Revolution Number None

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Arby's has been slinging its version of roast beef sandwiches since 1964, when its original store started pumping them out in Boardman, Ohio. Now based out of Atlanta, the nearly 4,000-strong slivered-meat chain has recently begun airing commercials pushing what looks and sounds like a brand-new style of sandwich - one that has the company branching out into head-to-head battles with more widespread competition. Enter Taste Test.

What I tried: Arby's Roastburger ($3.59)

Market crash: In the pertinent television ad, a hockey-puck-like ground-beef patty comes loudly crashing through the glass of an Arby's restaurant. As a friendly and fatherly manager and his happy-to-be-there crew examine the greasy projectile, they see an angry note attached to it. "Stop making the new Arby's Roastburger or else," it reads.

Apparently the flying slider originated via drive-by from a frightened corporate-chain gang threatened by the emergence of Arby's as a new foe in the burger wars.

But it's hard to tell from the ad exactly what a Roastburger is. It's certainly never clearly spelled out.

What I saw quickly depicted looked like a bun with a bunch of toppings plus layers of Arby's roast beef stacked on it. Was there a "roasted" hamburger somewhere in the mix? What is a roasted hamburger?

Nothing new under the bun: Roastburgers come in sturdy boxes -an improvement over the easily smashed regulation Arby's wrappers. Once removed, the sandwiches looked on the huge side and arrived on golden rolls that appeared bakery-ish but ate gummy-ish.

Newsflash: the Roastburger is not a burger. It is a regular old Arby's sandwich with burger toppings. Because by definition, burgers are made of ground meat. This is not ground meat. This is Arby's meat.

Why the company is resorting to this silly renaming ad campaign is beyond me. So what's next - the pie-shaped Roastpizza? The plank-shaped BeefFish sandwich. This is an Arby's sandwich.

Magic dust: OK, there is a minor difference between a standard Arby's and a so-called Roastburger. The decidedly unrevolutionary latter sandwich gets sprinkled with what a friendly Arby's worker referred to as "chargrilled seasoning." Basically it tasted like beef bouillon granules and dried liquid smoke. Whoopee!

Would I try it again?: The All-American Roastburger, with its yellow mustard, mayo and pickle, didn't work so well. But the Bacon and Cheddar, with its two anemic pieces of bacon and "single" pre-sliced cheese, added up to more than the sum of its parts.

We Tried It!

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