Snacktaku fans have been seeking our counsel on McDonald’s Grand Mac and Mac Jr. since the fast food restaurant started selling the limited-time size variants nationwide last month. Today we finally break our silence. Somebody drop us a beat.
Last year McDonald’s began testing two new sizes of its Big Mac in select U.S. cities. The larger Grand Mac, and the smaller, single-bugered Mac Jr. Apparently those tests were successful, as the chain launched them both as limited-time offerings across the country last month.
The immediate question pertaining to these volumetric aberrations of a time-honored classic is “why?” In a statement issued alongside the November 2016 announcement, McDonald’s chef Mike Haracz said, “We listened to our customers, who told us they wanted different ways to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Big Mac taste”
As a frequent McDonald’s patron, the idea that the restaurant is actively listening to customers doesn’t quite jibe. Given our experience both at the drive-thru and in store, we’d say it’s much more likely that customers told them just about anything else, and “they wanted different ways to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Big Mac taste” is just what McDonald’s heard.
“Yeah, we’re going to need two six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meals with apple slices and apple juice to drink and two grilled chicken snack wraps.”
“That’s different ways to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Big Mac taste. Please drive forward for your total.” Then they made all of the customers pull up to the curb while they helped other people.
The Big Mac is more than two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. For children who grew up with parents often too busy teaching dancing school or writing video game articles to make their children a proper meal, the Big Mac is a rite of passage. We look forward to the day Snacktaku’s collective children stop us at the drive-thru speaker and say, “Can we get a Big Mac instead of a cheeseburger?”
We’ll say no, of course. Those Happy Meals are an excellent value. Snacktaku isn’t made of money. We’ll still be proud, though.
For a limited-time there are two new ways to eat one of America’s most popular cheap-ass burger. We’ll set aside the Mac Jr. for now and address the 1/3 pound elephant in the room.
The Grand Mac features the same ingredients as the Big Mac classic, only more of them. The buns are larger. The soft and pliant “crisp lettuce” is more copious. The burgers combine weigh in at 1/3 pound.
There is bigger, and there is better. Sometimes the two coincide. Sometimes they do not.
“I got an even bigger tax return than I expected!” That is reason for celebration.
“We’ve got the imaging results back, and that’s the biggest tumor we’ve ever seen!” Not so much.
The classic Big Mac has been tweaked and balanced to the point of perfection over decades. It’s not too small. Despite the name, it’s not too big. It contains exactly the right ratio of jingle ingredients. It’s a fast food meticulously crafted so that the regret doesn’t kick in until after you’ve eaten the final bite.
The Grand Mac lacks this delicate balance. The thicker burger threw the bun to meat ratio off. A longer eating time allows your taste buds to linger on elements they once let slide, like the wilted, dirt-flavored lettuce. Plus the 860 calorie creation is so voluminous that the regret kicks in long before the last bite passes your lips.
On top of that, imagine if good old Officer Big Mac suddenly had a super-sized head. That poor food-faced man.
As for the Mac Jr., we have three words: “Add Mac sauce.” Sure, you don’t get the bad lettuce or the sesame seeds, but you can request Mac sauce be added to any McDonald’s sandwich—say, a $1.29 McDouble—and get a similar eating experience for a lot less than the $2.99 Mac Jr. asking price. Plus, nothing makes a late-night McDonald’s staff perk up like a customer saying “add Mac sauce.” It makes their mouths water.
In closing, Snacktaku has never been more pleased to see the phrase “limited-time” attached to a fast food item. The Grand Mac is more Mac than we need.
Snacktaku is Kotaku’s take on the wild and wonderful world of eating things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands.