McDonald’s is in McTrouble. In the ever-crowded and diversified modern burger landscape, consumers have seemingly endless options for their favorite sandwich between buns—and as it turns out, this abundance of choice isn’t boding well for the fast-food giant.
Local mom-and-pop diners like Apple Pan have their old-school loyalists. Contemporary burger enthusiasts drool over Plan Check or Umami Burger. You’ve even got Ramen Burger and other quirky specialists piling on for good measure while closer competitors—In-N-Out, Five Guys, and Shake Shack—also cut into the constantly shrinking burger pie. Not to mention Mickey D’s main challengers, like Burger King.
So what’s a former burger juggernaut like McDonald’s to do? Just about anything.
And anything, in this case, is a build-a-burger platform the company calls Create Your Taste. Resembling a gigantic iPad, the touch-screen ordering system allows customers to dream up all-beef patty combos that don’t currently exist on the standard menu. There are 18 of these kiosks currently up and running nationwide, and Angelenos have one to call their very own in Downtown L.A.
Ordering isn’t totally intuitive and requires some trial and error, or the assistance of a manager (not all the employees quite knew how to navigate the system). However, once you get the hang of it, you’re able to build the McDonald’s burger you’ve always wanted by tapping through an expansive selection of topping choices, from basics like tomato and bacon to the less expected pickled jalapenos and carmelized onions, plus plenty of sauces and three different types of cheeses.
Continue scrolling and selecting until your McMasterpiece is complete. You can pay at the Create Your Taste kiosk or counter, which is where you’ll pick up your order.
I recruited food blogger Valentino Herrera of Trippy Food to help design a few new and exciting McDonald’s burgers via Create Your Taste. Here’s what we came up with.
Three Cheese Royale: Inspired by the film Pulp Fiction and McDonald’s French cousin to the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, this is a burger made with a 1/4 lb. beef patty and layered with American, sharp white cheddar, and pepper jack cheeses all on a glossy artisan bun. Totally cheesy.
Flamin’ Arches: Eat this one for a good McBurn. A beef patty is loaded up with pepper jack cheese, spicy mayo, 3-peppercorn sauce, chili-lime tortilla strips, and jalapeño slices. It was actually pretty spicy. Tack on extra hot toppings (free) for additional heat.
McOMG: This is a burger made with only onions, meat, and garlic—we call it the McOMG. Add both raw red onions and caramelized onions onto a beef patty, slather on creamy garlic sauce, and chow down. Be sure to max out the free toppings for this one (you’re allowed to do this up to three times). Just don’t kiss anyone after you eat it.
Super Sauce Me!: What happens if you make a burger with every sauce option, plus lettuce, pickles, onion, and tomato? The Super Sauce Me!, that’s what. A mix of Mac sauce, regular and spicy mayo, 3-peppercorn, sweet BBQ, creamy garlic, mustard, and ketchup create the burger equivalent of the Suicide Soda (a phenomenon that occurs when you mix every soda option available). Tastes about the same too.
McCreamy: For all you Grey’s Anatomy fans out there, I created the McCreamy. It includes a beef patty, plus all three cheeses, both mayos, guac, and every creamy sauce. As intended, it’s dreamy and super creamy.
McStreet Burger: Valentino was the genius behind this one. Essentially converting L.A.’s infamous danger dog into hamburger form, we constructed this burger bad boy with bacon, jalapeños, grilled onions, mustard, ketchup, and both mayos. This was not only the best tasting of the bunch, but the best looking, too.
Disappointingly, not all my Create Your Taste fantasies made it to the tray. The Ronald Recession, for example, was designed to be the cheapest burger, composed of only buns and maxing out every free topping, with no meat, bacon, or cheeses. It was supposed to be my answer to the Big Max, built by an apparent glutton named Moshe Tamssot to be the most expensive burger turned out by the system (the real cost of $890 was ultimately discounted to $24.89.) Unfortunately for me, every Create Your Taste burger begins at a base price of $4.99, so the frugal concept was doomed from the get-go.
You might have better luck now that you’ve been so inspired. What are you waiting for? Someone go make a Mad Mac or a Mayor McGarcetti burger ASAP!
McDonald’s Create Your Taste kiosk is located inside the McDonald’s restaurant at 201 W. Washington Blvd., 213-746-0525