I can't recall where I had my first pretzel bun burger, and I sure as hell haven't had many. But I do recall having one at the long-closed Shades of Hoboken, in Hoboken, in what I have to assume was about 2006. That one sandwiched a thoroughly unexceptional "kobe" burger...another marketing-based trend that needs to die yesterday. It wasn't very good. That's 7 years before Wendy's caught on. And when Wendy's picks up on a culinary trend, it's a good indication the concept has run its course.
I like a good pretzel as much as the next guy. Hell I like Wendy's as much as the next guy. But pretzel bread is certainly not an ideal bread for a sandwich (even if the pretzel isn't mediocre and it's in the hands of a good cook). Wendy's seems to have set out to prove this, with their Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger.
There are several flaws with the new Wendy's pretzel bacon cheeseburger, not least of all being the pretzel bun, which is complete with an artificial looking split top.
- The "spring mix" of greens is completely inappropriate for a hot sandwich. Delicate greens like these, when exposed to heat and grease, immediately start decomposing, turning into a wilted, sewage-y, pointless mess. Sturdy lettuces like iceberg hold up much better, if lettuce on burgers is your kind of thing...and it shouldn't be.
- I've never been a fan of sweet sauces on burgers. Sure, ketchup is quite sweet. However, it has acid and salt to balance it out. That tomato flavor, however vague, is appropriate for a burger. But "smoky honey mustard?" Blech. Nasty stuff which should be relegated to turkey sandwiches to give them flavor and moisture. I suspect the mustard choice is by design as some sort of tie-in to that...
- ...pretzel bun. What a disaster. The thing is tough, dense, and heavy. These textural flaws overwhelm the burger, even with that rotting lettuce and honey and gummy bacon fighting back. It has neither the texture nor flavor of a well-made pretzel. Well-made pretzels, by the way, are very, very easy to make. For f*ck's sake, it isn't even topped with big grains of salt!!!
Wendy's does have a reasonable fast food burger in their run-of-the-mill double cheeseburger with the standard issue bun. It's actually a go-to fast food sandwich for me (believe it or not, people who are somewhat worldly and enjoy the finer things can actually enjoy fast food every now and again, perhaps a little too often in some cases, and even when sober).
If you're feeling like a Wendy's fix, stick with the double cheeseburger, and skip this travesty. I can hope the inevitable failure of this sandwich will put the final nail in the pretzel bun coffin, but I fear this craze is just starting to get traction. Has someone done a Cronut burger yet?