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Chili’s brings back “Baby Back” tune

DALLAS Chili’s Grill & Bar is firing up its “Baby Back” ribs jingle, which has been on sabbatical since 2006, to help the 1,400-unit casual-dining chain drive traffic and introduce new burger and rib cooking techniques.

Part of the new marketing campaign will include luring Chili’s fans to create their own versions of the jingle to be submitted on Facebook and Twitter, though details of that part of the campaign are still being determined, said Chili’s spokeswoman Stacey Sullivan.

The earworm-worthy “Baby Back” jingle was sung by NSYNC in 2001 and the Old 97’s in 2006 and rendered cinematically by Mike Myers as Fat Bastard in 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

Chili’s, which is the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International Inc., recently revised preparation methods for its ribs and burgers. The ribs are now slow-smoked over pecan woodchips rather then mesquite as before, and the hamburger patties, which had been delivered to stores pre-formed, are now hand-shaped in the kitchens.

“In our old preparation methods, we smoked the ribs over mesquite woodchips and finished preparing them on the grill before serving,” said Sullivan. “Now we slow-smoke them over lower temperatures until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. During this low and slow process, we use pecan woodchips to smoke and enhance the rib. This delivers a nuttier, sweeter flavor versus the mesquite woodchips. In addition to our original and Memphis dry rub sauce flavors, we added a sweet and tangy Shiner Bock barbecue sauce to our offerings.”

Sullivan said Chili’s burgers are now made with 100-percent USDA ground chuck and formed in the restaurants.

“Guests can now order their burger grilled to the temperature of their preference, whereas before burgers were only grilled medium and above,” she said.

The restaurants are now also offering premium-topping add-ons beyond the usual lettuce, red onions, pickles and jalapenos. “Along with these toppings, guests can add premium toppings with our ‘Top Your Oldtimer,’ such as avocados, onion strings, bacon and different cheese types,” Sullivan said.

Chili’s has posted sales declines for its past four quarters, like many in the casual-dining sector. For its latest quarter, Chili’s same-store sales fell 9.4 percent. For the full year ended June 24, Chili’s same-store sales fell 5.6 percent.

Brinker has Chili’s in 29 nations and two U.S. territories.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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