Food & Dining

Big Mac vs. Quarter Pounder

Bigger is better! This seems to be the mantra of McDonald’s when it comes to many of its hamburgers, especially where its North American market is concerned. We can’t blame the world’s largest fast-food chain for its “bigger is better” motto because Americans seem to have grown a larger appetite.

McDonald’s offer two large burgers, namely, the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder. Both are bestselling items, thanks to their large quality – large in size and large in flavor, so to speak. But these are also relatively unique burgers that offer quite distinctive taste.

The Big Mac

First introduced by McDonald’s in the Greater Pittsburgh area in 1967, the Big Mac has become one of the chain’s flagship products – or as many fast-food pundits say it, the iconic burger that best symbolizes the Golden Arches’ burger line. Such is its popularity that it has even been used by The Economist as a reference point for cost of living comparisons in different countries (i.e. the Big Mac Index)!

While there have been changes to the Big Mac in its 50-plus years of existence, the basic recipe remains. A Big Mac consists of two 1.6-ounce beef patties, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, pickles and onions, as well as a special sauce, which are then sandwiched between a sesame seed bun. The special sauce itself is a Thousand Island variation; the ingredients include mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and sweet pickle relish whipped with garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and vinegar.

Yes, these ingredients seem ordinary in the sense that many other hamburgers have the same ingredients. But here’s the thing about the Big Mac: Nothing comes close to its flavorful taste and interesting texture!

Let’s start with the bun because it’s quite unique. Instead of just two halves of a bun, the Big Mac has a triple bun – a top bun, a bottom bun, and a middle bun (i.e., known as the club) separating the two beef patties. Such an approach means that your taste buds aren’t being overwhelmed by too much beef in one bite – we call it beef overload – unlike with other double patty burgers.

Of course, diced white onions, sliced American cheese, and shredded lettuce are common ingredients in many other burgers. But where the Big Mac is concerned, every bite just seems tastier – perhaps it’s because of the perfect ratio between these ingredients!

There’s also the two frozen beef patties that the likes of Wendy’s have disparaged. But hey, in the Big Mac, these taste so good – juicy, succulent and delicious that we don’t mind these were frozen.

The bottom line: There’s no question that the Big Mac is America’s favorite burger, and we aren’t just saying it either because there are surveys attesting to it!  Plus, we love that it’s consistent in its flavors and cheap in its price.

The Quarter Pounder

The contemporary Quarter Pounder’s beef patty may not actually be a quarter of a pound but we can still appreciate the name. When McDonald’s launched it in 1971, its patty weighed 113.4 grams (or a quarter of a pound, before cooking) but in 2015, the chain increased it to 120.5 grams.  Hey, more for us to love!

Unlike the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder’s patty is fresh beef; previously, it was frozen beef. Once cooked, the beef patty is paired with raw onion and pickles with ketchup and mustard as condiments; in the New York City area, the burger is served sans mustard.

The use of fresh beef patty on the Quarter Pounder has definitely changed its overall flavor profile although the recipe has remained exactly the same! The cooked beef patty is significantly juicier than its frozen counterpart, as well as more flavorful because the fresh patty has more time to develop complex flavors.

Every bite seems to bring out the more complex beef flavors so much so that the condiments may be unnecessary. We love, however, the crispiness and sweetness of the raw onions that are complemented by the slight sweetness of the pickles.

So, which one is better: The Big Mac or the Quarter Pounder? Well, we have to say that both are winners in our books!

Each one has its own merits, such as the Big Mac being heavier on the veggies so eating it can mean less guilt from indulging in a fast-food meal. But when it comes to sheer size and flavorful bites, the Quarter Pounder wins, thanks partly to its fresh beef patty.

Both, however, should be eaten in moderation, particularly when you’re adopting a healthier diet. The Big Mac and Quarter Pounder’s calories aren’t anything to laugh about but if you’re enjoying them as an indulgence – or during cheat day – then go ahead and indulge! Life’s too short to be worrying about calories all the time when the joys of biting into a delicious burger await.

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