defend its Reese's Peanut Butter Cup but doesn't expect the newcomer to overtake the category.
Launched in mid-January, Hershey’s Spreads includes a chocolate hazelnut variety that some are calling a knockoff of Ferrero's Nutella brand. Despite similarities in flavor, texture and packaging, the Hershey Co. said its spread benefits from the company's "chocolate credentials" and offers more day part flexibility.
After the hit hybrid pastry known as the Cronut debuted last May, its creator, New York bakery owner Dominique Ansel, trademarked the name as a spate of croissant-donut copycats emerged, from Doughssants and Fauxnuts to Cray-nuts and Kronut Krullers. Crumbs Bake Shop introduced its own version, called the Crumbnut.
Ten years after Starbucks debuted its cult fall favorite, McDonald's in 2013 added its own Pumpkin Spice Latte to its mix of McCafe coffee beverages. Both beverages feature espresso, pumpkin-flavored syrup and milk, but McDonald's version skips the whipped topping.
Several quick-service restaurants have followed McDonald's move to go yolk-less with the launch of an egg-white breakfast sandwich. After McDonald's Egg White Delight McMuffin debuted in early 2013, 7-Eleven added an Egg White Breakfast Sandwich, also on a whole-grain English muffin with Canadian bacon. The difference is in the cheese; McDonald's cheddar is white.