Big Mac, Bigger Mac, Baby Mac

Texans will decide if McDonald’s should add new sizes of its classic menu item.

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Daniel Vaughn

For nearly fifty years America has survived with just one Big Mac, but McDonald’s is now asking if we need three. And they’re looking to Texans and Ohioans to provide the answer, so the slighter Mac Jr. and the jacked Grand Big Mac are being tested exclusively in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and central Ohio. As a native Ohioan who has lived in Dallas for the last fifteen years, I’m basically the target audience for this limited-time tasting.

I’m a food writer, so my attitude toward the Big Mac is supposed to either be smug disgust or sentimental nostalgia tinged with guilt. The problem is, I actually like them. I don’t go to McDonald’s often, but I’ll wolf down a Big Mac with fries and a Coke, without irony, a couple of times a year. On Monday, I ate three of them.

When I asked the cashier for every Big Mac on the menu, he smiled in a way that said, “We caught another one,” and three boxes were delivered on a tray lined with a photo of the same trio I was about to consume. The evaluation began with the unpacking. Single patty burgers at McDonald’s usually get wrapped in paper, so the box heightened expectations for the $2.39 Mac Jr. But under the lid it was more like a thin patty version of the Quarter Pounder, except with the shredded iceberg lettuce falling all over the place. This sauce-transporting flotsam is what makes eating a Big Mac in a car a precarious proposition, but the Mac Junior’s diminutive size makes it easier to handle. Still, the single thin patty gets lost in all the special sauce. The McDonald’s kitchen staff uses a calibrated special sauce gun (seriously) to ensure the proper amount is applied to a Big Mac, but they should look at recalibrating it if the Mac Jr. stays on the menu. It turns out you can have too much special sauce.

Big mac overhead

There’s something about the regular Big Mac’s ($3.69) proportions that are pleasing. It’s tall, with a compact circumference that I’ve always preferred over the Frisbee-like shape of the Whopper. That’s why I found the Grand Mac ($4.89) to be a dud. The two-patty, one-third of a pound Grand Mac keeps with the three buns on the original, but adds another slice of cheese and, er, a beefed up patty size. With all the slip-sliding of many layers on a larger bun, it was a literal flop. Also, the two slices of cheese doubled up on one patty is an easily fixable error. McDonald’s might think a bigger bun makes it Grand, but it’ll never compare to the Mega Mac (four patties) that I devoured in Canada after a seven day fishing trip that included smallmouth bass for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The rollout of the to-be-determined menu items could be an effort to compete against the rise of fast casual dining options that offer more customization in menu items. In the last quarter of 2014, profit for the Golden Arches fell a shocking 21 percent. Residents of the Metroplex (and Ohioans) have until June 6 for a taste test, after which McDonald’s will decide if a nationwide expansion is in order. After trying all three, I’d say the rest of America isn’t missing much. The mini version is lacking and kind of misses the point. If you’re going to eat a Big Mac, you might as well indulge on the classic version—but that might be the upper bound of burger consumption.

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  • Larry Thornton

    I ordered the Mac Jr. as a meal deal. Come to find out as a meal you get two of them. Neither of mine came in a box. You are right, too much special sauce which I do not care for anyway. The Mac Jr, is sauce on top and bottom, meat patty with a slice of cheese, pickles and a little shredded lettuce on a bun. I’ll stick with the Daily Double!

  • Don Morran

    I probably won’t try this. Not a Mac fan. Way too much mayo. Prefer a mustard Whopper or a Whataburger.

  • Victoria Buller Craig

    I’ve been ordering what I call a “little Mac” for years. Get a kids meal and add Big Mac sauce and lettuce and 86 ketchup and mustard and it’s perfect. I had one particular restaurant trained that I could drive through and order a happy meal cheeseburger little Mac and didn’t even have to explain myself. ; ). Not too much sauce either

  • 3FingerPete

    I like the Grand Mac. The modern Big Mac meat(-ish) patties are roughly the size of Necco wafers, often getting lost in the bread-lettuce-sauce heap. The Grand Mac’s hefty patties solve that problem.

  • Ya’akovah Bourges

    It’s all junk…. 20% meat and the rest crap.

  • Justin Mayes

    McDonald’s is big contributor to the obesity in this country. Increasing sizes won’t help. Remember the documentary “Super-size Me”? Within weeks of the showing, McD’s eliminated their super-size option at most of their stores. The amount of pink slime and preservatives in their food is disgusting. It’s a wonder how they are even still legal. Have you ever seen McNuggets after they have been left on a shelf for several years? They don’t age. If you want a good burger, go to Whataburger or grill one at home.