Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: McDonald's McFeast Burger.
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.
If you still watch free-to-air television you've doubtlessly seen the adverts heralding the return of McDonald's McFeast burger by now. With notably higher production values than the norm, it would appear that McDonald's is expecting big things from its old menu favourite. Check out the Amazing Race-style TV commercial below:
For those who are too young to remember, the McDonald's McFeast was a beloved traditional-style burger that was discontinued back in the late 1990s. It comprised an extra-large beef patty, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles and three sauces (mustard, ketchup and “McFeast Deluxe” sauce) inside a sesame seed bun. The new version is much the same as the old, albeit without the polystyrene packaging.
A standalone McFeast now costs $5.85 which is at the upper end of what McDonald’s charges for burgers. I can't begin to remember how much these things cost back in the 1990s, but I suspect it was around the $3 mark. In terms of nutritional value, a single burger packs in 2030kJ of energy which is similar to a Big Mac. With that said, the extra salad does makes it slightly healthier if you care about that sort of thing.
Apart from a couple of brief promotional stints in 2008 and 2011, the McFeast has been absent from McDonald's menu for the better part of 20 years, which helps to explain the fanfare. But has all this manufactured hype by McDonald's marketing department led to flat-out deception? Well, that's what we're here to find out.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the McFeast as it appears in McDonald's advertisement and what we actually got served at a Circular Quay store:
As regular Takeaway Truth readers will know, burgers tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to accurate marketing. Roughly nine times out of ten, the ingredients are hastily slapped together in random layers with zero care given to the burger's appearance or resemblance to the poster.
When judged alongside its motley partners in crime, the McFeast isn't too shabby. The ingredients are actually in the correct order for once, which is something McDonald's workers almost always get wrong. Plus, the beef patty and sesame seed bun are roughly the same size.
Unfortunately, the salad has definitely let the rest of the team down. There's just no way the burger we were served contains as much lettuce and onion as the advertisement. We're used to fast food outlets using artistic licence with salad, but the McFeast really went overboard in this department — that lush tower of greenery simply doesn't exist in reality.
It's not just the positioning of our photo either — here it is from the other side:
All in all, the McFeast is less deceptive than most burger advertisements, but unfortunately falls short in the salad department which is kind of its chief selling point. A mild disappointment.
[Lifehacker tip: If you want your McFeast burger to look more like the poster, ask for extra salad! Most outlets will be happy to add this free of charge.]