I don’t think anyone would or could even argue that McDonald’s is a classic American institution. The golden arches are a fundamental piece on how both American’s and the rest of world look at American culture. I’m sure a rousing discussion about how a fast food chain influenced the culture of the most powerful nation in the world sounds fascinating to you, but I’m not here to do anything like that. I’m here to ask a much simpler question. Does McDonald’s have the best burger in Provo? It’s a long shot I know, but it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give it a fair chance.
Right off the bat there’s some difficulty in trying to figure out where McDonald’s ranks amongst Provo’s burgers. Which burger do I even eat? Do I try one of McDonald’s relatively new burgers with the signature crafted burgers or stay with the classic sandwich that has come to define the chain? If you read the title you pretty much already know which choice I made, but I do feel some need to justify that decision. I’ve had the signature crafted burgers. They’re not impressive, and frankly they have very little to do with what McDonald’s is at its core, tasty food served wicked fast that you know will eventually claim your life. That’s what it means to eat McDonald’s and the Big Mac is the heart of it all.
Just in case any of you haven’t had a Big Mac before I’ll run you through the ingredients. I won’t make you look up the Big Mac rap to try and remember, especially since even though that song shares a name with the sandwich it actually has nothing to do with a Big Mac, pop culture fact of the day. A Big Mac features in no particular order, a three-piece sesame seed bun, two beef patties, two slices of cheese, iceberg lettuce, pickles, onions and lastly the famous “special sauce” which everyone knows is some variant or form of thousand island dressing. I’ll note here that when I eat Big Macs I actually keep the onions in, for some odd reason I don’t notice those awful things when I eat a Big Mac and having a little bit of onion in your diet can’t hurt right?
I think the reason I don’t notice the onions is that every time I eat a Big Mac I’m stunned that it’s actually a pretty good burger. Every single time I eat one of these things I always think that it’s all going to go wrong. That it’ll be way too bready with the super unnecessary third part to a bun, that having only the special sauce won’t be enough to provide a full array of flavors, or that someone has stacked four pickles on top of each other just to ruin my day. It always turns out that none of those things happen though, I barely even notice the third part of the bun, the special sauce total works on it’s own and only very rarely does someone screw up enough to stack even three pickles on top of each other let alone four.
I’m not saying that the Big Mac does everything right here, in fact far from it. What I’m saying is that the Big Mac doesn’t really do anything wrong and those two things are very different, ask literally any person who has been involved with sports and they’ll describe what it means to be playing to win and playing to not lose. In the case of the Big Mac what I mean is that it feels like all the decisions around the Big Mac involve the question, “how can me make sure this burger isn’t bad?” And while that’s probably the right mindset for a chain that tries to pump these out in less than a minute, it’s absolutely impossible to make a “best burger” with this mindset. Everything about the Big Mac screams, “this works, but it’s not ideal.” This creates a burger that is ultimately uninspiring, middle of the pack and only famous because of the place that sells it. Near the beginning of this post I remarked that the Big Mac was the heart of what makes McDonald’s McDonald’s and I stand by that statement, with some minor adjustments (slightly larger patty, cutting back on iceberg lettuce, properly toasting the buns, etc.) there really is room for the Big Mac to be an all time great burger, but because of where it’s sold it will never be that way. I don’t know why but that makes me just a little bid sad.
Thanks for reading.
Burger Power Rankings:
- Tommy’s Burgers Double Cheeseburger w/ Chili.
- Cubby’s Gypsy Burger
- Burger Supreme’s Golden Burger
- Five Guys Double Bacon Burger
- Classic Smash from Smashburger
- McDonald’s Big Mac
- Double-Double from In-N-Out
- Pastrami Burger from JCW’s
- California Classic from Carl’s Junior
- BBQ Bacon Burger from CHOM