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Consumer Reports Ranks Best Burgers

By • Sep 9th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog

Just weeks after Zagat released their Top 5 fast-food burgers in the US, now comes another carnivore countdown.  The October issue of Consumer Reports features the results of their own burger survey, where 28,000 online subscribers assigned cheebies from 18 chains a 1-10 score.  After the totals were tallied and average scores calculated, there were some shocking surprises…

…except at the top, perhaps. In-N-Out and Five Guys tied for the #1 spot, both burgers earning a 7.9 score.  These two placed 1-2 on the Zagat list as well, clearly showing themselves to be the favored burgers in the nation among chain establishments.

The first eyebrow-raiser is #3, Fuddruckers.  In my review almost a year ago, I was reminded of just how tasty their burgers are, and then lamented their financial troubles in April.  But folks love their burgs; maybe a 7.7 score will help them get their meaty mojo back.

The next four chains are smaller regional outfits that some burgermeisters may not be readily familiar with.  Burgerville has only about 40 locations, all within 80 miles of Portland, Oregon, but managed to place 4th.  Their burgers that spotlight locally-resourced ingredients earned a 7.6 score.  Also with a 7.6 score, Back Yard Burgers (#5) is a chain of about 170 restaurants in 20 states that prides itself on using only 100% Black Angus beef.  Culver’s, placing 6th with a 7.5, has served up ButterBurgers across the Midwest for years, and is expanding to places like Arizona and Texas.  Whataburger‘s 700-some stores came in 7th with a 7.3 score.

Hardee’s is the highest-ranking of the Big Four classic burger chains, sitting at #8 with a 7.2.  I would definitely rank them higher than the clown and the pig-tailed girl… and probably even the king if you forced me to choose.  Oddly, Hardee’s twin sister chain, Carl’s Jr., only scored a 6.9 and came in 9th.

Also scoring a 6.9 and rounding out the Top 10 is Checkers.  I enjoyed my Philly Cheesesteak Burger in December, but their hush-hush secrecy about nutritional info admittedly skeevs me out a bit.  (Nine months and counting, and that page from their website still mysteriously doesn’t load.)

White Castle clocks in at #11 with a score of 6.7 for their trademark slyders.  Their fans are famously fanatical and certainly helped push them above several of the major chains…

…like Wendy’s, whose 6.6 score lands them in 12th place.  My issues with the pig-tailed girl are well-documented, so I have a hard time endorsing their ranking over a few of the chains that placed lower.

Sonic also came in with a 6.6 score.  And while there’s a certain nostalgia that comes with the drive-in concept and the roller-skating waitresses, my last Sonic burger simply wasn’t very good.  #13 out of 18 sounds about right to me.

At #14, A&W with a 6.5.  I had to go to their website to find the one nearest me.  (25 miles.  Who knew?)  When I think A&W, I think root beer in a frosty mug.  But even if I was stranded in a mall food court, I’m not sure I’d think to order a cheeseburger from A&W.

Krystal placed 15th.  This struck me as odd, since my side-by-side sampling in July proved Krystal’s mini-cheebies to be superior to White Castle’s.  But Krystal Nation apparently isn’t quite as passionate, as their baby burgs scored just a 6.3.

The list’s bottom three are all big names.  Burger King came in 16th, with a 6.3.  Color me flabbergasted.  I’ve always thought BK’s burgs were better than thatJack in the Box, at #17, also earned a 6.3 score.  Curious, since I still rank my Bacon Ult Chub one of the best 5 burgers I’ve had this year.  And McDonald’s rightfully came in dead last at #18, with a lowly 5.6 score.  Maybe the lesson here is that creepy mascots just don’t appeal to the burger-loving public.

Agree or disagree with the Consumer Reports list?  Debate away, fellow chowhounds.

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