Grills will be fired up across America more and more as the weather allows.
Most residents in the Memphis area will barbecue the finest of pork products over hot coals, creating an aroma of sweet smoky flavor. Before I transition to outdoor cookouts that will include hamburgers, I spent the last six weeks as an unofficial judge in the Great Burger War of 2019.
While I love a delicious, juicy burger fresh from the grill, Tops Bar-B-Q or Huey’s, when it is wintertime I don’t mind grabbing a hamburger from a fast food establishment.
It seemed in January a lot of the big dogs of the industry introduced new burgers or a twist to some classics. So I took on the responsibility of going to various fast food eateries from Memphis to Nashville in order to do this public service announcement.
This week’s Best Sellers’ List is the platform to break down the top 10 burgers of the Burger Wars. You don’t have to thank me for making this sacrifice. As a journalist and columnist, I felt it was my duty to engage in the combat of beef patties, mountains of cheese, layers of bacon and the array of special sauces for the public.
The Burger War is a bloody encounter. Several cows did not die in vain. And their gift of cheese is greatly appreciated by my taste buds and stomach. So buckle up and let’s go through the drive-thru of my top 10 burgers from fast food restaurants introduced in late 2018 and early 2019. I will rank these burgers on the Sellers’ Scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being totally awesome.
10. Peppercorn Mushroom Melt (Wendy’s) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 6
This offering is fresh beef; sautéed, fire-roasted and seasoned mushrooms; a slice of Asiago cheese; and smoked peppercorn aioli. This is a gourmet burger of this list. This is the type of burger you would make at home to impress a date or your significant other.
The price was very fair for all the tasty ingredients between the buns. I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms on a burger so this sandwich had a lot to overcome from the start. But it did surprisingly well. I wouldn’t purchase this burger again, but if someone grabbed me a couple on the way home, I would enjoy it.
9. Sourdough King (Burger King) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 6
This offering is more than half a pound of flame-grilled 100-percent beef, melted American cheese, thick-cut bacon, freshly sliced onions and creamy signature sauce all on a soft sourdough bun.
Years ago Hardee’s introduced the sourdough bun to the burger game with the Frisco Thickburger. Now other contemporaries are taking their shots at interruptions of the sourdough burger.
The name Sourdough King gives it away that Burger King was ready to give U.S. Americans another beefy choice. I have a confession, I was loving this sandwich for the first half of it. But then it got overwhelming with sauce, meat and bacon. I barely finished this mountain of burger.
Then I realized I ate an order of 10-piece nuggets and fries. So my recommendation is order this burger alone to get the maximum pleasure.
8. Grilled Cheese Bacon Thickburger (Hardee’s) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 7
This offering is a one-third pound Black Angus Thickburger, bacon, two pieces of Swiss cheese and two pieces of American cheese, all sandwiched between two slices of lightly toasted sourdough bread rounds.
So the champion of the sourdough burger hit the public with a melty treat. I learned from my Burger King trip to not order extra food with the Grilled Cheese Bacon Thickburger. Each bite of cheesy bacon made my soul smile. The savory beef was the perfect compliment to the toppings under the sourdough buns.
Hardee’s seems to introduce a super sandwich each month and the year got off to a great start with the Grilled Cheese Bacon Thickburger.
7. Baconzilla® (Checkers) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 7
This offering is two large hand-seasoned, 100-percent beef hamburger patties piled high with four slices of crispy bacon, two slices of American cheese, melted cheddar cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise all served on a toasted bakery-style bun.
By now you’re starting to notice a theme with my taste buds … bacon. If you introduce any burger with bacon as an ingredient, I’m coming to a location nearby very soon. So when Checkers announced the Baconzilla to the menu, I tearfully drove to the Elvis Presley location to eat one. The tears of joy transformed to tears of sorrow when I realized I was finished with the burger.
The cheddar cheese was a sweet addition to the traditional favors of a bacon, cheeseburger. And the classic sauces of ketchup and mayo were surprisingly the ideal complements. It didn’t need a fancy, creative sauce. This sandwich is a trophy to the old-school bacon burger.
6. S’Awesome Bacon Cheeseburger (Wendy’s) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 7
This offering is fresh beef burger with two slices of American cheese, three strips of applewood smoked bacon, iceberg lettuce, sweet onions, pickles and S’Awesome sauce.
I don’t know what S’Awesome is. But it does live up to the name. I’m willing to try it on other Wendy’s offerings. When the longtime fast food restaurant introduced its three new burgers earlier this year, the S’Awesome Bacon Cheeseburger was the first one I purchased. It had bacon in the name.
It was a great burger to kickoff my taste testing. It was so good it made me want to come back for the next two burgers. Although it didn’t turn out to be the best of the three new Wendy’s burgers, but the S’Awesome Bacon Cheeseburger will make my cravings list.
5. Barbecue Cheeseburger (Wendy’s) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 8
This offering is fresh beef, two slices of American cheese, crispy fried onions, three pickles and sweet and smoky Kansas City-style barbecue sauce.
As a Memphian I have full respect for the Kansas City brand of barbecue sauce. It’s sweet with a little tanginess. Now pour that over some fried onions with the flavor of salty pickles over beef, and we have a winning combination. This burger was the best out of the new offerings from Wendy’s.
I pray this sandwich make the permanent menu at Wendy’s. If I could make one suggestion for this burger, just add some bacon. It’s just a suggestion.
4. Bigger Brunch Burger (Sonic) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 9
This offering is 100-percent pure beef quarter pound patty topped with melty cheese, crispy bacon, a perfectly fried egg and served on a bakery-soft brioche bun.
IHOP has offered a similar burger like this for years. You combine breakfast elements with the All-American burger. So I knew the magical powers of an egg on top of savory beef.
Of course the bacon does it job of making the sandwich delicious. But the bread that holds it all together is the underrated star of this creation. I suggest you run out and grab one for breakfast, lunch and of course dinner.
3. Big Mac® Bacon (McDonald’s)Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 10
This offering is three pieces of crispy, applewood smoked bacon, two 100-percent pure beef patties and Big Mac® sauce sandwiched between a sesame seed bun. It’s topped off with pickles, crisp lettuce, onions and American cheese.
OK, sing along with me … “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion on a sesame-seed bun with bacon … oh my!”
One of the greatest burgers of all-time got a remake, remix or long overdue addition this year. For a limited time McDonald’s put bacon on the iconic Big Mac. You take the delicious taste of the Big Mac and combine it with the delicious taste of bacon. Mouthwatering perfection is all I can say.
There is an old saying, “Bacon makes everything taste better.” I was worried a little about putting bacon on something already phenomenal. But it all turned out smoothly leading to me trying my No. 2 on this list.
2. Quarter Pounder® with Cheese Bacon (McDonald’s) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 10
This offering is three pieces of crispy, applewood smoked bacon atop a one-fourth pound of 100-percent fresh beef cooked when you order. It’s seasoned with just a pinch of salt and pepper and sizzled on our flat iron grill. Layered with two slices of melty American cheese, slivered onions and tangy pickles on a sesame seed bun.
The description is all you need to read why this is ranked so high on my list. The Quarter Pounder with Cheese can win any Burger War on any day. But once you add bacon, it’s like giving a bulletproof tank a radar-locked missile launcher.
This sandwich blows up most of the competition easily. Now I have another confession: I didn’t order the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Bacon. I got the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Bacon. I wanted to try this sandwich in its purest form. I made the right call.
My heart stopped a couple times during the eating of my burger but I soldiered through to the end. And since I’ve conditioned my body to the sandwich by eating two more. You have to build up a tolerance for greatness.
1. Big King XL (Burger King) Sizzlin’ Sellers’ Scale: 12
Now a typo … I ranked it with a baker’s dozen. This offering is more than half a pound of flame-grilled 100-percent beef, topped with American cheese, sliced onions, zesty pickles, crisp lettuce and special Stacker sauce all on a toasted sesame bun.
OK, it’s clear to see the Big Mac inspired this Burger King creation. A few years ago, Burger King put out a laughable Big King sandwich to finally answer the iconic McDonald’s burger. That first attempt didn’t go over so well.
But the 2019 introduction of the Big King XL will go down in burger history. I dare you to eat this monster burger once and then return to a Burger King. Once you return to Burger King and see a picture of the Big King XL, you will order it again.
I’ve eaten the sandwich seven times since it hit the market. I hope this burger remains on the Burger King menu forever.
What makes this burger winner of the Burger Wars 2019 is all the ingredients perfectly falling into place between the toasted sesame bun. The pickles are crunchy and zesty. The lettuce transfers the Stacker sauce appropriately during each bite. Then the familiar trio of onions, cheese and flame-grilled beef do the rest of the dirty work by attacking your taste buds with explosions of flavor.
I love this burger. But for The Great Burger War of 2020, bring back the Big King XL with an addition … You figured it out – BACON!
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.