Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers

Takeaway Truth is a new occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers.

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.

[related title=”More Takeaway Truth” tag=”takeaway-truth” items=”5″]McDonald’s ‘Taste Of America’ range purports to take your taste buds on a road trip through the flavours of the USA. But hang on. Doesn’t the vast majority of McDonald’s menu already provide a ‘taste’ of America? It’s all yank grub, from the Big Mac to the Quarter Pounder (pounds? Really?)

But we’re not here to argue the geographical origin of fast food — perhaps we’ll save that for another post. The only thing that matters is whether the new Taste Of America range actually matches the mouth-watering images on the company’s posters. Below are the three burgers that make up the core of the new menu — the Smoky Texan, California Chicken and New York Classic.

The Smoky Texan

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers
Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers

The California Chicken

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers
Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers

The New York Classic

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers
Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Taste Of America Burgers

Well, the buns are pretty accurate, but everything else is sorely lacking. The lettuce is mostly white, the meat patties are unquestionably thinner and the cheese and sauce look like a dog’s breakfast. You may claim to be American, but the results look shoddily outsourced to us. On the plane home!

    Truth Rating: 5/10

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


  • While I appreciate what you’re trying to achieve here, I think that “truth” would be better served with greater care and attention to detail given in photographing the actual product.

    The “poster picture”:
    – is photographed directly side-on, not at a steep angle from above;
    – is well lit and dropped onto a red background image, rather than on a shiny mustard-coloured benchtop;
    – shows the burgers at a certain scale, which is not matched by the “truth pictures”.

    I know the Canon IXUS220HS isn’t the most sophisticated camera, but how much effort does it take to sit it on the benchtop so you get a side-on shot; put a matte colour behind the burger so you can ‘shop it into a red background; and mess with the settings to get the white balance right?

    Colour is important! http://www.illusionspoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Color-Adapting-optical-illusion-9.jpg

  • The background of McDonald’s own promotional photos are red for a reason, because the colour is simply more appetizing. While for some of us we feel we aren’t affected by the colour, studies and marketing research would prove otherwise for general public. This would be another reason that maybe we all have immediately thought the Macca’s shot was much better.

    I just want to add while this shows the burgers dont look that great in real life, they never do, but they always fucking taste spot on. California Chicken tastes great!

  • As a McDonalds Crew Member (the guy out the back who makes these things) I can tell you a few things.
    1. The first burger was either sitting in the heated landing zone for a while or was left for a while before this photograph was taken, The cheese should not be melted like it is. It also looks like it may have coon cheese instead of regular so it might have been made by a trainee.
    2. I can tell you from making these pattys for hours a day that they look thinner than depicted because of your poor photography. The meat in the Texan is 3:1 (the same as an Angus burger), the chicken is a Crispy patty (the same as in a Grand Chicken or Chicken Deluxe), and the meat in the New York is 4:1, the same as a Quarter Pounder.
    3. I will give you that regular lettuce looks much whiter than in photographs, but that’s true of lettuce in nearly any advertisement.
    4. The sauces on the California Chicken were heavily overdone by the looks of things, they don’t come out of the same type of containers as most of the other sauces (which dispense a certain amount per “shot”) so it depends heavily on the employee who makes it.

    I must say that until you can (at least) provide accurate depictions for comparison I do not support these pieces as they compare idealistic photos from perfect angles (the advertisement) to very poorly taken photos from angles that will always make the burger look bad.

  • I fail to see the point of this article. Are you trying to point out that advertising is the art of selling an idea of the perfect product or service and not actually necessarily the exact item you are buying / consuming???? Uh-huh, ummm we all get marketed to constantly through out every day of our lives, no one can possibly not understand this concept living in our age.
    Sorry to say but the execution is quite poor too as others have said. Your comparison shots actually support the purpose of advertising, you’ve taken very bad quality photos and very unflattering angles (unflattering angle of a burger, I can’t believe I just wrote that, anyway).
    Life hacker is better than this, wouldn’t an article on the actual tricks used by advertisers be more interesting and informative, what the principles of the mindset advertisers are trying to sucker us into, the sh#t that we fall for in advertising even though we think it doesn’t effect us etc.

  • This all comes down to the person making the burger… You can’t say that every time you get a burger it’s going to be different like these.

  • I was over in Germany around May 2012, and went to McDonalds and had a burger “The American Stakehouse” – It was the best hamburger I have ever had at McDonalds. It was like the hamburger Homer went crazy over at Krusty Burger. How come this burger is not in this menu.

  • this is my first bigmac in 3 months or so

    i took that pic from the front…
    but actually, i think, i lost the taste for them, it didn’t taste as tangy as before and was quite bland.. was dissapointed, BUT the cat likes the meat…

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