When it comes to verbal throwdowns, Panera CEO Ron Shaich isn’t shy about expressing how he really feels about the chain’s rivals. Now, he’s challenging fast food executives to eat exclusively from their kids’ menus to prove they really like their own offerings.
Shaich is taking aim at the CEOs of Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King, specifically.
“I want to say to them, would you really eat your own kids’ meals for a week?” Shaich told Business Insider. “Would you really order it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, three meals a day for seven days?”
Shaich questions whether they would feel good about eating such fare based on the nutritional content.
“And, if you don’t feel good about it, why would you serve it to kids?” he asks.
We reached out to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King to ask if their CEOs will accept Shaich’s challenge.
In response, a spokesperson for McDonald’s did not say whether its top executive would accept the challenge, but said the chain is “proud of how we’re continuing to raise the bar on the food we serve at McDonald’s. Our recent announcement that we’re adding Honest Kids Juice Drink to our Happy Meals joins other positive changes we have made, such as removing artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, which also don’t have artificial colors or flavors.”
We’ll update this post if we hear back from Wendy’s or Burger King.
Shaich’s latest comments come as Panera launches a newly revamped menu for kids: The younger set can now get a smaller version of almost any item on Panera’s menu — which itself is free of preservatives — for between $4.59 and $7.89. No toys come with those options.
This, because Shaich believes marketing to kids should be “off limits, 100%.”
And although fast food restaurants have made efforts to tweak their kids’ menus — for example, restaurants like McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, and Subway don’t include sugary beverages on children’s menus — Shaich doesn’t think they’ve done enough overall.
“I get really upset or angry when I see people ‘cleanwashing,’” or advertising specific items made without preservatives or artificial ingredients, Shaich said. “It becomes simply a way to confuse people. They take one ingredient, say it’s clean … but you’re out of integrity because the rest of it isn’t.”