The Surprising Reason Wendy’s Burgers Are Square


The reason for the outlier four-sided shape can be traced back to Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas. In 1969, he opened the first Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio because he was unhappy with the other options. To make it distinctive from Wendy’s competitors, he used square-formed fresh meat.

The corners of Wendy’s burgers are hanging off the buns. That way, Thomas thought, customers would see the quality of the burger, according to the company’s story.

The company has long used square patties in its marketing campaigns. For example, the restaurant chain often says that “cutting corners is not in Wendy’s DNA”.

There is also a practical reason for the square shape.

“We can fit more square burgers on a single grill than on rounds,” John Li, vice president of culinary innovation at Wendy’s Company, told CNN Business.

The chain’s use of fresh rather than frozen meat also helped its sales.

“We’ve built long-standing, trusted relationships with our partners to ensure we can deliver the iconic fresh, never-frozen beef burgers our fans have come to expect and love,” Li said.

Competitors have taken notice, including McDonald’s in 2018 when it replaced frozen beef with fresh beef in most of its quarter-pound burgers in the United States. In Japan, the chain is currently experimenting with square buns (patties are always round) for a special promotion.
White Castle also uses square patties – an invention that actually predates Wendy’s. According to its history, the chain began in 1921 selling square, easy-to-eat burgers called “Sliders”. In 1954, White Castle added five holes to the patty so they could cook faster.

Wendy’s considered switching to round patties a decade ago because perfectly square shapes seemed processed for focus groups. However, a round burger would have been contrary to Thomas’ vision. Instead, Wendy’s altered the shape slightly to a “natural square” with jagged edges.

Changing his burgers too much could damage his reputation.

“The square burger is part of the Wendy’s brand experience and has been used as a differentiator in the fast food category,” according to Marisa Mulvihill, partner and head of brand and activation at global consultancy Prophet. . “Switching to round burgers requires leaving behind their inspiring history and distinctive experience, which will likely diminish some of the relevance of the Wendy’s brand.”

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