Takeaway Truth: The 2014 'Hall Of Shame'

Takeaway Truth is a regular Lifehacker feature where we compare fast food advertising images to cold, hard reality. While a little 'artistic licence' is to be expected, sometimes the differences are massive. Today, we take a look back at some of the worst offenders of the year. Feast your eyes if you dare! We're also running a poll to crown the worst Takeaway Truth product of 2014.

Despite some initial misgivings, we feel that the majority of fast food companies lifted their game this year. In most cases, the advertised ingredients were represented fairly both in terms of quantity and general appearance.

Unfortunately, the slipshod assembly turned most meals into hideous eyesores. Time and time again, the product placed in front of us was a misshapen, mutated caricature of the marketing image. There was also the occasional product that flat-out deceived customers either due to cheeky perspective tricks or poor-quality ingredients.

Below are the worst examples from the past 12 months. We think most of them compare pretty favourably to last year's Hall Of Shame — but this doesn't make them remotely appetising.


McDonald's Sausage & Egg McMuffin

"It would seem that McDonald's sloppy burger making practices have also infected the breakkie staff. Our McMuffin was a hastily slapped together mishmash of mutant-looking bread. A lazy effort."

Click here to see the original article.

KFC The Mighty Burger

"There's clearly an implication that this is a colossal burger — perhaps the biggest you'll ever wrap your hands around. In reality, it's not much bigger than a Big Mac or Zinger. In other words, the poster is still fibbing even if you don't take the burger's scale literally."

Click here to see the original article.

Red Rooster Big Aussie Burger

"As you can see, the real Big Aussie isn't a patch on the promotional image. This usually comes down crap burger assembly, but on this occasion there certainly seems to be markedly fewer ingredients."

Click here to see the original article.

Subway Bacon, Poached Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sub

"I feel it's worth noting that I specifically asked the "sandwich artist" to make my sub look like the one on the poster."

Click here to see the original article.

KFC Kentucky Burger

"The coleslaw looks completely gross and bears almost no resemblance to the poster. In place of the lovely medley of carrots, cabbags and mayo, you get a swamp of glistening, unidentifiable lumps which look suspiciously like hocked-up loogies. Lovely."

Click here to see the original article.

McDonald's McMate Beef Burger

"One of the most glaring discrepancies is the size of the top buns. In the poster, it's completely dwarfed by the larger-than-life ingredients — it almost looks like the McMate is wearing a little bread hat. In reality, the bun takes up a lot more real estate."

Click here to see the original article.

KFC Zinger Stacker Burger

"We suppose the chicken looks okay, but everything else leaves much to be desired. All in all, a disappointing effort."

Click here to see the original article.

Domino's All Day Breakfast Pizza

"The most obvious difference between the two images is the crusts — the marketing image has toppings spilling right to the edge, whereas the real version has an expanse of empty real estate. While this could be due to a trick of perspective, it still gives a false impression of a more toppings and less crust."

Click here to see the original article.

McDonald's McMate Chickem Burger

"The McMate Chicken didn’t come with bacon as advertised. 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."

Click here to see the original article.

KFC Nacho Box

"The most glaring difference is the lack of visible corn chips — instead of popping out like individual hors d'oeuvres, the chips were all buried at the bottom of the box. Nachos? It looks more like week-old garbage mixed with surgery leftovers."

Click here to see the original article.

McDonald's World Cup Australia Burger

"Oh dear. It would seem McDonald’s was barracking for Australia to bomb in the World Cup, if this burger is anything to go by. Disgustingly sloppy assembly, a noticeably smaller chicken patty and an inexplicably deformed bun all conspire to make this the worst burger of the bunch. Instant red card."

Click here to see the original article.


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

Grill'd Crispy Bacon And Cheese Burger

"Looking at the above image, it's clear that Grill'd hasn't skimped on quality or quantity. From an ingredients perspective, the only glaring difference is the cheese slice which actually looks larger and thicker on the real burger (most customers will probably prefer this)."

KFC Double Shell Zinger Taco

"There's less sauce on the real taco and the lettuce isn't as artfully arranged, but otherwise this is a pretty faithful representation. The colour, shape and size are all roughly identical."

Pizza Hut New Yorker

"The resemblance is pretty good — the toppings are similarly sized, roughly equal in number and can be readily identified on the base."

McDonald's Hot Cakes

"This is a lot better than we were expecting. The syrup is an unappetising runny brown, but otherwise this isn't hugely different from the poster. Hurrah!"

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

    looks like a three horse race to last

    KFC Nacho Box only because they used moldy cheese when I ordered it

    Grill’d shouldn't be included in a what seems a 'fast food' list as a comparison.

      The wait that I've had at Grill'd has only been a minute or two longer than the normal wait at KFC

      Grill'd sits in the same grey area as Nando's: not quite a fast food outlet and not quite a restaurant. They're still basically serving the same stuff though

        And it's this grey area that really is quickly becoming the sweet spot for good quality food fast.

        Ribs & Burgers at Rhodes is another great example - they have the best Milo thickshake ever.

        Have you seen the prices of Nandos lately, its chicken and its like $20 with chips!
        No way, thank you I'll buy a whole roast from the chicken shop/Red Rooster next door with salad and chips to go

    these photos are touched up, what if you took a photo of your chump chops and mashed potatoes and three veggies and tried to convince someone you just met to dine at your place?

    Reality doesn't resemble the advertising photos, same for cosmetics or clothing, the adverts are envisaged by artists and other skilled people. They also use tricks like use mashed potatoes instead of ice cream so it doesn't melt during photography.
    Years ago I saw in a magazine how a carefully posed model is propped up by a wooden frame for a lengthy photo shoot

      And they touch up the photos of cars. Would you be as accommodating if the HSV you were promised turned out to be a ride-on mower?

    End the impossible standards set by the media! All burgers are beautiful. http://i.imgur.com/MXzl2Zd.png

    I swear, you must have have the worst "chefs" in your area, I have never seen anything as bad as this. And I eat fast food too much

    Those nachos look so miserable. How hard is it to screw up nachos? Corn chips, cheese, microwave, dump on toppings, boom.

    The only real question I have had all year about these is why they're scoring fives and sixes rather than one or two.

    Poor lighting and color balance: The 2014 Hall of Shame

    Seriously, these 'foods' look terrible enough on their own; at least put a couple of seconds effort into taking the photos.

      You can bet the LH guys had the white balance set on 'auto' and didn't take a shot of a white balance card to set it properly. Correct me if I'm wrong LH guys.

    Currently enjoying* my second week off work courtesy of salmonella poisoning from KFC.

    *NOT!

    I can't believe there is worse sandwich artist than the one I had when I ordered a sub once.

    You need to find a new subway store to buy from, I think they are just messing with you.

    Also, what camera are you using to take these pics? and do you use a flash? Not saying they will look a lot better but the colours might not look so washed out

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