Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wendy's Bacon Queso Burger: Not Exactly What You Think

Gather 'round children. It's time for the classic tale of the short-lived sandwich from Wendy's. They called it the Bacon Queso Burger and it was available on either beef (hamburger) or fried chicken patty (chicken sandwich). It was the year of our Lord, 2017, and it was a crazy times. Emperor Trump had just come to power, Taylor Swift couldn't come to the phone because she was dead, and OJ Simpson was released from prison.

I was self-navigating in my dumb-car after a long day of what we used to call work. It's something we would do before a guaranteed universal basic income allowed our culture to flourish by removing the bonds of wage labor for the sake of empowering corporations. And lo, what did I see but a streetside billboard-sized advertisement for this new sandwich. Yes, that was before the Sanders-Musk bill that outlawed vision-litter. (Hey get off your soapbox of poorly formed ideas! I came here to read about food!)

Immediately, I knew that I must put one of these hamburgers into my body. It was comprised of things that are delicious and which would come, surely, at a reasonable price. Rufus Wainwright. He was the emotional live-in-my-fathers-shadow son of singer songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. Your mother loved him very much even though he didn't want somebody to love him. It was all about instant pleasure for that guy. Anyways, that's where you got your name, Rufus. So, uh, where was I? Oh yeah, in the drive-thru of my local neighborhood Wendy's.

"I'll take one sad meal for one, please"
Of course I purchased a combination meal. It was all the rage. You got a sandwich, plus freedom fries, and a quarter-gallon of high fructose corn syrup solution all for under a Harriet Tubman. (<-- Note to future self: Change this if someone else goes on the revised ten dollar bill)

So I knew nothing of this burger other than what I had read on the billboard. That it was available in an iteration of either beef or chicken, and that it included the added ingredients of bacon and queso. In my mind I took "queso" to mean like stadium cheese. I was expecting that melty nacho stuff that Wendy's also puts on their Bacon Cheddar Fries. I. WAS. WRONG. Time to break it down:

It is made of bread. It is a fancy bun. You can tell by the way they faux-slashed the top to let the steam out and let the bread expand. Or whatever that's supposed to do. (Bread enthusiasts, shout at me in the comments!) You'll also notice that in the promo shot below, the bun looks like a knotted top, a la brioche. Did I get the wrong bun?? This is filling me with anxiety! Bread is too sweet these days, especially at fast food joints. Overall, though it was a good bread to fillings ratio.

What bae think she look like

Handsome profile view where the, uh, viewer may note the toppings oozing out the same beckoning way as the official promotional image

This ingredient was not listed in the name. Spoiler alert, not the only ingredient not listed in the name. I guess that's why books have chapters, though. It wouldn't be much fun if it was all in the title. So we get a few stringy loops of red onion. Maybe not super appropriate for this sandwich.

This queso was actually spicy-queso like you might dunk your nachos into at a SuperBowl™ party. So please note, young lad, this was a spicy sandwich. At this point in my story dear boy, I would also like to mention that this particular spell-check software does not like the word queso. I'm pronouncing it right aren't I? Spanish for cheese? Texture was still the same melty-fatty of the stadium style nacho cheese that I anticipated. It just had added minced/diced jalapeno-style chunks.

We've all had baquon, rite? Wendy's bacon is neither poor nor spectacular. It is a good flavor with decent thickness and crisp. So far this hamburger is delivering on toppings promises.

I'll be the first to tell you, one of the things I like most about Wendy's beef is that they never freeze it. Straight from cow to store. Maybe there are more steps, but one of those steps is never below 0 degrees C. Competitors might need to freeze their beef, but Wendy's cares about quality and flavor. It's what Dave would have wanted. And it is square. Presumably to be different/better, but mathematically to reduce scrap beef. It's a standard Wendy's patty. Taste and texture as expected. Can you get a thicker, more flavorful burger elsewhere? Yeah, but it's fast food.

I didn't try the chicken bacon queso.

Number Two (#2) surprise ingredient not listed in the name and the biggest surprise of all: Chili? Salsa? It's some type of tomato based paste. This really caught me off guard and quite frankly was unwelcome. In a subsequent trip to Wendy's I saw it listed on the sign as "Fire-Roasted Salsa," but I can tell you right now that it is just old Wendy's chili with old Wendy's jalepenos added to it.

Look at this gross, old chili smeared on the bun. 
Once bitten, twice bite, uh won't get bitten again
See in the cross-section photo how the ingredients compress and the illusion of high-caliber burger fades into the reality that you are pounding another greasy fat loaf into your gullet. One of the benefits of fast food is that it is one step closer to poop than real food so your body doesn't have to work as hard to pass it.

This burger also has melted, shredded cheddar cheese. A nice bonus for that "real cheese" flavor.


Not a good burger. I will not order this again (sober). Here's what happened to make this burger: A Wendy's "Chef" came home one night totally plastered from alcohol after a night on the town with the boys. But he decided he wasn't done partyin' yet so he took a few large rips off of his marijuana bong. (This Wendy's Chef lives in one of the places where this is legal). You know, just to level out, sleep better and stuff. Then he turns on some Superjail! re-runs for about 20 minutes before he decides he's hungrier than he's ever been before. Luckily for him, as head Wendy's Chef, he gets to take home old ingredients from his store so that they don't go to waste. I mean, come'on man, you're throwing it into the trash anyways, man, just like pretend my car is the trash, dude. [I'm not trying to denigrate Wendy's employees or stoners here; this is just how history happened] So Bruce (his name is bruce) has all of these old ingredients and decides to combine them into the ultimate burger. Old burger, old cheese, old chili--wait, spice it up with some 'penos--old etc etc toss it in the microwave and BAM! Duuuude! This is amaaaazeeeebaaaaallllllssss. "You've got to try this, man" Bruce said to an empty room, offering his half eaten abomination to the no-one standing next to him. You know, if Wendy's had the same deal with Frito Lay that YUM! Brands does, I'd expect to find Frito's Corn Chips on this burger too. And so the next day Bruce wakes up from the most wonderful sleep ever with only vague after-images of his midnight creation. But as the details start to return, so does his enthusiasm. Later at work he pitches the idea to Terri (store manager) and recreates it for her. She is dubious at first but then realizes the genius in it and calls her GM who sends it up the chain until finally the Bacon Queso Burger became a reality. A drunk stoned employee stumbled upon a brilliant way to dispose of old ingredients in a sandwich for which the restaurant could charge a premium. This is a trash-burger.

My advice to Wendy's: Make this what I wanted/expected. Get rid of the chili. Use regular nacho cheese instead of the spicy queso. Onion is unnecessary. And, um, while we're at it drop the price by a dollar or so. There's a winner sandwich for you. But I guess that's basically a Baconator. So yeah, in summary, this sandwich doesn't need to exist and will probably go away soon. What happened to pulled pork on a pretzel bun? That's the kind of fast food seasonal diversity that I can get on top of, figuratively.

Wait, did I shift tenses from my old man story teller throughout this review? Ahh man, I don't even know what I'm doing anymore.

3.7/10 poundexclaims (so high because bacon & cheese still. without chili would be 5.5/10)

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