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Can “Billions and Billions” Be Wrong?

By • May 28th, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog

I need to get something off my chest. A confession of sorts. It’s not an easy thing for a cheeseburger fanatic to admit. I don’t know how you’ll take it. I’m not sure what you’ll think of me after I tell you. Okay, here it is:

I’ve never had a Big Mac.


It’s the quintessential burger from the quintessential burger place, and I went 38 years, 1 month, and 15 days without one.

That all changed today. I decided that if I’m going to assign grades to everybody else’s big bad cheeseburgers, shouldn’t I be able to compare them to the one that arguably started the whole craze? I mean, the Big Mac has been around longer than I have. (It turned 40 last year.) But whenever I’ve frequented the Golden Arches, I’ve always been a Filet-O-Fish guy. I haven’t had a regular Mickey D’s cheeseburger since I was 7… and I’ve seen enough of them in my daughters’ Happy Meals to know that I wouldn’t cross the street for one if Jessica Alba was handing them out. But never a Big Mac? Not once?!? It’s time. I’ve seen the Morgan Spurlock movie. I’ve even sung the little song. C’mon, you know you’re humming it already.

“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…”

So I ordered it at the drive-thru. “A Big Mac, please.” I have to admit, I felt strange saying it. Like after so many years of standing my ground and sticking to my guns, I was finally caving in to peer pressure just because “everybody else is doing it.” (They sell 550 million Big Macs a year, so just about everybody really is.)

I took my purchase home. This kind of watershed moment wasn’t going to be spent in public, seated on a cheap bench and hunched over a plastic tray with a giant clown staring at me. I got out an actual plate and everything. I visually sized up my Mac. Didn’t seem all that overwhelming, especially given the sheer size of so many other ‘burgs out there. And it wasn’t. At just 7.5 ounces, the Big Mac isn’t even the beefiest burger on the McDonald’s menu. (The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese weighs in at 9.8.)


It looked pretty good, despite that weird middle bun. Maybe I’d been missing out all these years. Was this cheeseburger snob about to receive his comeuppance from the most cliched cheeseburger of all time?

Not exactly. The Big Mac was spectacularly average. This virgin’s first impression was that it was particularly saucy. That “special sauce” was the dominant taste in every bite. And not in a good way. An awful lot of crunch, even with just lettuce and onions. (Not a pickle fan. Left mine off.) And it wasn’t very cheesy. That lone slice at the very bottom just didn’t add much punch. The bottom bun fell apart in a hurry. And I just couldn’t figure out what that middle bun was for. It got kind of smushed around as I bit into it, so that the last few bites were more middle bun than anything else.

Polishing off the last bite, I was overcome with a palpable sense of, “That’s it? THAT’S what all the fuss is about??? THAT’S the hallowed Big Mac??!!??” It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all that great, either. I know there a lot of Mac-heads out there. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe it’s just that it’s so much a part of Americana. But myself, I didn’t taste anything to get too excited about. I could have gone another 38 years without a Big Mac and felt like I had lived a pretty full life. But at least now I know.

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5 Responses to “Can “Billions and Billions” Be Wrong?”

  1. 1
    Jon Says:

    Gotta say that the Mac you got wasn’t even an average Mac. I’m not a Mac-head by any stretch, but I don’t mind them. (Being in China, you take burgers wherever you can get them when the craving is on)

    There should be cheese on both patties, and I have to say that the one you have pictured doesn’t look like 99% of the Macs I’ve had over the years.

    May need to give it one more shake or note the above in your considerations.

  2. 2
    Raiders757 Says:

    It’s funny I ran across this today of all days. I was just telling my wife a few hours ago, how I never tried a Big Mac until I was a nearing my mid 20′s. I remember going to McDonald’s for lunch at work one day, and my boss couldn’t understand why I didn’t get the Big Mac deal that was being promoted at the time. I told him that I had heard the sauce was similar to Thousand Island dressing, which is just down right nasty to me. He about lost it, saying not having tried a Big Mac at least once in all my years, is downright unamerican. I always thought the “special sauce” was an integral part of the sandwich, so I never bothered ordering one without it. Opting for quarter pounders and cheeseburgers instead. He went and got me two(buy one get on free) with no sauce, so I could try one out.

    I must say, they do, or used to, come with two pieces of cheese. They weren’t all that bad, but in the end I felt the way you did. What’s the big deal? Tasted like a double cheese burger with too much bun. If it’s the “special sauce” that attracts so many to it, they have at it. Thousand Island dressing isn’t touching anything I eat, so unless it’s free and the way I like it, a Big Mac is not in any of my future plans.

  3. 3
    Andrew Farbstein Says:

    I can’t find ANYWHERE a mention of them changing the Big Mac. It used to have 2 slices of cheese. Now all of the sudden it only has ONE! Has this been documented?

    I noticed the “Double Cheeseburger” still has 2 slices of cheese, however, once it went to the dollar menu (actually a short time after it became the “popular item” of the dollar menu) they reduced it to ONE SLICE OF CHEESE AND CALL the thing a “McDouble”
    las cruces

  4. 4
    SB Says:

    I hate pickles and special sauce too.

  5. 5
    josh Says:

    Well you are all tripping. Big Macs only come with one slice of cheese. Always have.

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