18 May 2006

Burger Brief #001
Benchmarking with Burger King

The Burger King rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate BK's Initial Public Offering ... Yes, IPO's, the buzz-word of the dot-com-days, are still hapening, but most people are back to not noticing. Click on the photo if you want to read more from the folks at the NYSE about the happy event (the photo is theirs). So what does that have to do with your quest for a good burger in Germany?

One of the things I considered in hunting for good burgers and writing about them is what benchmark I might measure them against.

When asked in an extremely unscientific poll, "Where do you go to find a Hamburger?," roughly 6 people out of 10 responded McDonalds. 3 responded Burger King. 1, a German, was smart enough to correctly answer Hamburg. Notice that this was a carefully constructed unscientific poll ... we did not ask where people go to find a good Hamburger.

One of the things the Partnerin and I agree on when it comes to American culture (We stipulate that America does indeed have culture and that it is not limited to yogurt), is that Burger King is the better of the two International brands. She took me to a McDonalds ... once ... In the former DDR, because that was all they had and she wanted a burger. I would have been happier with a Thuringer Bratwurst, since we were near Thuringen.

But I digress. Suffice it to say, I don't eat at McDonalds in the US, and I try to avoid it abroad. Don't get me wrong, they do a marvelous job of cranking out billions of fairly uniform burgers with very run of the mill taste. I would place McDonalds somewhere around the 50th percentile, which many of you might think would then be an appropriate standard against which you could benchmark other burgers.

I always found Burger King to be the better burger of the two majors. They have more taste ... the flame broiled burger taste which immediately kicks it, IMHO, into the the 75th percentile. That's what I want for a benchmark ... it's not good enough to merely be average. I want to answer the question, given the choice between Burger "A" and Burger King, where would I go? In other words, is the burger I am looking at at any one time in the top quarter of burgers, or could I simply settle on one of the Majors?

Having said that, here is Burger Brief #001, the Burger King Big King XXL meal with Country Potatoes and a Cola ... no I did not supersize it. The burger starts out with 222 grams of beef (nearly a half-pound for those of you in Rio Linda), and adding the cheese, lettuce, pickle onion, special sauce and a (fluffy but not dry) sesame seed bun, one would really need to be something of a glutton to supersize it. I have to laugh when they ask if I want bacon on it ... gilding the lilly, so to say.

"But Burger-Meister," you might ask, "isn't this still an industrial burger?" Yes, but this is a great example of the triumph of science and engineering over nature. The meat patties are fairly uniform in size, shape and texture like the crap dad used to buy in cases by the dozen at the discount-meat-packing-plant, but they somehow convey much of the taste of the ground-beef patties mom made for dad to incinerate in the back yard, complete with the flame kiss.

As noted before, the buns are soft, but not dry. Unless you really manhandle it, the bun will last through the last bite. You can pick this burger up and eat it from your hands. Finally, the combination of "special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickle, onions" are the classic BK round out to this supersized version of the Whopper. You can have it your way, but the standard way is not so bad.

The presenation is certainly lacking, but considering that I just unpacked it, it still doesn't look so bad. As for the atmosphere, well ... it is indeed industrial, although they do have a cute retro theme going on there ... sort of the post-war American burger hey-day.

All in all, it is a good burger to start with. And at EUR 5.49, a pretty good value in terms of eats, with no points lost for atmosphere or presentation.

I will admit that I had two other burgers in the series before I had this one. The first was so promising and yet so disappointing that I realized I needed a benchmark. The second was so good on several counts, but pricey. So those will come later with others.

I'll have to return to this with the appropriate scorings in the several dimensions. Sorry! Too many things on my plate these days.


At 7:31 AM, Blogger Haddock said...

I only eat Mcdonalds if I am seriously hungry. I much prefer Burgerking. Marburgs first Burgerking opens soon. Trying to find a good burger in Germany is hard, but I'll know you'll find them wherever they are lurking! :)


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