This is the third in a series of reviews of newly introduced fast-food items that will run this week, graded on a bell curve.
The Age of Foodism has changed all the rules of the game for fast-food franchises. No longer is it enough for them to flog their fatty meals with cartoon characters (note the recent timely disappearance of Ronald McDonald and the Burger King), trinkets for children, and the unswerving consistency of a narrow range of predictable products. Instead, this era demands constant culinary reinvention.
Nowhere is this more evident than in McDonald’s Angus Deluxe line of burgers, made with a third-pound of Black Angus ground beef — as if there were something special about the meat of the Black Angus breed. The only thing special about it is that it doesn’t fall within the purview of the “Choice” and “Prime” USDA rating system, and, as one farmer put it, “It’s the laziest breed in the world, content to sit all day in the mud rather than wandering around.”
While this burger may have been invented to give the Whopper a run for its money, or maybe just to compete with the sorts of upscaling bistro burgers now found in nearly every town in the country, it has grown to be an elastic line of products, a collection into which any current food fad could be funneled.
The burger comes in a puzzle box, with all sorts of tabs sticking out.
Behold the inner workings of the Angus Chipotle BBQ Burger.
The latest in the line is the Angus Chipotle BBQ Burger, capitalizing on the current chipotle and Chipotle crazes. It comes in a handsome, presumably recyclable box, which takes a bit of ingenuity to open. Inside, find a sesame-seeded bun, a patty obviously bigger than the Quarter Pounder series, two slices of American “cheese food product,” two measly strips of very thin bacon arranged in the shape of a cross, lots of ripple-cut dill pickle chips, and some very fresh-tasting purple onions.
While this seems like a decent roster of fixin’s — though one might wonder, What happened to the tomatoes and lettuce? — the totality of these ingredients doesn’t really hang together. The chipotle sauce, for example, is just too-sweet barbecue sauce, tasting more of corn-syrup sweetener than sugar. The poor abused chipotle itself — technically, a smoked jalapeño — is overwhelmed by the other ingredients, making “chipotle” a sort of code word for “hypersweet.”
The true smokiness of the bacon gets lost behind the faux smokiness of the barbecue sauce, and the gooey cheese presides over all, making actual none-too-flavorful meat in the burger a faint whisper in a shouted conversation. Back to the drawing board, Ronald!
Letter grade: D+
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Your neighborhood McDonald’s is no longer just Quarter Pounders and Chicken McNuggets.