A Shining Example of How Dumb the Average Person Can Be

Is the story of the A&W third pounder, and how it failed because the average American didn’t understand fractions.

In the 80’s, A&W tried to cash in on the popularity of Mcdonald’s Quarter Pounder by introducing their own, bigger, better, and Cheaper third pounder burger.

A&W would use fresh beef instead of McDonalds 80’s frozen hocky puck patties, they would offer a bigger burger (a third pound instead of a quarter pound) and it would have a cheaper price point. It even outperformed McDonalds burgers in blind taste tests.

Slam Dunk, right?

But when it came to actual sales, the third pounder wasn’t selling. A&W couldn’t understand why their bigger, fresher, cheaper burger wasn’t selling so they did focus group research to understand why this burger simply wasn’t selling.

More than half of the participants in the Yankelovich focus groups questioned the price of our burger. “Why,” they asked, “should we pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as we do for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s? You’re overcharging us.” Honestly. People thought a third of a pound was less than a quarter of a pound. After all, three is less than four!



that and only serial killers eat at A&W


Also, they called it Royale with cheese. That didn’t help.

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McDonalds tried to offer a third pounder burger a couple times later on, and they both failed as well.

Math is hard

Not understanding that a fourth is actually smaller than a third, many consumers eschewed the better-tasting burger in favor of the one they thought was the better deal. According to Taubman, A&W recalibrated their marketing, saying, “The customer, regardless of his or her proficiency with fractions, is always right.”

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You can’t make money from dumb people by giving them good value.

You need to take advantage of thier stupidity to make money from them.


Should have called it the quarter pounder PLUS!


I worked at A & W in the 80s.

Their rootbeer float and corndog nuggets were awesome.


How was it then compared to now?

I actually told this exact story to one of my kid’s teachers when he tried to tell me that fractions were not important today…


Maybe they should institute some “secret menu” where you order food as if they were pieces of lumber and what style you want


People are stupid. This is why I hate them.


4 is bigger than 3!

That’s all you need to know!

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Thanks for sharing this.

I remember the stories about this when it was happening.

I’m going to send to my college kids…

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I havent had it since like 90

I’ve told this story here before. My mother was a teacher. The province decided to implement a new math program and was going to teach how to implement it. The “math expert” didn’t know how to get a common denominator (to either add the fractions or compare them can’t remember which now). One of my mother’s friends got up and showed her how to do it. The “math expert” asked if the teacher could join them, because I guess none of these “math experts” could perform elementary school math.

Public education for the win.


I don’t remember A&W restaurants around me when I was a kid

There may have been a few in Maine, but i Just don’t remember them

I blame the Imperial system.

In Canada, everyone knows what 0.151 kg represents

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A&W was the first place I ever experienced curly fries. 1980s, Short Hills Mall NJ. a great period in time, when Orange Juilias still put an egg in the drink.

Stewarts drive in was the shit through. Stewarts > A&W

I’m skeptical this is the reason it failed. Could be for another reason and some exec is covering his ass. It’s not like that study on why the burger failed is on pubmed. We’re just supposed to take some slimy corporate execs word for it. It’s funny how easily you guys fall for propaganda but the scientists and medical professionals are the dumb ones.