Where fast food is concerned, the chain that makes the most money is never the one that makes the best food. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
McDonald’s and Burger King, for example, have been number one and two since precooked meat patties were invented, while In-N-Out, despite being loved by Julia Child and voted top five on the Zagat survey’s “best fast food title” for years in a row, only has 258 locations, and comes in 45 on QSR‘s top 50 fast food chains list. In-N-Out even lags behind White Castle in sales.
Though I consider this to be one of the great laws of fast food (like “fries are only to be consumed while hot” and “don’t leave leftovers in your car”), a new development makes me question the theory.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Wendy’s is about to overtake Burger King as the second highest-earning fast food company for the first time since Dave Thomas opened his first store in Columbus Ohio in 1969. “Wendy’s U.S. same-store sales are forecast to rise 1.1%, while Burger King’s U.S. and Canada same-store sales will drop 3.9%, according to market-research firm Technomic Inc.,” wrote WSJ.
That means sales at Wendy’s U.S. restaurants—both franchised and company-owned—are on track to be $8.42 billion or $53 million higher than Burger King’s this year, according to an analysis conducted for The Wall Street Journal by Technomic. That’s in line with expectations from some other analysts. The outcome will become clear when the two companies report fourth-quarter results early next year.
For what may be the first time in fast food history, this reordering of top earners reflects the quality of the food. Wendy’s sandwiches and sides are unequivocally better than Burger King’s from the square burgers which can actually be described as “meaty,” to the sea salt fries, to the best fast food chicken sandwich on earth, the Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which I’m pretty sure was ordained by God.
And it’s not that Wendy’s has outgrown Burger King physically. Wendy’s has roughly 5,800 stores across the U.S., where as Burger King has 7,200.
Beating McDonald’s, however, will still take herculean effort on Wendy’s part. The true king of burgers has more restaurants than Wendy’s and BK combined, and over four times the national sales. I still have hope that the pigtailed ginger can take on the scary clown, and that maybe some day Shake Shack or Five Guys will reign supreme over them all.
Until then, long live the best unofficial combo meal known to man: a large fries and a chocolate Frosty.
[Image Via MyBreakfastBlog]