National Burger Challenge: McDonald's vs. Five Guys vs. In-N-Out

Mmm, mmm, I'm lovin' it. For the past seven years, McDonald's has pushed that message in dozens of languages throughout 117 countries. Now it appears customers of the world's largest fast food chain aren't buying it.

In a new survey, Consumer Reports found that McDonald's ranked lowest on a list of fast food burger joints, outscored by Wendy's and Burger King, and trounced by In-N-Out and Five Guys. According to the poll, which asked 28,000 people to rate 18 fast-food restaurant burgers on a scale of 1 to 10, McDonald's was found to offer one of least delicious patties in the country—a sign that perhaps the masses are developing a palate. Or watching Morgan Spurlock documentaries. Or Jame Oliver's show. Or reading the New York Times. Or starting to notice any number of government campaigns against obesity.

Still, regardless of the taste, customers are flocking to McDonald's. The $22 billion company recently posted its biggest sales gain in over a year. Cheap fast-food chains tend to flourish in recessions—when Americans tighten their belts, and then break the buckle with a Big Mac, Double Baconator, or triple Cheesy Gordita Crunch—and Mickey D's is no exception. Since 2008, the company's shares have rocketed 10.6%, compared with a 46.4% tumble for Wendy's and a 35.9% drop for Burger King.

But the food fight is far from over. Five Guys has jumped to the top of consumers' palates, perhaps aided by the Obama bump—the president has made several trips to the burger joint, much to the disappointment of the first lady, whose anti-obesity campaign is overshadowed by the chain's 920-calorie bacon cheeseburger, recently named one of the most unhealthy meals in the U.S. by the Center for Science and Public Interest.

And west-coast powerhouse In-N-Out has also found its way into the hearts of Americans. Or at least Californians, who seem to take every opportunity to boast of the restaurant's deliciousness to deprived east-coasters.

Ultimately, while it may sound like good news that 28,000 people have voted the ultra-unhealthy McDonald's burger to the lowest ranks, it's not a good (or healthy) sign that 28,000 people were able to participate in a poll that included burgers from 18 fast-food chains. Until that trend ends, such changes to our national taste buds will have no affect on our bulging bellies.

[Photo: Flickr user † Jimmy MacDonald †]

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  • Stephen Wayhart

    Burger wars? Are you kidding me? The burger wars have been over for years and McDonald's is the Mac Daddy champ! See this link and find out why Burger King (In-N-Out, Five Guys, Wendy's and everyone else) will never, ever beat McDonald's! The reason is simple, McDonald's takes the hamburger business more seriously than anyone else! That statement is as true today as it was years ago when founder Ray Kroc first stated it.

  • brad robinson

    You should think about fact checking this article. As an Arlinton resident I can tell you (and do a google search to check and make sure) that Obama has been to Five Guys once, not "several times" (at least since he has been president) and has gone to another local burger joint twice. In your defense, all were highly publicized and only Five Guys has a national presence. The name of the other burger joint is Ray's Hellburger, and he has been there with Biden once and with the Russian Prime Minister (Medvedev) once.

  • MightyCasey

    Oh, and what the heck is that on the baby's face in the photo accompanying this article??

  • Tyler Gray

    Babies. Big Mac's. A strategically placed bandage. The clues are all there.

  • MightyCasey

    Five Guys is the rock star of burger joints - and the full-sized bacon cheeseburger may be over the top, but the Little Bacon Cheeseburger comes in at 560kcal/39g of fat. Not great, but as an occasional treat? A true treat. LOVE Five Guys - my addiction is those fries. Oh. My. GAWD. The hell w/the burger, gimme the FRIES.

  • Andrew Carpenter

    This is the most unfocused article I've read in some time. Misleading title and sub.

    True, McDonald's burgers are terrible. Luckily for shareholders, there is only 1 burger on the dollar menu. Applying your correlation to people eating there more frequently during this economy leads me to believe they're buying the tastier non-burger items. I'm also assuming McDonald's is ousting Burger King and Wendy's because of it's (better?) breakfast menu.

    My suggestion for your article title - Burger Nation: You Get What You Pay For