So, the final week of the Great Tastes of America promotion has been and gone. We did it, kids. I ate one of those burgers every week and all I’ve really learnt is that I will eat anything McDonalds tries to sell to me, for better or worse.
The last Great Taste was the New York Classic, which is a strong contender for burger of the month. I mean, look at that bun! Chilli Chive sesame seed. Plus, you’ve got your beef patty, bacon, two slices of cheese (which honestly I don’t know if that’s more cheese than usual or not, but it sounds good), lettuce, red onions and a MAYO, MUSTARD AND KETCHUP COMBO – the dream team! Basically, there is a lot of good in this burger and it’s got a strong, well-measured taste. Nothing is out of place, but then, can you really go wrong with bacon-cheese-red onion-sauce? Its beauty is in its simplicity.
To make sure I cover all the bases, in that same week I also had a Hot & Spicy Buffalo BBQ Chicken burger to myself, which is chicken breast topped with bacon, cheese, onions, Batavia lettuce (whatever that is), mayo and the Hot & Spicy Buffalo BBQ sauce. As I mentioned previously, this burger is surprisingly spicy in a pleasant way; it’s got way more flavour than I’d expect from a McDonalds burger, especially a chicken variant, because as much as I love them I do find the wraps and the Chicken Legend a little bland.
The problem is, though, now I’m bereft. I don’t have a weekly theme burger to look forward to and I don’t know what McDonalds is going to offer me next. Currently they’re running the Big Tasty again, which as I’ve said a thousand times now, I’m not a fan of (the bacon is limp and the sauce is sour; I appreciate I’m possibly alone in this verdict). I’m hoping that they’ll have something new and exciting for us soon.
Except, what I’m thinking now is – will it be new and exciting? Is any of this new and exciting? I know it’s McDonalds we’re talking here, the home of cheap, easy to chug food and not in-depth innovation. But should we be asking for more from our fast food? Some of these Great Tastes really were great, but on the whole there was very little to write home about here. Most of the flavour combinations were nice, there were a few exciting ingredients, but on the whole? I don’t feel like I experienced something I’d die to experience again, and that’s kind of what I’m going for with my food experiences.
The other week I had a beef burger smothered in Buffalo sauce, not like McDonalds’ own BBQ Chicken burger but like ‘oh my god this burger tastes like hot wings’. There are few things I love more than burgers and chicken wings, so the combination is divine. That was in a sit-down restaurant, so I’m not expecting anything of that quality – but other fast food outlets are trying too. KFC ran with its pulled chicken, which I’m going to be honest, I haven’t eaten because I think it looks disgusting, but hey, they’re trying! They recognised that the public are very interested in pulled pork and burritos right now, so they adapted with their own thing.
Then you’ve got Burger King, which is always bringing out something new (I just can’t afford to try them all…). Right now they’ve got a summer barbecue range including a BBQ Jerk Tendercrisp chicken sandwich, the Crunchy BBQ Whopper which has a potato rosti in it (!!), and the Spicy BBQ Steakhouse. They’re also offering nacho cheese bites and three varieties of frozen drink. This all sounds great. And I mean, hell, even Dominos is serving a chicken tikka pizza right now, topped with pieces of onion bhaji. I haven’t tried it, but I’m reliably informed that it’s actually good. That’s risk-taking done right. When are McDonalds going to take any risks?
There’s more going on here, too. KFC have started the ‘Colonel’s Club’ which is a rewards system. Burger King offer a whole host of vouchers on their website (similar to how Subway and Dominos post theirs through letterboxes, but obviously better, because they’re easy to access), and are currently piloting a delivery service. As much as I love McDonalds for being McDonalds, and I still rate their food for speed and cost, it’s pretty clear that they’ve got to do something.
I know that they’re currently running Create Your Taste in places like America and Australia, which allows customers to build their own burger at a kiosk from a selection of ‘gourmet’ toppings. They even trailer that with ‘how very unMcDonalds’. I appreciate that, and I’d love for it to come to the UK soon. I’d also like them to try out delivery, as they’ve been rumouring for a long time. But what they’re going to have to realise is that as unMcDonalds as that might be – and it is, it’s exactly not what we expect from this fast food chain that has been established for so long and does what it does so right – it’s probably going to have to start to be what McDonalds is. Because times change.