Have Hardee's and Carl's Jr. Gone Too Far (Or Big)?

Fast Food

Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?

20080115-monsterthickburger.jpgAs most people know, we love fat in just about all its forms here at Serious Eats. We love bacon, barbecue, butter, lardo, guanciale, prime dry-aged beef, Wagyu beef, burgers, lard, prosciutto, cheese, and pastrami. But we try to advocate consuming these ultradelicious fatty foods in moderation.

According to a provocative, eye-opening, and artery-clogging story in the new, hip business culture magazine Portfolio, the folks at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's don't feel a similar need. If they had their way, we'd consume half-pound hamburgers topped with, among other things, a hot dog, early and often.

Consider the opening paragraph of the story:

It was a patriotic statement that went a bit too far afield: an attempt to create the "ultimate picnic burger." Called the Fourth of July Burger, it was tested last summer at seven locations by the West Coast fast-food chain Carl's Jr. and consisted of a huge beef patty topped with pickles, ketchup, mustard, potato chips, and a hot dog. Stacked high and loaded with fat and calories, it was the food equivalent of the national anthem played through a sousaphone, a perfect distillation of a peculiarly American form of balls-out, postmodern gluttony that, at least outwardly, we're all supposed to be ashamed of right now.

Though the Fourth of July Burger didn't fly, the Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger, 1,520 calories of beefy fat and meat, is a runaway (or perhaps a waddleaway) success. So is the 1,410-calorie Hardee's Monster Thickburger (pictured).

Have Carl's Jr. and Hardee's gone too far? Perhaps. According to the Portfolio story, the Double Six Dollar Burger has been pulled from all of the company's California locations because of a lawsuit alleging that it contains unacceptable amounts of a carcinogen commonly created by grilling meat. Carl's Jr. apparently intends to pull the Double Six in the rest of the country as well. Well, maybe they'll bring back the Fourth of July Burger with another name.