Carl's Jr. Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich hits it big

After Jimmy Kimmel praised the chain's new treat, it's going national. Is there a lesson here for McDonald's?

By Aimee Picchi Jul 24, 2013 10:57AM

Carl's Jr.'s Strawberry Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich (© Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc.)There may be no end to the American appetite for gooey fast-food concoctions. McDonald's (MCD) executives, you may want to take note.

Take Carl's Jr.'s newest dessert: a Kellogg (K) strawberry Pop-Tart sliced in half, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream slathered in between. After testing the dessert in a few California restaurants, Carl's Jr. will be rolling out the new treat nationwide Wednesday to all of its 1,391 locations. 

While nutritionists will surely have a fit over the summertime concoction, the chain says Americans clamored for the dessert after late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel wondered if the CKE Restaurants chain developed it after "reading my dream journal."

Carl's Jr. has scooped out something of a niche for itself by continuing to offer calorie-laden fast-food. (The chain does offer what it calls "better for you" options, such as a turkey burger.)

While McDonald's has added an Egg McMuffin made with egg whites and is pushing salads, CKE chief executive Andy Puzder told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year that healthier food is "not our personality." 

That appears to be winning over consumers, with Carl's Jr. fourth-quarter same-store sales up almost 3% during the fourth quarter of 2012. (CKE was bought by private equity firm Apollo Management in 2010 and isn't publicly traded.)

Carl's Jr. is hoping to piggyback on the popularity of the ice-cream sandwich by offering the dessert free to customers who buy a Super Bacon Cheeseburger. Without the burger, the treat costs $1.49. 

With McDonald's reporting a meager 1% rise in U.S. same-store sales for the second quarter, maybe there's something to be said for Carl's Jr. decadent approach. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Jul 27, 2013 7:19AM
Eating fast food is a choice.  Eating healthy food is a choice.    I like choices and do not want them taken away.  Live and let live!
Jul 24, 2013 12:23PM
It looks like what a college student would eat because it is all they had in the house.
Jul 24, 2013 12:10PM
I don't understand the appeal of this "dessert".  I'm the type to try things, but I wont be eating that.
Jul 27, 2013 8:00AM
god I love carls jr they do not have here where I now live  I would pass on the pop tart though
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