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The Stir

The Stir

Posted: September 14, 2010 12:10 PM

Okay, no one walks into a burger joint expecting a $2 hamburger to look big, thick, and meaty. But every fast food restaurant seems to have one or two "fancy," high-ish-end items on their menu that come with high-ish expectations, especially when you see the photo. And these items are usually quite a bit more than your typical value meal sandwiches, often more around $5.

More from The Stir: How to Make Healthy Fast Food Choices

So how well does the fancy fast food hold up to the fantasy? Do we have the right to expect a little more for our money when we shell out the, well, medium bucks for a burger? I took a look at four menu items in real life to find out.

Ad: Burger King Smoky Cheddar Steakhouse XT Burger
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For those of you who haven't seen all the commercials, the XT stands for "extra thick." Compared to what? Paper? Take a look at the real thing, it's certainly no Burger King NY Pizza Burger.
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So there you go -- fast food fantasy and reality.

Are you getting your money's worth? Meh. Fast food is supposed to be cheap, but for around $3 I could make a grass-fed bacon cheeseburger or a really big steak wrap. And for about $2 I could make my own free-range grilled chicken sandwich or chicken, heirloom apple, and pecan salad (using more flavorful thigh meat, and probably still come out with a lower calorie count). But the Chipotle burrito? With customization and fresh, ethical, quality ingredients I'd say it's worth the $7.

Still, Chipotle is the exception that proves the rule: I think fast food joints charge a disproportionately greater amount for the "fancy" menu items than for the more basic items.

Are you disappointed when a fast food meal looks a lot better in the pretty ad?

Written by Adriana Velez for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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