There's the Beef: Wendy's Takes No. 2 Spot From Burger King

By CANDICE CHOI, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wendy's has dethroned Burger King as the country's second biggest hamburger chain.

Wendy's edged out Burger King in U.S. sales volume for the first time last year since Wendy's was founded in 1969, according to a report by the food industry research firm Technomic Inc. that's set to be released next month.

Wendy's had sales of $8.5 billion in 2011, compared with $8.4 billion for Burger King. McDonald's remained far larger than both with $34.2 billion in sales.

The figures are based on Technomic's estimates of system-wide sales at franchise and company-owned restaurants, rather than corporate revenue, which includes fees from franchise operators. Worldwide, Burger King still has far more restaurants than Wendy's and remains the second biggest hamburger chain behind McDonald's.

Both Burger King and Wendy's have struggled in recent years to keep up with the growth of McDonald's, which has managed to keep prices low through the recession, while also introducing a new menu items and remodeling restaurants. Sales are up 26% in the past five years at McDonald's, up 9% at Wendy's and flat at Burger King, according to Technomic.


Burger King has been reevaluating its business since it was acquired by investment firm 3G Capital in 2010. The privately held company that's based in Miami recently retired its mascot "The King" last year and launched a new advertising campaign focused more on food.

Despite its edge over Burger King, Wendy's also been on a mission to reinvent itself as a higher-end hamburger chain with new items like the Dave's Hot 'N Juicy burger introduced last fall. CEO Emil Brolick, has called the Dublin, Ohio-based company's poor performance in recent years "self-inflicted wounds," also laid out plans this year to raise standards for employees and update stores with an airier, more modern look.

The sales rankings for the top five restaurant chains have undergone another dramatic shift in the past five years, according to Technomic. In 2006, the No. 2 and No. 3 spots were held by Burger King and Wendy's respectively, making the top three companies all hamburger chains.

Subway now is No. 2 with $11.4 billion in sales last year and Starbucks is No. 3 with $9.8 billion. U.S. sales at both companies have grown at a much faster rate than the top three hamburger chains, with Subway sales up 48% from five years ago and Starbucks sales up 39%.

The final Technomic report with sales for the top 500 restaurant chains is set to be released April 13.

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Having worked at a BK - it took that experience to eliminate all fast food from my life. At BK, the burgers do get cooked on a conveyor belt driven gas flamed grill - 2.30 minutes from frozen solid, to cooked, then placed in steam pans, for who knows how long. The food is slapped together, thrown at the customers, all so they can meet an absurd 120 second timeline from a drive-thru customers order thru the delivery of the food. Mmmm, yummy. All served up with people who are under-paid, over-berated, and treated like farm animals. I am so grateful for the job I had, it saved my house, but it's the most pathetic work environment known to man-kind. (Do not confues grateful with like - not the same thing). I feel bad my fellow employees are still stuck there - I tried to coach them all that they would never be treated this poorly ever again, and no job is worth the worry over whether each day you'll get fired. The story's I could tell about the lack of health

March 20 2012 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Douglas Schenk

BK stopped using tasty oils for their fries under pressure from the health nuts 20 years ago. The fries have tasted awful ever since. This alone has driven customers from their doors.

But then they topped it with the creepy King ads. Drove the nail in the casket.

March 20 2012 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Smith

Wendy's dollar baked potato is a sweet deal.

March 20 2012 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jenny Twine

Mcdonalds for those who love grey meat with an after taste

March 20 2012 at 7:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Never liked BK. DIdn't taste good and I couldn't get over the practice of them "painting" grill marks on the burgers after they microwave them. Do they still do that?

March 20 2012 at 7:01 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to doodoopapah's comment

Wendy's burger, McD's fries, BK milk shake.... a perfect meal.

March 20 2012 at 6:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If BK had scrapped those creepy commercials with the king earlier, it might have stopped the slide. I personally have not darkened the door of a BK in years. Their fries suck.

March 20 2012 at 6:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I like both places; each has their strengths and weaknesses. I am glad that BK got rid of that creepy King-Thing they used. It was just WRONG!

March 20 2012 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know what I hate about Burger King? No matter how much time goes by, and I decide to try it once again, I never fail to find bone fragments in my food. It's disgusting. I will not be going to BK again, period.

March 20 2012 at 5:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I would miss Wendy's if they were gone. Would not miss BK. My "beef" is what has happened at Arby's since the split. Been a fan for years particularly for the 5 for $5 menu which became a 5 for $5.95 menu. Could live with that, but they have completely done away with it. Also the 4 for $5 roast beef regular specials. Their coupon specials are not nearly as attractive as they were in the past. Would regularly order one of their special sandwiches and pay $5-6, now they are $6-7. I used to find myself at an Arby's about 6 times a month. Now it is 1 or 2 if they run a 2 for $5 french dip. They are obviously trying a new approach trying to upgrade menu and margins. When are all these fast food places going to learn the McD's success thing?. Get them in the door with a great $1 menu, often times you will sell a number 6 for $5.79 along with even 99 cent fries or drink or $2 special coffee with astronomical proft margins?

March 20 2012 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply