Tag Archives: hamburger

McDonald’s Lone Star Stack Burger

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Probably one of the more successful snack food marketing campaigns in the last few years, despite it having a name that makes me want to punch someone, is the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign. Honestly, it really is impressive that they can get as many people as they do all worked up about potato chips. Because, really, they’re potato chips.

In the time since Lay’s first came up with that concept, a lot of other snack and fast food merchants have attempted to replicate it with varying degrees of success, but few of them manage to drum up the hype that Lay’s does.

It was only a matter of time until fast food behemoth McDonald’s decided to give it a crack. The result? The McDonald’s Burger Showdown.

Apparently, back in March, they announced this contest. People could go online and build their burger using a “long list” of “fresh” ingredients. Once you selected your ingredients, chose a name and submitted your virtual burger, you would be on your way to, perhaps, burger fame and a jackpot of $5,000. The submitted burgers would be voted on by the unwashed masses, then judged by a “panel of qualified judges” using a set of criteria including “taste”, “creativity” and “operations feasibility”. Sadly, I missed all the fun, since I only became aware of this after the winner was announced.

Before we GET to the winner, though, we should list all the finalists, shouldn’t we? Because really, there are no losers here. This is the winners circle, right?

McDonald's Lone Star Bronc Burger Promo

First up is the “Lone Star Bronc” consisting of a Premium Bun, two Quarter Pounder Beef Patties, American Cheese, Pepper Jack, Grilled Onions, Crinkle Cut Pickles, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Shredded Lettuce and Sweet Onion BBQ Sauce.

McDonald's Dobletxmeet Burger Promo

Next is the “DOBLETXMEET”, whose name infuriates me no end, which is made up of an Artisan Roll, two Classic Beef Patties, Swiss, Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Onions, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Herb Seasoning, Chipotle Ketchup and Ketchup. I guess “bonus” ketchup. Somebody really likes ketchup.

McDonald's The McSqually Burger Promo

Our next contender is the curiously named McSqually, consisting of Texas Toast, two Quarter Pounder Beef Patties, two American cheese slices, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, and Big Mac Sauce.

McDonald's The Gourd Burger Promo

Then we have the also-curiously named “Gourd”, which sports Texas Toast, Shredded Lettuce, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Guacamole, ONE! (1!) single, solitary Quarter Pounder Beef Patty, American cheese and Barbecue Sauce (apparently, NOT sweet onion barbecue sauce, but the other kind).

Who are we kidding here? If those aren’t the winner, then they are obviously the losers. As famed NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby says, “If you’re not first, you’re last!”. So now we come, at last, to the real winner. The best burger that Texas, apparently, has to offer.

Cue up its announcement commercial if you like, or just read on….

McDonald's Lone Star Stack Burger Promo

The Lone Star Stack, lovingly crafted out of only the finest of artisan ingredients, including delicious buttery Texas Toast, crispy and tangy Crinkle Cut Pickles, two juicy Quarter Pounder Beef Patties, creamy White Cheddar and American cheese, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onions and Sweet Onion BBQ Sauce.

At this point, you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking. These are all within one or two ingredients of being the same damn burger. Texas Toast, BBQ sauce and caramelized onions are showing up just way too much here. Either their “long list” of possible ingredients was all like “Please check one: [_] BBQ Sauce, [_] Barbeque Sauce, [_] Chipotle Ketchup (alright, you got us, that’s really just BBQ sauce again), or [_] Sweet Onion Barbecue Sauce” or their “panel of qualified judges” consisted of one fat guy in bib overalls named Billy Joe Jim Bob that just really really likes BBQ sauce on his burgers.

…And therein lies one of the first lessons that McDonald’s did not take away from Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor”, and that’s differentiation. With Lay’s, you’re dealing with potato chips vs. other potato chips, so they’ve got to be different from each other. I don’t think they’d ever pit “BBQ Flavored Chips” against “Also BBQ, But It’s a Different Kind of BBQ Sauce Flavored Chips “. The merit of these burgers aside, I honestly doubt that in a real-life taste test I could easily choose between them, because they all sound so similar.

The second thing that McDonald’s failed to accomplish was to personalize the contest. Who made these burgers? What are their names? Their inspirations? Where’s our Cheesy Bread Karen to carry the torch for starving Olive Garden patrons worldwide? Where’s our Meneko Spigner McBeth to make us jealous of the hand-made sushi rolls she got in her lunchbox instead of Lunchables?

The closest thing that McDonald’s did to giving this so-called contest any personality was to include an infographic on their site that conveyed the following factoids:

  • 2,545 people named their burgers “Mc_SOMETHING_”
    Whelp, it IS McDonald’s and pretty much EVERYTHING is named McSomething. No shocker there.
  • 6,420 people put jalapeños on their burgers
    Also, no big surprise. This is Texas and we do like our jalapeños. The real surprise is that none of these made it to the finals. I’m maintaining that Bill Joe Jim Bob is a big ol’ wuss when it comes to spicy food.
  • 248 burgers had “Alamo” in their name
    HELLO. TEXAS…. AGAIN. I’m surprised that number is so small, honestly.
  • 278 artisans were named “Josh”
    An interesting distinction to make, and the closest to knowing who is behind any of these burgers we’re apparently going to get. Also, I love how these days, the only thing you have to do to be dubbed an “artisan” is make something yourself, even if it’s just by clicking on burger ingredient names on a screen.
  • 708 burgers had no patty at all
    These were immediately disqualified, I am sure.
  • 15,541 people added spicy ingredients to make flaming hot creations
    …And again, not a single spicy burger made it to the finals. Somehow.
  • 497 people put bacon on their burgers, but no beef
    That seems a bit odd. Maybe they were confused and thought that the beef was automatic.
  • 2,522 people put “Texas” in their burgers’ name
    Not to belabor a point, but yup, “TEXAS!” If Texas-shaped buns had been an option, I’m sure they’d have been in the majority.

Another key point that McDonald’s missed in their promotion is the promotion part. I never even heard about this until after this contest was over and the burger was out. Can’t be any buzz if nobody knows about it. On a side note though, as a Texan I do appreciate the nice play on the Gonzales “Come and Take It” flag. Nice touch.

Anyway, so I thought I’d try this thing out, so I headed to my local TEXAS McDonald’s. “Yee-Haw!”

The first thing I saw when I walked in the door was this delightful little display across from the order counter.

McDonald's Lone Star Stack Burger Promotional Display

Other than this unusually “crafty” point-of-purchase signage, the ordering process was uneventful, so I retired to a nearby booth to experience the best burger that Texas has to offer.

McDonald's Lone Star Stack Burger

As is typical, it looked considerably more…. compressed than the burger in pictures. Time to check under the hood.

McDonald's Lone Star Stack Burger Inside

I will say that they did well with their onion and pickle coverage. A generous amount of sauce was splooshed between the patties and the top toast slice. There was no spread at all on the bottom slice. The toast also looked considerably thinner than the Texas Toast pictured, and really didn’t look or feel toasty at all.

I was easily able to taste the onions separate from the burger, since so many had fallen off. This is good, because they did have a pretty solid caramelized taste. Unfortunately, under all that BBQ sauce, their flavor was almost completely lost.

The so-called “Sweet Onion Barbecue Sauce” just tasted like any random generic BBQ sauce. Its purpose there, obviously, was to do little other than keep you from tasting the onions, or the white cheddar, or anything, really, other than BBQ sauce. ….and to make the Texas Toast predictably soggy and fally-aparty. I actually do like Texas Toast on a burger, but it does have to be very toasted to not become a gooey mess. If McDonald’s plans to continue making it available, maybe they can check with Whataburger to see what their secret is.

The pickles, being pickles, did manage to cut through the overwhelming BBQ sauce taste to make their presence known. The bacon was, typically, lost and unnecessary. And that slice of American cheese was likewise unneeded. Why not two white cheddars? Why taint a “premium” burger with crappy American cheese? As I’ve said before, American cheese goes on value-menu items, not on a pricey limited special offering.

Taken as a whole, the Lone Star Stack was not a terrible burger, it was just extremely mediocre and boring. And, like most McDonald’s high-end burgers, it seemed to me to be a tad overpriced. Having two Quarter Pounder patties did make it fairly meaty, but it really didn’t manage to distinguish itself in any other way. It also doesn’t help that I’m really just not a fan of BBQ-sauced burgers.

McDonald’s Lone Star Stack Burger

  • Score: 2 out of 5 Soggy Toast Slices
  • Price: $5.99
  • Size: 1 Burger
  • Purchased at: A McDonald’s in Texas! Yep!
  • Nutritional Quirk: Nearly twice as many calories (960) and fat grams (54) as a Big Mac. Yee-Haw!

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Burger and Hot Mess Wedges

Jack in the Box Hot Mess BurgerOut of all the fast food marketing currently out there, I’ve always enjoyed Jack in the Box’s the most. I feel like Jack, the walking, talking antenna ball head, should be creepy, but unlike the King, he’s not. He’s personable! And he even makes some commercials that are actually funny. That’s no small feat.

When I saw the commercial for Jack’s new Hot Mess Burger, which aired during the Super Bowl, I instantly liked it. Jack in a hair band named “Meat Riot”? Sounds like something I would make up. Naming your burger after your fake one-hit wonder “Hot Mess”? Giving your burger a derogatory name shows that you can laugh at yourself, and I appreciate that.

After showing the lovingly mocking 1989 music video, the commercial cuts to Jack and his son watching the video. Jack says to Jack Jr., “And that’s how I met your mother.” Imagining Jack and his giant ball head bangin’ some Meat Riot groupie on the tour bus is an image I’m working really hard to keep out of my mind, but it is the perfect ending to the commercial.

What really makes me love the Hot Mess marketing campaign, however, is its website. Seriously. Just click it, even though I’m going to describe it in detail anyways.

It’s cute that you can download the song, and the lyrics, etc., but my very favoritest part is the “Legendary Moves” section. There are four animated .gifs to click on, but what I care about are the names of the moves: “Sourdough Slap”, “Jalapeño Hammer”, “Onion Slicer”, and the one I fell in love with and actually laughed out loud at, “Spicy Spasm”.

I swear to god, this is all stuff my friends and I would come up with whilst sitting around shooting the shit. And I don’t even smoke weed.

It’s hard to make fun of something that’s already making fun of itself, but I will go for the low-hanging fruit and quip that “Spicy Spasm” sounds like something that happens to your colon after eating a Hot Mess Burger. Alternatively, I think I did the Spicy Spasm once when I accidentally inhaled some Tapatio sauce. Don’t ask.

The “Meat Riot Memories” gallery section also has some gems, my instant favorite being Jack rocking out on top of a volcano while lightning shoots from the sky and a dragon and a gargoyle do a little animated .gif dance. There’s a sick part of me that wants to tattoo this upon my person. Thank god I really don’t smoke weed. My decision-making skills are obviously poor enough as it is.

The last little funny part of this promo site is a section entitled “It Still Exists: MYSPACE”, with a button that will, indeed, take you to Meat Riot’s myspace page.

It’s all brilliant.

But what about the burger, you say? Fuck you, forget the burger. 5 out of 5 on the Hot Mess marketing campaign. End of review.

…Okay, fine. I’ll tell you about the damn burger.

Hot Mess Burger

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Burger

The promo picture for the Hot Mess Burger deserves a two-page spread in Food Porn Magazine, but we all know promo pics are a far cry from the real thing. I still found mine enticing, though.

Jack describes the Hot Mess as “Beef patty seasoned with salt and pepper topped with mayo-onion sauce, melted white cheddar and pepper jack cheese, fried onion rings and sliced jalapenos on sourdough bread.”

I love Jack in the Box’s sourdough buns. They always look toasted, but are usually just greasy and buttery. Some might consider this a minus, but I love them. The bun on my Hot Mess burger did not fail to live up to these rather low expectations.

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Burger Inside

If I was meant to take the words “Hot” and “Mess” literally, I would definitely credit Jack in the Box for getting the second word right. The sauce complimented the melted cheeses nicely, and boy was there a lot of melted cheese. It seems almost impossibly melted, like some cheese slice/sauce hybrid. It will get on your hands. It will possibly get on your shirt. And it was the shining star of the Hot Mess Burger. There’s not much heat from the pepper jack, but it was still a gooey delight.

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Burger Inside Close-Up

As you can see, the onion rings and jalapeño slices were present, as promised. They positioned the rings well, since I got a piece in almost every bite. Unfortunately, the crunchiness that should be present in a fried onion ring didn’t stand a chance against the sauce and melted cheese, so while it did add a nice fried flavor, the texture wasn’t really there.

The onion string inside also added some nice flavor, although I had some problems preventing the entire string from sliding out upon my first bite, which is a component of onion rings I’ve always found annoying.

The “Hot” part is mainly supposed to come from the jalapeños. When I got one in a bite, it did add some pleasant heat and even a little crunch. The key problem here is the word “when”. As you can see, my burger had four jalapeño slices. This is most definitely not enough.

I really liked the Hot Mess Burger – enough to order it again, even. There were some flaws – mainly the sogginess of the onion rings and the lack of jalapeño slice coverage – but the messy, gooey cheese and the sourdough bun worked so well with the burger itself that even the bites that weren’t spicy were still satisfying. I’m glad that I enjoyed this burger so much, because making a “hot mess” joke about the Hot Mess Burger would be a horrible thing to have to do.

Hot Mess Wedges

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Wedges

Reviewing Hot Mess Wedges is kind of an afterthought; I ordered them because I’ve always liked Jack’s Cheddar Bacon Potato Wedges, so I figured, why not?

Jack describes them as “Potato wedges topped with a melted white cheddar and pepperjack cheese sauce and sliced jalapeños.”

Notably, they use the phrase “cheese sauce” here. Since the cheese on my wedges was pretty identical to the cheese on my burger, I’m now wondering if my mouth (and my napkins) were right – is it a cheese sauce, or melted cheese? It is a delicious, gooey mystery.

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Wedges Close-Up

Hot Mess Wedges suffer some of the same faults as the burger, and a problem all too common with Jack’s Wedges – three or four of the wedges are absolutely coated in cheese, and the rest remain sadly dry, although still crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There were also exactly three jalapeños to cover at least a dozen wedges, which just doesn’t cut it.

Instead of spreading the sauce love thin, I’ve come to enjoy Jack’s saturated wedges on their own and then dipping the dry ones in some ranch dressing or mustard. This is obviously not ideal, since an order of Hot Mess Wedges should be able to hold their own, especially if you’re going to be eating them somewhere where extra condiments aren’t an option.

The best parts of Hot Mess Wedges are pretty much the best parts of the Hot Mess Burger – gooey sauce and crunchy, hot jalapeño slices. Like the burger, they suffer a severe jalapeño shortage; unlike the burger, however, the Wedges suffer a serious lack of cheese distribution. Maybe if I ordered some Hot Mess Wedges with double the toppings next time, they’d be more worthwhile. But also more expensive.

Despite its flaws, I very much enjoyed the Hot Mess Burger. The combination of buttery sourdough, excessive amounts of melty cheese, onions, and jalapeños all combined to make a tasty, messy burger. I would have liked to have seen more come from the onion rings as well as the jalapeños, but that crazy cheese was what really got me.

As for the Hot Mess Wedges, they suffered from a severe lack of topping distribution, which is not uncommon for Jack in the Box Wedges. The toppings that were there were just as tasty on the wedges as they were on the burger, but I’d probably opt out on them next time around.

The real winner here, however, is the Hot Mess marketing campaign. I’m scoring the food, of course, but the mythos surrounding the burger is a definite 5 out of 5. Jack in the Box’s ability to make fun of itself and create an extensive and well-crafted marketing campaign is a skill that I wish other fast food corporations would pick up. I’d like to give them all a Sourdough Slap.

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Burger

  • Score: 4 out of 5 …What else? SPICY SPASMS
  • Price: $4.29
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #1165
  • Nutritional Quirks: Get your daily recommended intake of saturated fat all in one burger!

Jack in the Box Hot Mess Wedges

  • Score: 3 out of 5 Sadly absent Jalapeño Hammers
  • Price: $2.69
  • Size: 1 box
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #1165
  • Nutritional Quirks: 44 delicious grams of fat from one innocent box of potato wedges.

Man Reviews Food and The Impulsive Buy also got messy with the Hot Mess Burger.

Burger King Avocado and Swiss Burger

Burger King Avocado and Swiss Whopper BoxBurger King has a tradition of rolling out seasonal menus, which I think is a great idea, because it allows them to play around with adding new items without bloating their menu to the point of ridiculousness.

It also means that their seasonal items are only available for a limited time, and if you’re a sucker like me, “limited time” means “I’d better eat this crap before it goes away forever”.

In case you’re not aware of how seasons work, this is the time of year for BK’s winter menu. Among their offerings are the Italian Chicken Sandwich, which is not new but is making a comeback, and some new items, like the Philly Chicken Sandwich and Molten Fudge Bites, which I recently reviewed for The Impulsive Buy.

Today we’ll be looking at the Avocado and Swiss Whopper, which is another new item. BK is a little behind the times in the avocado burger craze – Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s has offered the Guacamole Bacon Burger for years and Wendy’s has had both burger and chicken offerings featuring the guac.

I’m surprised I never reviewed any of these, because I love me some avocados. I think, subconsciously, I figured I’d be prejudiced against them.

Fact of the matter is, I’m kind of a snob when it comes to this fatty fruit. I grew up around the corner from my grandparents, who had a giant, glorious avocado tree in their backyard. They were always so plentiful that I never even glanced at avocados at the grocery store.

When I moved to Arizona, I was disgusted by the avocados I saw at the store. What were these black, wrinkly things? They looked sad and rotten.

I had to educate myself to learn that if you see avocados at the store, you’re probably looking at Hass. My grandparents had a Fuerte tree. If you’ve ever been raised with home-grown produce, you probably understand – anything from the garden is going to taste better than what you can buy at the store, whether it’s all in your mind or it really is true.

So naturally, I will forever look at Hass as being inferior to Fuertes. It’s illogical. However, I’m all about expanding my horizons, so I’m giving the Avocado and Swiss Whopper a fair shake.

 Burger King Avocado and Swiss Whopper

Burger King says, “Our new Avocado and Swiss WHOPPER® Sandwich is ¼ lb* of savory fire-grilled beef, topped with naturally smoked thick-cut bacon, melted Swiss cheese, a creamy avocado spread, freshly cut iceberg lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and a zesty avocado aioli, all on a warm, toasted, sesame seed bun.”

There’s a lot going on, there. One of the first things I noticed is that the aioli (oooo, fancy) and the avocado spread combined to make a very saucy burger. You have to have confidence to eat this burger in public, because things are going to get messy.

I tasted the aioli, a word which would cost someone dearly on Wheel of Fortune, by itself, and it really was zesty, but I couldn’t taste much avocado in it.

Burger King Avocado and Swiss Whopper Halves

However, the zestiness of the sauce paired well with the avocado, which seemed like it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a spread or a slice. Half my burger had a chunky avocado paste, while the other had a big hunk of the fruit. I actually would have preferred if the whole burger had had avocado slices on it, because you could definitely taste more of it that way.

Burger King Avocado and Swiss Whopper Inside

The Swiss cheese did add some melty and creamy textures, but the flavor was swallowed up by the stronger elements. In fact, the avocado and the bacon were the strongest companions to the burger patty. The bacon was surprisingly crispy for a fast food burger, an attribute I feel is owed to the fact that it was, indeed, thick-cut.

Despite what sounds like a burger with a lot of competing elements, the Avocado and Swiss Whopper works. The zestiness of the aioli, plus the creaminess of the avocado and the cheese, are contrasted by the crunchy and smoky bacon, and the fire-grilled patty tied it all together. I could have done without the tomato and lettuce; they didn’t really add much, but they didn’t get in the way, either.

The Avocado and Swiss Whopper is a solid addition to Burger King’s winter menu. I would have liked to have had some nice, thick slices of avocado instead of a half-mashed spread, and the aioli could have just as easily been called “zesty” instead of “zesty avocado”, but the bacon was smoky and crunchy, which is rather rare for a fast food burger.

After my experience with this Whopper, I may try some of the other guac burgers out there. I’ll always love my Fuertes fresh off the tree, but I’m willing to keep an open mind and an open mouth when it comes to other avocados.

Burger King Avocado and Swiss Burger

  • Score: 4 out of 5 “sometimes Ys”
  • Price: $5.29
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: Weighing in with 1,510 milligrams of sodium, you’re gonna want to get a drink with that. And some napkins.

The Impulsive Buy also reviewed this burger.

Carl’s Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Six Dollar Version
Six Dollar Version

When Carl’s Jr. told me via email and Twitter that it was introducing a new burger on the 27th of this month, I ran out that very day to purchase one and tell the Internet what I thought about it. I was very excited – so excited that I actually left my hermit cave when it wasn’t deemed absolutely necessary. My local Carl’s is within walking distance of my apartment, but I was a douche and drove there anyways. Hey, I’m already leaving the house – asking me to walk somewhere would be stretching it too far.

I made sure to ask the lady in the drive-thru intercom if they actually had the new Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger, because I live in the asshole of the United States, which means there’s a strong possibility that it might not have been available at my local joint yet. But, lo and behold, she said they had them, so I went ahead and ordered one, thrilled with my good luck. I waited in a short line of cars, as it was lunchtime, took my bag, and went home, ready to take some pictures and write some insults.

But fortune was not on my side that day, for when I got home and opened the bag, instead of a Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger, I was greeted with a Charbroiled Chicken Club and a small order of Natural-Cut French Fries. Shocked, terrified, I checked my receipt:

Carl's Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger Receipt
Note the creative use of spelling next to the store number. That goes out on every receipt that leaves that Carl's. Very professional.

GRL CH BGR certainly sounds closer to what I ordered than what I got. The only conclusion I could come to is that I got someone else’s order, and, in turn, they will get my order. Sucks to you, chicken lover. I wanted that damn burger.

I threw the chicken sandwich in the fridge, disgusted, and ate the fries, seasoning them with my own tears of frustration and disappointment. I could have gone back and tried again, but the wind had been taken out of my sails. I could not leave the house again, not after what had happened. My only consolation – hey, free fries!

So I tried again yesterday, and actually managed to get what I ordered. Before we get to that, let’s explore what Carl’s Jr.’s marketing team thinks we should know about the Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger. Your options are Single, Double, or Six Dollar. I went with the Single, so we’ll go with that description from their website: “A charbroiled all beef patty topped with crispy bacon, slices of melted Swiss and American cheese, and mayonnaise served on toasted sourdough bread.”

So, a Sourdough Jack, then. Minus the tomatoes. Maybe a little more cheese.

But this is not what Carl’s Jr. wants you to think. Fast food companies seem to think they need to add a gimmick on to each new menu item they introduce, as if the American public will not try new food unless you have somehow tricked them into buying it. In the Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger’s case, the spin they are using is that you love grilled cheese sandwiches, you have loved them since you were a kid, and it is your ultimate comfort food. According to their press release, “Carl’s Jr.® has created the ultimate comfort food, Grilled Cheese Bacon Burgers™. Starting today, fans of the cheesy, gooey comfort food can try one of the new Carl’s Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burgers, which features all the comfort and deliciousness of the grilled cheese sandwich mom used to make, with the addition of a delicious charbroiled burger and bacon.”

The Executive VP of Marketing for Carl’s Jr. goes on to describe the “funny story” of how the GCBB was born, saying that they were looking to make some vegetarian menu items, came up with grilled cheese, and then some asshole said, “Fuck the vegetarians, let’s make this a motherfucking hamburger! With bacon! Motherfucking meat, you motherfucking carnivores! Fuck those pussies!”

…I’m not sure if that’s exactly how it went down, since I wasn’t at the meeting, but I assume I got it about right. So, the GCBB was born, but you can also get a grilled cheese sandwich if you like. But that doesn’t get its own press release or marketing campaign. Suck it, vegetarian pussies.

So, in conclusion, Carl’s Jr. wants you to buy their bacon cheeseburger on a sourdough bun and believe you are turning back the clock to simpler times, when you didn’t have a mortgage, or a job, or a spouse that you secretly hate, or children that are eating your soul. Bite into a GCBB and all your cares will melt away, much like how the delicious cheese on the burger melts down the sides of that succulent charbroiled meat.

Carl's Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger Cheese

Well, not quite. I got home with my new burger and unwrapped it eagerly, and this is what I saw. Not exactly what the marketing picture looks like. Of course, that picture is of the Six Dollar version, but still. I mean, look at the top bun of that promo burger. It looks like you could attach some legs to it and turn it into an end table.

Carl's Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger Bacon

But, that’s okay, we all know that the real thing never lives up to the advertisement pictures when it comes to food. My bun doesn’t look very toasted at all, the bacon looks like typical weak, limp fast food bacon, but hey, the cheese does look melty and plentiful. Take me away, Carl’s Jr.!

Carl's Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger Cut

Hm. Not so much. The burger itself tastes good, delivering that charbroiled taste that I think makes Carl’s burgers better than McDonald’s or Burger King’s. The cheese is, indeed, melty and plentiful. It does succeed at being the star of the show; with each bite, you get lots of gooey cheese that works perfectly with the meat. Unfortunately, to get that consistency, fast food restaurants use all that processed cheese, so you’re getting a lot of that processed flavor. Which doesn’t bother me; I can get over that artificial taste, but I’m sure it’s not for everyone. But hey, what kind of cheese did your mom use when she used to make you grilled cheese sandwiches? If you’re the average American kid, it was probably Kraft American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product. If not, then nuts to you. Stop being so hoity-toity. It’s uncouth.

There’s so much cheese , in fact, that it almost entirely drowns out the bacon, which isn’t such a terrible sin, since the bacon is small, limp, and lacking in flavor. The mayonnaise disappears also, but that’s perfectly fine. Mayo is not supposed to be the star. If mayo is the star, your burger is having a problem.

I think the real problem with this burger is the bun. In trying to emulate a grilled cheese sandwich, they’ve gone with sourdough, which I love. However, they’ve missed one important part, which is “grilled”. Bob, an occasional JFB writer, also got a GCBB, and his bread was just as un-toasted as mine was. The butter was there, but the toasting was not, which resulted in a soggy bun with no satisfying toast flavor or crunch. A grilled cheese sandwich that is not toasted properly is no grilled cheese sandwich at all. It’s just a sad, buttery mess.

If you can get yourself one that’s actually grilled, the Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger isn’t a bad burger. Even with untoasted bread, it wasn’t terrible, it was just…meh. I guess you could say it is kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, in that bread and cheese are involved, but once you add a burger, it’s a freakin’ burger, man. It’s a burger with a little extra cheese and a different bun. Honestly, it’s a Sourdough Jack, and frankly, I’ll take the Sourdough Jack over the GCBB because they actually toast their bread. And tomatoes are yummy. So, you know, give it a try if you’ve got a Carl’s nearby, but don’t go too far out of your way for it. Hey, maybe your Carl’s will actually toast it for you. But if there’s a Jack in the Box on the way, just swing in there and get a Sourdough Jack instead. The meat might not be as good, but the sandwich will be better overall.

  • Score: 2 out of 5 sad, soggy buns
  • Price: $1.99, although the Carl’s Jr. press release says a Single costs $2.49.  Eat it, rest of the nation!
  • Size: 1 burger of unknown weight
  • Purchased at: Carl’s Jr. #828
  • Nutritional Quirks: Has “grilled” in the name; no actual grilling performed.

Whataburger A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger

Whataburger Thick & Hearty Gone

Whataburger’s A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger has been an off-and-on limited edition menu item for at least a few years now. I’m not sure why they feel the need to compulsively add it to the lineup, take it away after a few months, and then bring it back around a year later, but I suppose Whataburger can do whatever Whataburger wants. Maybe it drums up excitement and anticipation in the burger community. I don’t know. I didn’t go to burger college.

Whatever the reason, it’s moot now, as Whataburger has decided to do away with it forever. As you can see in the banner above, as of December 21, 2009, the A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger will no longer exist to satisfy your meaty cravings. I have had several of them over the years, and wouldn’t usually do a review on something that has become fairly commonplace to me, but I feel I owe it to the T&H to give it a proper send-off and immortalize it on the Internet.

Whataburger Thick & Hearty Wrap

For those of you who don’t live in the ten select states in the southern part of the United States that have Whataburgers, Whataburger is like a higher-end fast food burger joint. Sort of like In-n-Out, but with a more expanded menu. You can walk in or drive thru, but either way, your wait is going to be longer than it would be at a place like Burger King or McDonald’s, and the food is going to be a little more expensive. Conversely, the food will be of higher quality. If you want to see what you’re missing, you can take a gander  here.

Whataburger wants to make sure that you know you should be seriously mourning the passing of the A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger. We’re talking weeping, pulling hair, rending clothes. There’s a commercial out now that shows a man standing in front of a Whataburger counter; once he catches a glimpse of the “Gone Forever” announcement on the menu above the cashier’s head, he goes through the seven stages of grief, throwing his body on the counter, shaking his head, and generally acting like that homeless guy who gets a free cup of coffee at McDonald’s so he’ll go away and stop making the other customers uncomfortable.

Whataburger wants to make sure that you do not end up becoming that homeless man due to going mentally insane from grief and despair, so they’ve set up a website where you can “let the healing begin”. You can view other people’s fond memories of the burger, support a friend, find some coping tips, or sign a virtual card bidding farewell to what is apparently supposed to be a close friend of yours. A hamburger. Listen, I’m not here to judge, if your best friend is a hamburger from a fast food joint, then that’s your business. Whatever floats your boat. Some of my best friends are hamburgers. I’m just saying.

Whataburger Thick & Hearty Whole

To be honest with you, I am sad to see it go. It is a pretty darn delicious burger. There’s two generously sized beef patties, not suffering from the anemia of other fast food burger patties; when you bit into it, you feel like you’re getting a real, juicy, meaty burger, instead of that familiar feeling of “I’m not exactly sure if this is made out of beef, but I guess I’ll eat it anyways.” The bun is a little flatter and denser than most other burgers, but it tastes fine (I mean really, how much can you say about a damn bun), and the denseness makes you feel like you’re holding a substantial sandwich. The cheese is strategically placed between the patties, so it oozes out as you take a bite. However, the real stars of the show, what sets it apart from a regular burger, are on top.

Whataburger Thick & Hearty Side

A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce is slathered on the top bun. It differs from the original A.1. Steak sauce in that it is both thicker and heartier, a shocking discovery, given the name of the product. It’s also a little sweeter and smokier than the original, more in the vein of barbecue sauce than steak sauce, with less of a vinegar taste. The bacon is a bit limp, an epidemic trait amongst fast food bacon, but it’s still a little crisper and more flavorful than you’d find on other fast food burgers that employ bacon.

While the A.1. sauce is obviously supposed to be the star of the show, what I was really surprised by was how much the onions turn this burger up a notch.

Whataburger Thick & Hearty Open

Seemingly innocuous in their bath of sauce, you would expect these little chopped onions to be spongy and flavorless. Instead, they add a welcomed bright note to the burger, giving it a great crunch and mild but definitely present onion flavor that ties together the meatiness of the beef and the smokiness of the sauce.

While not the greatest burger of all time, the Whataburger A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger is a step above your ordinary bacon cheeseburger, and if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the ten states that have a Whataburger, I’d recommend that you get out there and try one before they disappear forever on December 21st. Sure, you could make a close facsimile at home with ease, but if you’re on the road and looking for a shitty burger to satisfy your protein cravings, the Thick & Hearty burger is a tasty and unique option that will leave your belly and your taste buds satisfied.

  • Score: 4 out of 5 overly dramatic send-offs
  • Price: $5.09
  • Size: 1 1/2 lb. hamburger
  • Purchased at: Whataburger #421
  • Nutritional Quirks: Contains 120% of your daily recommended saturated fat intake; also contains “bun oil”.