Friday, August 21, 2009

The Mini Mac Experiment: Searching for the Big Mac's little sister

McDonald's Big Mac is a signature sandwich. Wildly successful, and beloved by many, it is truly a classic. That said, The McChronicles has met numerous people who love the Big Mac but wish for something a little ... less.

So, with the goal of maintaining the Big Mac taste and quality experience, and with reducing the calories, volume, and messiness (face it, the sandwich is not the neatest - something The McChronicles has posted about previously), The McChronicles set out to construct The Mini Mac.

We typed up our ingredients and went to our "home" McDonald's, in New Hartford, NY for a custom creation. The crew handled the request quickly and accurately - barely blinking an eye. We asked for (in Big Mac style):
  • 2 hamburger patties

  • hamburger bun (using an extra bottom as the middle bread)

  • 1 cheeseburger cheese slice

  • Big Mac sauce

  • lettuce

  • pickles

  • onion

  • salt

  • pepper

The McChronicles requested to pay for the sandwiches as if they were regular Big Macs.

We eagerly opened the boxes, first exposing a Mini Mac, pictured on the left (we ordered two). We were a little surprised at how big it looked - we were expecting, and hoping for, something smaller. Next, we popped open the regular Big Mac, pictured on the right (we ordered one). We were again surprised, this time at how much larger the Big Mac was. OK, so the Mini Mac was smaller ... but, we were disappointed that it wasn't as small as we were hoping for.

Next, we ate the sandwiches. The Mini Mac was no neater than the Big Mac.

Bottom line:

No matter how large or small, the Big Mac tastes EXCELLENT!

However, we did not succeed in creating a version that satisfied our desire for notably smaller, less volume, fewer calories, and neater.

Do you have any ideas?

Monday, August 17, 2009


It had to happen - and it has. Someone bought TWO Angus Third Pounders and assembled a custom creation. Something The McChronicles calls the Frangus (Frankenstein + Angus).

Inspired by last week's Angus Third Pounder Test Experience, a friend of The McChronicles came back at it this week, went to McDonald's, ordered up TWO sandwiches, then built his creation.
Frangus creator, Jim, said it was his version of the perfect Angus burger. After assembling it, he ate it all, and was able to return to the office, and reported that he put in a productive afternoon.

McDonald's ANGUS THIRD POUNDER Burger Experience

The McChronicles was delighted with the prototype McDonald's Angus Third Pounder during our visit to the corporation's ultra-top secret "Innovation Center" in October of 2008. After two years of development, the product has been released (July 2nd) in the USA.

McDonald's advertising agency, GolinHarris, provided The McChronicles with several "Be Our Guest Cards" - each good for one free Angus Third Pounder. So, we invited a bevy of fast foodies to experience, "McDonald's first new burger launch since the Big 'N Tasty (debuted in 2001)", according to GolinHarris.

16 people assembled at the New Hartford, NY McDonald's. This is The McChronicles' "home store", so we felt very comfortable evaluating this new sandwich here. Then, the burgers were ordered. With three choices (Deluxe, Bacon & Cheese, and Mushroom & Swiss) there was a lot of discussion and decision making. The Deluxe seemed to be the top selection, with Bacon & Cheese a close second - but many people said they hoped to try the other versions. In other words, all versions sounded appealing to our team.

Peoples' first reaction was to the packaging. There were several comments regarding the professionalism of the packaging. This included observations on the neatness - and how well organized the ingredients were. It seemed that everyone had a story to share regarding burger elements being "tossed together" haphazardly, making for a poor presentation. The Angus Third Pounder simply looked perfect - in all 16 cases.

The McChronicles was most impressed with the inner liner - a sleeve of paper that helps hold the burger together and collects the juices or drippings. This is a topic The McChronicles has discussed in the past. Neatness and burger management are critical, especially when dining in the car (which we weren't).


One by one, people started digging in. Interestingly, the festive atmosphere turned distinctly quiet. Something was happening. Then, one by one, people began commenting. And here is what we heard (direct quotes):

  • A mouthful of flavor.

  • Makes me want another.

  • Presentation is phenomenal.

  • By far, my favorite burger of ALL our local restaurants, including the sit-downs.

  • The Deluxe is the tastiest burger that I have had. Vegetables are top quality and fresh. Crunchy lettuce, juicy tomato, and crisp onions.

  • The burger actually left juice in the container! I've never had such a juicy burger at McDonald’s.

  • I immediately noticed the size of the box. It is huge! From step 1, I knew this was going to be "bigger than lunch".

  • Wow this is a big box!

  • This is not like a McDonald's burger. If someone gave me one of these on the street, I wouldn't really know where it is from.

  • Everything is “right sized”; the meat, bun, and toppings were in EVERY bite! The bun was top notch, fresh and soft, and BIG.

  • Taste overall is an "A". I had a lot of bacon on my burger (which is a good thing), the right amount of cheese, and the pickles and onions were good too. The only thing I would change for the next time was to leave off the mustard.

  • Burger (meat) tastes like a handmade burger I’d get at a restaurant. And the paper wrapper in the box was a nice touch.

  • The meat is very well cooked and not dry.

  • Higher quality beef patty than expected from a fast-food restaurant.

  • The Angus Third Pounder with bacon and cheese is delicious. It competes with the Big Mac for my taste buds’ attention.

  • The sandwich is more filling than most other fast food sandwiches and doesn’t feel as unhealthy because the meat isn’t so greasy.

  • The Swiss cheese is very “creamy” giving the burger a rich flavor without tasting “fatty”.

  • Veggies taste fresh.

  • Lettuce, tomatoes, and bun seem fresher then most other McDonald's burgers.

  • For its size, the price is right.

  • The three options for the Angus Third Pounder are each unique enough to provide an attractive option to suit everyone’s preferences!

  • Mushroom & Swiss is good and BIG!

  • I was pleasantly surprised that the mushrooms and cheese did not squeeze out, but stayed with the burger, right to the last bite.

  • Practically perfect in every way – I just wish the calorie count was a little less.

  • Very tasty - I ate it slowly to enjoy every bite.

  • Comparable to my favorite burger.

  • It was not what I expected from a “fast food” burger. It was more like what I’d expect from a sit-down restaurant.

  • It was just like what is shown in the advertisements – not a disappointment.

  • The burger was cooked perfectly, bacon was just right, the bun was full, and both the Deluxe and Bacon & Cheese had distinctly different tastes.

  • I hope the Angus Burger retains this level of quality over time.

The McChronicles noted unanimous overwhelming satisfaction for the Angus Third Pounder. After the meal, most people were discussing which version they planned to try next. A couple people mentioned that they were considering trying a different version right then (but cooler heads prevailed). The McChronicles DID return the next day for another experience (the Deluxe was so good the first time that the same order was repeated).

In conclusion, there was unanimous delight in our sample group (admittedly, they are all fast-foodies and known to be McDonald's customers). The Angus Third Pounder received kudos for EVERYTHING, ranging from immaculate packaging, to burger construction/presentation, to options, to price, to ingredient freshness, and, most importantly, taste.

Learn more about McDonald's Angus Third Pounder here.

Let us know YOUR opinion.