Beware the French Fry Burger

Have we finally hit the wall when it comes to fast-food innovation?

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Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon

Have you seen this? Burger King, the fast-food chain of choice for those who think Wendy’s is just too fancy, is airing a TV commercial to promote its new product—the French Fry Burger. This ad is alarming for precisely three reasons:

Reason for Alarm No. 1: It means that Burger King is actually selling something called the French Fry Burger.

Forget about this creation being unhealthy and also fairly gross-looking. Instead, let’s focus on what the French Fry Burger represents. Have we finally hit the wall when it comes to fast-food innovation?

We were on a pretty good roll there. A few years back, KFC invented the Double Down, which took two slices of bacon, put them between two slabs of fried chicken and wrapped it in the Colonel’s proprietary blend of herbs and self-loathing. Across North America, the spirit of ingenuity was strong. Waffles took the place of English muffins in breakfast sandwiches. Bacon found its way into milkshakes, which found their way into me.

But this past spring, the creative fires began to dim. Boston Pizza replaced hamburger buns with pizza crust, because why? And for a while this summer, McDonald’s was selling something called the McLobster, which I assume was an elaborate joke and if you ever ordered one at the drive-thru then you’d simply be pulled aside and asked to think seriously about your life choices.

And now a French Fry Burger? Way to unleash the imagination there, guys. We’ve apparently entered the Whatever We’ve Already Got With Us in the Kitchen phase of burger R&D. Uh, okay, so let’s try a bun, some cheese, and I guess a beef patty topped with . . . um . . . two apple pies, a hash brown, maybe this napkin and, I don’t know, a dab of floor wax? We’ll call it the Just Eat It, Fatty.

For the record, Burger King isn’t alone in underwhelming us of late. Did you catch the big event this week where Apple, the maker of the iPhone, unveiled its latest big new idea: the iPhone? Except this time it can be baby blue and some of them have an “S.”

And how about Coors Light? The company is using the new NFL season to promote its beer-can technology, which includes a “double-vented wide mouth” that apparently produces a “smoother, more refreshing pour.” Whatever. Bottom line is: more beer in your mouth more faster, bro!

(To be fair, the ad firm doesn’t have much to work with. Regulations restrict them from lying outright, so they can’t use a provocative slogan like, “Coors Light: Now with Taste!”)

Reason for Alarm No. 2: The commercial itself. The ad for the French Fry Burger features a mother who has brought her little girl to Burger King, presumably as a punishment of some kind. The kid spots a man eating a burger. Nothing special about that, except . . . whoa, that burger has, like, four fries on it! The girl scrunches up her face. “Mom,” she says, “they stole my idea.”

Cute, right? Except for one thing: That sweet little girl is a goddamn liar.

Dear Little Girl in that Burger King Commercial:

Shut up. They did not steal your idea. That’s stupid. They stole my idea. I had that idea way before you did, so admit you’re wrong and shut up again. Also, I double-stamped it, no erasies, as being MY IDEA FOREVER. So give me my due. Then shut up for a third time.

Not to brag, but I was putting fries on my burger when I was five years old. I was pretty much the Gretzky of putting things on my burger, which isn’t as lucrative as being the Gretzky of hockey but is at least better than being the Gretzky of, say, bedwetting.

In 1979, while trying to hide the last onion ring from my brother, I created the Onion Ring Burger. So you’re living in a world that has the Onion Ring Burger, little girl, and you’re welcome for that. But I wasn’t done yet.

During my sophomore year of university, I created the Bacon Double Cheeseburger Double Hot Dog and, just a month later, the 1-2-3 Burger (one beef patty, two slices of bacon and three fish sticks). For reasons that elude me, that last one still hasn’t caught on.

Reason for Alarm No. 3: Despite everything I’ve just written, I still totally want, and am going to have, and am going to regret having had, a French Fry Burger.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk