Slapping a slice of avocado on a beef patty may be the difference between growth and stagnation. Or it may be lipstick on a cow. McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are all adding fancier burgers to their menus to compete with chains that offer a slightly higher quality and higher priced product.

And why wouldn’t they react, given that Five Guys Burgers and Fries, for example, added more US restaurants in 2010 (190) than the big three combined (67), according to Technomic?

The magic of Five Guys, Smashburger and In-N-Out Burger is selling a prosaic meal in an environment that makes customers feel hip and upmarket. The old guard can make a better burger. Adding cool to their 27,000-odd American outlets is a challenge fancy toppings won’t overcome.

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