Wendy’s set to take down Burger King as no. 2 in U.S.

Mitchell Hartman Dec 21, 2011

Wendy’s set to take down Burger King as no. 2 in U.S.

Mitchell Hartman Dec 21, 2011

Adriene Hill: Wendy’s appears set to overtake Burger King as the 2nd most-loved burger chain in the U.S., behind McDonald’s of course. All morning, I’ve been imagining a cage-match between Wendy’s icon — the sweet little red-headed girl — and the Burger King King.

We asked Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman to dig in.

Commercial: You know, I think it’s time we all started waking up fresh. You mean with Wendy’s new fresh-made breakfast? You got it. Mmm.

Mitchell Hartman: New breakfast options like buttermilk biscuits and sausage are just one way Wendy’s is grabbing a bigger piece of the fast-food pie.

While Burger King has languished in recent years without sprucing up its menu, Wendy’s has been busy, says Darren Tristano at Chicago research firm Technomic — rounding out the edges on its signature square burgers, swapping the iceberg lettuce for new salad greens, pecans and asiago cheese.

Darren Tristano: Shifting away from burger, more towards chicken, better-quality fries, floats, for example, instead of Frosties.

Tristano says Wendy’s marketing has also been smarter.

Tristano: They have stuck with Wendy and their deceased founder, Dave Thomas, compared to the quote-unquote “Creepy King,” which has really turned off older consumers and specifically mothers.

Burger King still reigns over Wendy’s abroad, though, far outpacing its competitor in burger joints and sales.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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