GUEST COMMENTARY: Wendy's spent millions on a burger that can't compare to a backyard cookout

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | 5:05 p.m. CDT; updated 8:30 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

At first blush, you might think that "Dave's Hot 'N Juicy" is the title of a pornographic movie. Actually, it's only a hamburger.

Well, not just any old hamburger. The Hot 'N Juicy is fast food giant Wendy's reinvented burger.

In 2009, shortly after a hedge fund whiz took over the chain, a directive came down from on high to deconstruct and reconstruct the product, which hadn't changed since the company started 42 years ago.

Operating under the code name "Project Gold Hamburger," the effort was a Pentagon-style mobilization involving the full genius of the corporate system.

Money was no object. Executives were deployed from corporate headquarters to travel across country and surreptitiously measure the characteristics of their competitors' burgers.

They brought in a pickle chemist. A cadre of bun analysts worked on issues of strength and texture. Consumers were surveyed on the crucial matter of lettuce crunch. The matter of proper patty-press repetitions was tested to the nth degree.

Finally, after two and a half years and millions of dollars — ta da! — the Hot 'N Juicy is available for purchase. The result should not be taken lightly.

Indeed, the "improved" Wendy's burger has a fattier beef patty, a buttered bun, and whole-fat mayonnaise — weighing in at 33 grams of fat and 580 calories per burger.

That's seven fat grams and 70 calories more than McDonald's comparable Quarter Pounder with Cheese. If that's not enough overkill for you, sample the bigger Hot 'N Juicy burgers with 810 calories and 48 grams of fat.

Such corporate overkill is nonsense. If the hedge fund magnate really wanted a better burger, all he had to do was invite himself to a few backyard cookouts in any blue-collar zip code in America.

That's where you find hot and juicy.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. This column is reprinted courtesy of

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