If you are blessed (some would say cursed) with a certain amount of intelligence and ambition, you’ll probably have experienced some form of existential crisis at some point in your life.
Who am I?
What is my purpose here?
Is my fly undone?
Of course, this doesn’t exactly apply to people whose sole thoughts consist of eating, sleeping, procreating and wondering which K-drama to watch next. Whether they do that consecutively or concurrently, I’ve no idea and I’ve no wish to find out.
Existential crises exist on a spectrum, ranging from the sort that gives you pause while showering to the crippling sort that keeps you awake most nights. Wondering whether your fly is undone, of course, belongs to the latter variety.
With that in mind, I would imagine the existential crisis the McDonald’s Big Mac is going through right now would be on the same level as this:
That’s because the Big Mac has no more reason to exist. A hot take, you might be thinking, but allow me to explain.
Once upon a time, the Big Mac certainly did have a reason to live. The less proletariat counterpart to the Double Cheeseburger, what with its triple-decker construction, Special Sauce and (be still, my beating heart) lettuce.
Actual green vegetables, what a novelty. A blessing direct from heaven itself… Ambrosia.
Oh, and a sesame seed bun. Dear sainted Ronald, we are not worthy of such luxury.
For the better part of half a century, the Big Mac worked. So popular and insinuated in popular culture, that the Big Mac even gave its name (perhaps not entirely willingly; AFAIK, nobody ever asked the Big Mac for its consent) to an economic index.
As for what caused the Big Mac’s spectacular fall from grace, it could be traced back to a decade or so ago when Quarter Pounders started appearing on local McDonald’s menus. I can’t say for sure when exactly Quarter Pounder burgers made its Singapore debut, but since it only appeared in Japan in 2008, I don’t see any reason why we should that much further ahead/behind.
As for what caused the Big Mac’s spectacular fall from grace, it could be traced back to a decade or so ago when Quarter Pounders started appearing on local McDonald’s menus.
What I can tell you is the Quarter Pounder is good. And once it departed without warning at the end of 2017, its replacement, the Angus burger is arguably better. I mean, if your definition of “better” happens to be a juicier patty and more condiments.
There are still those who bemoan the demise of the Quarter Pounder, who clamour daily in a feeble, impotent attempt to beseech the fell product planning gods at McDonald’s for its return.
With that dynamic burger duo serving as the misericorde, the coup de grâce was delivered to the Big Mac. The killing blow to put an ailing, mortally wounded foe out of his misery.
Except the Big Mac refuses to die. It still lives on as a dread revenant, it is Solomon Grundy, shambling its way across the McDonald’s menu. Yes, there was that time in September last year when McDonald’s offered Big Mac meals for $5.50 as part of the burger’s 50th birthday celebrations, but I contend that’s the junk food equivalent of a zombie squid.
The Big Mac lives on as a dread revenant, it is Solomon Grundy, shambling its way across the McDonald’s menu, but it still has enough of an autonomous nervous system that it can still respond to stimuli. Stimuli like discounts and the chance to win sweet Big Mac schwag through contests.
Big Mac squid isn’t actually alive, but it still has enough of a living autonomous nervous system that it can still respond to stimuli. Stimuli like discounts and the chance to win sweet Big Mac schwag through contests.
Or, good lord, the opening of an online shop selling Big Mac merch. I never knew I needed a Big Mac tee, cap and rain boots until today, but I know I won’t be able to sleep tonight until I get my hands on it.
Now, I readily admit my evidence is anecdotal, but I don’t know of anyone who has ordered a Big Mac recently. They’re attracted to the shiny new toys McDonald’s trots out on its menu every few months or so (literally and figuratively; never forget the My Melody saga of a few months prior), or the poster child of terminal gastrointestinal distress, the Double McSpicy.
There are some who will suggest the Big Mac’s waning popularity is down to its age. This is, of course, complete horseshit. I still find myself going back to the McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, from time to time, despite it probably having been around since our ancestors took their first tottering bipedal steps out of Africa.
While a Double Cheeseburger wouldn’t be my first choice, I don’t actively avoid it, like I do the Big Mac. The Big Mac’s biggest problem, aside from the insipid lettuce, nothing-special-about-it Special Sauce and its general kill-me-now vibe, is that it’s a burger out of balance. Thanos will back me up on this.
The two beef patties put together are barely thicker than the bun in the Big Mac’s middle tier. How that makes for a satisfying burger, you tell me. The Double Cheeseburger can get away with this because it’s a far smaller burger.
The two beef patties put together are barely thicker than the bun in the Big Mac’s middle tier. How that makes for a satisfying burger, you tell me.
See? Balance in all things. Discretion is our watchword.
Why does the Big Mac still exist, then? There really is no rational reason for it to. The Double Cheeseburger does it for cheaper, the Angus burger (… or the Quarter Pounder where it still exists, RIP) does the ‘big burger’ thing better.
The reason for the Big Mac’s continued existence is that it still enjoys a status as a symbol of McDonald’s, making it a sacred cow. This is in spite of it being introduced some three decades after McDonald’s was founded, and a good decade after Ray Kroc took over the business.
According to received knowledge (and you know how flawed the reasoning of the unwashed masses is), McDonald’s has built its reputation on the back of the Big Mac. While this is true in some respects, I’d argue that McDonald’s built its reputation on iron-fisted control over its franchisees and by extension, consistency.
According to received knowledge, McDonald’s has built its reputation on the back of the Big Mac. While this is true in some respects, I’d argue that McDonald’s built its reputation on iron-fisted control over its franchisees and by extension, consistency.
Go to any McDonald’s anywhere in the world and it’s a pretty safe bet things are going to taste more or less the same as what you’re used to at home. This, I suppose, also means that the Big Mac tastes consistently underwhelming no matter where you are on the planet.
Perhaps even when McDonald’s opens its first outlet on the off-world colonies.
So, c’mon Maccas. Do the right thing. Do it for the Snacktivist.
Kill your sacred cow. Kill the Big Mac and end its misery. It’s had a good run, but it’s now time for it to pass into the great beyond to join the Quarter Pounder and McGriddles.
10-word review: The Big Mac needs to die, and sooner not later.
Best paired with: A flamethrower to kill it where it stands. Suffer not the Big Mac to live.