Takeaway Truth: McDonald's New Chicken Burger Range

Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: McDonald's Chicken Burger Range.

Fast food restaurants have been known to gild the lily when it comes to accurate depictions of their menu items. Far too often, the mouth-watering feast on the poster turns out to be a limp and oily morsel. In a bid to keep the fry-jockey overlords honest, we've decided to document the reality of fast food — it was either that, or go postal like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

The last time we featured McDonald's on Takeaway Truth, the results weren't pretty: the entire Taste of America range was a misshapen, cheesy mess that bore little resemblance to the towering works of art depicted in the adverts. We subsequently sent 'em packing back to the States with a score of 5/10.

McDonald's latest promotional items are all about chicken — they comprise of the McGrilled Burger (grilled chicken, tomato, lettuce, mayo), the McSpicy Burger (spicy battered chicken, lettuce, spicy mayo) and the McChamp Burger (battered chicken, lettuce, tomato relish and mayo). According to McDonald's, the McGrilled is "juicy like office gossip", the McChamp has "a taste that packs a punch" and the McSpicy is "so hot right now". Er, okay.

In an unusual move, McDonald's has chosen to centre its marketing campaign around people with the surname 'Chicken' — who gleefully do the chicken dance, cross the road and lay eggs for the cameras (the actual burgers are barely mentioned). Eschewing this tomfoolery, we've decided to focus on the photos on McDonald's Facebook page. To make the comparison as fair as possible, we also attempted to arrange the burgers in a similar position to the marketing image.

This is how the Chicken Burger range looks on McDonald's Facebook page:

And here is the reality:

We also compared the individual promotional images of the McSpicy and McGrilled to the real burgers.

McSpicy Burger:

McGrilled Burger:

While not quite as dreary as the Taste of America range, there's no hiding the fact that these burgers fail to measure up to the advertised image — the chicken patties look thinner, the buns aren't as plump and the salads are a bit measly across the board. To be fair, the McGrilled Burger isn't hugely different — if we were scoring on that burger alone, we'd probably give it a 7/10 (just). Collectively however, the McDonald's Chicken range is pretty fowl. Cough.

    Truth Rating: 6/10

Which fast food franchise or menu item would you like us to tackle next? Let us know in the comments section below.


Comments

    Is it even the same type of lettuce on the marketing pics ? It looks like cheap, pointless ,watery iceberg lettuce in the every day pic to me.

      You're absolutely right... The burgers have been made incorrectly... Regular lettuce was used instead of the new version of Premium Mixed Lettuce that no longer has tatsoi.

    i remember an episode of the gruen transfer where they were talking about how much work goes into getting those perfect shots of fast food

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WUhrIOqdCs

      There is actually a Gruen Transfer book. One section in it deals with the tricks they use to make foods look better in ads, such as the sesame seeds are glued to the bun, the top of the bun is propped up with toothpicks so that it doesn't squash the lettuce and the pattie is cooked a little, then blowtorched to give it a char-grilled look. They also spray the pattie with something like Glycerine so that it looks juicy.

      It's a very interesting read.

        And roast chicken is lacquered. As I recall, it's also common to use wood glue instead of mayonnaise.

    can someone please explain how its not false advertising or some other form of illegal for them to use those highly dolled up images to sell a product thats never going to look like that, even at the best mcdonalds in the world it will never look like that picture if this were any other industry they would be put through the ringer like theres no tomoro, especially in america how has there not been multiple suings

      As I've explained multiple times before, we don't expect an identical looking meal. These articles are an attempt to highlight the *degree* of deception used. A few visual enhancements are to be expected, but some fast food franchises go completely overboard when it comes to "dolling up" their products.

        ye i know, i wasnt having a go at the article i was questioning the practice as a whole

          A great comparison is to check out all the Asian take away places that just take photos of thier actual food with a standard camera, and use no photoshop at all.
          And their pictures end up looking like crap.
          The food is delicious, I am a big fan of it; but the number of customers who are turned away becuse those pictures look awful would be high.

            On the few times I've traveled to Taiwan I've found the burgers at McDonalds not only look damn close to the picture, they even tastes fresher (Seriously had to do more than a few double takes each time). Where as a Big Mac for example here in Australia, reminds me of a restaurants back alley, complete with food scraps & rotten lettuce smell.

              Gotta love the rotten lettuce. :) Seems to be a staple of the local Maccas.

              I feel sorry for anyone who travels to an asian country and eats McDonalds. There's usually a lot better local food on offer.

                Don't get me wrong local cuisine is off the chart, especially night market food. Love it. But at 3 in the arvo around Taipei it's a bit harder to find.

          Oops, my bad. I'm used to comments explaining how it's silly for me to expect the meal to look like the poster. (Apparently, we should just accept unscrupulous advertising and move on.)

      It's not really false advertising either - just your regular type of advertising. They are photographed so that every ingredient is shown in frame, with good lighting and post-processing to give the best appearance possible. They use actual ingredients as well - see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSd0keSj2W8
      Much in the same way those "glamour photoshoots" can make a swamp-donkey look like a stunner with the right lighting and makeup!

    I have to give kudos to the maccas that I frequent mainly around Brisbane cbd as I generally get a burger that looks pretty close to the images used. They are certainly not identical but the buns, meat, cheese and filling are generally well constructed.

    Please stop posting this series at lunch time... SO HUNGRY FOR BURGERS.

    I bet you probably get yours bought for you because of this segment, you sly boots.

      Pretty sure he got his Red Rooster bought for him. No way they deserve an 8/10. http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/04/takeaway-truth-red-roosters-stacked-power-pack/

    In Taiwan they care about their food, and most likely have a better work ethic. Quality of service really bugs me in Australia. Generally it's beyond poor!

      Maybe you should go work at HJ's and show them how it's done, chief :)

      Agreed. I can't knock customer service in Taiwan. Although not food, was chasing a laptop cable in a place equivalent to a JB Hi-Fi. They didn't have the cable so the guy rang around then ran out the store. 20mins later he had that cable for me. I never even asked him to do that for me. One cannot imagine seeing that kind of service in Australia.

        I thought I was having a similar experience here in Sydney at a JB Hi Fi. The guy was more than happy to ring around and find me a nexus 7. And the only one he could find after 3 phone calls was one about 40Kms away. He would organise transfer free of charge! And sell it to me at cost price if I joined a telstra data plan! And it even had a screen cover on it already! The box was unsealed, that was all: no biggie he told me.

        I politely declined: I don't want no nexus that has been returned faulty!
        Not feeling like Jb Hi Fi has the integrity it used to...

    I wouldn't be surprised if there is a disclaimer that is along the lines of "Product may vary from image shown....."

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