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The Street
The Street
Daniel Kline

McDonald's menu makes potentially controversial changes

Nobody goes to McDonald's because it has the best hamburgers.

You could argue that rivals Wendy's and Burger King have superior burger patties and chains like Shake Shack and Five Guys most certainly. Pretty much any chain that offers sit-down meals clearly has a better burger than McDonald's (MCD) -) but that's not why the chain has been wildly popular for nearly 70 years.

Customers go to McDonald's not because it's good, but because it's familiar. When you eat at the chain — whether you're in Paris, Texas, or Paris, France — you get the same experience ordering any of the chain's signature items.

Related: Wendy's menu adds a new take on a signature sandwich

That's actually a pretty spectacular feat because the chain has grown into a massive global operation. It's not easy to make sure you can source the same potatoes everywhere around the world in order to make sure that you deliver the exact same french fry experience no matter where you are.

People visit McDonald's because it's familiar. The burgers may not be good by traditional standards, but for many customers, they taste like home. 

The chain offers people tastes they have grown up with. That's not to say McDonald's should not make improvements, but its latest effort to upgrade its burgers, including its signature Big Mac, comes with risk as well as potential reward.  

McDonald's is even changing the Big Mac.

Image source: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

McDonald's updates its signature burgers

McDonald's shared in April that it had upgraded its burgers in a number of markets around the world. That included adding softer buns, meltier cheese, and adding onions while the burgers are on the grill so they caramelize.

"We found that small changes, like tweaking our process to get hotter, meltier cheese and adjusting our grill settings for a better sear, added up to a big difference in making our burgers more flavorful than ever," McDonald's Senior Culinary Innovation Director Chad Schafer shared in a press release.

The changes were tested in Australia, Canada, and Belgium and beginning in December, they're coming to U.S. locations on a widespread basis. 

McDonald's burger changes also extend to the Big Mac, the chain's signature sandwich. In addition to other changes, McDonald's is also adding more Big Mac sauce to its famous burger"bringing more tangy sweetness in every Big Mac bite," the company shared.

And, in a nod to its past as well as the recent success of its Grimace Shake, McDonald's will be advertising the changes using its iconic Hamburglar character.

McDonald's 'Best Burger' has worked around the world

While McDonald's is a global brand, it's likely that people in most countries don't have the same nostalgia for the company's burgers the way Americans do. That's likely at least part of why the chain rolled out its "Best Burger" changes around the world before bringing them to the U.S.

CEO Chris Kempczinski spoke about the changes during the fast-food giant's third-quarter earnings call.

"Australia was our first market to launch Best Burger and with resounding success. Great-tasting burger perceptions continue to grow, and the Macca's team has reached an all-time high in beef burger share. And now Best Burger has been scaled to over 70 markets around the world, building on learnings from the original launch in Australia," he shared.

The CEO acknowledged that McDonald's makes customers feel a certain way during his remarks.

"McDonald's reliability value and feel-good experiences continue to play a key role in connecting to our customers, not just in Australia, but across all our markets, offering delicious food at an affordable price and at the convenience our customers have come to expect," he added.  


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