Let’s start with the elephant in the room: naming a product “Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy” anything is just asking for the more childish among us to snicker uncontrollably and make jokes about hot beef injections.Â (Lest you think it’s just me, my wife â€“ an actual woman with emotions and maturity and all that — was the one to bring it up.Â So there.)Â Itâ€™s the same reason seafood restaurants donâ€™t advertise their moist, steamy clams that are easier to open with alcohol.Â Just not a good idea.
Name aside, the Hot â€˜N Juicy Burgers mark a major and apparently permanent change for Wendy’s.Â We all know what to expect from fast food burgers, and being square doesnâ€™t make theirs any different.Â But now, someone has awoken the sleeping giant.Â What, you ask?Â Normally I wouldnâ€™t bother, but you guys are awesome, so I undertook a Google search at great personal expense and wasted productivity, learning that the Hot ‘N Juicy Burger is apparently Wendy’s attempt to catch up with McDonald’s and Burger King and to stay ahead of emerging competitors like Five Guys.Â They plan to accomplish this goal by beefing up (pun intended yet immediately regretted) the quality of their burgers with thicker patties, better toppings, and buttered, toasted buns.
Which is all well and good, but color me puce (the color of skepticism).Â Talk is cheap, so I headed to my nearest Wendy’s and picked up one of their new burgers of the future.Â I’m normally partial to bacon cheeseburgers, because itâ€™s like saying to nature, “My hideous cravings cannot be satiated by the flesh of but one animal.Â Only multiple sacrifices will garner my favor.”Â And anything that makes you feel like a Greek god without having to resort to infanticide or bestiality is a winner in my book.Â But this time I chose to forgo the bacon because I couldn’t risk its presence artificially inflating the score.Â Let’s face it: bacon makes everything better.Â Itâ€™s the breast implants of the food world.Â Ergo, if you choose to unleash its mighty power, you can probably bump up the score a point or two.
And the overall verdict is… well, I think the Hot ‘N Juicy Burger is better.Â Understand that I usually order the 99 cent double stacks or junior bacon cheeseburgers, which have dulled my taste buds.Â Buying one of those is like a tacit agreement between you and Wendyâ€™s wherein they cut you a break on price, and you pretend your burger isn’t 65% sawdust and rat grundles.Â This new offering is definitely better than those, but I don’t know how much better it is than the previous 1/4 lb. cheeseburger.Â (Also: this is a tangent, but if itâ€™s actually 1/4 lb., then “thicker patties” is a nonsensical claim.Â Iâ€™m not an idiot, so donâ€™t imply Iâ€™m getting more burger if the actual weight remains the same.Â And if itâ€™s greater than 1/4 lb., change the damn name.)
Still, it’s pretty good.Â Not perfect, but the meat was flavorful, plentiful, and as the name suggests, fairly juicy.Â (It was hot too, but I’d prefer to keep that between me and Dave, if you donâ€™t mind.)Â On the negative side, it didn’t taste any less greasy than their previous burgers.Â You can see from the picture that the cheese is far more melted than they used to bother making it.Â The bun definitely looks less smushed and tasted crispier than their prior offerings, no doubt due to the toasting, which is clearly evident in terms of a nice brown on both halves of the bun.Â I couldnâ€™t personally taste any butter, but I’ll take their word for it that it’s in there.Â My overall impression was that this is indeed an improved burger, though not one you’ll be mistaking for a bar burger unless you’re actually IN a bar getting sloshed.
In the interest of total fairness, many of the upgrades Wendy’s is boasting about lie with the toppings: red onions instead of white; better, crinkled pickles; and whole-fat mayonnaise.Â As has been well documented, I’m not a vegetables or extraneous toppings kind of guy, excepting meatstuffs of course.Â Having opted for a plain cheeseburger, I can’t comment on whether the new and improved toppings make a big difference to the overall taste or not, but you might find that to be the case.
So with all these improvements, what’s the catch?Â Well, Wendy’s has admitted that though franchisees set their own prices, the cost of a burger will probably rise slightly because of the higher-quality ingredients.Â I don’t know what the price of a quarter pounder was at my local Wendy’s prior to the revamp, but I’ll offer that $4.09 for a fast food burger feels really steep.Â My daughters shouldn’t both have to marry rich just so daddy can afford a better burger, and the guys at the drive-thru have stopped falling for my “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger to-day” routine.
Ultimately, if youâ€™ve never been a fan of fast food burgers before, the Hot â€˜N Juicy Burger is unlikely to change your mind.Â And the fact that it’s 520 calories with nothing but cheese on it is, well, not unexpected but still distressing.Â But if you were okay with them before, youâ€™re in for a treat, albeit one that may be coming out of your own wallet.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1/4 lb.. cheeseburger with no toppings â€“ 520 calories, 250 calories from fat, 27 grams of total fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,030 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugars, 30 grams of protein.)
Item: Wendy’s Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy 1/4 lb. Single Cheeseburger
Size: 1/4 lb.
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Keeping up with the Joneses.Â Feeling like a Greek god.Â Flavorful meat.Â Melty cheese.Â Apparently better toppings.Â Toastiest buns outside of Chippendale’s.Â A really nice set of… bacon.
Cons: Pairing provocative adjectives with a dead guy’s name.Â “Thicker patty” scam where the weight stays the same.Â Rat grundles.Â Hefty price.Â Still pretty greasy.Â