Thursday, June 14, 2012

The death of the Wendy's hamburger

    When Wendy's Hamburgers came onto the scene in a big way 30 years ago I was their biggest fan. I don't know whether it was because I loved their hamburgers or because I hated McDonald's.
    You see, when I would go into McDonald's, I would order a hamburger and make a big production of saying, "Please no cheese, please no cheese, please no cheese." "No ketchup! No ketchup! No ketchup!" I would then get my burger and it would be covered with slimy American cheese and a great big splat of ketchup. (Is there a greater afront to our national honor than to have a product so vile named "American" cheese?)
    Wendy's would let me order the hamburger the way I wanted it, with mustard, pickle, and onion -- the way most people at burgers before McDonald's started pouring ketchup on them. I would usually have to ask for extra mustard, because most establishments apply mustard with an eye-dropper, but I could get my burger the way I wanted it.
    Wendy's would still try to sell the cheese, at a 40-cent upcharge. I would always specify that I wanted a hamburger and they would always ask if I wanted cheese on it. I would decline, and would sometimes point out that you can't put cheese on a hamburger. After getting a quizical look, I would explain that I had ordered a hamburger and if you add cheese it becomes a cheeseburger, which I would have ordered had I wanted the cheese. I actually wrote my weekly column for the Daily Mississippian on this subject one week and made the local Wendy's people pretty miserable for a few days as a number of students took up my cause.
    Wendy's has solved this problem. They have taken hamburgers completely off the menu. The last Wendy's I went to didn't offer a single hamburger -- all they had was cheeseburgers.
    If it was good cheese, I might not mind. I love cheddar cheese, even pepper jack. Port of Call in New Orleans tops its steak burgers with shreadded cheddar that isn't quite melted all the way. It tastes great (the long-closed Ruby Red's down the street was even better). But I don't want the Wendy's slimy cheese.
    Wendy's doesn't give me a choice. Oh, they'll take the cheese off if I ask, but accounting for inflation they've raised the price of the sandwich by around 60 cents to cover the cost of the cheese. It's not fair and a rip-off.
    The sign outside of every Wendy's restaurant promises that they sell "Old Fashioned Hamburgers." When one goes in to discover that do not have a single hamburger on the menu, they are engaging in false advertising. They are actually lying to and misleading the public. It's false advertising.
    We are a nation of fat people. For those who actually enjoy a slice of slime on their burger, fine, go ahead and get it. But it ought to be an option, not something restaurants force on people by making them pay for it whether they want it or not. Restaurants shouldn't advertise that they sell hamburgers when they only sell cheeseburgers. I would hope that the government officials who investigate false advertising would at least look into this.
    I'm not going to say I'll never enter a Wendy's again. But I know when I get a hamburger there that I'm being cheated out of 60 or more cents. That puts them way down on my list. Way, way down.

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