In Praise and Protest of the Almighty Hamburger
The Floridian (The St. Petersburg Times)  Pages 26-27
Sunday, December 28, 1969
St. Petersburg, Florida
By Paul Schnitt, Illustrations by Don Addis

Each day hundreds of thousands of us must make the agonizing decision: "Is McDonald's my kind of place?"

For millions who've gobbled down billions of lunches and dinners underneath the Golden Arches, yes, it probably is their kind of place.

On the other hand, Biff Burger may suit your palate. Or Burger Chef, Burger-King or Royal Castle.

There is a difference you know, despite skeptics who insist"a hamburger is a hamburger. Anyway you slice it, it comes out 100 per cent, government inspected, pure ground beef."

To these skeptics, The Floridian says 'Bologna!'

Now, back to hamburgers.

For its inquiry, the magazine turned to a private foundation called OOPE, Inc., pronounced "oop," and standing for Out Of Pocket Expenses, Incurred.

"Spare no cost," declared the boss. "Really sink your teeth into this assignment," he said as he shoved the poor man's answer to Duncan Hines out on a week-long expedition into the world of neon lights and fast bites.

This was to be no quick-order survey.

The researcher was armed with notepad, trusty stopwatch, a pocketful of quarters and a plentyful supply of Tums.

The experiment had "sophistication" written all over it - first had experience, thorough record-keeping; laboratory anaylsis.

For the sake of fairness, all the hamburger stands were visited during the busy lunch hour, approximatley 12:15 p.m. The same orders were placed - a regular hamburger, french fries and a chocolate milk shake.

Now the findings and conclusions can be released.

Time It Took To Get The Food In Hand:
Biff Burger, 3 minutes and 56 seconds; Burger Chef, 38 seconds; Burger-King, 3 minutes and 14 seconds, McDonald's, 35.1 seconds; Royal Castle, 4 minutes and 51.5 seconds.

If you're in a hurry - a real hurry - go either to McDonald's or Burger Chef. No kidding, they can get that food in your hand quicker than you can say, "Light on the mustard."

Henry Ford, it is said, copied his idea for a Detroit assembly line from a McDonald's stand. (Or was it the other way around?)

But while McDonald's serves you quickest, its heavier volume of traffic makes parking more difficult, or impossible. Add one minute and 12 seconds to McDonald's time.

Total Price:

Biff Burger - 62 cents plus tax (for hamburger, fries and shake).
Burger Chef - 68 cents plus tax.
Burger King - 69 cents plus tax.
McDonald's - 65 cents plus tax.
Roya Castle - 70 cents plus tax.

The Hamburger As A Piece Of Meat:
Biff Burger - 100 per cent pure, government-inspected ground beef.

Others - See Above.

Burger King and Burger Chef are broiled over an open flame. Biff Burger, roto-broiled. McDonald's and Royal Castle, grilled.

Symmetry Of The Hamburger:
McDonald's has the roundest hamburger. If the oval shape turns you on; head for the nearest Biff Burger.

Weights and Vital Statistics:
Lab analysis included the most precise of measuring instruments - a micrometer and a postal scale.

Burger King gives you the biggest piece of meat, 1.6 ounces, and also the thickest, 265/1000ths of an inch or slightly more than one-quarter inch.

Biff Burger, Burger Chef and McDonald's are tied for second, 1.2 ounces. In thickness, Burger Chef, 229/1000ths of an inch; McDonald's, 223/1000ths; and Biff burger, 208/1000ths.

According to the postal scale, there's .8 ounces of meat in a Royal Castle hamburger which has a thickness of 199/1000ths of an inch or just under one-fifth inch.

It all goes to prove that if you ever decide to mail a friend a hamburger, it'll cost a nickel less postage to send a Royal Castle (8 cents cheaper by air).

The Trimmings:
It depends on one's taste. Biff Burger boasts of "our own tangy sauce" which a gal in the window confessed consists of ketchup and finely chopped pickles. McDonald's and Burger Chef quirt some ketchup and mustard on the bun and put one thinly sliced piece of pickle on the meat. If you've got the hots for onion, Royal Castle fries a stack of tiny onion clippings - up to 6/10th of an ounce - plus one or two pickle slices. Burger King piles on the most - a sauce consisting of ketchup, raw onion, relish and up to four pieces of pickle.

An Aside On Napkins:
Biff Burger has the most colorful napkin, yellow with red lettering. McDonald's, however, has the biggest - 214.5 square inches - compared with Biff's 105 quare inches and Royal Castle's 102.6875 square inches. If a suggestion is in order it would be for Burger King (105.63 square inches) to negotiate a trade - napkin for napkin -with McDonald's. The sauce from Burger King's hamburger, you see, has a tendency to runneth over onto thine pants, which it staineth.

The French Fries:
Burger King stuffed 77 pieces into a paper container although many were small and a bit soggy. Biff Burger gave 65 pieces. Royal Castle, 57. Burger Chef, 53. And McDonald's, 43, though they were the biggest.

The Milk Shake
There's a dead heat here for thickness between Biff Burger and Royal Castle. In both cases, repeated efforts to induce the milk shake up the straw resulted only in failure. The symptoms of a really thcik shake are severely drawn in cheeks, reddening face and an utlimate gasp for oxygen. An instant remedy is the spoon.

A partial breakthrough was realized on the Burger Chef shake.

McDonald's has the biggest shake for the money.

The Surroundings And Other Miscellaneous Matters:
McDonald's wins the award for most refuse containers per square foot of property. Burger King provides music to eat french fries by. Biff Burger has a marquee to advertise things like "Deluxe Biff." Royal Castle is the only fast food establishment of the bunch taht will make you a hamburger after the Late Late Show. "Open 29 hours a day," is its slogan.

All the places could do a better job keeping the tables clean during the rush hours.

And so the long awaited report. Some enterprising young man no doubt could take the best of each burger establishment and come up with a profitable operation, someting called Royal Chef McBiffking's.

Paul Schnitt writes on public utilities, transportation
and dyspepsia for The St. Petersburg Times.

Copyright 1969 The Floridian, St. Petersburg Times
All rights reserved.

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