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Wendy's: Home of the Original Smashburger

Charles loves to cook and enjoys trying new recipes every day. His first job was at Wendy's.

Wendy's burger

Wendy's burger

My very first job, and the beginning of my journey into the food industry, was at Wendy's. This was back in the late 1980s and early '90s when you could take your date to a fast-food restaurant for a night out.

History of Wendy's

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's, opened his first fast-food restaurant on November 15, 1969. Dave introduced Columbus, Ohio, to the game-changing innovation of square burger patties made from fresh, never-frozen beef to the quickly expanding fast food industry.

The First Pick-Up Window

Continuing his innovative trend, not long after opening, sometime in the 1970s, Dave invented the revolutionary "pick-up window." This was a means for folks to grab their food on the go without leaving the comfort of their cars. By 1985, there were over 3,000 Wendy's locations around the world. The '80s led to an explosive rise in Wendy's popularity with Dave being featured in his first commercial and introducing the famous slogan "Where's the beef?"

The Super Bar

The first Super Bar was introduced sometime in the late 1980s and had an outstanding run until 1998. For only $2.99, the Super Bar offered all-you-can-eat options such as tacos, pizza, chili, pasta, breadsticks, salad, and desserts.

As an employee, I clearly remember how much of a chore it was to keep the Super Bar stocked and clean, especially during the lunch and dinner rushes. It was a nonstop ordeal. Not only did Wendy's need to maintain the buffet, but regular fast food orders were also coming in at a record pace.

I'm sure the challenge of keeping the bar stocked and clean, as well as the ridiculously low price they were charging, had something to do with its demise. I'm sure there are people out there that would love to recreate the nostalgia of the all-you-can-eat experience at Wendy's. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

In the late 1980s Wendy's debuted the Super Bar nationally across its U.S. locations, ushering in a new era in the fast food industry.

In the late 1980s Wendy's debuted the Super Bar nationally across its U.S. locations, ushering in a new era in the fast food industry.

Wendy's and the Original Smash Burger

With the founding of the Smashburger restaurant in 2007, smashing burger patties on a flat-top grill or pan became the newest culinary fad of the 2000s with copycat burger joints and restaurants across America adopting this "new" technique for grilling hamburgers.

Well, folks, I hate to break it to you, but Wendy's has been smashing burgers since 1969. They smashed their square, never frozen, 100% all-beef patties on the grill way before Smashburger arrived on the scene.

During my time as a Wendy's grill master, I was taught how to properly smash a burger on the grill. The technique was drilled into me and other grill masters the moment we started flipping burgers.

Wendy's technique was simple, they even had flow charts and diagrams near the grill to remind you. You would start by placing the patty on the grill, once the bottom was seared, usually around two minutes, flip the burger over and with the bottom of your spatula, smash down firmly on all four corners of the patty until the burger was pressed to a consistent 1/4" thick. This became almost second nature to the experienced grill masters.

Another neat trick was to put a slice of cheese on the grill surface for five seconds or so to pre-melt the cheese. Then, in one quick motion, scoop it up and place it on top of the burger. Bam! Perfectly melted cheese without having to wait for it to melt while sitting on top of the burger. You're welcome.

As you can see, all along Wendy's was the original Smashburger—and the GOAT (greatest of all time). Wendy's has been and still is one of the best fast-food burger joints in the world. Thanks, Dave Thomas! You will never be forgotten.

© 2022 Charles Kikas