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    McDonald's Joins 11-11-11 Promotional Efforts

    Fast-feeder plays off numerical palindrome to promote 50-cent fries on "Fryday."

    CHICAGO -- Playing off the 11/11/11 digital version of Nov. 11, McDonald's franchisees in metro Chicago are offering small orders of fries for half price -- just 50 cents for the day, according to a report by Crain's Chicago Business.

    To promote the sale, McDonald's billboards in Chicagoland feature six fries lined up in the numerical form of the date with the offer. The chain is also hosting a competition today, Veterans Day, to create a dish to go with fries. According to Crain's, the contest pits Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould and wide receiver Earl Bennett vs. Bull and Bear Bar executive chef David Blonsky and personal chef to the stars Cordell McGary from Passion's Cuisine Inc. in Chicago.

    Tomorrow, McDonald's plans to light two spotlights to create a No. 11 beacon that will shine through the end of the month at the chain's Chicago flagship location at Clark and Ontario streets, according to the report.

    Crain's noted that this palindromic "Fryday" promotion comes as sales of fries have been declining for the past five years, as nutritionists have pushed for healthier menu options. McDonald's, for example, recently downsized its fries for kids' meals and added apple slices. Rival Wendy's last year changed to a "natural cut" variety of fries with the skin on and seasoned with sea salt.

    "They've moved away more recently from promoting their fries as they focus on healthier options, but there's no doubt that french fries are a pretty profitable side item," said David Henkes, vice president of Chicago-based food industry consultant Technomic Inc. "I think fries will always be core to what the offering is for McDonald's."

    McDonald's is not the only company scheduling promotions for today -- although most are more traditional and tie into the Veterans Day holiday. Charlotte, N.C.-based grocer Harris Teeter, for example, is offering an 11-percent discount to all veterans and active-duty military personnel who shop at any Harris Teeter location, with their Veterans Identification Card, after all coupons and discounts are deducted. The offer is valid for all military personnel who are active, reserve, retired or disabled veterans and their family members, with a valid, government-issued military ID card.

    There are also more far-out celebrations of 11-11-11, such as an unofficial holiday called Nigel Tufnel Day, inspired by the fictional rocker from the semifictional band Spinal Tap who turns his amps up to 11 when he needs that "extra push over the cliff." Tufnel was played by comedic actor Christopher Guest in the 1984 mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap," directed by Rob Reiner. Nigel Tufnel Day has its own Facebook page and Yahoo reports that Web searches on the holiday are on the rise, jumping 20 percent over the past 24 hours.

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