Tuesday, October 25, 2011

McDonald's versus Wendy's - Who Has the Better Burger?

Burgers! Sizzling red meat, fresh off the grill. When we were riding motorcyles and reading magazines on the subject, a favorite column was one beret wearing older guy, who would frequently comment on burgers. It became a common conversation..."we've got to try this burger joint!"

Being a Californian, nothing beats In N Out Burger. A great meat mix, freshest preparation, happy staff, always clean locations, and retro 1950's styling (an homage to their founding). Yes, we'll drive to find In N Out, even turn around. Best of all, they offer a "protein style" which perfect for those on low carb or on Gluten Free diets. They wrap the burger and topping lettuce leaves, leaving off the bun. We absolutely love it.

Sorry Five Guys Burgers. Imitation is flattering, yet you don't even come close with your bizillion ways to top your burger. And you cost nearly twice as much for a lot less flavor, a tougher patty, and music so loud you have to yell at your companions to be heard.

Back to McDonald's and Wendy's.*

Both of these restaurants are national, and McDonald's does own more real estate than anyone else. However, you don't have to drive too far to find a Wendy's. Ray Kroc vs Dave Thomas. Ronald McDonald the clown vs a Raggedy Ann version of Wendy. Ray, a visionary and highly organized, even owned a ball team. Big Dave from orphan to mogul. Talk about opportunity and drive.

So who has the better burger? McDonald's features the Angus Burger, and Wendy's has returned the
Hot 'n Juicy Burger campaign, popular 35 years ago. Angus took an advertising beating from Jack in the Box (highlighting ignorance of letters in words) and the Hot 'n Juicy campaign terminology has always been titillating, even 35 years ago.

Both burgers are advertised as freshly made. Hot off the grill. McDonald's has a lot of press about pre-made burgers. I personally don't know, but I can ask my good friend Terrence Hawkins.

McDonald's Angus burger is a thicker patty - 1/3 pounds of "juicy flavorful...100% Angus Beef"
They add a sesame bun - kudos! Ever since Bob's Big Boy platters (California-Style for you Midwest Frisch's fans) I love sesame buns!
The Angus burger is served in an enclosed box. The photos on the box indicate red onions and Swiss cheese. Perhaps those are for the speciality Angus burgers? The standard one is topped with white onions, mayo, mustard, sliced red tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and American cheese (although Wiki says it should be red onions. They were definitely white, sharp and strong like white onions can be.)

Wendy's Hot 'n Juicy 1/2 pounder is two 1/4 pound patties (there is a 1/4 pounder sandwich available), with a buttered toasted (always a nice flavorful touch!), and 'premium' toppings like crinkle cut pickles, sliced  red onions, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, sliced red tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and American cheese.
The onions were red, and gave that sweet gentle flavor of red onions.

The first taste was of the meat itself. Wendy's meat (no toppings) definitely tasted better.

Overall, Wendy's sandwich tasted cleaner. Was it a better combination of toppings? Better meat? Wendy's has always proclaimed a superior meat product, from the (renewed) 'Where's the Beef' campaign to the many links on their website for Better Beef and It's All About the Beef. They also freely proclaim that your order is made fresh when you place it, and you can still modify the toppings if you desire (this was once a advertising campaign and mainstay). The website home page states "fresh never frozen beef," "no warming drawers," and "from the grill, to the bun, to you."

Sorry MickyD...the Angus has impressive size, but it just stand up to the superior flavor of Big Dave's Hot 'n Juicy. Go Wendy's!

And don't forget the Frosty!

*Disclaimer: my first job was at Wendy's Restaurant, at Turfway Road & US 25, Florence, Kentucky.

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