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Burger King's Whopper-Sized Remake: Five Ways to Save Fast Food's Ugly Stepchild

This is not what's for breakfast.
This is not what's for breakfast.

Last week, an investment firm bought South Florida-based Burger King Holdings, and hopefully the move signals an improvement in what has always been the fast-food industry's ugly burger stepchild.

So where does the new owner take Burger King now? Here are five ideas on how to remake the fallen burger royalty.

5. Build a Better Breakfast

The "absurd" sandwich.
The "absurd" sandwich.
Photos from Flickr

The problem: Since the first Croissan'Wich in 1983, Burger

King has never come up with a breakfast item to compete with the Egg

McMuffin. BK got a lot of press when it released the Enormous Omelet Sandwich, a 730-calorie behemoth described by the normally docile Wikipedia

as "almost absurd." But it's more of a sideshow than serious food, a novelty meant

to bring in customers with a product that's simply not as good as

what's offered by competitors.
The fix: It isn't hard to find a better breakfast

sandwich. Take the ones at Starbucks. They sit around in a sneeze-proof

case, possibly for hours, until someone reheats them. Yet the English

muffins are still fresh. The eggs don't possess that plastic-like

texture of the mess from BK. And the cheese, well, it seems real. The

Starbucks version is no haute cuisine, but if they can serve up an

edible egg sandwich from a sneeze case, they ought to be able to do it

with a full Burger King kitchen.

4. Stores That Actually Look Like Burger Stands

The problem:

Burger Kings have morphed over the past couple of decades from legit

burger stands into some amalgamation of fast-food franchises everywhere.

You might see rounded skylights in the front, roofs that jut at odd

angles, and doors that are hard to spot, somewhere on the sides. You'll

probably get a shaker-style roof that looks like the hat worn by Fat

Albert character Dumb Donald. But what you won't get is any idea that the place serves good food.
The fix: It isn't hard to make stores that look like the fry and shake shacks that started the

burger craze in the 1950s. Regional chains and even a few McDonald's

have tried this successfully, and what it creates is a fast-food chain

that actually looks good. Like it serves burgers.

3. Buy Some Halfway Decent Buns

The Whopper isn't what it once was.
The Whopper isn't what it once was.

The problem:

Remember when sesame seeds were enough to make a bun special? Nowadays,

even Hardee's has a damned fine kaiser bun holding together its burger.

Meanwhile, Burger King's have the feel of a kitchen sponge. They're

surely prefrozen and lack even a hint of flour or yeast or anything

that ought to go into real bread.
The fix: Bake the buns in

the store. Instead of freezer space, buy a Subway-style bread rack.

Throw the buns in. Take them out. It can be done at Burger King if it

can be done by a "sandwich artist."

2. Actual Chicken

What animal is shaped like that?
What animal is shaped like that?

The problem:

Burger King's chicken has always lived in an alternate reality, where

chicken patties are mealy and gummy and nuggets are stringy and oddly

shaped. Sure, it could be real chicken in there, but who can tell?
The fix:

Real chicken breasts. Put them on that grill conveyor belt used for

the Whoppers. Batter them with a beer batter, and deep-fry them. What

you'd end up with would be a pair of great chicken sandwiches -- char-grilled

and a crispy deep-fried number. And they'd taste, finally, like chicken.

1. Fix the Fries

The fries might actually be softer than the ketchup.
The fries might actually be softer than the ketchup.

The problem: If you've had any other fast-food fries anywhere,

you know these don't compare. They're flaccid, tasteless, and greasy and

could be replaced with deep-fried anything without notice. If they

deep-fried the cardboard case they came in, there would at least be more

texture.

The fix: Five Guys proved how to do this easily and cheaply. Buy

whole potatoes, cut them in the store, and fry them. It's really that

simple, and it's really not hard. You'd figure the King could muster a

few of his minions to cut potatoes.


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