Why McDonalds' burgers look so different in ads

After a customer complains that its burgers look better on TV, the fast-food giant spills its secrets in a surprisingly candid, behind-the-scenes video

Burger comparison
(Image credit: YouTube)

The video: Ever wonder why your McDonald's cheeseburger looks flatter, sadder, and uglier than the juicy delicacy you've seen advertised on TV? A customer asked McDonald's Canada about the discrepancy, and the company graciously revealed how they prep their food for TV in a video posted on its website. (Watch the fascinating exposé below.) In the clip, a McDonald's spokesperson buys a Quarter Pounder with Cheese at a restaurant that was whipped up in a minute, then takes it to a photo studio to compare it to a burger that's been "styled" for a commercial shoot over the course of hours. The edges of pickles are deliberately exposed. Cheese is custom-melted to drape the burger just so. Condiments are dotted into place with a syringe. The risks of bun deflation are skirted. Then the digital photo touch-ups begin...

The reaction: At last we know why that burger on TV "looks so good, so piping hot and yummy, so perfect," says Kim Muraro at LimeLife. A lot of smoke and mirrors goes into creating "the Platonic ideal of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese," says Laura Northrup at The Consumerist. At least the company is coming clean "clearly and honestly." This "under-the-hood" demo isn't as candid as we're led to believe, says Neetzan Zimmerman at Gawker. The flak "conveniently neglects to mention that only carefully selected [examples of the standard pickles, tomatoes, and so on] are employed in the preparation of the model sandwich," while restaurant customers get whatever random bits the prep cooks grab. And the company didn't allow comments under the clip on its website — apparently its love of "honesty is limited to the kind it can control." Take a look for yourself:

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us