Takeaway Truth: McDonald's McFeast Burger

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.]

Truth Rating: 6/10


Comments

    Is it just me or does the burger actually look bigger (looking at width, obviously the height is lacking due to the missing tower of lettuce) than the one advertised, surely that has to be some sort of first

      If it does it's only 'cause it's wider than the other one - I had one the other night and it was tiny.

      If you find any McDonalds/etc making of burger vids on youtube, you can see this is because they've actually piled the ingredients up at an angle to reveal everything that's inside (normally you wouldn't see much of what's in a burger side on). They use all the exact same ingredients, but the burger is stylized to make it photogenic (after which point its usually inedible).

        You mean to say there's a point before which it isn't inedible? Amazing.

    The bun at least looks better in the comparison shot.

      The bun in the advertisement doesn't really look appetising at all.

    I think in general Maccas are the worst offender most of their burgers look the same when you see them in real life and pretty much every time you eat them you never feel full and i'm not fat or a over eater by any stretch of the imagination. I'm off maccas for good except for a 4 am double quarter pounder on a Saturday night out when the kebab van has closed.

    Now KFC they generally get it right for the most part.
    And Crust look just like the pictures 9/10 times but i'm not sure if they count.

      Really? Maccas aren't great, and I actually found Maccas in Vietnam better than Australia, which says a lot, but KFC are just awful, nearly always chewy, lacking in toppings, frequently stale buns. It's like stepping back into the 90's of crappy sit around for 12 hours fast food every time I get KFC.

        There is a macca's in Vietnam? I thought Fast Food enterprises were banned their, only one i ever found was a KFC in Hanoi.

          Maccas, Burger King, etc all down in Saigon. The only thing you can find in Hanoi is KFC, which even though they're not chicken breast only like Australia in their burgers, still seemed fresher!

          The Ho Chi Minh district 1 maccas is crazy too, three stories with the kitchen on the top floor, and a rotating food elevator in a glass box bringing food from the kitchen to the registers.

          Last edited 31/07/14 4:08 pm

      The KFC nearest us is absolutely abysmal, the worst takeaway place I have ever been to. Every time we go there they do at least one of the following things (usually multiple things):

      - Have "run out" of something we wanted to order (usually gravy or chicken pieces). Every single time we've been there this has happened. Every. Single. Time.
      - Forgotten an item in our order.
      - Given us an incorrect item in our order (e.g. original instead of hot & spicy)
      - Tried to give us the order for another car (drive-through).
      - Charged us for something we didn't order.
      - Given us half-filled items, e.g. a box of chips that was only half full.
      - Given us food that was cold, stale, and/or under-cooked.

      Every couple of months we think maybe they've changed, maybe they've sorted out their issues and it'll be good this time, so we give them another chance. And every time we regret it. I honestly don't understand how they can be this bad and still operating.

        I strongly suspect that 'run out' is one of the bigger crocks of shit in the takeout biz. I know the KFC in the Valley (Bris) ran out of the same menu items every time, with great regularity, but to be fair, it was usually promotional menu items of likely unexpected popularity.

        But the Hungry Jacks did the same thing with their minis, storms (think mcflurry), and some of the chicken items. I remember one of the managers flat-out saying, "Yeah, I don't stock that one here, it's never going to be in."
        Low margins, perhaps? Either way, calling it sold out or 'run out' is bullshit, as is not following a nationally-standardized menu because you don't like what it does to your store's profit margins.

        Makes me wonder about the 'name-it' burger at Maccas (eventually branded the 'Backyard Burger' - for good reason, it was the tastiest thing they've ever served because it fucking tasted like a homemade/corner-shop burger). I'm wondering if it was discontinued not due to lack of popularity but because of what it did to profit margins to actually use high-quality, fresh ingredients; a rebellion by franchisees.

        You wonder how they are still operating? Have you ever sent a formal complaint through to head office? And yet you still go back every couple of months.

          I've sent several complaints through their website contact form, and even an old-school snail mail letter. So yes, I do wonder how they're still operating. And yes, we go back every couple of months in the hope that our complaints have finally made an impact.

          I understand that being the Internet it's easy to assume that everyone is lazy and likes to whinge without actually doing anything about it, but I'm certainly not one of those people.

            Sorry my post comes across with a lot more attitude than I intended it to. It's that first Rhetorical question that seems to skew it. I proof read it, but didn't pick it up. My questions where more trying to highlight your options.

            Since making complaints has had no effect and your never happy with your meals simply stop going there. If you absolutely must go there, than you don't use the Drive Thru and make sure to get a printed Receipt, have the counter staff read back your order to you. Once your food is served to you, step to the side to allow other customers to be served and double check every item of food received.

            Most Managers tell you that you ate half the box of chips you got in the Drive Thru it's far harder when your standing at the counter complaining and been in full sight of the cashier. The problem is Fast Food Managers are used to constantly dealing with Scam Artists making nonsense complaints, (This is a Junior Burger I wanted a Cheeseburger with no Cheese.) and have become cynical and jaded. Doubly so if they have let their Restaurant get to the poor standard you've described, they have no pride in their job (which is honestly quite sucky as jobs go) or their staff who are usually a bunch of halfwit teenagers.

    Is it priced differently for different states? Today I saw it for $5.60 at the Melbourne Central station Maccas.

      Maccas in the city usually cost more from my experience.

      Different Maccas have different prices for all sorts of things. The three that are all within 15kms of my house range between $4.95 and $5.60 for a big mac. I asked them once when I first noticed it a few years ago and they said they do it based on what they think they can charge in different suburbs.

    Had a McFeast the other night. It did not impress. There was more bun and flavourless generic meat patty than anything else.

    I am actually really disappointed with the bun size of the Quarter Pounder, they have been using the smaller bun size now for quite some time, when it previously used to be an extra large bun, presumably for its namesake, its basically a cheeseburger now but costs more.

      And the quarter pounder is only the weight *before* it is cooked. Most of the weight is water, after cooking it is around half that weight.

    Nutritional value != kJ. kJ is a measure of energy. Hardly any connection to nutritional value.

      Depends on your definition of nutrition. Energy is certainly one component of nutrition; in some places probably the most important component. Saying there's hardly any connection is a very first-world sort of view.

      The most relevant OED definition of "nutrition" here would probably be "food or nourishment." Good luck finding somebody able to survive indefinitely on zero calories.

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