Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: McDonald's McMate Burgers. (Plus: Taste Test!)
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.
The "McMates" are a new range of bespoke burgers that were created with the assistance of McDonald's customers via a "Build Our Next Burger" campaign. In short it's the company's first "crowdsourced" burger.
"Think you can make a great burger? Show us what you've got and help us create Australia’s next Macca’s burger," McDonald's invited its customers back in May.
Over the next five months, more than 15,859 Australians voted on the burgers' ingredients and even named the finished result -- so if you think it's rubbish, you only have yourself to blame.
We've been seeing a lot of this sort of thing lately. Last month, Domino's Pizza launched a new drag-and-drop menu system dubbed Pizza Mogul which allows customers to profit from their creations.
It would seem customer collaborations and personalised menu items are going to crop up more and more in the future. We think it's a pretty exciting trend.
There are two different McMates to choose from -- the McMate Angus Beef and the McMate Chicken. The McMate Angus Beef comes with an Angus beef patty, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, cheese, BBQ sauce and garlic mayo. The McMate Chicken uses the same ingredients, but with a crispy chicken patty in place of the beef. Other than the grilled onions and garlic mayo, these burgers are pretty much identical to McDonald's existing the deluxe burger range.
The McMate Angus packs in 2710kJ of energy, 40.3g of protein, 38g of fat, 8.1g of sugars and 1140mg of sodium. The McMate Chicken has 2420kJ of energy, 28.6g of protein, 30.1g of fat, 8.7g of sugars and 1220mg of sodium. The McMate Chicken is slightly healthier on paper, although people looking for a sneaky protein hit might be better off plumping for the Angus version. Naturally, neither burger is a wise lunch option if you're currently trying to lose weight.
Here's how the McMate looks in McDonald's advertisements. Pretty tasty looking, eh?
And here's what we actually got served from a Circular Quay restaurant:
One of the most glaring discrepancies is the size of the top buns. In the poster, they're completely dwarfed by the larger-than-life ingredients -- it almost looks like the McMates are wearing little bread hats. In reality, the bun takes up a lot more real estate. There was also noticeably less lettuce on the real burger and it wasn't the fancy leafy variety shown in the adverts. As usual, both burgers could have been assembled with a little more care (so no change there then.)
On a side note, the McMate Chicken didn't come with bacon. Presumably, this was an innocent oversight by a staff member but it's not the first time we've had this happen during a McDonald's Takeaway Truth. If you're ordering takeaway, our advice is to check the burger before leaving the store.
All in all, both the McMate Chicken and McMate Angus Beef are pretty standard fare from McDonald's -- which is to say, they only share a passing resemblance to the advertised product. We've certainly encountered worse burgers in our time, but these will still disappoint anyone who bought their meal based on the poster.
Truth rating: 6/10
If you're curious about what the McMates taste like, you can read our mini verdict below:
McMate Angus Beef (reviewed by Angus Kidman) The sloppiest aspect of the McMate’s construction was the bacon – it was in a lump at the front of the burger, not laid flat. So that was annoying. Flatten your bacon, people. #flattenyourbacon #memesthatwillneverhappen Other than that, it was a perfectly acceptable burger, but I’m struggling to discern what makes it particularly distinct from the existing range of Angus burgers that Maccas serves. (Yes, the name makes me a feel little proprietorial.) Aside from being able to order it in an even broader Aussie accent than usual, it feels and tastes like business as usual.
McMate Chicken (reviewed by Chris Jager) First, some disclosure: I've never been particularly big on chicken burgers -- whenever I eat at KFC I'll always go for a chicken piece combo instead. Chicken and burger buns just seem like an odd mix to me. With that said, the McMate Chicken is a perfectly satisfying option for people who like this sort of thing. It was filling, pleasantly crispy and highly flavoursome -- even without the bacon rasher. I can only imagine the addition of bacon makes this burger even more delicious. Mind you, there's not much to separate this burger from McDonald's other chicken offerings. If you're a fan of the McChamp, the McMate Chicken is basically a more indulgent version of the same burger. If this is the best bespoke burger Australians can come up with, it would seem we aren't a particularly imaginative bunch.
Which fast food franchise or menu item would you like us to tackle next? Let us know in the comments section below.