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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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