If it costs a buck, we’ll eat it. That’s the official motto inscribed above the door here at Lunch Guys headquarters.
We live by that not just because we’re cheap, but also because the national restaurant chains actually do a decent job of offering hit-the-spot lunches on their dollar menus.
Case in point is McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, our most favorite dollar item ever.
Now Wendy’s is mounting a challenge with its 99-cent Double Stack. Given the choice, where are we going to spend our hard-earned buck?
Chris: It’s an open secret, Tom, that McDonald’s actually does not make the best tasting burger. Of the big three burger joints, Wendy’s wins for me. So I thought for sure that the Double Stack might knock off the warm, salty, comforting Double Cheeseburger from the top of the food chain.
Tom, you’ve never heard me say this, but I was so wrong.
The Wendy’s Double Stack is as cold as Wendy’s fries, both in temperature and in overall vibe. The top half is promising, with a slice of onion, ketchup, mustard, pickles and a cheese slice on the first of two square patties, themselves either shrunken versions of the Wendy’s classic burger or enlarged, hole-less White Castles.
The problem is, there’s no chemistry between the two patties. McDonald’s has a second cheese slice melting and bonding the two; Wendy’s, nothing. They just lie on top of each other like platonic roommates. No heat.
Alongside that were my 99-cent fries that also seemed like soul-less, relatively salt-less versions of McDonald’s iconic potatoes.
No question, getting the McDonald’s version is well worth the penny upgrade on both counts.
Tom: Chris, you must have a bad Wendy’s because otherwise I’m sure you’d be faced with the same strange situation confronting me.
Just as one would expect from Wendy’s, the parts of the Double Stack on their own are excellent. The two mini burger patties are hot and juicy. Its bun is small and soft, the cheese has some flavor and my burgers had the right amount of condiments without any input needed from me.
I don’t know about your Wendy’s, but I’ve gotten a few of these and the cheese slice has always been nicely melted between the two patties as it should be.
The whole (not reconstituted) rings of onion are a nice touch. They might overwhelm this little burger a bit, but you can always toss a ring or two into the bushes just past the drive through.
All in all, this is a great little double cheeseburger that lived right up to my expectations.
Yet for some reason it can’t measure up to the gold standard of dollar double cheeseburgers found at McDonald’s. Sure the McD’s product is much more institutionalized, yet somehow, with its little onion bits and unquestionably better fries it, unlike Wendy’s version, will always have its place on my lunch menu (usually Sunday at about noon to cure a hangover).
Chris: The double-burger category is turning out to be a very competitive niche. Burger King’s Double Stacker is a better challenger to the McDonald’s supremacy, but I’m hoping that Wendy’s can retool and relaunch the Double Stack with more grease, more cheese and more love.
Tom: I did a quick nutrition check and the McDonald’s Double does have more salt, more fat and more calories. Wendy’s burger may be fresh, but you are right, it needs more taste.
I’ll gladly take McD’s double cheese and the extra 80 calories any day. That’s only 3 minutes on the stair stepper.
Tom James and Chris Tauber are Orlando-based writers.