Last week there was a little hullabaloo about millennials and the McDonald’s Big Mac. It seems only one in five millennials has ever tasted one. To children of the ’70s and ’80s, that seems rather incredible.
The closest I get to eating a fast food burger anymore is Five Guys. I’ve pretty much stopped eating any burger that can be passed through a drive-through window. Consequently I have no idea when I last ate a Big Mac. It may have been ten years. It may have been longer.
Now I do remember a time in my life—high school, college—when I ate quite a few of them. McDonald’s periodically ran a 2 for $2 Big Mac special. When they did, some Friday and Saturday nights my friend Byron and I ate three Big Macs apiece.
Yes. We did. With fries, and sometimes even apple pie a la mode. And then we’d go home and go to bed less than two hours later. That would put me in the hospital today.
So what do we have here? That’s not difficult to answer, is it? As embedded in our souls by decades of relentless advertising: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. In its heyday it really wasn’t like any other burger, and there was that iconic third piece of bread in there. Today there are multiple similar offerings, but with the Big Mac as the obvious template.
Despite its name and reputation, it is not a particularly large burger, especially by today’s standards. The entire burger checks in at a little less than half a pound, and contains 550 calories. Demonstrably, I liked the Big Mac once upon a time. What do I think in 2016?
(Click either burger photo for a closer look.)
The presentation was robust, if not very neat. It stood up nicely instead of being squashed. It was warm, and I could believe it was prepared within the last ten minutes.
The taste is largely as I remember. The beef patties are unremarkable, but they taste good. The pickles and the sauce give it a tang I like. Sure does seem like there’s a lot of lettuce and bread, though—and the little lettuce shreds get everywhere. I also wish the Big Mac used the real onions like on the Quarter Pounder instead of the little dehydrated pellets like on the regular hamburger.
This review isn’t about the fries, but they were good. (Not as good as when they had beef fat in them, but they were fine.) I’m pleased the Big Mac still comes in a clamshell box so you can put your fries in the other side.
The Big Mac is a challenge to rate, because as I said, I don’t eat fast food burgers anymore. Nevertheless, that’s the fair arena in which to judge it, is it not? That I don’t eat a lot of fast food doesn’t mean there aren’t millions who do, and I certainly remember enough about when I did regularly as well to craft reasonable expectations. I’ll give it two ratings.
Given a typical town’s Fast Food Alley, if I were set on getting a burger, I don’t think this is what I would do with my $4.19. I think I would choose a Whopper or a Wendy’s burger over a Big Mac. Nevertheless, I think the Big Mac still gets points for originality. There are knockoffs out there now, but they all hew pretty closely to the progenitor. If you like the taste of a Big Mac, then get a Big Mac.
Oh, and you millennials? As you well know, none of this stuff is good for you. Furthermore, there are far more gustatorily satisfying ways to consume 550 calories and a similar amount of fat and sodium. If you’ve never tasted a Big Mac and have no particular drive to, my advice is to remain ignorant.
6/10 as a fast food item
2/10 as a life experience