This is not about bun calories. Nor about gluten dread. Nor even about portability and minimizing lap art.
Burger King's debut of the Whopperito is about two things.
Shock. And awe.
And maybe a third thing: Boredom.
They tested the waters with the Whopper Dog, its "flame-grilled" beef, melted cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles, and onions in an elongated form. (Reenactment of pitch meeting: "Imagine the Whopper, but it's … wait for it … not round.") And now Burger King is rolling its "have it your way" message — body-in-rug style — in a flour tortilla.
Tested only in the Pennsylvania market at this point, the newcomer hasn't garnered a ton of high praise (too wet, folks say), but it fits a fast-food narrative. Take a familiar sandwich and MacGyver it into a new receptacle. Or mash up two beloved but disparate foods for a drive-through mind-blow.
And then there's this oh-so-2016 twist: Fast food innovations in recent years have been consumer driven and crowd sourced. Secret menu items have started as innovations by customers in the know and have sometimes clawed their way into full-throttle legitimacy, a la Arby's Meat Mountain. In fact, the notion of the Whopper-turned burrito first occurred to a Twitter user in 2012.
@davidcarl Then you have to drive to taco bell, get a burrito grande, and fold the whopper into the burrito. Whopperito.— ethan (@pragmatism) July 24, 2012
Makes sense. Millennials have proven, with their affection for Chipotle and epic snubbing of more traditional burger-on-bun fast-fooders. They like portability, customizability, hand-helds. All things a flour tortilla provides in spades.
In the name of earnest journalistic enquiry, I've dived into Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos and their Waffle Taco, , KFC's bunless Double Down and Olive Garden's Breadstick Sandwiches. I investigated the really-not-bad Burger King's bacon sundae and dodged a bullet on Pizza Hut's hotdog-stuffed crust pies.
Will I brave the Whopperito when it makes it to Florida? Despite Stephen Colbert's clear joy in speaking the absurdity aloud, it's not much more than an old sandwich in a new wrapper.
Contact Laura Reiley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.