Among a slew of fast food headlines in 2011, the unveiling of a new Wendy's burger, Dave's Hot 'N Juicy, had lasting effects on the future of the fast food industry. Thanks largely to the new better-quality burger, Wendy's is set to surpass Burger King next year as the second-most popular (behind McDonald's) fast food hamburger chain in America. Breaking news, right? Maybe if you're a McDonald's marketing exec.
A Financial Times article attributes the boost to American consumers' newfound pickiness when it comes to eating quality fast food. "Better burger" places like Five Guys and In-N-Out became household names and pressured chains like McDonald's and Wendy's to revamp their look and menu. But while Wendy's customers indulged in the Hot 'N Juicy stylings, McDonald's focused less on burger quality and more McCafe quality. Who needs a decent burger when they can do the McCafe Shuffle and grab a frappe?
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Poor Burger King is left eating the Hot 'N Juicy, McCafe-littered dust. BK profited just 13.3 percent of the $65 billion fed to the hamburger market in 2011. They're projected to make only 10 percent next year. We can't blame them for falling so low, though. The chain stuck to an outdated menu and added limited items like burger "toppers"-- mushroom, deluxe or western cheeseburger style burgers. Been there, done that. BK also parted ways with its old advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky earlier this year, an agency that brought us gems like the hamburger cologne, "Flame," and the now-defunct creepy King of burgers. But maybe 2012 will be the year when the self-proclaimed Burger "King" becomes less creepy and more delicious.