Wendy's and McDonald's fought it out in a beefy battle that marked the biggest feud in fast food in 2018

Hollis JohnsonMcDonald’s and Wendy’s signature burgers.
  • Wendy’s versus McDonald’s was the fast-food feud of 2018.
  • Wendy’s started the year with a Twitter ad campaign mocking McDonald’s for using frozen beef in its burgers.
  • However, this was the first year that McDonald’s started serving fresh, never-frozen beef – long Wendy’s signature ingredient.

Twitter fights took up an exhausting amount of time in 2018.

President Donald Trump continued to use Twitter as a political battering ram. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj fought both on- and off-line. And, everyone had something to say about IHOP changing its name to IHOb – International House of Burgers – in July.

However, in the world of fast food, the best feud of 2018 had to be Wendy’s versus McDonald’s.

Wendy’s has long been the queen of the branded clapback on Twitter.

There was the iconic 2017 exchange about fresh – never-frozen – beef, in which Wendy’s demolished a random guy who “forgot refrigerators existed for a second.” Hardee’s had to block the brand to escape the comebacks in April 2017. And, Carl’s Jr. Twitter ineptitude was front-and-center in a back-and-forth with Wendy’s later in the year.

In 2018, Wendy’s doubled down on the virality of its fresh-beef tweets in its beef with rival McDonald’s. The chain launched a national TV ad campaign that calls out McDonald’s for using frozen beef patties in its hamburgers.

“The iceberg that sank the Titanic was frozen, too,” Wendy’s said in a Super Bowl commercial that took a shot at McDonald’s beef.

The only problem – McDonald’s was already working on launching its own burgers made with fresh, never-frozen beef.

McDonald’s brings the beef

McDonald's Meal Deal 5Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderMcDonald’s meal.

In a move that was more of a subtweet than a Twitter jab, McDonald’s announced in March it would be making its Quarter Pounder burgers with fresh beef across the US by early May. While McDonald’s did not mention Wendy’s in its marketing, the rival chain quickly sprung into action to respond to the larger chain encroaching on its fresh-beef territory.


Read more:
Wendy’s slams McDonald’s as a new weapon emerges in the fast-food burger battles

Soon after the announcement, Wendy’s began tweeting at McDonald’s about the fresh-beef news – and highlighting that not all of its burgers made the swap away from frozen beef.

“Hey @McDonalds, heard the news,” Wendy’s tweeted. “Happy #NationalFrozenFoodDay to you for all the frozen beef that’s sticking around in your cheeseburgers.”

“We wanted to make sure that people aren’t confused about what is communicated and what is reality,” Kurt Kane, Wendy’s chief concept and marketing officer, told Business Insider at the time.

He added: “You shouldn’t have to use a decoder ring to figure out what quality you’re going to get” when you order a burger.

So, who won the burger battle?

Both chains ultimately had mixed years, with Wendy’s struggling to boost margins and McDonald’s battling with franchisees. But, both are clinging to fresh beef as a crucial weapon.

In November, Wendy’s said that customers are more aware of its fresh beef than ever. On Thursday, McDonald’s announced it is adding the fresh-beer quarter pounder to its 2 for $US5 Mix and Match deal.

Of course, for customers, only one thing matters: taste. And, in a Business Insider taste test, the winner was clear. Despite McDonald’s notable improvements, Wendy’s fresh beef still reigns supreme.

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