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Burger King brings back the Yumbo, 40 years later

Burger King (BKW) is reaching deep into its past and reviving a sandwich that was popular long before its CEO was even born. The chain is bringing back the Yumbo ham and cheese sandwich to stores nationwide starting this week.

The company retired the Yumbo 40 years ago after a six-year run on the menu. It may be an odd choice for a chain that's now run by Millennials -- its CEO is 34, and other key executives are in their late 20s -- but Burger King says its customers have been asking for the sandwich.

"Our strategy to selectively bring back favorite foods has helped us connect with our guests while also driving business results," said Eric Hirschhorn, the chain's top marketing executive, in a statement announcing the Yumbo's return.

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The $3.69 sandwich includes the traditional slices of ham and cheese that made up the old Yumbo, but it now has lettuce and mayonnaise and is served on a toasted hoagie bun.

Burger King gave the sandwich a big promotional splash on social media Tuesday and overhauled its Facebook page to make it look like the posts were from 1974. It invited users to call the Yumbo at 844-BK-YUMBO. The number connected to the "Yumbo social hotline," a voice message that asked people to like or comment on the sandwich.

The Yumbo, which is available for a limited time, received mixed reactions online, with some people remembering the sandwich as a childhood favorite, while others were unsure what to make of the name. The GrubGrade website gave the Yumbo a terrible review, saying only children under age 9 could like it.

"I know this is just fast food, but the Yumbo Hot Ham & Cheese is an example of very little effort by Burger King," the reviewer said. "Save your money."

Burger King is making a habit of returning to old favorites on its menu. Earlier this year, it brought back Chicken Fries -- thin chicken strips shaped like French fries that haven't been seen since 2012. The company said the launch was very successful, with 100 million orders sold in four weeks.

These innovations, such as they are, have helped fatten Burger King's shares. The stock price topped $36 last month to hit a 52-week high, though it was down about 1.3 percent Tuesday to $33.63. The shares have risen 47 percent this year, propelled by strong earnings and revenue growth.

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