Burger King is serving up a new global ad campaign with its iconic burger covered in mold.
No, the “Moldy Whopper” is not a new menu item, but Burger King announced Wednesday that it is letting the burger rot to make a statement.
The fast-food chain said in a news release that it’s showing mold “can be a beautiful thing” to highlight removing artificial preservatives from the Whopper in most European countries and in select U.S. markets.
Unlike viral images and videos that have shown restaurant burgers changing very little over several years, the Burger King ad is a time-lapse referencing the number of days passed since the sandwich was prepared and showing the growth of mold. It includes a line that reads, “The beauty of no artificial preservatives.”
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Fernando Machado, global chief marketing officer for Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands International, told USA TODAY officials wanted to do something that would stand out.
“The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly. It’s common knowledge that real food deteriorates quicker because it is free of artificial preservatives,” Machado said. “Instead of featuring our Whopper sandwich with the classic flawless and often too perfect photographic style typically used in fast food advertising, we decided to showcase something real, honest and that only Burger King could do.”
A Whopper with no preservatives, colors or flavors from artificial sources is now available in 400 U.S. locations and “will reach all restaurants throughout the year,” Christopher Finazzo, Burger King’s president for the Americas, said in a statement.
The company also announced more than 90% of food ingredients at Burger King restaurants are free from colors, flavors, and preservatives from artificial sources. MSG and high-fructose corn syrup have also been removed from all food items, the company said.
Moving away from artificial ingredients isn’t new.
Rival McDonald’s announced in 2018 most of its burgers were free of fake colors, flavors and preservatives.
A growing number of national fast-food chains have also said they would rid their chicken or beef supplies of antibiotics, including Chick-fil-A, which met its goal in May 2019, months ahead of schedule.
Millennials also tend to favor foods with fewer artificial ingredients and that are less processed, Beth Bloom, market research firm Mintel’s associate director of U.S. food and drink, told USA TODAY in August.
“It’s OK for something to have fat,” Bloom said. “It just needs to be kind of whole ingredients.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko