After 42 years, fast food chain Wendy's has decided to remake its hamburger. Dave's Hot 'N Juicy, named after Wendy's late founder Dave Thomas, makes its debut in restaurants today.
The new burger features a thicker patty, buttered bun, and extra cheese, among other changes.
"Our food was already good," Denny Lynch, a Wendy's spokesman, told the Associated Press (AP). "We wanted it to be better. Isn't that what long-term brands do? They reinvent themselves."
Executives at Wendy's Co. in Dublin, Ohio spent the last 30 months delving over the smallest details regarding the revamped burger, including white onions vs. red or plain pickles vs. crinkled.
The initiative was deemed Project Gold Burger and is an attempt to boost declining sales and set the 6,600-restaurant chain apart from competitors like McDonald's.
McDonald's has become fierce competition, having grown even larger over the past few years.
The fast-food chain has remarketed itself with a menu that offers a variety of healthy options and Wi-Fi. In 2010, McDonald's had 49.5 percent of the fast-food burger market in the United States. Wendy’s recorded a 1.2 percent drop in shares equaling 12.8 percent last year, according to research firm Technomic.
"We have a lot of catching up to do in some areas," Gerard Lewis, Wendy's head of new product development, told the AP. "But after we launch this hamburger there will be folks who need to catch up to us."
Project Gold Burger was started in early 2009, shortly following the failed merger of Wendy's and Arby's by hedge fund financier, Nelson Peltz. The restaurant, eager to increase market share, has polled over 10,000 people about their likes and dislikes in hamburgers.
Executives then tested out burgers around the country noting characteristics such as salty flavor and whether the bun fell apart AP reported.
"I've traveled more with this burger than I have in my entire life," Shelly Thobe, Wendy's director of hamburgers and new platforms, told the AP.
The only thing Wendy's has not changed about its burger is the ketchup. Researchers switched to whole-fat mayo and eliminated the mustard, and are using crinkled pickles and red onions, although there will be less of each on the burger. According to AP, Dave's Hot 'N Juicy patty will now feature a "natural square," with wavy edges.
"It's not about getting real exotic," said Lori Estrada, Wendy's senior vice president of menu innovation and packaging.