Thursday, January 31, 2008

Farewell, $1 Double Cheeseburger

I don't say it's a great hamburger. Double Cheeseburger never cost a lot of money. Its name was never in the paper. It's not the finest McDonald's item that ever existed. But it's a hamburger, and a kinda terrible thing is happening to it. So attention must be paid. It's not to be allowed to fall in its grave like an old bun. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a burger!

That somewhat clumsy and awkward parody of the famous quote from "Death of a Salesman" pretty much sums up my feelings of the McDonald's Double Cheeseburger, which after today will depart its longtime home on the Dollar Menu. Oh sure there were better value burgers out there: Wendy's Jr. Bacon and Cheeseburger Deluxe used better ingredients, as was the Whopper Jr., and you could get two classic White Castle sliders for the comparable price; but none of these gave you the pure gross, quantity over quality, burgerness of the DC.

I can put away three Whooper Jrs. or Cheeseburger Deluxes at almost any given moment. I can put away four if I tried. If I'm feeling particularly hungry or grossly hedonistic I may be able to stuff down five. Anything over five and I've probably wondered into a burger eating competition. In stark contrast I can't recall eating more than 2 Double Cheeseburgers at any one sitting. Maybe it was the two rubbery patties that tasted like somebody sprayed on the burger taste; maybe it was the fact that a pinch of tiny, cut up onions bits and ketchup were all that counted as fixings; or the hideous half melted, taxi yellow cheese; but I doubt if anyone can eat more than three in one sitting without getting violently ill.

While all this sounds like harsh criticism, it's actually some of the highest praise I can give to a value fast food hamburger. A truly great value fast food hamburger has to have all those qualities: it has to be cheap (check), it has to be filling (check), and it has to be a little bit gross (double check).

If I want a fancy burger I'd go to a Fuddrucker's or order from the regular menu. When I go to a fast food joint I want something I can pay for with the contents of my dashboard change holder. Over the past few years, especially since going to school and living in NY, I have actually become almost exclusively a value menu customer. In a chaotic world of shifting burger inflation, the value menu remains my one solid rock of stability. The price of a Whopper or Big Mac may fluctuate two dollar from the New Jersey suburbs to downtown Manhattan, but the DC remains the same. It defies all economic logic for existing, there is no way they can be making a profit on these things. Even if I made my own burgers at home I probably wouldn't be able to meet these price points. In a way the value burger is one of the only true deals left in this bankrupt world.

Of course the value of the burger is highly dependent on how filling the whole thing is. The White Castle slider may cost a relative pittance, but I can down one in a single hungry bite. In the end, after a half dozen, the deal is revealed to become an illusion. Wendy's and Burger King will fill me up for less than the price of a gallon of gas, but like I said nobody could beat the DC. It was a noxious burgery mess that punched in the stomach...with flavor. This is in relation to its unparalleled grossness factor. You don't finish a DC, you just say no more and submit to it. Also economically, if you break it down, it is probably the cheapest cent per calorie food in the world. Roughly 440 calories of pure value for a dollar comes to roughly 4 and a half calories per cent! If that ain't America I don't know what is!

All of these above benefits would be for not if it didn't have a significant gross factor. But Victor, why do you want to eat food that's of sub standard quality when there are so many better tasting, possibly healthier options? In the words of Dennis Leary from one of cinema's great soliloquies, "because I suddenly may feel the need to". Fast food burgers, by virtue of their existence need to be kind of gross. At three in the morning after a night of drinking you're not going to have a craving for a an elaborate plate of sushi or foie grass, you want something greasy, something fatty, something down right antagonistic to your body. And in that respect, the DC was like Betty Davis in the "The Little Foxes".

So now after years of holding this steady position as a bargain basement priced, gutbusting, killer, the economics of the burger world and the powers have pushed it out of the special dollar menu and onto desert of the regular menu. McDonald's better think of a comparable replacement quick since the standard cheeseburger that has now moved up on the depth charts is literally half the burger that the DC was. As for the future of the DC, with its value roots diminished, it'll no doubt fade into obscurity right next to the fillet o' fish or the Angus something or other, a freakish refugee torn between too worlds; too cheap to be regular, too expensive to be value.

Godspeed, you cut rate, filthy son of a bitch.


  1. (calories per cent)

  2. i think mcdonald's does make profit from the DC. however, they are a corporation and they probably realized they weren't making enough profit out of it. either that or they really have given into the disgusting, free-market crushing health craze that plots to ultimately exterminate hedonism in edible form.

  3. I've eaten 7 at a sitting and somehow I'm alive, mostly. You will be missed DC. I still say that the "meat" to "cheese" to bun ratio were near perfection. And who can turn down the DC when it looks up at you with that shiny bun? Not this fella.