3.356 Taste Test: Quarter Pounder Cheese vs Spicy Avocado Burger


26 (Mon) December 2016


Quarter Pounder Cheese vs Spicy Avocado Burger


from McDonald’s

at the In-Laws’

-Apgujeong, Seoul-


Home for the Holidays, Day 6 (see previously 7.355 Stewed Babyback Ribs …).

In Seoul.  Winter break. Going back to Manila on the 31st — can hardly wait.

Yes, the McDonald’s in Gangnam offers valet parking.
To make fast food a bit more convenient/speedy/easy.
Just realizing now, after years of photographing behind-the-counter signage for various burgers at McDonald’s, that background colors are used, not surprisingly, and rather obviously, to convey certain themes, such as orange/brown = warmth/X-Mas (see for example 4.361 Prosperity Burger …), green = freshness (see for example 4.322 Double Tomato Bacon Deluxe), red = spicy (see for example 4.298 McSpicy Cajun Burger); here, presumably, black = style/luxury/mystery; even the minimalistic ad copy would seem to connote haute.
Open kitchen! With fake ivy, for a touch of class!
But ultimately, just McDonald’s industrial machinery + process at work : patties are pre-cooked, then pressed for a few seconds  upon order to create a light “seared” crust — indeed, in a country where photos are allowed/encouraged everywhere, especially in restaurants, the no-photo policy here (what, that hand is supposed to block the shot?) indicates that they’re not too proud of the setup.

Didn’t intend for a taste test.  After getting the Quarter Pounder Cheese (QPC) to go — first one in over 6 years! (see most recently 1.329 Double Quarter Pounder Cheese) — I was on my way out, bag in hand.  But before I could reach the door, the in-store promos — relentless to the point of facing/targeting customers on the way out, like “Aren’t you forgetting something?” — compelled me to turn back for a Signature Burger, and I eventually settled on the Spicy Avocado Burger (SAB).

The only commonality that makes for the comparison is that both are by McDonald’s : one classic vs one newfangled.

Such mockups for burger ads are designed, apparently, by people who don’t really eat burgers and therefore don’t understand the practical implications of construction — bacon, rather than sticking out at ridiculous length, should be tucked neatly inside the sandwich, so as to ensure that each bite gets a piece; and onion, rather than being chopped oh-so rustically and piled oh-so randomly, should also be neatly stacked within, ideally sliced into whole rings, so as to ensure that the pieces stay together and don’t fall out with every bite.

In terms of branding, the marketing folks didn’t think this one through.  A “signature” dish is something that a restaurant/chef is identified by, associated with, famous for.  None of these so-called “Signature Burgers” represents what McDonald’s is identified by, associated with, famous for.  In fact, McDonald’s already has what is arguably the most identifiable/associable/famous signature burger of all time : the Big Mac.  Accordingly, when the ad copy claims the Signature Burgers to contain “60 years of McDonald’s know-how,” the expectation would be revamped/reinterpreted/rescaled versions of that uniquely delicious, je ne sais quois artificiality that McDonald’s does best — imagine : the Ulti-Mac!! — not half-assed “premium hand-made” crap.

At right, different packaging for the SAB : thick-grade paper bag with handle and cardboard box — repurposed leftover stock from the previous “Create Your Taste” campaign (see generally 7.012 Cheeseburger).
This sorry pile of toppings looks nothing like the photo (see behind-the-counter shot above).

Hands down, QPC.  Beefy and cheesy, with onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, on a lightly toasted sesame seed bun — so seemingly simple, yet categorically impossible to replicate at home, even with same visible ingredients.  It’s all about that magical McDo touch :  i.e., uniquely delicious, je ne sais quois artificiality.

SAB = bullshit.  So-called “Angus” beef was dry, flavorless.  Pigeon-shit squirt of avocado mush was icky, wasn’t even purely avocado.  Clumsy thick jalapeño rings, straight out of the can, were overpowering, distracting, annoying.  The bun looked like it might taste something like a bagel, or a pretzel, but not.  Waste of money, effort, calories.

Say what you will about my occasional meal at McDonald’s — 28 occasions over the past 2,547 dinners isn’t so bad — but, personally, I find those posts quite fun to read back on, probably because the subject matter is so silly to begin with.

2 thoughts on “3.356 Taste Test: Quarter Pounder Cheese vs Spicy Avocado Burger

  1. I had a cheeseburger today from McDonalds, and honestly, there is nothing like a Mcdonalds cheeseburger. The taste, the texture, everything is just…. necessary in life.

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