Earlier today, I walked up to a touch-screen kiosk with mouthwatering images of all the very best burger ingredients. Guac? Check. Tortilla strips? You betcha. Lettuce wraps? Yes!
No, I wasn’t at my local artisanal burger joint. I was at McDonald’s, on a mission to try their new “Create Your Taste” burger machines, which allow customers to make the ultimate personalized sandwich by mixing and matching over 30 ingredients. I was on a mission to see if a health nut and a burger lover could both create a meal they would genuinely enjoy.
At the New York location of the Golden Arches on 58th and 3rd Avenue, I pieced together a quarter-pound burger in a lettuce wrap topped with grilled mushrooms and onions, sliced tomatoes and ketchup. The kiosk, complete with a calorie counter, clocked the combination at 340 calories — but I was skeptical. That’s the same amount, according to the McDonald’s website, as an Artisan Roll BBQ Ranch Burger — a burger that packs bacon, cheese, tortilla strips and veggies on the same amount of meat as my creation.
On the same machine, we layered two ⅓-pound patties inside an artisanal bun and dressed it up with Sriracha mayo, three orders of bacon, three orders of Pepper Jack Cheese, tortilla strips, jalapeños and an array of veggies — for a total of 790 calories. But if you had dreams of recreating the Big Max Burger—a 4-pound “Create Your Taste” kiosk creation that was filled with 10 orders of 16 different toppings—you’re out of luck. The machine only allows you to place three orders of each topping.
The machine itself wasn’t that intuitive — it added pickles to my burger that I didn’t request — and an employee had to help us a number of times throughout the process. I paid for the burgers, a side of fries, a pack of apples and two drinks right at the machine (it cost a whopping $32.58) and then a McDonald’s employee directed us to a table.
“A waitress will be up with your order in a bit!” she said.
A waitress at McDonald’s? When no one had delivered our burgers 10 minutes later, I thought I might have heard her wrong. But after another five minutes, the food arrived in fancy pub-style metal baskets. Both meals were pretty delicious, a clear step up from the typical McDonald’s burger. Sadly, the savory grilled veggies and admittedly less greasy burger patties weren’t good enough to be worth the extra wait. Sitting time and salty burgers aside, if I hadn’t known my lunch was from Mcdonald’s, I wouldn’t have been the wiser.
The biggest downside of the whole experience was the price, but it was an experience every Mickey D’s fan should try once. Currently, the burger kiosks are only at a few select McDonald’s in the U.S., but there are plans to expand the program to 2,000 U.S. locations—so keep your eyes peeled, McChefs!