Everybody loves fast food. At some time or another, nearly everyone has sampled something from the menus of McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, or Taco Bell. They now even have meatless options for the vegetarians among us. Many people debate whether such foods are good for us, what the health benefits (few) and risks (many) are, which is better, and how much is too much. For the purpose of settling the classic argument, let’s compare the two heavyweight champions of the fast food sandwiches – McDonalds’ Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper. To date, Wendy’s and Taco Bell, not to mention smaller chains like In and Out Burger (best burgers ever), White Castle, and Carl’s Jr., don’t have a signature sandwich with as much familiarity and appeal as the two leaders. So if there were a burger wars competition, where the best of the best was to be determined, the unanimous choices (personal preferences aside) for the final two would almost certainly be the McDonalds’ Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper. But who would win and be the overall champion? Many things must be considered in this timeless debate.
Let’s start with McDonalds’s Big Mac. See if you can finish this famous jingle: “Two all-beef patties…”. Remember how it went? Go ahead; sing it to yourself before reading on to see if you were right. If you’re like most adults, you can recall that it goes, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.” It’s something that we, as a nation, grew up with. It is part of Americana, much like baseball and apple pie. In fact, considering current trends, the new slogan may read, “As American as baseball and Big Macs”.
That’s right, the McDonalds’ Big Mac is as integrated into, not only our society, but the world’s as well, as baseball, rock n’ roll, or reality television. You can now go to dozens of countries around the world and order a Big Mac. When the first McDonalds opened in Moscow (Russia), people lined up and waited for hours just to get a chance to sample one of our finest imports. The Russians embraced the Big Mac much like they embraced Rocky at the end of Rocky IV. Similar followings can be seen in places like Australia, France, Germany, Iraq, and so on.
Back in America, McDonalds’ Big Mac is a staple that many people rely upon for sustenance. Along with pizza, wings, Ramen Noodles, cereal, and macaroni and cheese, the McDonalds’ Big Mac is a collegiate necessity, and rite of passage. I don’t have any college friends, or know any, who don’t eat them regularly. Its just part of the college experience.
The McDonalds’ Big Mac does have some downsides to it; mainly the fat content. It is so high in fat (550 calories without mayo) and cholesterol that most in the health field strongly against eating them; even if only once a month. Most doctors and professionals say that you should never eat most any of the fast food sandwiches. It is hard to disagree with this logic considering that one Big Mac, fries, and drink have more saturated fat than the total recommended daily allowance. But they are so good.
Now let’s look at the competition – Burger King’s Whopper. The Whopper is quite different, but still similar to McDonalds’ Big Mac. Both are mountains of meat and toppings, both are terribly bad for us, both can be ordered to suit our particular preferences for ingredients, and both taste great. What’s the difference? The flame broiling (of Burger King’s Whopper) is one main difference, but not the biggest. The major difference is in the taste.
This is a debate that I’ve had with many people, through the years. How can the Big Mac and the Whopper both be so similar but taste entirely different? Think about other similar but competing products, things like Pepsi and Coca Cola, for example. In a blind taste test, maybe 60-75% of the participants could accurately identify each soft drink. If these same people, or any people for that matter, were to blindly same McDonalds’ Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper, do you honestly think that anybody would incorrectly identify them? I’d be shocked if even 1% of the people failed the test. There is something to it that distinguishes it from the Big Mac. I just don’t know what it is. Doesn’t matter, it is delicious also.
If there has to be one overall winner in the debate, I would have to choose McDonalds’ Big Mac. Its not just because it is the sandwich that I personally prefer, but also because of the history behind it. McDonalds has been part of America since the 1950’s, and the Big Mac quickly became a symbol of the chain. Burger King is kind of like the little brother to big brother McDonalds. For those reasons, among others, I declare the McDonalds’ Big Mac the undisputed heavyweight champion of fast food sandwiches. Now if only In and Out Burger would open more store nationwide.