You have to hand it to these fast-food chains for their continued creativity in coming up with new, bizarre concoctions. The latest is Wendy’s and its Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, which packs its oddness right into the name. Bacon cheeseburger – okay, we’re on familiar ground there. But pretzel? What the heck is that all about?
Like many kids, I experimented with combining foods when I was younger. It probably started with putting a hot dog on – gasp! – a burger bun, and progressed to more ill-conceived efforts, like making Kraft Dinner with mustard instead of butter. But never did I think to involve pretzels. That’s probably because the full, regular-sized ones are kind of hard to get, outside of carnivals and New York City.
It’s also why Wendy’s newest creation is particularly ingenious. Using a pretzel instead of a bun is one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” inventions, an attempt that is both somewhat natural-feeling and curiosity-inspiring at the same time.
I usually approach the trying of these new fast-food beasts with at least a little dread, but this one was different. I had an unusually good feeling about this one as I sat down to eat it… and it paid off.
For one thing, the bun isn’t a proper, twisted pretzel. It’s made of the same type of dough, but otherwise resembles a regular hamburger bun in every way. It’s just a darker shade of brown and a bit shiny. Consequently, there are no holes in it for burger stuff to seep through.
My first bite was encouraging. There was no odd taste – the bun did in fact feel natural. I ripped off a piece to try by itself and it did have that dry, unassuming taste of a pretzel. But when combined with the burger itself, it was camouflaged, blending into the overall taste. That’s a good thing – the easiest way to spoil a burger is by having one ingredient overpower it (which is why I don’t have pickles on my burgers).
I actually liked the bun more the further I got into it. It’s firmer than a typical bun so it does a better job of holding the burger together. Despite all the stuff packed into this bad boy, it was actually one of the least messiest affairs I’ve experienced.
Speaking of which, the insides are also notable. I got a bit confused with the cheese situation, since there appeared to be a proper slice in there, but there was also a gooey, melted cheesy mess. It was then that I realized the burger had both proper cheese and cheese sauce, which immediately prompted one thought: this thing must be a calorie neutron bomb. (I didn’t check the burger’s nutritional information prior to eating it, but here it is). And my second thought: holy crap is it tasty.
But wait, there’s more: the burger also has Wendy’s “Applewood smoked bacon,” which is just bacon gussied up with a fancy name. However, I give Wendy’s points for its bacon; it’s better than your run-of-the-mill fast-food bacon, which generally tastes like cardboard because it’s probably been sitting in a bin since breakfast. It actually tasted freshly made, which could be because I had the burger outside of a big city, where the crew may have taken more time with it.
Lastly, there was also spinach on the burger, which came as something of a shock. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that on a fast-food burger before. I’m not a big spinach fan, but seeing it instead of cheap lettuce definitely does much to class up a burger.
“Classy” is almost the word I’d use to describe the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. It certainly is a notch above the typical fast-food fare and could almost qualify as something you’d see at one of those ubiquitous gourmet burger joints that have sprung up in recent years. It still uses the same unremarkable beef as Wendy’s other burgers, which is probably what keeps it from truly achieving a higher pedigree, but otherwise the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger is a solid creation. If you can get this thing freshly made, as I obviously did, it’s a treat.
The bun, meanwhile, is definitely the highlight. Wendy’s should consider adopting it as the de facto topper for all its burgers.