It might not be something many of us are proud to claim, but no other country has the myriad of fast-food offerings that the United States has. With so much choice, I've never understood how Wendy's continues to thrive in the marketplace.
I'm not a huge fan of McDonalds, but I understand its charm, especially to little children. Plus their double cheeseburger and fries stack up well against the competition.
Burger King has gone downhill a bit on the quality front over the past decade, but the charbroiling niche is a good one. Also, BK's new Whopper Jr. ad-campaign is really funny. "Don't sell yourself for a buck, son", I wish I never had been broiled", and "get your head out of your bun" are ironic comedy 30-second gems.
Carl's Jr/Hardees Angus beef makes for some of the best tasting burgers on the fast-food scene. Also, their male-driven ads have done an excellent job of featuring their products.
Dairy Queen has pushed their Angus burgers as well. They have a very diverse menu, with ice cream their obvious profit focus.
Sonic is a strange company in that it's not in all the country, but in enough of it that they need to do some national advertising. Their ads are also really well done. Sonic has found their unique place in the crowded field, as a drive-in, more eclectic version of Dairy Queen.
A&W has had somewhat of resurgence over the past 5 years, after being bought by Yum! Brands and then combined with some of the company's other fast-food restaurants in multi-branded stores. (Long John Silver's, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell also are part of Yum! Brands.) A&W has the unique advantage of having the best beverage served at any fast-food joint.
White Castle (or) Krystal, depending on what part of the country you live in has the drunk burger down to a science. While I'm not sure why any sober person eats one, I'm not above the slider's charm after a few pitchers of brew.
Rally's/Checkers are strictly drive-through restaurants, but the lack of overhead keeps their costs down and I would argue they are the best value in the burger market.
Jack in the Box is another fast-food joint that caters to drunks and stoners, as they stay open late. They also offer 2 tacos for a buck, which gives them some diversity that no other burger joint can claim. It has always been weird to me that they are mainly located on the West Coast, but also have a strong presence in St. Louis and Nashville. Doesn't seem like a good marketing plan, as getting supply trucks to these areas would seem to pose certain logistical problems. Still, their ultimate cheeseburgers keep them worth checking out.
Whataburger is the worst fast-food burger joint I've ever eaten. A poor man's Burger King, I just don't understand why anyone eats there. Why I didn't choose Whataburger as the Please Explain candidate is that they are a regional chain, not one of the top fast-food restaurants in the US like Wendys.
Steak and Shake is a bit more upscale in the way they sell themselves, but the quality of their products is often worth the extra cost.
Culvers is Wisconsin-based and I think the best candidate for growth in the burger field. Their specialty is called a butterburger, which is one of the best sandwiches I've eaten. They are a bit more upscale in their approach, but it fits with the quality and wider menu they have. Frozen custard is their other big seller.
Backyard Burger was the first place I tried that used Angus beef and I can see why so many others in the marketplace joined them in going with this type of meat. Hardees co-opting the Angus beef has made Backyard less unique and when Yum Brands decided to go with A&W over them in the combo restaurants they franchised, I wonder how long they can continue to exist in such a cut-throat field.
In-N-Out Burger is mainly located in the SoCal area and it's hard to say there is a better burger you can find. The only negative about In-N-Out Burger is since they are made fresh, they take longer to get. Combine slow cook times with how busy they get and your wait pushes the fast-food notion. (I waited 20 minutes once at the location by Hollywood High.) They were the first burger chain to offer the Atkins designed lettuce wrapped burger, which is called a Protein Burger at In-N-Out.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I eat a lot of hamburgers. I'm on the road constantly with my job and since I generally follow a high protein diet approach, this puts me at a burger joint 3-4 times a week. I thought Fast Food Nation was one of the best books I've ever read. I loved Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me" film. I know that I would be a better citizen if I was more moderate in my cheeseburger intake, but there is no other food that manages to taste good, fill me up, and do it at a reasonable price like ground cow.
My credibility is legit on this subject, so I think I have the right to offer up an opinion on the burger field. With so many choices, I just don't understand why people choose to get a Wendy's burger. I would only rate Whataburger lower on the taste scale. I also think there is no bigger fraud in advertising than what Wendys shows on TV and what you end up getting after ordering. Where are these juicy beef patty squares they demonstrate in their ads?
I realize that Wendy's has a pretty diverse menu, with chili, baked potatoes, and salads being a big seller for them. While these offerings are better than their burgers, I know it's not enough to keep them open. Actually, the salads at McDonalds and especially Arbys are superior to what you get at Wendy's. Add to this that the biggest rip-off I've had at any fast-food restaurant over the past few years is the new Frescata sandwich Wendy's has touted. Save your money and go to any of your local sub shops, as the Frescata pales in comparison to what you can get at Quizno's or Subway. Oh and their fries suck as well.
Please Explain to me why Wendy's is one of the top fast-food chains in the world, as I don't get it. Outside of the Frosty, I don't think Wendy's do anything better than their competitors.