Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Spending $1 Million to Make a Better Burger / `Big Classic' Proves Wendy's on Right Track; Evens Score with Competitors

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Spending $1 Million to Make a Better Burger / `Big Classic' Proves Wendy's on Right Track; Evens Score with Competitors

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Wendy's spent nearly $1 million on thousands of taste tests to develop a better hamburger and came up with, well, the hamb urger.

Of course, ""The Big Classic'' is not precisely like other burgers. It has a different bun, a different box and a different name.

But despite a Herculean effort to wipe the burger slate clean and start all over, the new burger, introduced Monday at all of Wendy's 3,450 domestic restaurants with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign, is nothing Wimpy wouldn't recognize.

""We found the more we moved off of the standard norm, the less appeal that it had,'' says Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch.

To find out what people want, Wendy's - No. 3 in the burger business with $2.7 billion in 1986 sales - spent $1 million over nine months doing taste tests with 5,200 people in six cities.

They tested:

- Nine different buns - some hard, some soft; with sesame or poppy seeds; cold, toasted or warmed; square and round; and even croissants.

- Forty special sauces, including steak sauce, hot sauce, mustard and salad dressing.

- Three types of lettuce - chopped, shredded and leaf.

- Two sizes of tomato slices.

- Four different boxes in 10 earth tone colors.

- Five hundred names, inluding ""The Hunk,'' ""The Chief,'' ""The X.L.'' ""The Hot 'n' Juicy,'' and ""The Max.''

The final product is a quarter-pound square beef patty, topped with leaf lettuce, two tomato slices, raw onion rings, dill pickles, extra dabs of ketchup and mayonnaise on a corn-dusted, hearth-baked kaiser bun. It comes in an almond-colored styrofoam box with a dome sculpted to resemble the bun's top. It can cost up to 10 cents more than the old burger, which is still on the menu.

The big news research showed was that the order of the condiments ""makes a tremendous difference to consumers,'' says Lynch. ""Which is why the Big Classic will taste different rightside up or upside down depending on the way the toppings hit your taste buds. …

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