Monday, September 08, 2008

Fast Food Burger Reviews from 1978

Thanks to a new Newspaper archive at Google News, we can go back in time 30 years to read what one food critic in Pittsburgh had to say about the fast food burgers available then.

The article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dining Out section by Mike Kalina was called "Wendy's Grinds Out Foes in Burger Taste Test."

Here's the burgers reviewed:
Wendy's "Wendy's Single" - price: 85¢ - Rating: A
Burger Chef's "Super Shef" - price: $1.09 - Rating: B
Burger King's "Whopper" - price: $1.09 - Rating: C-
Hardee's "Deluxe Huskee" - price $1.10 - Rating: C-
Winky's "The Great One" - price $1.09 - Rating C-
McDonald's "Quarter-pounder" - price: 95¢ - Rating: D

Today, 30 years later, a Whopper costs $2.59. That's up 238% in 30 years.

Other things were different then, too. McDonald's was the old stand-by, all the other chains were "feisty newcomers:"
"For years, McDonald's hamburgers dominated the fast-food scene, but in recent years the firm's success has been challenged by feisty newcomers."
The Post-Gazette's taste test "revealed unequivocally that Wendy's puts out the best hamburgers."

Also noted, as Wendy's has been promoting heavily of late, Wendy's hamburger meat is "ground fresh daily, which greatly enhances its taste (most chains use frozen patties)."

About McDonald's, Kalina wrote:  "The burgers...contained fewer garnishes than any others we sampled and were the poorest-tasting.  The sesame-seed rolls, however, were very good...The patties...had the texture and look of shoe leather."

And about Burger King:  "The thin, charcoal-broiled pattie was a bit dry and encumbered by too large a roll (about five inches across).  There seemed to be too much bread and not enough burger."<

30 years later and 4 of the restaurants Mr. Kalina reviewed are even bigger national chains.

Wendy's still doesn't freeze their meat, BK still flame-broils theirs, and some would still agree that a McDonald's hamburger patty has the look and taste of shoe leather!

A side note... I thought I'd see if Mr. Kalin might still be doing restaurant reviews in Pittsburgh and discovered that despite a successful career with columns and TV shows about food and travel and a popular cookbook, he committed suicide in 1992.


sharondp said...

When I started working at Burger King in '71,the price for a Whopper,fries and a medium sized drink was 99 cents.
Hard to believe you could get a whole "meal" for under a dollar.

aaron said...

Whoppers cost LESS NOW!!! Adjusted for inflation a Whopper that cost $1.09 in 1978 would cost $3.43 in today's money.

Sharondp, 99 cents in 1971 is $5.02 in today's money when adjusted for inflation.

Anonymous said...

So what happened to top rated Burger Chef? Was it just a regional chain?