McDonald’s v. Burger King
Burger King v. Wendy’s
Wendy’s v. Carl’s Jr.
Carl’s Jr. v. Hardee’s
Hardee’s v. Checkers
Checkers v. Whataburger
Whataburger v. Fatburger
Fatburger v. In ‘N Out Burger
In ‘N Out Burger v. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
The list of potential burger-on-burger battles is exceeded in length only by the number of ‘Best Of’ articles written on the subject. As a burger lover, the only constant in these ‘Best Of’ burger lists is that In ‘N Out Burger is usually ranked number one and frankly, it should be. That leaves us with about a dozen other burger joints to choose from.
To narrow the field down just slightly, let’s pull out Fatburger and Five Guys, because, like In ‘N Out, they are more like specialty burger houses that offer high-quality burgers at a reasonable price. Also, they don’t have the national presence and international presence that many of the other franchises do.
Checkers and Whataburger are mostly regional establishments and both have fewer than a thousand locations, so to pit them against the big boys of the burger kingdom wouldn’t be fair to them, and you, since many of you don’t have access to these burgers anyway.
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are owned by the same company and combined make up the number four fast-food burger chain behind Wendy’s, Burger King and McDonald’s, so we’ll include them together on the list.
In order to begin the analysis, let’s establish what we’re talking about:
This isn’t a franchise v. franchise feature. It is a breakdown of each franchise’s signature burger and how it stacks up against the other signature burgers.
The competitors are: Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger, Burger King’s Double Whopper, Carl’s Jr.’s Super Star with Cheese, and McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
THREE IMPORTANT THINGS:
1) I am well aware that most people would consider the Big Mac to be McDonald’s signature burger, and in terms of recognition, it is, but it is simply too small to be put up against these other burgers. As a kid who ate Happy Meals with single cheeseburgers on a regular basis, I aspired to one day topple the giant known as the Big Mac. Unfortunately, that day happened when I was about twelve. After that, the Big Mac was either ordered with another burger, a twenty-piece McNugget or simply as a snack. For most grown men, it’s not enough burger for a meal. Yes, it’s delicious, but the patties are small, and if the burgers shift the wrong way your last three bites are just bread and special sauce.
What I propose, and what I promise would be a blockbuster item for McDonald’s, is a sandwich called the Mac Daddy. The Mac Daddy would essentially be a Big Mac made with Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese proportions. What that means is the Mac Daddy would be made as follows:
Two all-beef quarter-pound patties, special sauce, lettuce, three slices of cheese, pickles and onions on three quarter-pounder-sized sesame seed buns.
This burger would be 1) amazing, and 2) a game changer.
I believe the only reason this hasn’t happened is the “health food lobby” would kill McDonald’s for creating a burger that contributes to “America’s Supersized Waist Line.”
This bullying is nonsense and I blame that jackass who did the Supersize Me movie for it.
A quick note on Supersize Me and the ensuing fallout: What was the big deal? Did anyone not think that if you ate burgers every day your health would suffer? Was this a surprise? Would a movie called Pizza Pounds make headlines if a guy who chose to eat Pizza Hut for every meal showed that — holy crap! — eating pizza for every meal isn’t healthy? That’s newsworthy?
I propose a counter movie to be made right now: McDonald’s Me. In this movie, someone eats McDonald’s every day for a month and gets healthy. They order oatmeal for breakfast, a chicken salad with apple slices for lunch, and a grilled chicken sandwich for dinner with either a side salad or a small fruit smoothie. Is it a perfectly healthy diet? No. But can you eat regularly at McDonald’s and make relatively smart decisions and stay somewhat healthy? Absolutely.
But that really isn’t the point. The point is that yes, America has an obesity problem, but we can’t legislate our way out of it by banning food. There are many millions of people who exercise regularly and eat healthy who, maybe once a month, or even once a week, feel like chowing down on a good, old-fashioned Whopper or Big Mac or Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger. Why the responsible eaters should suffer for the complete lack of self control and gluttonous behavior of others is beyond me and, in truth, un-American.
2) Many burger places have strayed from what would most likely be their signature burger by offering some sort of “restaurant-style” burger or specialty sandwich. Carl’s Jr. offers a string of Six Dollar Burgers, and McDonald’s and Burger King have both tried to push Angus as a higher-quality meat. While many regular customers of these establishments might, on occasion, try one of these new offerings, they usually go for the old standby. That’s why I chose the Super Star for Carl’s Junior over one of their Six Dollar Burger deals.
3) All the burgers involved in this study are cheeseburgers. I have nothing against plain burgers or plain-burger people, but that doesn’t mean I understand them. Why wouldn’t you want cheese on your burger? It’s like two delicious sandwiches in one. Grilled cheese is good. Burgers are good. Put them together, even better. I know a grilled cheese with beef is officially called a patty melt, but really, what’s the difference besides more butter and more grilling? The major point is that meat and cheese are better together than apart, end of discussion.
ON TO THE BURGER STUDY:
By breaking down each burger into its main components, we can get a better idea of how they stack up:
McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese:
Two quarter-pound patties with ketchup, mustard, pickles, raw onions and two slices of cheese on a sesame seed bun.
Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger
Two signature square patties (because Wendy’s doesn’t cut corners), lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo and ketchup on a plain, white bun
Burger King’s Double Whopper with Cheese
Two flame-broiled quarter-pound beef patties, sesame seed bun, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, sliced onion and ketchup
Carl’s Jr.’s Super Star
Two charbroiled beef patties, two slices of American cheese, lettuce, two slices of tomato, sliced onions, dill pickles, special sauce and mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun
The Meat Match-up:
1) Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger
Wendy’s has the tastiest, heartiest meat. It is a bit on the salty side, but it tastes like it has been seasoned with several flavors and might have actually been marinated, as opposed to relying on the cooking method to add the flavor like some of its competitors.
2) Burger King’s Double Whopper with Cheese
Burger King’s meat is dominated by a smoky flavor as a result of its much touted flame-broiled process. Occasionally, a burger is cooked too long and the smoky taste becomes too much, but usually, the beef patty is consistently good.
3) McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
The meat in this burger has a salty kick, with an occasional rubbery feel. Like other McDonald’s burgers, the patty is more neutral than anything else, relying on the classic McDonald’s buns and sauce to bring out its flavor.
4) Carl’s Jr.’s Super Star with Cheese
The most ‘meat’ tasting burger of the bunch. What does this mean? It means that this burger tastes like someone simply threw a slab of ground beef on the grill and cooked it. It’s not bad, it’s just plain.
To find out how these fast food phenoms match up when it comes to Fixin’s, Buns, and their Name, and to see who got crowned the true burger king, buy The Three Dollar Scholar today for $2.99.!