Takeaway Truth ‘New Orleans’ Special: McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

Takeaway Truth ‘New Orleans’ Special: McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder.

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.

This week, the Lifehacker team has been busy covering TechEd 2013 as part of our World Of Servers series — you can check out all the coverage here. [related title=”More Takeaway Truth” tag=”takeaway-truth” items=”5″]

In-between the barrage of server seminars and data demos, we found time to sample some traditional New Orleans cuisine, including alligator pizza, fried green tomatoes, po-boys, moonshine and more. (Watch out for a tinned ‘gator taste-test, coming soon — provided we can get it through customs.)

In addition to this, we also stopped by McDonald’s to check out some of their US-only menu items.

As you’d expect, the food at McDonald’s varies from country to country with various burgers limited to specific regions. That said, many McDonald’s products trialed in America eventually make their way down the (fast) food chain to Australia, so there’s a possibility that some of the things we tried will appear at a store near you soon.

This brings us to the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder — a burger with an over-sized bun, spicy sauce, white cheddar cheese and lashings of bacon.

We’ve got to admit we were pretty impressed by the transparency displayed in the food blurb. Check out those disclaimers in brackets:

Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder: A quarter pound of 100% beef (weight before cooking) topped by smooth white cheddar (pasteurized process), thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, tomato and leaf lettuce, and a spicy-cool habanero ranch sauce, all on a toasted, bakery-style bun.

Here is how the McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder appears in the advertisement (left) compared to the real thing:

The real burger is a bit messier looking, but otherwise the likeness is actually pretty good. The buns are similar in size and shape, the lettuce is green and vibrant for a change and even the tomato looked fresh. However, there is one significant oversight that’s pretty hard to overlook. Can you tell what it is from the photos above?

As the eagle-eyed among you will have deduced, our burger didn’t come with any bacon. At all. Considering it’s the first word in the product name, we think this is kind of a big deal. We went back to the counter and had the issue rectified by a somewhat testy cashier. (No apology was offered, but hey, we’re not here to judge the service.)

Here’s what the burger looked like once they added the bacon:

Ironically, the bacon-filled version looks worse than the original: we think the burger might have been misshapen when they crammed the bacon inside the bun.

We’re a bit stumped on how to score this one. On the whole, I think it’s one of the better Takeaway Truth results we’ve seen and it’s fairly safe to assume that most customers will get bacon from the beginning. We hate to say it, but it would seems New Orleans has Australia mostly beat when it comes to fast food accuracy. Merde!

    Truth Rating: 7/10

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


  • I think you guys are going *WAY* to easy on these results.
    I would class that a 5 or 6 at a stretch..

  • Your photos are really good now mate!

    I think most of these burgers look tasty, except there’s way too much dressing applied. I always ask for a small amount of dressing when I order. Usually that means I get a dry as a bone burger but i still prefer that to dripping with sauce.

  • Close to the best ever I think out of this series. Maccas employee who made that one should get a pat on the back

  • Hey @chris-jager. Do the “fry-jockey overlords” at these restaurants know that you’re reviewing them when you order? Are you a regular at Macca’s? The guys at my local HJ’s know me (too well) and really look after me. They make excellent burgers for me. I’m pretty sure they’ve never put any body fluids in my burger… that doesn’t belong there.

    So far you’ve done a few of the ‘premium’ or signature items from the big three of Maccas, KFC and HJ’s. Nice to see that Subway, as a healthier option for most of us, got a mention (even if it was pretty awful). New stuff to rate has got to be getting pretty thin. There’s always Big Macs and Zinger burgers, etc.

    What else is there in Penrith to rate? Errm.. Sumo Salad, Sushi, Noodles, Thai, Dominos Pizza, a local fish ‘n’ chip shop?

    Domino’s pizza’s usually present pretty well… they just taste like pre-prepared, re-heated crap. It’s also pretty hard to screw up a salad… Unless there is too much/little dressing.

    Google map for ‘take away Penrith’ (sorry for the long URL but tinyURL’s always seems dodgy to me)

    • Nope, I just purchase the meal like any other customer would. (I doubt any employees know me even at my local restaurants — I don’t go that often.)

      There’s still a few chains we haven’t tested yet — Oportos and Crust immediately jump to mind. Plus, they’re always introducing limited-time menu items so we’re not going to run out of food options any time soon (as much as my waistline would like this)

  • Colour me impressed at that sandwich artist’s skill. Their work is well over the norm for this column! I feel though if the golden arches made it here we would get something very substandard, possibly even shredded lettuce.

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