WELCOME BACK TO A NEW ROUND OF SAD GIRL TASTE TEST! It’s been a minute!
Over the weekend I happened to stumble upon the news that McDonald’s has introduced a new international menu nationwide. The items are supposed to be reflective of global favorites, and as a longtime fan of other countries’ McDonald’s options, I decided in true sad girl fashion to swing by the nearest location and try everything out. (PS, you should also read this post where I tried to recreate South Korean McDonald’s menu items during the Winter Olympics.)
To set the scene, it was pouring down rain. It was as if the skies had opened up to say, “No, Megan. Don’t do it. Please don’t do it.” (I still did it.)
I hadn’t set foot in a McDonald’s in probably a year or more, so when I arrived, I felt like I was inside of a grease-filled spaceship; there are now (and you’re probably LOL’ing at me if you frequent McDonald’s and this is old news, but STILL) kiosks where you can place your order (and pay) via touch screen. No more sheepish “Can I get that with no onions, no mayo, three tomatoes and seven BBQ sauces?” (For the record, I have only ever said “no mayo” in my lifetime of McDonald’s requests, but this was purely to emphasize the niceness of no human interaction.) Big fan of this new(ish) technology, especially since I didn’t feel dumb(er) ordering every single thing off the international menu.
Which brings me to the items – they include a burger from Spain, a chicken sandwich from Canada, cheesy bacon fries from Australia and a stroopwafel McFlurry from the Netherlands.
The burger is called “The Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger”, and you can get it in regular or double patty form. According to McDonald’s, it “features thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon topped on a ¼* lb. of 100% fresh beef that’s cooked when you order. Layered with smoky McBacon sauce and two slices of savory real gouda cheese on a sesame seed bun.” Since it is called the McExtreme, I obviously ordered the double. In Brooklyn it rang up at $8.89. It is 970 calories. I do not see what it has to do with Spain.
Moving into chicken territory, the Canadian Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich also comes in two forms – crispy or grilled. McDonald’s says it’s a “savory medley of flavor with creamy mozzarella cheese, sliced roma tomatoes, fresh lettuce, and tomato and herb sauce all with grilled/crispy chicken breast made with all white meat. Served on an artisan roll.” Normally I don’t count calories, but in this case, I went with the 530 grilled chicken as opposed to the 690 crispy. (Don’t worry, my total caloric intake was 2700.) The sandwich cost $6.19. I do not see what it has to do with Canada.
And of COURSE we’ve gotta have a greasy side, which came in the form of the Cheesy Bacon Fries from Australia. Pretty self-explanatory there, but I do want you do know that McDonald’s really tries to sell ‘em by saying “Made from premium potatoes like the Russet Burbank and the Shepody, our Cheesy Bacon Fries are golden and crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and covered with real cheddar cheese sauce and chopped Applewood smoked bacon.” Okay. These ran me a semi-shocking $4.19. They contain 560 calories. (That’s more than the chicken sandwich, PS.) I do not see what they have to do with Australia.
And finally, dessert! The Stroopwafel McFlurry was admittedly the most interesting-sounding item of all, and at just $2.19 for a snack size, the price was right. McDonald’s says it “blends vanilla soft serve with Daelman’s Stroopwafel crispy caramel waffle cookie pieces and a rich caramel swirl.” I don’t actually know the specific calorie count since it’s not listed on the website, but a regular one is 650, so something slightly less than that. I do actually see what this has to do with the Netherlands.
Once my food was ready (all $23.36 of it, insert financial regret here), I shuffled it all back in the rain to eat it in a less embarrassing place than McDonald’s, aka my apartment. For anyone who’s asking, the seven minute walk each way burned a total of 35 calories. Wow, so great. Also, I left the TV on while I was gone, and when I got back NASCAR was on. (It felt like an omen.)
I started with the McFlurry, which was rapidly turning into McSoup. And it was (pardon my French) the bomb dot com. Fantastic combination of flavors and textures – you get the creamy soft serve with the chewy caramel and chewier Stroopwafel crumble, and the vanilla/caramel/slightly cinnamon flavor profile works super well. 10/10 would order again if I should ever find myself inside the dark place that is McDonald’s again.
And then it all went downhill, but you were probably expecting that. (And, just for context, I want you to know that I had not eaten anything all day since I was too busy watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup while also doing work. I was fucking starving. In theory, everything should have tasted incredible. Spoiler alert: it did not.)
The Cheesy Bacon Fries made the most sense to do next since I figured the fries and cheese were time-sensitive. It’s just a box of regular McDonald’s fries with a thin yellow cheese sauce on top, and little chunks (bigger than bits) of bacon sprinkled on top of that. The cheese has that cheap, borderline bile-esque flavor profile (you know the one…sort of sour, and not unlike the time I witnessed a girl barf on the G train on New Year’s Eve two years ago and someone said, “Dude, lay off the Cheetos next time!” re: the awful smell), and combined with the already salty fries and the salty bacon, it’s just a one-note salt bomb of why-did-I-do-this. I think the sharpness of a real cheddar would have actually lent greatly to the mix, but whatever was happening here was far from any cheddar I’ve ever had. Certainly not worth $4+, nor is it worth the calories. Definitely the worst thing I ordered.
The McExtreme Bacon Burger was next. It didn’t taste bad, but the smoky elements (like the gouda and the bacon and the sauce, which was flavored with more bacon) got pretty redundant. I tasted a piece of gouda on its own and it was actually pretty good, but with three different kinds of smokiness happening, the nuances (LOL) of each got lost in the shuffle. If I could change one thing immediately, it’d be the creamy bacon sauce (a glorified bacon mayo), because while it wasn’t bad, I think the burger as a whole would’ve benefitted from something brighter/sharper like a BBQ sauce or some kind of infused ketchup. It was also a bit lacking texturally; while the raw onions brought some crunch, I think it could’ve done well with some crispy fried onions. But then I guess it would have been a Rodeo Burger rather than an Unclear Why This Is Supposed To Represent Spain Burger. Would I eat this again? Probably not, just because it didn’t feel special enough for the $8.19 price tag nor the 970 calories. Again, didn’t taste bad, just not good enough to merit a special place in anyone’s arteries.
And finally, the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken. Again, it wasn’t bad, but it was literally just a slightly pizza-flavored chicken sandwich. And to me, anything slightly pizza-flavored that isn’t actual pizza is one of the worst crimes a person can commit. JUST EAT A PIZZA! Like the burger, I wouldn’t order this again of my own volition. (I don’t really know what else to say beyond this.)
Overall, kind of a major fail? Which is such a shame, because there are bonkers McDonald’s menu items that sound ACTUALLY interesting/good from all over the world that could’ve been introduced instead! Like, can we not get the McSpicy Paneer or McAloo from India? The McVegan from Sweden? The McFloat Melon from Japan? The Kimchi Shaker Fries from South Korea? And even if we’re talking about the countries which are represented on the current menu, why couldn’t we get stuff like the McCroquetas or Top Fries Bravas from Spain? The Big Brekkie Burger from Australia? THE FRICKIN’ POUTINE FROM CANADA?! Why is THIS the default we get? I get that there was maybe the feeling of, “These will do well because they’re pretty Americanized,” but WE ALREADY HAVE AMERICAN MENU ITEMS! WE CAN HANDLE NON-AMERICAN MENU ITEMS, WE AREN’T ALL DONALD TRUMP!
Anyway, very disappointing show. Fingers crossed McDonald’s gets this memo and goes hard with a round two, but only time will tell.
*ALSO, all of the menu items’ home countries are represented at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. If we decide their rankings based on how their McDonald’s taste test went, Netherlands are on top, Spain second, Canada third and Australia in dead last.