Burger Fans Have Beef With Biggest Chains

TheStreet.com

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Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce.

In fact, many fast food aficionados say they might be inclined to pass on burgers entirely at McDonald's (NYSE: MCD - News), Burger King (NYSE: BKC - News) and Wendy's (NYSE: WEN - News).

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A survey released today by Consumer Reports polled 28,000 of its subscribers on burger taste and quality at the nation's most popular junk food joints. They were asked to rate the burgers they had eaten during their last visit on a scale of 1 to 10, from "least delicious burger ever eaten to most."

Topping the list were In-N-Out Burger (with a rating of 7.9), Five Guys Burgers and Fries (7.9) and Fuddruckers (7.7).

"In this case, the bigger-name burger wasn't better" says Tod Marks, senior project editor for the magazine.

The worst rated of the 18 burger emporiums on the list were Burger King (rated a 6.3), Jack in the Box (Nasdaq: JACK - News) (6.3) and -- dead last -- McDonald's (5.6), which a Consumer Reports reviewer described as "more greasy than beefy" with a "uniformly round and brownish-gray" patty topped by an "airy and bland" bun.

Many of us may be stuck with that if we crave, or wind up with, a fast food burger; the higher-ranked chains are also the harder to find. In-N-Out Burger, for example, has 247 restaurants, and only in California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Five Guys has 640 restaurants in 42 states. But McDonald's is a global brand. It has 14,000 restaurants in the U.S. alone. Burger King, which announced last week it will be taken private by buyout firm 3G Capital for $4 billion, has 12,000 locations.

Other notable chains, as rated by Consumer Reports, were: Burgerville (7.6), Backyard Burgers (7.6), Culver's Frozen Custard (7.5), Whataburger (7.3), Hardee's (7.2), Carl's Jr. (6.9), Checker's Drive-In (6.9), White Castle (6.7), Wendy's (6.6), Sonic Drive-In (Nasdaq: SONC - News) (6.6), A&W Restaurant (NYSE: YUM - News) (6.5) and Krystal (6.3).

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