To satisfy my weekend craving for a good, tasty burger, I have lots of choices. But yesterday I decided to check out the "new" Hot 'N Juicy cheeseburger line at Wendy's. According to the promotional material, the sandwiches come with "New premium toppings" including crinkle-cut pickles, sweet red onions and "thick hand-sliced tomato" accompanied by "juicier, thicker beef" on a "buttered, toasted" bun. Looking at the pic above, doesn't that look tasty? Here's what I got:
If it seems like I am bagging on chains for their new entries a lot lately, I'd only say that the food needs to live up to the hype. And it is only going to be as good as the local store makes it - so if you are going to show a beautiful gigantic burger and then deliver a compressed hockey puck, well the pictures speak for themselves.
The Hot 'N Juicy line replaces the core burger menu. That is, the standard Single, Double and Triple all now bear the H'NJ moniker. The sandwich is assembled with cheese on the bottom, then meat, then cheese, then lettuce, onion, pickles, tomato (look at that "thick, hand-sliced" number on mine) and mayo. Yes, the bun is toasted. Yes, everything is there. But c'mon, this is not a premium burger and I tasted little difference between this and the last 1/4lb Single I had before the change.
Here's something else that is odd. Before heading to my local Wendy's, I looked up the new burger on their website. Here's the nutrition page:
It might be hard to see, but note that "Dave's Hot 'N Juicy 1/4 lb. Single" is shown to include Applewood Smoked Bacon and Honey Mustard Sauce. Um, what? Now, I was positive this was a mistake, but was curious enough to just order the sandwich straight as on the board (a "Number one" combo) and, of course, these two ingredients are MIA. Wendy's, your burgers should be sloppy, not your information.
Speaking of sloppy, we should address the base implication of a "Hot 'N Juicy" product. That is, the burger should be both hot and juicy. Putting aside the fact that "juicy" meat just sounds gross when you think of it by itself, how was my burger? Again, not much difference between this and the previous. I have always liked Wendy's burgers for their taste - the right balance of meatiness, saltiness and juiciness that is balanced well against the condiments. But I was not blown away on first bite thinking "Hey this IS juicier."
So, on the hit-or-miss scale, I'd put this one right on the line. If you like Wendy's burgers, you will be happy with this. If you are looking for something different from what you have had in the past, you might need to look elsewhere. Like maybe the "Baconator."