Nicholas Lezard: Fight for freedom: buy a Whopper at BK

Businessmen want their competition in intensive care, with the doctors shaking their heads

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I am profoundly troubled by the news that Burger King is experiencing, according to one report, "a seemingly unstoppable erosion in sales". Good, you may say. Such would be the automatic response of the typically decent reader of this newspaper. But no. Not good, I say. For if Burger King dies, then what are we left with? And we all know the answer to that: global domination by the monstrous, ruthless, and utterly tasteless corporation that is McDonald's.

At which point I should declare a small interest. As with all the great feuding dyads – Protestant vs Catholic, Coke vs Pepsi, BBC vs commercial TV – each side has its cheerleaders, utterly convinced of the rectitude of their case. Although I will keep my own counsel regarding Protestantism vs Catholicism, I am prepared to go to the stake for Coke vs Pepsi, as well as BBC vs Commercial. And as far as I am concerned, in the matter of BK vs Maccy Dees, the answer is clear cut, unambiguous: McDonald's produces disgusting pap which I would not feed to my worst enemy, whereas Burger King makes the fast-food equivalent of haute cuisine, a wonderful gastronomic experience whose apogee is that most sublime of sandwiches, the Bacon Double Cheeseburger.

Well, perhaps I exaggerate. But I have my excuses. I am writing this while peckish, and glancing at a rather inviting picture of something called a Stacker Quad, which is being used to illustrate the article in the financial section from where I am getting my information about BK's business troubles. Which also informs me that the company produces, in this country at least, something called an Angry Whopper. What, I ask, is there not to love about that? (Oh yes, and their chips are better).

Several things, you might say: the small matters of the environmental havoc caused by the fast-food chains (I wearily add the word "allegedly", out of deference to our paper's legal team); and the practices within the industry exposed by my old mate Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, whose most memorable sentence constituted the single most compelling reason to forswear their products altogether: "There is shit in the meat". And yet ... and yet ... Well, for a start, we must all eat a peck of dirt before we die (a peck being a dry measure of eight quarts, which I bet is rather more than you thought) and, as I said, if there were only one large burger company in the world, we would have lost something vital.

At times like this, someone from the rival company says something like: "We welcome healthy competition". Although I do not know if someone from the Great Satan, i.e. McDonald's, has popped up and said that yet, but such a statement, whenever you hear it, is the greatest lie ever to dribble out of a CEO's mouth. On the contrary, no business welcomes competition. Businessmen want their competition in intensive care, with the doctors shaking their heads and the janitor ready to pull the plug. It was the hideousness of the concept of global domination that drove our forefathers to war in 1939. So strike a blow for freedom: Buy an Angry Whopper today.

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