Burger King has gone to the dogs

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Burger King has gone to the dogs

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From left: Burger King’s advertising poster for “Dogpper” dog biscuits; Pet pizza for dogs by Mr. Pizza; Hoegaarden’s Pet Beer. [BURGER KING, JOONGANG PHOTO]

Food companies are continuing to target customers by appealing to their pets, with Burger King releasing an upgraded edition of its “Dogpper” dog biscuits from Monday.

The hamburger chain had first given out dog treats as a limited edition last year. The product takes its name from the American fast-food corporation’s signature burger, the Whopper, and is flavored with a similar taste and smell. Last May, Burger King held a promotional campaign in which customers who ordered home delivery for a two-week period received the free dog treats.

During those two weeks, Burger King’s home delivery orders increased by 20 percent, the company said, prompting them to continue the promotional deal in June.

Some overly curious customers even took to social media to share their accounts of trying the biscuit themselves to verify whether the product was true to its original.

“Last year we received so much feedback from our customers. On Instagram alone there were more than 5,000 photos tagged with ‘Dogpper,’” said a Burger King spokesperson. “This year’s version was upgraded with feedback.”

A frequent target of criticism was the biscuit’s texture, according to the company. Reviewers complained that the product was too hard, so Burger King added rice powder to enhance crunchiness in the latest iteration.

As with last year’s, the upgraded Dogpper’s main ingredients are chicken and non-gluten flour, baked altogether to minimize nutrient loss and enhanced with a smoky flavor that mimics the original.

Burger King does not recommend that people eat the dog treats.

“Dogs have a much more acute sense and are more sensitive to additives that would create the same flavor for humans. This product was solely made for dogs and from a dog’s perspective only,” said a spokesman.

This year, the franchise will give out free Dogpper biscuits to visitors to its brick-and-mortar stores as well as customers that place delivery orders from home through March 1.

Burger King isn’t the only food company that’s tried to lure new customers by appealing to their animal companions.

In a similar attempt, domestic pizza chain Mr. Pizza released pet versions of its two most popular flavors last September - cheese blossom steak and pepperoni. Unlike Burger King’s biscuits, the pizzas are actually designed to look like the original, but with safer ingredients that hew to the dietary requirements of pets, like replacing flour with rice powder and using lactose-free cheese.

The products are still offered at Mr. Pizza chains for 12,000 won ($10) apiece. The company is partnered with a pet food company that sends ready-made products to brick-and-mortar stores, according to a company spokesman.

In October, Oriental Brewery also released a dog beer attached with a Hoegaarden label in partnership with a local pet snack maker, Treat Table. The Hoegaarden dog beer was advertised as being beneficial for pets and containing eight different vitamins. Its ingredients, though, do ring a bell for Hoegaarden drinkers, including wheat and an orange-flavored additive.

Released in limited-edition bottles, the beer company said the dog beer was gone in only two days.

Food companies’ focus on pets is backed by demographic and consumption data. According to KB Financial Group, 25.1 percent of Korean households owned a pet as of 2018. Market research firm Euromonitor International also showed that Koreans are spending more on their animal companions. Last year, Korea spent a total of 1.8 trillion won on pet goods, making the country the world’s 15th largest consumer of the products.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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