In the beginning there was simply the burger and the bun. But with fast food competition, things got complicated.
Now, Hardee's has thrown down the burger gauntlet, serving up what it calls a $5.49 "monument to decadence" — the "Monster Thickburger."
Here's how they build it:
- Two-thirds of a pound of beef ... 664 calories
- Three slices of cheese ... 186 calories
- Four pieces of bacon ... 150 calories
- Mayonnaise ...160 calories
- Butter ... 30 calories
- Bun ... 230 calories
Add it all up and you get a massive 1,420 calories with 107 grams of fat.
"If you're the romaine lettuce and raspberry vinaigrette crowd, this is not your burger," admits Hardee's President and CEO Andy Puzder.
Compared to other burgers on the block, the "Monster's" got twice as many calories as McDonald's "Quarter Pounder with Cheese," while Wendy's "Classic Triple" weighs in at 940 calories and Burger King's "Double Whopper with Cheese" falls short with just over 1,000 calories.
Just one "Monster Thickburger" carries half the daily calories recommended for growing teens and adults. And if you're a sedentary woman? It's almost your entire day's allotment.
Michael Jacobsen, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says this is a heart attack in a bun.
"These 'Thickburgers' are quintessential food porn — oozing with artery-clogging fat," says Jacobson.
Still, Americans love their burgers, and Tuesday at Bill Goat's, the Chicago diner that inspired the classic "cheeseburger, cheeseburger" sketch on "Saturday Night Live," they were lined up as always.
Food analysts say Hardee's is simply giving a niche market what it wants.
But will the SUV of burgers stick around or super-size itself out of the market?