Oct 212016

bigmac1Last 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

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 Posted by at 2:26 pm

  4 Responses to “Review: McDonald’s Big Mac”

  1. Well, at least you didn’t choke on it. The first element of disgust that comes to mind as I contemplate actually eating one, is the smell of those warmed up, limp, soggy lettuce shreds. Ugh! Also, having been near one as another person consumed it, I couldn’t help but notice the vast and unappetizing ratio of bread to meat. When I think of eating a burger (like back in the 50’s where they actually used 100% meat) to be the main part of the meal, not the least part. In fact, the teeny tiny patties on the Big Mac seem to be an afterthought amongst all that extraneous crap that makes up the bulk of the experience. As I write this I can’t help but recall that revolting, repellent, repulsive, sickening, nauseating, stomach-turning, off-putting, unpalatable, distasteful, foul, nasty, vomitous; icky, gross, abhorrent, loathsome, offensive, appalling, objectionable, obnoxious, detestable, sickening, contemptible, despicable, deplorable (there’s that word again), fetid smell of that lettuce.
    * Attribution: I would like to thank Google for allowing me to plagiarize most of their list of synonyms for “disgusting”.

    • Wow. I actually thought my photos were pretty appetizing. 🙂

      I quit eating fast food not because I felt particular disgust, but regret. Self-loathing. I’d get the edge of hunger taken off and then look down at my remaining third of burger and think things like “if you’d just gotten out of your damned car and waited another four or five minutes, you could have had Vietnamese.”

      If you’re going to consume the calories, make the food great!

  2. OK, after calming down a bit, I guess it really can’t be all that bad. NO! It is that bad. Iinten ded to try to see it from someone else’s perspective, but I just can’t. The only items that I can stand from McDonalds (from time to time) is a freshly made fish sandwich or a sausage, egg & cheese McMuffin. BTW, I usually make my own version of that last one at home. Since the best part of that item is the sausage, which is nicely spiced and fresh tasting, the challenge was to find a brand that comes close. I took the advice of an online blogger who specializes in recipes that duplicate a restaurant dishes, and tried the WalMart brand of sausage patty. They have a plain one, a maple flavored one, and a spicy one. That last one is it! I also got myself a circular frying pan egg form from Amazon. The muffins I like to use are Thomas’ original (lightly buttered before toasting), and a jumbo egg. Oh, and BTW, I hate to go to WalMart because of more than a million reasons to not go, but I grit my teeth and go in there strictly for the sausage patties.

  3. I also love Vietnamese food. Having spent a year there living in the local economy. I didn’t always know exactly what I was getting, but absolutely everything I ever ate was fresh and delicious. They have a tradition of taking a mid-afternoon break to eat some freshly prepared spicy soup which is usually sold by a troop of guys who walk through town with a dumdum stick across their shoulders with a steaming kettle of hot soup on one end and a basketful of a fabulous array of add-ins and bowls and spoons, allowing you to customize your personal bowl. He also spices it up to your own specifications. I once saw a newly arrived American G.I. tell the vendor to keep pouring in the hot stuff, because he was a Texan and he liked his food hot & spicy. They tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted. After his first mouthful, his face turned beet red and he began to croak and gasp and nearly fainted. It took him a full half hour and at least 4 beers to recover from that one spoonful. The people all around laughed and laughed, because they knew what was sure to happen.

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