Battle of the Dishes: Big Mac vs. The Whopper

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One bag telegraphs purity, the other an earthy earnestness. Which will win? Could it be a tie? And why do they insist on calling them "sandwiches"?

The Big Mac was born in 1968, when a burger modeled on the Big Boy invented by a Pittsburgh franchisee was nationalized. It has been the flagship of the McDonald's fleet ever since. The Big Mac features a pair of small patties, a bun sectioned latitudinally into three, pickles, twin slices of American cheese, iceberg lettuce, and a "special sauce" that tastes like a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard. As Wikipedia points out, the sauce is squirted onto the burger with a caulking gun.

The Whopper originated in 1957, but has been reformulated several times since. It is of the species once known as the "garden burger": a patty lavished with fresh vegetables, back when people thought that beef was the healthiest of meats, and a hamburger the ultimate health food. The Whopper sports a single large patty, and is cooked on a conveyor belt via a process known euphemistically as "flame grilling." Burger King styles itself as the "Home of the Whopper."

Our purpose today is to pit these two iconic burgers--perhaps the most famous products in the fast-food galaxy--against each other a half-century down the road, and see which holds up to its initial promise.

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Which packaging do you find more appealing? The armor plating of the Big Mac box, or the minimalist tissue swaddling of The Whopper?

THE STATISTICAL WORK-UP

We bought two of each burger, and presented one of each to the Fork in the Road lab staff for statistical workup. Here is their report. Obviously, the meat has been weighed in its cooked form:

Big Mac

Cost $3.89
Cals 540
Total wt 7.6 oz
Meat wt 2.2 oz (two 1.1 oz patties)

Whopper

Cost $4.91
Cals 670
Total wt 8.6 oz
Meat wt 2.4 oz


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