Lunch: Bacon Big Mac, Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Bacon Cheddar Fries, Hawaiian Punch
We're on the tail end of the Polar Vortex in the upper Midwest. I spent it in bed re-watching Season 1 of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and being disappointed in myself for not inventing a cheesy video game called "Polar Vortex" back in the eighties. I probably could have retired on that and spent my life traveling, eating all sorts of regional fast food cheeseburgers and chili dogs and making other poor life choices. As opposed to me now, which is basically the same person but under the title of "unemployed".
I decided to emerge from the Townhouse of Solitude for the first time this week and run some errands. The cats were all like "WHAT? NO! YOURE NOT SUPPOSED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ANYMORE! THIS IS YOUR LIFE NOW!" A couple of stops and a conversation with the Trader Joe's cashier later (commenting on me running around in an open jacket and T-shirt in these temperatures), I arrived at McDonald's for lunch.
McDonald's is on a bacon kick. They're currently promoting "McDonald's Classics with Bacon", bacon-enhanced Big Macs and Quarter Pounders. Bacon on a Quarter Pounder? Yeah, I could see that. On a Big Mac? Hmmm, I don't know. But they're just incidental promotions for the real reason you're going to check this out...McDonald's is also offering bacon cheddar fries.
Bacon cheeseburgers are nothing new. I've been a regular consumer since I first saw such a thing at Hardee's back in the eighties. Cheese fries and bacon cheese fries aren't really new either. But they are new to McDonald's. For a lot of people, adding bacon and soupy fake cheddar to McDonald's fries has been the holy grail of food fantasy.
Let's give it a go, shall we.
As of this writing, you have to go into the store and order these items from a counter person. They're not listed on the McDonald's app. Because why would they be.
|On a clear day you can see BACON|
Quarter Pounder with Cheese
You could actually get bacon as an option prior to this promotion. The option is available in the Customize section of their app (under "Condiments" of all things). You couldn't do this with the Big Mac.
There's really no surprise here. If you've had a bacon cheeseburger at any other chain that fries burgers on a regular grill, you know what to expect here. And you won't be disappointed. It's exactly what you're expecting.
Bacon Cheddar Fries
There's three places where I will always order fries...Freddy's, Steak n Shake, and McDonald's. They're as good as fries get. Most other chains, I can't stand them. But I love the skinny shoestrings at Freddy's and Steak n Shake. And nobody makes fries like McDonald's. I even like them cold and soggy.
If I'm dining in, my fries at Freddy's and Steak n Shake are covered in cheese. This has never been an option at McDonald's...until now. It's a wonder why it took this long.
They're served in a box and come with a knife (?) and fork. There's a nice thick liquid cheese with bits of what appears to be freshly cooked bacon in it. The flavor of the cheese and the bacon are distinct and work well together. And they completely overwhelm the classic taste of McDonald's fries.
Which is to say...this is a fail.
There are some fries in the box that are dry. When I eat them separately for comparison, I find I actually prefer them.
I used to hate mashed potatoes. I liked baked potatoes, but not mashed. My grandmother used to insist this made no sense. "They're the same thing," she would say.
"No, you put milk in them," I would respond.
"But you like milk too."
"But when you put them together, it's gross," I would reply.
This is a similar situation. I mean, it's not gross at all, but these three things just don't belong together. I guess McDonald's knew what they were doing all along.
You know what I would like to try? A bacon cheddar version of the Filet-O-Fish. The same bacon cheddar mix they put on the fries atop the fish filet instead of tartar sauce. That would be interesting.
I am not expecting much here. The Big Mac is a delicate balance of the perfect mix of flavors. That's what makes it the best selling burger that it is. There's nothing quite like it.
The bacon is nestled between the top patty and the middle bun. I rotate the burger to find a spot where bacon is peeking out and take a bite.
This totally works.
What I expected to be the biggest disappointment turned out to be the most pleasant surprise. The bacon provides a perfect smoky accent to the classic Big Mac taste. It isn't invasive at all. It compliments the overall flavor. THIS is the thing they should have been doing years ago.
Burger King's Big King XL
Burger King has always encouraged adding bacon to any sandwich on the menu. You'll usually find a card promoting that right by the register. You have to do this in-store though,as their not-ready-for-prime-time app doesn't give you the option on any sandwich. They don't let you add extra anything through the app, actually. Have it your way? Screw you, app users.
Since BK is currently offering a new take on their Big Mac copycat, why not.
The Big King has been presented in a number of formats over the years, from a proper three-bun double decker to a standard double cheeseburger with the special sauce to...well...this. The XL version is a double cheeseburger using the Whopper patties and bun with Big Mac toppings. That's a full half pound plus of beef vs 3.2 ounces in a Big Mac (or as BK puts it, "175 percent more beef."). It's honestly way too much beef and ruins that magical mixture of flavors. But it makes for good manly testosterone boasting in their commercials, I guess.
Me (last week): "Big King XL combo with onion rings, add bacon to the burger."
Frowning Counter Girl: "Um, it already comes with bacon."
Me: *looks at register, sees she actually inputted a Bacon King*
Me: "No, not the Bacon King, the Big King XL."
Frowning Counter Girl: "Oh." *looks at register confused, grabs manager*
"Where's that XL thing?"
He points at it.
"Oh," she says, and enters the order.
The bacon peeks out over the mountain of beef. And it ultimately provides no flavor enhancement to the burger. It's overwhelmed by the charbroiled beef, just like most of the toppings.
Bottom line...if you love bacon and want the best bacon cheeseburger, the champion is still Wendy's Baconator. That and Wendy's chili are the only reasons I ever go there. I'm certainly not there for their fries.
But definitely try the Bacon Big Mac.