Why can't a plain hamburger cost less than one with any toppings?

OK, so when you order pizza, it costs more the more toppings you put on it. That makes sense to me. The restaurant is spending less money to make a cheese pizza than one with pepperoni, sausage, onions, black olives, etc…

So if I go to a burger place and my friend orders a burger with everything while I just want a plain old burger, why are we charged the same amount? I feel like my burger costs less money for the restaurant to make.

Are there any burger places that do charge different based on the toppings?

Many burger places do charge more for some toppings; for example, cheese, bacon, sauteed onions might cost more. For other toppings, I suspect that it’s not worth it to set seperate prices for items like lettuce or pickles.

A lot of prices are more heavily determined by willingness to pay than production cost.

Even if it were based on production cost, the average cost (marginal + averaged base costs) of a burger with or without topping is really not that different.
Why does pizza cost more, then? Perhaps topping are a bigger part of the production cost for them.

Or charging more for topping is market segmentation that is worthwhile when you’re selling only a pizza but not a burger.

I get the impression that burger places use burgers as loss leaders or something close to that; it’s mainly about getting you to buy fries, soda and dessert to go with your burger.

ETA: Maybe their market studies have shown them that people who want plain old burgers don’t buy much else so they don’t really care about losing your business.

Any place I’ve been that does a plain burger and a burger with the lot, the plain burger is cheaper.

Depends – are you talking about fast food places? In that case, they have to make them special, so if anything, they should cost more.

When I worked fast food, we usually made 8-12 burgers on a tray. It didn’t take any extra time or effort to make one or two of those burgers special. Often we’d have two plain, two no onions, four with cheese, four regular, depending on what we had up in the bin and what customers were ordering. During slow times, we made grills (special requests) to order, of course.

Lots of fast food places have burgers that are essentially the same except toppings, and are named differently (e.g. Bacon BrandedBurger, Deluxe BrandedBurger (lettuce, tomato, etc.)). They probably don’t do this because they are a special order with potentially more effort (even if that is just to pay attention!), and they aren’t going to program the register to account for many variations. People who want less things also aren’t complaining. A menu is also both more confusing and insulting if they list multiple toppings with minuscule prices. In other words, $0.10 is nothing, but I will just skip the pickles if they are going to charge me for them.

Generally bacon and cheese cost extra, while lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc. are so cheap that you aren’t losing much out of your pocket.

I’ll bet in most cases a combo pizza would cost you less than a pepperoni pizza where you manually add sausage, olives, peppers, onion, etc.

The cost of the condiments is figured into the price of the burger. Most places, they come with ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions on a regular burger. We charged extra for lettuce and tomatoes, 10¢ for each. We also had a 1/4 lb deluxe burger. But lettuce and tomato weren’t free extras in our joint. You’re going to pay more for a Whopper at Burger King than you are for a regular burger.

Two non-chain private business grills in town do charge something like 50 cts for “dressed”, which usually means “lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle”, occasionally extra for tomato depending on harvests. (I remember a year most chain restaurants were including tomato among specialty toppings or at least posting that it was available upon request but not something you’d get on your burger automatically.)

Most toppings (ketchup, pickles, lettuce) are commonplace and included in the price: free of charge. So getting a burger without those toppings isn’t costing the establishment any less, since they were free to begin with.

Also, customers like getting stuff for “free”.

Or, they hate getting nickel and dimed by restaurants trying to squeeze every last penny from their customers. 5 cents for pickles? 3 cents for ketchup? 7 cents for a slice of tomato? FU you cheap bastards, all I want is a frigging burger.

It also complicates the menu, and the calculation of price, all to get less money from a subset of your clientele, while pissing off other customers.

I had a Reuben Burger the other day, with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing. It was on the menu with a price. There were a few other “signature” burgers, each with their own price. Condiments (mustard, ketchup, mayo) were on the table.

Not fast food, but close in price and well worth the ten minute wait.

At a local pizza place (actually it’s a full Italian restaurant, but pizza is a specialty, and they started out ~30 years ago as just a pizza carryout place) it’s cheaper to get their pepperoni lovers specialty pizza than to just order a regular pizza w/cheese and then add pepperoni. And you get more pepperoni for spending less!

One of the reasons I like Jimmy John’s sandwich shops is that they sell “slims,” lower-priced versions of various sub sandwiches that are just the bread with meat and cheese. You can get a packet of mayo or mustard to add if you like. Far preferable for my taste than having to ask what vegetables come on a sandwich so I can specify by name that they all be left off.