Wendy's Remakes Its Burgers

By Mary Collins

Wendy's Remakes Its Burgers

September 20, 2011 Updated Sep 20, 2011 at 8:16 AM EDT

NEW YORK (Indiana's NewsCenter)---- When Wendy's decided to remake its 42-year-old hamburger, the chain agonized over every detail.

A pickle chemist was consulted. Customers were quizzed on their lettuce knowledge. And executives went on a cross-country burger-eating tour.

The result? Dave's Hot 'N Juicy, named after late Wendy's founder Dave Thomas. The burger — with extra cheese, a thicker beef patty, a buttered bun, and hold the mustard, among other changes.

Executives at the 6,600-restaurant chain spent the past two and a half years going over burger minutiae during an undertaking they call Project Gold Hamburger. That included deciding whether to switch from white onions on its burgers to red (they did), to change the fat/lean ratio of the meat (they didn't), or to go with plain or crinkled pickles (they picked crinkled.)

Wendy's is trying to boost lackluster sales and fight growing competition from much bigger rival McDonald's on one end and expanding fast-casual chains like Five Guys on the other. Part of the problem is that Americans in the economic downturn are being pickier about how they spend their dining-out dollars. But the biggest issue is that Wendy's, which hadn't changed its burger since the chain began in 1969, let its food offerings get stale while competitors updated their menus.

In the end, Wendy's changed everything but the ketchup. It switched to whole-fat mayonnaise, nixed the mustard, and cut down on the pickles and onions — all to emphasize the flavor of the beef. The chain also started storing the cheese at higher temperatures so it would melt better, a change that required federal approval.

Change is good - but hard Wendy's acknowledges that remaking a burger that's been around for more than four decades isn't easy.

Wendy's also says that it knows some customers may not like the new burger — or its price. At a time when Americans are cutting back, Wendy's says prices for the burgers will likely increase because of the higher-quality ingredients, maybe by 10 or 20 cents.




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