In central Arkansas, we are fortunate to have a plethora of good burger options. You’ll find cheeseburgers in all shapes and sizes…thick or thin, double or single…on and on. And we sure do love a good burger in Arkansas, don’t we folks? But every now and then, it becomes necessary to grab something quick and cheap off one of the local fast food dollar menus. Hey, there’s no shame in that. When you can fill up your belly in a matter of minutes, without even having to leave the comfort of your car, costing you only the spare change you found between the couch cushion? Definitely nothing wrong with that.
But ever wonder, who is the absolute, undisputed champion of the fast food dollar menu cheeseburger? I did. And so I organized this “dollar menu cheeseburger showdown” recently to determine, once and for all, who was king.
I was accompanied by three
of the biggest suckers I know loyal friends and over the course of a few hours, we hit up the 6 most popular fast food burger joints in central Arkansas. At each location, we ate their “dollar menu cheeseburger” (or its equivalent) and scored each by its meat, toppings and use of condiments, appearance, and overall flavor. The scores were then tallied up, and the restaurants ranked.
So here’s how they fared. I give you the definitive ranking of central Arkansas fast-food dollar menu cheeseburgers.
6. Burger King cheeseburger:
Overall flavor: 16/40
Burger King’s dry, lifeless burger was severely penalized by an exuberant use of mustard—a tactic we found somewhat common throughout the night. Perhaps this was a strategic move to mask the relatively flavorless and low quality burger beneath. Still, some members of our panel enjoyed the flame-broiled flavor of the beef, which was perhaps the only positive thing anyone had to say about The King’s offering this night.
“SO MUCH MUSTARD.”
“Mean Mr. Mustard.”
“Col. Mustard in the kitchen with the revolver.”
“Just an extremely sad-looking sandwich…loaded with mustard.”
5. Hardee’s cheeseburger:
Overall flavor: 15/40
Hardee’s offering suffered most from its generally lackluster appearance, heavy use of mustard and ketchup, and bland gray meat. While most commented that this burger “wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be,” that was just barely to prevent it from earning a last place finish. The burger arrived (after a comparatively long wait in the drive-thru) and looked as if someone had been sitting on it for half an hour.
“The embodiment or mediocrity.”
“Tasted like (a certain R-rated male body part) covered with ketchup and mustard.”
“I expected worse. But that’s not saying much.”
4. Rally’s “All American Cheeseburger”:
Overall flavor: 19/40
Rally’s offering seemed shockingly similar to its lower-ranked companion, Hardee’s. But overall, there was not much to get excited about here. The beef had a slightly peppery taste to it, which may have earned it a few extra points compared to its predecessors. But in the end, Rally’s was rather forgettable. Of note, however—their hot, batter-dipped fries are delicious…and we did not pass up this opportunity to partake of them.
“Move on, nothing to see here.”
“Very similar to Hardee’s.”
“Skip the burger. Eat the fries.”
“Similar to Hardee’s but slightly better. The cashier slipped me her phone number.”
3. McDonald’s cheeseburger
Overall flavor: 21/40
The Clown put up a decent fight in this burger battle. The cheeseburger here certainly has a flavor of its own…somewhat greasier and quite salty with a slightly sweet ketchup. Its chopped white onion may have earned it a few points, but a slab of unmelted, depressing yellow cheese and lukewarm temperature probably hurt this burger most.
“If I was 5 years old, I’d love it.”
“I’m NOT lovin’ it.”
“I’m wiping all this grease on your car seat, Dan.”
2. Sonic’s “Jr. Deluxe Cheeseburger”:
Overall flavor: 24/40
Sonic’s burger offering was surprisingly well-accepted. It was actually the last burger of the night, but everyone in our group still found it enjoyable and better than we expected. It was served hot, cheese was abundant and properly melted, and you could actually taste real beef somewhere inside of there. In a pinch, this is a totally respectable burger option.
“Fresh, hot, greasy, tasty. Overall a very decent cheap burger.”
“Why don’t I eat here more often?”
“You come here for tater tots. The burger is passable, though.”
1. Wendy’s “Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe”:
Overall flavor: 25/40
Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas may no longer be with us, but he’d probably be proud to hear that his chain of restaurants still produces a burger that’s a cut above most other fast food options around town. Wendy’s latest slogan, “Quality Is Our Recipe”, felt like a promise they were actually able to deliver on. With a soft, fresh bun, “never frozen” beef, and thinly-sliced red onion, every member of our group had something positive to say about the Wendy’s experience. And thus we crown Wendy’s the king (or queen) of the dollar menu cheeseburger challenge.
“A delightfully fresh bun and red onion = a respectable cheap burger.”
“I hate you for this, Dan.”
“Quality burger. Good value. Thank you, Wendy.”
“A little dry, but the red onion is a nice touch.”