Glenn Beck was talking today (It’s Friday) about the changes at McDonalds and how stupid it is for them to try to go “upscale” and leave Ronald McDonald and assembly line meals behind.
I don’t get out much any more, so I’m a little bit insulated from what is going on – but about a week ago, I read a long story about how Wendy’s is trying to reinvent itself to compete with McDonalds, now that Dave Thomas is long dead and they’re adrift (kind of like Disney after Walt Disney died)
Both Burger King and Wendy’s have gone through several private equity owners, who know nothing about the food busines – all they know is spreadsheets, comparable unit sales and focus groups. To them, people are just interchangeable parts, like a bin of hammers, just they’re “human resources”.
As it turns out, McDonalds is crushing the other two. McDonalds now has about 49% of the U.S. burger market. Chains like Five Guys are really starting to eat into the market share of the big three. Wendy’s and Burger King now have only about 10% shares. McDonalds continues to be owned as a publicly traded company.
I went to Wendy’s today shortly after 11 AM to try out their new super burger, which is on a better bun that is toasted, and they’re back to using full-fat mayonnaise and have dropped mustard as a normal condiment. People want iceburg lettuce, not leaf lettuce (I agree)…. The beef patties are the same weight, but thicker.
Wendy’s lost me for the most part when they caved to the USDA rules on thoroughly cooking meat. They now cook them so long (and apparently they press down on the burger 8 times – a no-no for a good burger) that you have a dry tasteless piece of nothing.
It turns out, I apparently had the new burger about a week ago. I noticed at the time it seemed like the slices of cheese had been replaced by some orange gooey stuff that was tasteless and colored orange. One of the things they’re trying to do is to squeeze out costs without harming the product and justifying increases in the prices of the meals. They’ve failed.
I’ve written before about my experience at Burger King with them carrying only fat free milk, and they just plain don’t care what I want as a customer. There is never anyone in there eating. The chain is now owned by some P/E firm based in Brazil, I think.
All together now:
“Hold the Pickle, Hold the lettuce – special orders don’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way…. at Burger King, have it your way…. at Burger King…. Have it your way….” I’ve been known to hum that tune inside the place…
I’ve heard some rumblings that perhaps burger places can now accept food stamp cards to pay for meals. is that true? Is that maybe why McDonalds is able to go upscale and not scare away customers?