I don’t usually spend much time in these reviews talking about my day job, and for good reason: the only thing more boring than your own job is hearing about someone else’s. As it is, most of you are only reading this to grab five minutes away from the drudgery of your workday, why would you want to hear about mine?
Nonetheless, I’m going to break my own rule to tell you that a large part of my day involves using someone’s personality traits to predict how they might perform in various jobs. When an individual shows signs of being a creative risk taker, I’ll often tell their potential employer, “This person is going to want to come in and make some changes. It’s not that your current processes are necessarily ‘broken,’ but very few things in life are perfect, and this is the type of guy who’s always looking for ways to make improvements.”
Why do I bring that up? Because more so than most foods, you’d have a hard time finding any non-vegetarian who would argue that the cheeseburger is broken, let alone a bacon cheeseburger. What’s there to fix? Most keyboards won’t even let you type the words “bacon” and “broken” in the same sentence. I just had to cut and paste that, and Spellcheck still asked three times if it was really what I wanted to write. I suspect it’s going to change it to “Canadian bacon” on its own initiative.
Be that as it may, Wendy’s is having a go at improving the cheeseburger, and you can bet it came from the brain of one of those outside-the-box thinkers. Inevitably she was driving to work one day and suddenly thought, wait… what if we took everything that’s great about bacon cheeseburgers and added America’s favorite street vendor food? Who could say no to that? Wendy’s is hoping the answer is “Not you,” although you’ve wisely chosen to seek out my counsel before hitting up the drive-thru. Check and mate, Dave Thomas.
In concept this is a pretty simple change — they’re not replacing the patty with ostrich meat or rolling out a new cheese invented specifically for this sandwich, they’re just replacing the standard type of bun with pretzel bread. It does come with sweet & smoky honey mustard sauce, though they will leave that off upon request, only 50 percent of the time with a follow-up look of “What are you, a weirdo?” Otherwise, the most dramatic adjustment is that it looks significantly larger than standard Wendy’s burgers.
Like a woman walking behind Matthew McConaughey and Bradley Cooper, I actually do like the buns; but these pretzel rolls retain their shape better and are just overall taller than the standard buns. If you’re used to eating regular Wendy’s burgers, you may actually find yourself having to open your mouth wider, which should be good practice for when they unveil their new fall product, a live pig.
Okay, so the pretzel buns look appetizing, but how does that translate to taste? Pretty well, all things considered. We’ve all been out at a sporting event and bitten into a pretzel that you know was made the last time your team was good. (Cubs fans, I feel you.) The exterior is as hard as tungsten, the inside practically flakes into dust instead of twisting softly into your mouth, and all the salt has congealed together into one large land mass, possibly inhabited by primitive sodium men.
I’m glad to say Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger doesn’t fall prey to any of those. The exterior is firmer than your average bread bun, true, but it still yields with a nice crunch when you bite into it, and that carries through to the inside as well. It’s chewy without being overly so, and the flavor doesn’t intrude on or overwhelm the taste of the meat or cheese. As for them, you can see from the picture that the bacon was plentiful. The cheese was fine, nothing especially noticeable but decent, and the burger was grilled well. For a man who usually orders Jr. Cheeseburgers, this is the good stuff.
So what’s the bad news? Well, if it seems odd that I haven’t used the word “salt” more, it’s because there isn’t any. Or rather, there’s the colossal, turn-your-stomach-if-you-really-think-about-it amount contained in the beef and bacon and cheese, but there aren’t any large granules on the pretzel bun. I don’t know if they tested it and found it was just too salty, but I’d at least like to have the option. Because without it, this really isn’t that much different than eating a regular (good) bacon cheeseburger. Still awesome, but really… the bun is the last thing you notice about a juicy burger with toppings.
It’s like a long snapper in football: important, but still the least noticeable component. You’re inevitably going to value the bacon and beef and cheese and honey mustard far more, and they haven’t changed. Plus, perhaps this goes without saying, but eating more than one of these burgers in a year automatically disqualifies you for health insurance. Eat three and Chris Christie will personally visit your house to ask what the hell you think you’re doing.
This puts me in an uncomfortable position as far as the rating goes. The addition is minor, enjoyable but really not that much of an upgrade; yet it’s being added to what was already a superior product. Do you give Apple props for adding a camera to the iPad even though no one wants to hold up a tablet to take pictures? Most people seem to, and after all, it’s hard to fault a genuinely good fast food burger just because the titular improvement is easy to forget after two bites.
Either way, this is definitely worth trying for yourself — act quickly, as it’s a limited-time summer food unless it proves popular enough to hang around. (Because God forbid we have a pretzel-and-beef snack food still available for Oktoberfest…)
(Nutrition Facts – Single burger – 680 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 13 grams of monounsaturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1110 milligrams of sodium, 540 milligrams of potassium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, 37 grams of protein.)
Item: Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger
Purchased Price: $5.69 (burger only)
Size: 1/4 lb burger
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Really looks appetizing. Doesn’t skimp on bacon. Not being a Cubs fan. Firm but not tough pretzel bun. Individual cardboard box rather than just a wrapper = swank. “Oh, you hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” ~Drew Carey
Cons: No salt on the pretzel bun. Uppity Spellcheck. Being a 2013 Phillies fan. Not exactly your cheapest meal option. If I’d seen the nutritional facts of a value meal beforehand, I would’ve just punched myself in the crotch a few times instead.