If you’ve got $5, it’s a really good time to be a fast food fan.
As long as your preferred drive-through is McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, or Carl’s Jr. (sorry, Jack in the Box aficionados), your favorite burger spot has quite the deal for you.
Who started it first is still up for discussion (it seems Wendy’s was the first to publicize it), but all four of the aforementioned fast food joints have deals to get you at least four items for your $4 (plus tax).
Now, that may seem like a good deal (and it pretty much is), but let’s first examine what each one gets you before getting too excited.
Wendy’s 4 for $4 meal keeps it classic. There aren’t any choices to be made or various options to choose from. You simply get what works and you enjoy it. The four-piece nuggets, fries, and a drink are all on the value menu anyway, so you’re not really saving money there. The Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger usually rings in at $1.99, so the dollar saved is basically just for the bacon — but who can hate on bacon? Plus, the value menu at Wendy’s has always reigned supreme, so it doesn’t need to mess with dollar menu perfection.
In a response to Wendy’s (particularly via Twitter), Burger King decided to step it up a notch with the 5 for $4 meal. The first four items (bacon cheeseburger, fries, chicken nuggets, and a soda) are all exactly the same as BK's redheaded rival, but then the chain went ahead and added a chocolate chip cookie. If you’re looking for the most food items for $4, the cookie is clearly the deciding factor, but ultimately it depends on personal preference on which of the two chains’ combinations of the other four items you like better. In response to the King’s salvo, Wendy’s tweeted that it didn’t need to match BK’s offer because its food is edible.
Carl’s Jr.’s “Real Deal” is the chain's take on a 4 for $4 menu. While it still forces half of your meal to be fries and a drink, the double cheeseburger and spicy chicken sandwich are a slightly different take than what the other two fast food giants offer. That also means it’s a bacon-free meal, but those aren’t so bad every once in a while. It’s also a good option for those who are particularly hungry, as the second burger patty and bun of the chicken sandwich more than make up for the bonus cookie in the Burger King deal.
Technically, McD’s doesn’t have a “4 for $4” option or anything like that. Instead, it's made the deal a little more customizable and went with the “McPick 2.” For $2, you can choose two items from a list of four: McChicken, McDouble, fries, and (the game-changer) mozzarella sticks. Seriously, unless it's going to prevent you from buying multiple McPick 2’s at once (in which case you could just order one, pay, and then order another), this seems like the way to go. First of all, the option to be able to get two (or maybe six) items is nice, and the options are better. Rather than making one of your four things be a drink, McDonald’s lets you actually get four food items. And let’s be honest: Three mozzarella sticks for a dollar is worth it every time.
So which one is the best deal? Well, that’s up to you (and your tastebuds) to decide.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.