Updated at 6 p.m. E.T. on July 5, 2013
Want to give your all-American fast food a salty, German twist? Wendy’s 680-calorie Bacon Pretzel Cheeseburger, which went on sale nationwide July 4, aims to satisfy your cravings: The $4.69 invention features a soft pretzel bun sandwiching a 1/4-lb. hamburger patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, honey mustard sauce and all the fixin’s.
Although the new burger is packed with 36 (!) grams of fat, it still isn’t the most fattening thing on Wendy’s menu. In fact, it’s comparable to Dave’s Hot and Juicy 1/4-lb. single cheeseburger, which clocks in at 600 calories and 34 grams of fat — or about a third of an average person’s recommended daily food intake. Gulp. We haven’t personally tasted the new pretzel burger yet, but Mark Kalinowski of Janney Capital Markets calls it “one of Wendy’s most successful test products from the last 20 years.”
Wendy’s caloric concoction isn’t the only fast food launched this summer to incorporate the doughy 900-year-old pastry (the earliest illustration of a pretzel known to man dates back to the 12th century). On July 1, Sonic Drive-In launched two limited-time pretzel dogs, the Original Pretzel Dog (320 calories, 18 grams of fat) and the Cheesy Bacon Pretzel Dog (430 calories, 27 grams of fat). Customers can slather either mustard or bacon and warm melted cheese on their dogs. Calorie and fat-wise, they’re pretty comparable to Sonic’s other choices—unless you elect to get everything on your hot dog, of course, which is your all-American right.
Chains are jumping on the pretzel bandwagon partly because of its novelty and partly because of its appeal to slightly higher-end tastes. “Consumers are looking for bold flavors, new tastes, and value,” James O’Reilly, chief marketing officer at Sonic, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “For most, the idea of a soft, warm pretzel taste in a bun is a new idea, and it complements the beef very well. A pretzel bun screams gourmet, so the value score is very high with customers.”
And if that’s not enough artery-clogging fun for you, donuts are getting pretzel-fied too. Krispy Kreme’s salted caramel pretzel doughnut is stuffed with chocolate “Kreme” and topped with caramel icing and salted pretzels. At 420 calories and with 24 grams of fat, it’s almost twice the caloric and fat intake of most other Krispy Kreme donuts—but perhaps twice as worth it?