They All Have Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese…But Do the New Big Mac Sizes Taste Good?
For an established brand, messing with a classic is a big risk/reward proposition. For the reward side, just visit the grocery store and count how many different flavors of Cheerios are on the shelf. Adding new options hasn’t seemed to hurt General Mills. And on the down side, just ask New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, or Frito-Lay’s WOW chips. (We’ll pause for a second so you can remember the utterly disastrous after effects of WOW chips.) So how will McDonald’s decision to alter its classic sandwich and offer new Big Mac sizes work?
Changing a Classic
The Big Mac has been around for about 50 years. Last month McDonald’s announced plans to offer two new Big Mac sizes to go with the classic double-decker sandwich — the Mac Jr. and the Grand Mac. The restaurant giant tested the new Big Macs in Ohio and Texas before rolling them out nationwide.
All of the advertising accompanying the roll out says the new sandwiches will only be available for a limited time — rumors say they’ll be gone by March or April — so let’s take a quick look at them to see whether they’ll be popular enough to become the next McRib for McDonald’s.
The Mac Jr. uses the same size of bun as the traditional Big Mac, but it has only one patty and no extra bun in the middle. The Mac Jr. hamburger patty is a bit larger than the Big Mac’s patties.
Mac Jr. has 460 calories and 27 grams of fat with 830mg of sodium. (By the way, I shot these photos with a Fujifilm X-A3 mirrorless camera, and the sandwiches were not made special for this article or for the photos. They came straight off the warmer rack of the local McDonalds.)
The classic Big Mac has two patties with an extra piece of bread in the middle. The caloric differences between the Big Mac and Mac Jr. aren’t quite as definitive as I would’ve guessed. The Big Mac has 540 calories with 28 grams of fat and 950mg of sodium.
This is a big boy. It has the same general layout as the Big Mac, but it has extra cheese, a bigger bun, and bigger patties. The Grand Mac’s nutritional info may be something you don’t want to know about before you eat it: 860 calories, 52 grams of fat, and 1,470mg of sodium. Whew.
Mac Jr. vs. Big Mac vs. Grand Mac Taste Test
You can’t write an article like this without a taste test, right? Fortunately, my family was willing to help me. (I wasn’t looking to duplicate the results of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary after all.)
I paid $2.49 for the Mac Jr., $4.19 for the Big Mac, and $4.89 for the Grand Mac at the local McDonald’s. (And that fact that none of the employees at McDonald’s snickered at me or even raised an eyebrow when I made this odd order tells me I’m not the first person to order all three sandwiches for a personal taste test.)
In the photo above, the Grand Mac is on top, the Big Mac is on the bottom left, and the Mac Jr. is on the bottom right. You can see the larger diameter bun of the Grand Mac.
Now on to the taste test. (Admittedly, sometimes journalism is a tough, tough profession.)
All of us felt the Mac Jr. was a little dry. Without that extra piece of bread in the middle that turns into a saturated ball of goo when smothered in secret sauce, the Mac Jr. just wasn’t quite the same taste experience as the classic Big Mac. And of course, it looks nothing like the Big Mac.
I thought Grand Mac was nearly identical to capturing the Big Mac look and taste, just in a bigger package. But my wife thought it was too cheesy to really match the taste of the Big Mac.
Here are the nutritional (and I use that term loosely) aspects of each sandwich. Keep in mind that the Big Mac’s 28g of total fat is 43% of the recommended daily value from the FDA.
The Grand Mac’s 52g of total fat is equal to a whopping 80% of the recommended daily value. It’s a filling sandwich … but if you want to avoid exceeding the FDA’s recommended fat intake, don’t plan on eating anything else too substantial during the day. (And if you added medium fries to your order, just don’t plan on eating anything else period for the rest of the day, as you’ll be at 104%.)
Sandwich.......Grand Mac...Big Mac.....Mac Jr. Local Price....$4.89.......$4.19.......$2.49 Calories.......860.........540.........460 Fat Calories...470.........250.........240 Fat............52g.........28g.........27g Saturated Fat..18g.........10g.........9g Sodium.........1,470mg.....950mg.......830mg Carbs..........62g.........46g.........36g Protein........41g.........25g.........21g
If you want a Big Mac taste in a smaller, less expensive sandwich, the Mac Jr. comes close. But the caloric and fat content difference between the two is negligible. So don’t think of Mac Jr. as a “diet” sandwich. And it just doesn’t taste quite like the Big Mac. It’s priced very competitively versus Big Mac though.
The Grand Mac captures that Big Mac taste and feel, but it’s a huge sandwich. It’s almost like eating a Big Mac and a half, so you’d better have a big appetite. The price is right too at less than $1 more than the Big Mac.
So if you’re somebody who misses the days of Super Size meals at McDonald’s, the Grand Mac will be your kind of sandwich. And if you’re looking to save a bit of money at lunch time, the Mac Jr. has a great price point. But if you’re like me, it’s hard to go wrong with the Big Mac classic … just enjoy in moderation.