ST. LOUIS -- At 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat, Hardee's Monster Thickburger couldn't escape notice in these diet-conscious times.
Or the jabs of late-night talk show hosts. A day after the Monster's rollout Nov. 15, Jay Leno said on "The Tonight Show" that it "actually comes in a little cardboard box shaped like a coffin."
Media outlets from Japan, Spain, England, France, and Australia have reported about the Monster.
"I don't think any of us anticipated anything like the media uproar we've seen," says Andy Puzder, the president and chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., Hardee's corporate parent.
But the word-of mouth advertising, along with an ad campaign, has had the impact the firm wanted. People have just had to try the Monster. "You can certainly say it exceeded all my expectations," Puzder said of sales, although he declined to offer specifics.
The fuss is all about a super-supersized burger -- two 1/3-pound slabs of beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese, and mayonnaise on a buttered bun. The sandwich sells for $5.49, or $7.09 with fries and a soda. The combo packs more calories and fat than most people should get in a day.
McDonald's, Wendy's, and other rivals are offering salads and other lower-calorie fare. But Hardee's, which was already offering five sandwiches with 1,000 calories or more, appears comfortable staking its future -- at least near-term -- on gargantuan burgers.