One good analysis, I thought, deserves another. I recently compared CaliBurger, the In-N-Out imitator that opened in Columbia, to the famous chain out west. That exercise inevitably raised a question relevant to many more ground-beef lovers: Which of the ever-expanding chains, Five Guys or In-N-Out, produces the better griddle burger?

I thought I'd wander into these shark-infested waters, knowing fully well that I'd emerge with a million bite wounds.

I mean, I realize this is a chump chore on many levels. Comparing one random (or in my case, many random) burgers from Five Guys to a few random burgers from In-N-Out makes no sense. Even though a chain, by its very nature, is all about the consistency of product, each location is a human enterprise, full of error. Should the one overcooked burger I had from an In-N-Out in Las Vegas damn the whole chain?

Besides, as Charles Lam wrote a few years ago for OC Weekly, Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger are two different concepts, with drastically different price points. Last month, I paid $3.60 for a Double-Double at In-N-Out in Las Vegas. Last week, I paid $7.69 for double cheeseburger at Five Guys in downtown Washington.

You're not paying double for your Five Guys burger for the ambiance. Or for the peanuts. (Well, maybe a little for the peanuts.)

Let's break this down, based on online nutritional information and a call to the extremely friendly In-N-Out customer service line. A Double-Double includes two, approximately 2-ounce patties. Each two-ounce patty, according to In-N-Out's call center, has about 17 grams of fat, but that includes an unspecified amount of special sauce.

In other words, In-N-Out can't tell me the exact fat-to-lean meat ratio of its ground-beef patty, which is important. Because we all know: Fat equals flavor.

But if you poke around the online nutritional information, you can eventually figure out that the special sauce adds 9 grams of fat to each patty. That appears to mean, then, that each patty contains 8 grams of fat, which makes for a 14 percent fat-to-lean meat ratio.

A Five Guys patty, according to its nutritional numbers, clocks in at around 3.3 ounces, more than 50 percent bigger than the one from In-N-Out. (That explains some of the price difference, no doubt.) Each Five Guys patty has 17 grams of fat, making for a fat-to-lean meat ratio of 18 percent.

So it doesn't take a genius to figure this out: Five Guys serves up bigger, fattier burgers than In-N-Out does.

Is it any wonder that I'll take a messy, greasy cheeseburger from Five Guys any day of the week?

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