A Battle For the Ages: the Big Mac vs. the Big Carl

Obviously, this has nothing to do with theology. But that’s okay. Jesus is the bread of life, but who doesn’t love to talk about regular food too?

“Two small beef patties, sauce shredded letuce, a single piece of cheese, onions pickles on 3 bready buns…”

Who doesn’t love Carl’s Jr’s take on the famous Big Mac jingle? Clever as it is, the real question is, how does Carl’s Jr’s take on the Big Mac itself stack up?

I completed my taste test just minutes before writing this, and I have some thoughts.*

*I hate raw onions. The Big Mac has onions and the Big Carl does not. I got my Big Mac without onions, because otherwise it wouldn’t be a fair fight.

Now, first of all, other than the fact that they are cheeseburgers with thousand-island-inspired sauce, they aren’t nearly as similar as you might imagine. As said before, the Big Mac has onions. It also has pickles. The Big Carl has nether. It is simply meat, cheese, lettuce, and sauce. Also, the lettuce is not shredded as it is with the Big Mac. For me, that is a point in the Big Mac’s favor. The mound of whole leaf lettuce made the Big Carl a little clunky and harder to hold. Overall, the Big Mac is much cleaner and easy to eat.

In just about every other way, however, I preferred the Big Carl. Though both sauces are pink with relish, the sauce on the Big Carl is much more subtle. Part of that probably has to do with the proportions. However, the sauce on the Big Mac is rather sharp and tangy in comparison. The sauce on the Big Carl was a good complement to the meat and cheese. Although I hate mayonnaise, I would imagine it fulfilled a lot of the the goals of mayonnaise. It was creamy. It was smooth.It made the sandwich less dry. It served to make the cheese less overpowering. It served to balance everything. It was not the center of flavor.

The same cannot be said of the Big Mac sauce. It is rather overpowering. It isn’t unpalatable: if it were, the Big Mac wouldn’t still be #1 on the McDonald’s menu 4 decades later. For some, the extra zip might even be a plus. For me, however, I wanted to taste more meat and less tang.

Speaking of meat, that is certainly the biggest advantage to the Big Carl: it has twice the meat and cheese. It is a big, satisfying burger. Not only does the extra meat mean more food to eat, but it is a meatier burger. Each bite has much more juicy meat and terrific American cheese. It affects the very way the burger tastes. Although all the lettuce made it a bit messy, I wouldn’t have added any less; the extra lettuce worked perfectly with all that meat and cheese. Lots of everything made you feel like you were really eating something. The Big Mac, in comparison, was much less substantial, both in size and in texture. With the Big Carl, for the most part, each bite was a perfect combination of meat, cheese, lettuce, sauce, and bread.

I will say, the Big Mac is definitely more complex. There is the meat and the cheese but there is also the tanginess of the sauce and the saltiness of the pickles (and if you swing that way, there is onion too). And despite all the mocking about it, the third bun doesn’t harm the Big Mac. Heck, it’s what makes a Big Mac a Big Mac.

Overall, the Big Mac challenges the pallet more, which might be better for some. However, because it is meatier, more satisfying, and generally tastier, I definitely prefer the Big Carl.

(Originally published 09/11/2009:http://3-ringbinder.blogspot.com/2009/09/battle-for-ages-big-mac-vs-big-carl.html. Immaterial changes have been made).

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