Chili is Dairy Queen’s dressing — make that crown — for its latest iteration of the GrillBurger. The Chili Meltdown tops a -half-pound cheeseburger with spicy, meaty sauce, showcasing the product’s versatility and enduring appeal.
Dairy Queen VP Lane Schmiesing, who handles brand marketing for the fast fooder, says the product makes “a pretty strong appeal to a pretty important demographic for us, which is 18- to 34-year-old men.”
The Meltdown also is cost-effective, he says. “Sauce is inherent in chili, so we don’t necessarily have to condiment it with other types of sauces.”
Launched in September with the help of TV spots and newspaper inserts, as well as in-store promotions, DQ’s chili burger immediately shot up the popularity charts, where it occupied a spot next to other chain fixtures, including DQ’s cheeseburger and bacon cheeseburger. Sales have since settled down, but Schmiesing says the Meltdown remains a popular item.
“Our whole strategic focus for menu development is to create unique, crave-able flavors featuring products people associate with fast food but may not be able to get at every fast-food restaurant,”
Schmiesing says. Turns out DQ didn’t have to look too far for inspiration. The chain has used chili to top off hot dogs for nearly 50 years, so ladling a little of it over burgers was “a natural,” Schmiesing says.
DQ also serves chili soup-style, but the burger topping is more viscous, lest it compromise the integrity of the bun.
“It’s an indulgence item,” Schmiesing says. “It’s meat on top of meat. What more could a guy want?”
“Good farming is the greatest form of artistic expression. Farmers create the bridge between nature and human nourishment. Food as the product of the agricultural arts goes beyond any image on the wall of a gallery or museum. Good eating, in that sense, could be considered one of the most integrated forms of art appreciation.”