Believe it or not, long before the days Burger King became Smoothie Queen and BBQ Pork Noble, the chain actually focused most of its attention on hamburgers. And, what’s more, that creepy looking, high-as-a-kite King mascot of theirs actually cooked up a few tasty options for a buck. The Whopper Jr., anyone? Or how can we forget the Buck Double. A meal for a King, these items were not. But when it came to the dollar menu hierarchy of the Fast Food Court, they commanded some high praise.
Flash forward to the Burger Renaissance. The feudal days of cheap, dollar-menu burgers have all but disappeared, with burgers from the Big Three blurring the definition between fast food and fast casual. A few holdovers still exist on the value menus, but with beef prices rising at staggering rates, the dawning of a new burger age seems to have all but triumphed over the cheap burger nostalgia of a decade ago.
Burger King’s new Bacon Burger looks to recapture some of that nostalgia, mostly at the expense of former $1 offering like the Single Stacker and the Whopper Jr., which at my local BK were priced at $1.19 and $1.49, respectively. At a buck, the new Bacon Burger ditches the cheese in favor of “naturally smoked thick-cut bacon” and “creamy mayonnaise.” Why don’t they just say it? Food prices are going up, so we’re cutting back. LIVE WITH IT.
The burger is nothing if not “value” sized, with your standard puny Whopper Jr. hamburger patty. The bun to burger ratio obviously favors the bun by a substantial margin, but what the puny patty lacks in girth it makes up for with taste. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always found Burger King’s flame-broiled patties to be beefier, sweeter, and just more satisfying than the likes of McDonald’s and Wendy’s, even when shrunken to Lunchables-sized portions. It’s that flame-grilled, sweet aftertaste which affords me to overlook the unfortunate laws of fast food value burgers, which, if you didn’t know, don’t exactly come at a temperature of your choice.
The beef might be good by fast food value standards, but problems abound. Let’s start with the mayo, which covers up that small patty and drowns out the flavor in an insipid cloud of white. Good God, what a worthless condiment!
Don’t get me wrong, it serves its place on a BLT and the like, but here it just manages to turn the otherwise soft and malty sesame seed bun to a soggy mess on the interior, in the process drowning out the salty-sweet-acidic kick you’d normally get from the ketchup.
The onion is almost nowhere to be found, and despite loudly proclaiming this as their “Bacon Burger,” the bacon comes up short. It’s not bad – smoky, crisp, admirably meaty by fast food standards – but it’s underrepresented. What appears to be two halves of a single small slice don’t give you the kind of diameter-spanning coverage you’d want in such a small burger, while the lack of chewy and grassy fat limits its flavor. And can we talk about why lettuce and tomato were left out of the party? You have bacon. You have mayo. Seems to make sense to me to add some relief from at least a little herbage.
I don’t know about you, but if you’re going to name something a Bacon Burger, I’d expect bacon to be exploding out of the damn thing, much like the horribly unrealistic promotional photo hung in the windows. That, or I’d expect you to go all Slater’s 50/50 on us.
Be that as it may, the BK Bacon Burger serves a purpose for cheapskates everywhere who cling to the idea of that American right of cow munching for just a buck. Likewise, for those of us who could care less for the worthlessness of a barely melted half of American cheese, it makes sense to take any bacon where you can get it. If anything is wrong with the BK Bacon Burger, it’s the fact that it’s an unfortunate reality of market forces, forcing the downsizing of the beefy goodness and smoky brilliance that otherwise could pass for a Hamburger with Bacon.
My suggestion for the cheapskate braving this brave new burger world? Nibble, and bring your own tomatoes.
(Nutrition Facts – Bacon Burger – 320 calories, 17 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.)
Item: Burger King BK Bacon Burger
Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 105 grams
Purchased at: Burger King, albeit, not in the Burger Castle
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Flame grilled burger taste on the cheap. Good beefy flavor. Surprisingly smoky and crisp bacon. Sesame Seed Bun lovage. Keeping the dollar menu memories alive.
Cons: Too much mayo overpowers small patty. Bacon lacks full burger coverage. Bun is too big for the beef, while lettuce and tomato would be nice. Economic reality. Missing the creepy King mascot.