Wendy’s “W” Burger

Pros about living in New England: we’re awesome. Oceans. Ascots. A distinct lack of accents outside of Bahstahn and New Hampshah. Bleeding heart liberalism is pretty sweet most of the time.

Cons about living in New England: We have roughly four fast food restaurants, approximately none of which are ever test markets. In all honesty, that might be my biggest pet peeve. I live in an area a hair too far away from Maine, which carries the McLobster, and lack an appreciation of the irony that would entail eating a McPizza in freaking New Haven, Connecticut, home of two of the world’s greatest pizza restaurants.
So what would normally take ten minutes for anyone living in a normal state took FF and I a rollicking two hour drive to go to a better Wendy’s than any of the Wendy’s around in the quest for the elusive “W” burger. The “W,” surprisingly not provoking any jokes or lawsuits from our former president, is actually a play on words, “double…you?” Well, it partially delivers on that front, with two 2.5 ounce beef patties, two slices of American cheese, a loveable cast of vegetable rag-tags, a signature sauce, and a softer, artisan buttered bun. At its best, a burger with an affordable price point for those whose hunger isn’t small enough to be satisfied by the dollar menu and those who just don’t feel like breaking out the big guns. At its worst, a glorified and more expensive McDouble. Size-wise, it seemed fairly average for a burger, even a fast food one. Not too big or too small. The first immediate issue with this burger was its scent- as soon as I extracted it from its paper prison, a fake nacho cheesy scent emitted from its core. It was definitely freaky, but I ignored it and forged on, figuring the restaurant itself smelled weird or something. The burger is stacked pretty tall, but the height isn’t so unreasonably high that it needs to be squished in order to get a bite of every topping in your mouth. And that’s good, because the squishy bun practically falls apart with a stern glare.
As far as toppings go, nothing really distinguishes it from other fast food burgers on the market, aside from the special sauce on top. Wendy’s describes this as a soybean oil-based, sweet honey mustard flavored sauce. I would normally be all over this sauce, but the flavor of the sauce was so mild that all that remained was the viscous, runny texture and a slick, oily mouthfeel in every bite. Not an appealing way to start the meal. The veggies were incredibly fresh, with the exception of the pickles, limp, translucent shells of their former selves, with an unfortunately mild, bitter flavor, lacking any acidity. The beef was thin and crispy, with a smoky, moist flavor, but had a chunky, chewy texture similar to leftover meatloaf.
Like the release of Justin Bieber into human society, one small thing led to the utter demise of a greater, more complex being, in this case, the poor quality of the pickles led to the downfall of this burger. Without the pickles providing a much needed foil to the assault of cheese, sauce, butter, and a rich bun, the only tangy bite coming from this was the red onions. It’s like putting a 1996 engineless Camry in a drag race with a Ferrari. It just can’t compete. The dairy elements in this were truly unctuous- heed that as a word of advice from a shameless lactophile. Alone, or scaled down, they might have been somewhat appealing, but all three milk-based ingredients combined completely overwhelmed almost any additional flavor this burger attempted to have, with the aforementioned popcorn butter residue and gooey nacho cheese flavor absolutely persistent and infused into every cranny of the sandwich.
I can understand what the motives were in creating a burger that allowed a maximum amount of toppings for the consumer with a lower price point, and I genuinely appreciate that. Having a somewhat subdued appetite myself, it seems like something I’d get behind when my dollar menu fantasies were no longer hitting the right chords. But the exuberance works against them with an imbalanced flavor and makes for a sandwich that takes away your hunger not because you’re full, but because you’re mildly repulsed.

One thought on “Wendy’s “W” Burger”

  1. re: “Cons about living in New England: We have roughly four fast food restaurants, approximately none of which are ever test markets.”…

    Ain’t THAT the truth! Now, I pretty much eschew fast food anyway, but maybe that’s because all we in New England have are the 3 biggies, and barely anything else. Friends and relatives from “away” can seemingly rattle off a long list of “burger joints” that can at least provide a variety of mediocre food. An even more disturbing trend is the “chain tease” in which fast food chains about which you have always been curious open one store for every 10 million inhabitants of New England. Sonic would be an example of that. Do THEY know that WE know better? I mean, yes, certainly, our New England taste buds are just as discriminating as every other “too good for everyone else” fiber in our bodies, but, still, we are an adventurous (read: progressive) bunch, aren’t we?

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