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:
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.