Yesterday, it was official
: Wendy's has usurped Burger King as America's second largest burger chain. It finished 2011 with more revenue, despite operating 1,300 fewer stores.
The news, though largely expected
-- The Wall Street Journal anticipated the "palace coup" back in December -- is a milestone in the history of U.S. fast food.
McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's have ordered one, two, and three in the nation's burger economy for about as long as the three of them have been in business. But no longer.
What finally upended that time-honored hierarchy? I called Darren Tristano, executive vice president of food industry research firm Technomic, which made the call that Burger King had fallen to number three while compiling its annual ranking of the country's chain restaurants.
Tristano's core point was very simple. Over the past several years Burger King has focused on ads. Wendy's focused on its food. Turns out, when you're running a restaurant, food matters more.