Takeaway Truth: The 2013 'Hall Of Shame'

Takeaway Truth is a regular Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today, we take a look at some of the worst offenders from 2013: from meagre meal sizes to hideous burger constructs. (If you're about to eat lunch you may want to hold off from reading this for a bit.)

Last year, one of our most popular and controversial features was 'Takeaway Truth'. Each week, we'd pick a fast food advertisement and compare it to cold, hard reality. While a little 'artistic licence' is to be expected, all too often the difference between the photos would be massive.

Does this make it false advertising? Quite possibly. In any event, the mouth-watering adverts often bore very little resemblance to what we actually stuck in our mouths. Below you will find 15 of 2013's worst offenders, ranging from terrible assembly to missing or different ingredients. Think of it as the Takeaway Truth Hall Of Shame.

KFC Grilled Taster Box:

KFC, that’s just rubbish. Where are the charred grill marks so prominently displayed on your poster? The size of the chicken piece is also considerably smaller and the chips look soggy and under-cooked.

Hungry Jack's Deluxe Country Burger:

We suppose the Deluxe Country burger isn't too bad -- if you ignore the almost complete lack of salad and the fact that the meat patty looks like a dog poo. (These are difficult things to ignore, admittedly.)

Subway Meatball Sub:

Nope.

McDonald's Real Choices Breakfast Wraps:

The English Brekkie Wrap fell apart the moment we opened the packaging while the Bacon, Egg and Tomato stuffed everything into the bottom half of the wrap. We were also disappointed by the distribution of ingredients -- instead of marrying everything together, the egg, sausage and bacon were all shoved in separately, which created a layered effect. This made it nearly impossible to taste everything in one bite, an issue that the poster image clearly doesn't suffer from.

Mad Mex Chorizo Quesadilla:

Even allowing for the advert's soft focus and superior lighting, it's obvious that the real tortilla isn't quite up to snuff. It has a prominent oily sheen and the bread's texture is flimsier looking. The filling also appears to be less generous resulting in thinner quesadillas.

KFC Parmy Stacker Burger:

Do we really even need to critique this? There's barely any resemblance between the two burgers.

Red Rooster RoosterRap Chili Aioli:

While some of this can be put down to assembly, our tortilla wrap appeared to be narrower and longer than the one in the posters. The tortilla bread was also a bit dry and crinkly looking, which doesn't scream freshness.

McDonald's Quarter Pounder BLT Burger:

True to form, McDonald's Quarter Pounder BLT has pretty similar looking ingredients to the advert, with the exception of cheaper lettuce. However, the slipshod construction has turned it into a complete dog's breakfast. Clearly, the fast food giant needs to spend more time training its staff. We'd even be willing to wait a few extra minutes for an order -- just stop being so sloppy!

Domino's Chef's Best Pepperoni & Parmesan Pizza:

Our Pepperoni & Parmesan Pizza wasn’t nearly as sumptuous looking as we were led to believe by Domino’s marketing material. The grated parmesan is barely visible, the pepperoni has been laid with less care (there’s also less of it) and the mozzarella is far less generous.

McDonald's Son Of Mac:

Oh dear. Someone appears to have sat on our burger. This is unacceptable.

Subway's Lemon & Herb Sub:

Once again our bread was decidedly squashed looking and the chicken bears very little resemblance to the advertised image.

KFC's Grilled Salsa Twister:

The first wrap looks like it was painstakingly prepared by the head chef at a Michelin rated restaurant. The second one looks like it was knocked together by a hammer-stunned rooster.

McDonald's New Chicken Burger 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. Collectively, the McDonald’s Chicken range is pretty fowl. [You're fired. -- Ed.]

Nando's 'Little Hotties' Snack Range:

When there’s no hot girl to distract you, it becomes blatantly obvious how misleading the Nando images are. The Pequeno Mini Chicken Pita is especially deceptive: the reality is a limp, soggy pocket of sadness with none of the vibrant fillings depicted in the advertisement. This is especially galling when you consider Nando’s positions itself as an ‘upmarket’ fast food restaurant, with exorbitant prices to match.

Hungry Jack's Ultimate Double Whopper:

Wow. Just… wow. We don't feel a critique is necessary here. Just look at it. The only 'whopper' in that photo is the big fat lie Hungry Jack's is selling us. Terrible.


But wait! It's not all bad. Here are a few Takeaway Truth subjects that actually didn't suck.

McDonald's 'Real Choices' Warm Chicken Salad:

There's not much to complain about with this salad -- the vegetables are abundant and colourfully crisp looking, the chicken portions are roughly similar (albeit less tactfully arranged) and there's a good mix of ingredients instead of falling back on cheap lettuce. For the introductory price of $6.95 this is pretty hard to fault.

Nando's Portuguese Chicken Skewer:

Wow. For perhaps the first time in the history of Takeaway Truth, we really can't find much to criticise. The meat is perhaps slightly oilier looking and isn't cut as elegantly, but otherwise the two images are pretty bang-on. Even the number of meat pieces is the same.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder:

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.

See? It is possible to make fast food look appetising without hoodwinking the customer. A little attention and care sometimes makes all the difference. Maybe this year will prove to be better... but we're not holding out much hope.

Before we kick off a new year of takeaway torture, we thought we'd crown last year's "winner" via a Reader's Choice poll. Vote for the product that you think was the worst offender below!

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


Comments

    http://clotheshorse.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/23abreal-burgers-tho.jpg

    Easily the KFC parm stacker burger, Im disappointed just looking at it.

    I admit these all look pretty bad, but the KFC Parmy Stacker looks like the buns are gigantic and that the chicken isn't even inside.

    All fast food has a single problem, the person assembling it. Some places the staff take more care than others.

      THIS!

      I have all but given up on our local Dominos because of this. For fast food pizza I prefer Dominos over Pizza Hut any day... but goddamn the idiots they hired can't make pizza for crap. I've had one hot and spicy pizza where 99% of the jalapenos were tossed on to 2 slices!!!

      Pizza Hut may be an oil sponge but at least their consistent oil sponges =/

    I think its tough to make any of the wrapped like subway items look the same as the advertising since you actually have to close the thing up to wrap it and then eat it. We all expect its not going to look like it does considering the amount of time they put into making it look perfect and part of that involves arranging it in such a way that it looks good for camera but is impossible to assemble for real. We shall not mention airbrushed styrofoam french fries.

    That KFC Parmy stacker though is dreadful though although from memory I do recall you suggesting the bun was a million times too big for the ingredients which made it look worse ? Closely followed by one of those Macces brekky wraps where the ingredients on one of them seem to be squished into the bottom third of the wrap.

    Not sure if I've seen a story here but perhaps needs a follow up on the process involved in the advertising photo shoots and assembly, certainly seen them on either ACA or TT.

    So unfair Chris Jager.
    It obviously all comes down to the lighting... If you had the decency to have just used some professional lighting, those meals would otherwise have looked a million bucks with no further embellishment required!
    Just seems like tall poppy syndrome in my eyes. These poor beleaguered multi-national fast food conglomerates are just out there trying feed the world and put the happy back in your meal - and this is their thanks.
    For shame LH!

      You know I was thinking a similar thing.

      The real test would be to use the same lighting and try for the same effect.

      Exactly! It's articles like this that hurt struggling fast food empires, which of course trickles down to us, the consumers, by way of having to eat homemade and nutritional meals. Give Big Fast Food a chance!

    It's quiet sad to look at the meat ball sub, sorry, but the one in the picture is just meatballs and cheese, not to mention it's obviously been melted as well, yours has lettuce in it. compare apples with apples please. Overall, did you take these down the street or photograph them in the store, cause some look a fair few minutes old.
    Overall I agree, most look nothing like their advertised posters, however this is just poor form on them and their approach to the consumers.

    Has to be the Parmy Stacker.

    On one side you have the promise of two succulent tender and juicily flavoursome fillets of chicken breast, crumbed to a golden brown goodness and deliciously served with generous helpings of garden fresh salads (albeit iceberg lettuce) and tangy cheese topped off with chunky Italian salsa di pomodoro di qualità.

    On the other side you have a roughly cut roll and something that is tepid green and look rather like those bits you dig out of your sink strainer after doing the dishes.

    Wow, I just chucked looking at these and even my spew looks better than KFC's Parmy Stack Burger.

    Looks like your subway just messes up the bread. There was one in brisbane near my uni that used to squish it up pretty good for no reason during/at the end of making it, never understood it - most however, do not do it, thank god.

    Probably still tasted good anyway.

    Last edited 10/01/14 6:41 pm

    I think you're going to the wrong fast food 'restaurants' Chris, I eat a not unreasonable amount of take away and have never received a meal anywhere near as bad as any on this page.

    That subway meatball, the comparison one looks like its a different bread/wrap?

    It's a pity we could only vote for one item ... Too many menu items that don't even come close to the advertised offering.

    Damn man - i have NEVER had a Hungries burger that looked that bad, or a maccas one that looked that good for that matter lol. Those Subs are also the worst i have ever seen - tho I am picky with how they make it, why not. Thats one thing with Hungries and Subway - at least you get a say in getting it how you want.

      oh, ditto on the dominos just cant make pizzas, they are just consistently poor, they even reckon no toppings within 2 inches of the sides is normal. Was hilarious to have me point at the pic as to where the toppings came to vs pic and the have the 'manager' say 'no way thats like 2 inches', after i had shown him the toppings were over a credit card width in on my pizza, which is exactly 2 inches.

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