The Lowdown: McDonald’s ‘Best Burger’ campaign

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

McDonald's UK has made major changes to the preparation of its core beef burger range for its 50th anniversary

Related tags McDonald’s QSR Fast food Burger

The Golden Arches is marking its 50th year in the UK by making major changes to the preparation of its core beef burger range.

Am I finally going to able to order my Quarter Pounder with Cheese medium rare?
Not exactly, no. The changes being made here are significant, though, with McDonald’s promising ‘juicier patties, new toastier buns and meltier cheese’. Indeed, it probably marks the biggest overhaul the fast food giant has made to its core beef burger range in the UK since it arrived on these shores back in 1974.

What’s exactly changed then?
The focus here is on the preparation of the burger, specifically the cheese burgers, the Quarter Pounders, and the signature Big Mac. Most notably, McDonald’s is switching up how it cooks its beef. Patties will now be given a ‘tighter sear’ (whatever that means), which the group claims make them hotter and juicier. White onions are then added while the patty is still on the grill as a way to add ‘extra flavour’. Other changes include introducing processes that allow the cheese to come to an ambient temperature to help it melt quicker; storing the lettuce used in the Big Mac at a lower temperature and only allowing it to stay out of the fridge for up to 30 minutes to ensure it’s crispier; and replacing the standard buns with new glazed brioche-style ones that are toasted for ‘slightly longer’.

Food preparation is hardly a sexy topic; how are McDonald’s marketing these changes?
Good question. Part of it involves a social media campaign that, astonishingly, involves The Guardian​’s food critic Grace Dent​ waxing lyrical about how the ‘nation’s favourite burgers’ are getting ‘even tastier’. Presumably Jay Rayner, the critic on The Guardian’s​ sister paper The Observer,​ was ruled out of the running having once described McDonald’s food as being ‘a culinary disaster’​. That’s not all, though, this week McDonald’s celebrated the national rollout of what it’s dubbed its ‘Best Burger’ campaign with a free-to-enter pop up at the Outernet in central London that promised guests a ‘fully immersive, sensory experience’ that outlined the changes. And as Restaurant ​found itself with a few minutes to spare on a Thursday afternoon, we headed along to see what it was all about.

How was it?
To put it bluntly, it was to burgers what the recent Glasgow Wonka experience was to chocolate. The experience was designed to ‘tap into all five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste’ through various installations that, frankly, grew more and more unhinged. First we were invited to ‘interact’ with the new buns through a squishable beanbags adorned with a sesame seed design from there we were led through a giant burger grill (no, really) that featured both heat lamps and an overzealous smoke machine to really get the point across; next up we had a giant slice of melting cheese (pictured below) with testicle-like globules hanging down, which amusingly led to more than one person during our visit being told off by the event’s security team for punching the blobs as they would a boxing training ball; and finally we were encouraged to explore our way through a giant lettuce where the leaves were designed in such a way that they made a crunching sound when touched.

'A giant slice of melting cheese with testicle-like globules hanging down'

This sounds like a lot! Did you even get to try a burger?
Anyone visiting the experience who had not downloaded the McDonald’s app were able to do so and receive enough points (2,500) to allow them to claim a free Double Cheeseburger at any UK McDonald’s. Unfortunately, as we already had the app, we apparently weren’t eligible for a freebie, but with our interest satisfactorily piqued, we headed to the giant McDonald’s in Leicester Square to taste test one for ourselves.

If you’re not a fan of McDonald’s then this probably won’t do anything to win you over, but for those who don’t mind the odd cheeky Maccies, there is a noticeable improvement. The cheese had a more pronounced ooziness to it; there’s was certainly some more succulence to the patty; and the addition of the onions benefitted both the texture and flavour. Is it going to change the world? Absolutely not, but when compared to the more claggy and cloying McDonald’s burgers of old, it feels like a step in the right direction. Ronald would be proud.

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