If we were to compare fast food burger chains to global powers – and seriously, why would we? – then I’m apt to consider McDonald’s as somewhat akin to the British Empire.
Once the bastion of all fast food burger development, Ray Kroc’s hegemony of franchises long laid claim to influences far and wide, bringing such powerful and lucrative brands like the Big Mac to every corner of the globe. Hamburgers, fries, fountain sodas…they were dreadnaughts in this global proliferation of fast food hardware, and it wasn’t long until others – notably Otto von Burger King – began to challenge the idea that the sun would never set on the Golden Arches.
If you stare at the lights on in a 24-hour Micky D’s long enough in the wee hours of the morning you might argue that sun hasn’t really set. And McDonald’s burgers, much like Imperial Britain, have seen better days. Blame a shared case of pissing off locals due to the use beef byproducts, or just chalk it up to losing its influence thanks to two major Burger Wars, but the general consensus these days is that when it comes to hamburgers, McDonald’s offerings have regressed into a shadow of what they once tasted like and stood for.
Still, like the Falklands conflict or a really cool imported British TV comedy, McDonald’s is able to surprise us when it comes to hamburgers in some of the most unlikely of places.
I truly believe the new, dollar menu priced Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger is one of those surprises.
I have to say, it’s about time the dollar menu got a new friend. Ever since a relaunch a few years ago which took the four-piece McNuggets off the menu, I’ve been begrudgingly awaiting the day when the McDouble or McChicken would get bumped up to a 1.29 price tag. Fortunately that hasn’t happened, and if McDonald’s latest addition to the menu proves anything, it’s that they can still be innovative with their burger concepts at cheap skate price points.
Nobody in their right mind would claim a single McDonald’s kids burger patty is substantial, but somehow, someway, the Grilled Onion Cheddar feels more substantial than a standard cheeseburger. For you military types, consider the cheese and grilled onion mixture your classic force multiplier, if you will. The sweet onions have a slightly crisp texture and deep flavor, as if slowly caramelized in clarified butter of a flattop grill. Taken together with the patty, slightly squishy-sweet bun, and slice of milky, but processed, only-minimally-melted, yet still delectable, pasteurized cheese product, the onions somehow manage to make the burger.
The flavor is not so much in each bite but in each chew, with the – why yes, dare I say ‘meaty’ taste – coalescing into a sweet and chewy mesh of burger matter during the opening salvos of mechanical digestion. I consider the entire experience to be a triumph of McDonald’s burger innovation that we never saw coming. It is, to build on our analogy, the equivalent of the British victory in the Falklands Conflict packaged in one dollar hamburger form.
Like the British military operations carried out in that remote corner of the world in 1982, there are minor flaws to the burger’s strategy. I consider these mostly operational, and something that comes with any fast food hamburger.
Aside from unmelted cheese, McDonald’s only misstep here was choosing not to import the McDouble’s proven and curiously addictive combination of pickles, mustard, and ketchup to the chain’s latest value creation. Forget that the pickles could add major umami impact, but a bit of pungency from the mustard and the additional acidic sweetness of the ketchup would create a truly complete flavor combination that might just go unrivaled at the one dollar price point. How do I know? I added both, of course – on the third one of these I had in as many days.
Look, I get it. I realize it’s still a value sized burger – barely big enough as a snack for some people – and I realize it’s going to have the inherent fast food hamburger flaws. The game has changed though, and for a value burger in today’s market, McDonald’s Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger packs a flavorful punch that Wendy’s and Burger King just can’t match at the one dollar price point.
It might not be Admiral Lord Nelson smashing the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar, but in an ever-changing geoburger landscape, the McDonald’s Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger proves that Ray Kroc’s sun is still far from set.
(Nutrition Facts – 310 calories, 220 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 660 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.)
Item: McDonald’s Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger
Purchased Price: $1.00
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Force multiplying effect of sweet onion mixture add meaty flavors and big taste. Cheese tastes better than the usual insipid yellow stuff. Classic McDonald’s squishy bun. Using my history degree. Might be the best $1 hamburger on the mainstream fast food market.
Cons: Small sized patty. Not the beefiest flavor. Begging for pickles and mustard. Cheese needs to be more melted. The absurdity of comparing a value hamburger to geopolitical entities.
22 thoughts to “REVIEW: McDonald’s Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger”
For a buck, this looks like a nice deal. What I would do is order two and condense them into one one sandwich — minus the two pieces of bread for the long-suffering pigeons and homeless alike. Reminds me of the times I used to order 2 Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers and an order of chicken nuggets from Wendy’s for $3. I used to make a chicken sandwich out of the chook (that’s Aussie) pieces — coated with a complimentary packet of sweet & sour sauce; stolen bread, lettuce and tomato from the burgers — and chomp away. What I was left with was a nakey Junior — er — medium bacon cheeseburger. Used to eat this way more that I’d like to admit. To break the monotony, I would use BBQ sauce in place of sweet ‘n’ sour on the improvised concoction, lol. Now that’s Jewish brains in overdrive…at the drive-thru!
The mcdouble has been & always will be my go to item at Mickey Dees however I was rather impressed with this little cheeseburger today although its a scooby snack by my standards the taste & smell reminded me of a lot of White Castles which I’m particularly fond of Good little addition to the dollar menu
I did enjoy this one surprisingly, but I must say Wendy’s 99c Value Deluxe Cheeseburger is AMAZING
Try ordering a McChicken Deluxe with the grilled onions from this. Delicious, and they don’t charge extra for them, strangely enough.
this got me confused with the CBO burger, which i liked quite a bit.
I think I actually want to try this burger, despite the fact that McDonalds just is not part of my diet — haven’t had McDonalds (other than a coffee & oatmeal), in about 2 years, at least.
I’m sort of glad there aren’t any condiments on it, so I wouldn’t have to order it sans pickles (I hate pickles); ketchup on it wouldn’t bother me though.
I’ve gotta’ say though, I think mustard on burgers is just wrong … Okay, I think mustard on anything is yucky. Life would be simpler if I liked mustard, but I despise it more than pickles.
Personal preferences aside, does anyone else think mustard on burgers is a REGIONAL THING?
I don’t know that mustard on fast food burgers is customary in NYC, and it was a shock to discover people put mustard on burgers on a school trip to Philly, back in the ’80s.
Loved it. Althought I would like to try it with a little bit of ketchup.
I ordered one of these burgers late last night. I liked it so much I went for lunch today and got two of the burgers med fry and a med drink for $4 and some change. These burgers are amazing. The meat seems more well seasonsed than usual and onions taste like i had them on flattop cooking all day here in the house with the compliment of that white cheese Im telling you GO GET ONE PLEASE
I tried two, and though the taste was very good, there were not enough onions on either one to cover a fifty cent piece! The ads, of course, show grilled onions falling out of every side. The two I bought in Mesa, AZ had so few onions that the burgers were so dry as to be hard to swallow. False advertising at its worst.
Ha. Fellow Mesa/Tempe resident here. Bought mine at the one in Mesa Riverview. Damn good burger. Too bad I just started my cut or else I’d be eating more of these.
The Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger minus the cheese and add mustard tastes just like the hamburgers we used to get in Chicago on Maxwell street…….
these are amazingly good burgers for a dollar…the sweet carmelized onions make the burger and the cheese is also a good addition….they are small but for a buck…you can’t beat them….i usually get a couple of them at a time …they remind me of the white castle burgers i used to get years ago in wash dc…..i hope mcd’s keeps these on the menu indefinetly…they are great and i eat them just the way they serve them without any condiments….
Love ’em, love ’em, love ’em! What a tasty and reasonably priced burger. Thank you Mickey D’s for coming up with this during our terrible economy. For those of you that feel you don’t get enough onions, just ask for double onions and if they are like my Mickey D’s, they will accommodate!
oh, and yes, the flavor is reminiscent of the good ol’ slider at White Castle….who couldn’t love that taste???
We tried your new Grilled Onion Cheddar Burgers this afternoon…and we loved them, the grilled onions and melted cheese made it very tasty! and their only $1. Thanks McDonald’s…can’t wait to come back and buy some more!
Tried it – hated it. won’t order again. The mcdouble is the go to item on the dollar menu
I was appalled at how freaking BLAND this burger was. It is ugly for one thing, and it totally needs the normal fixings, Ketchup, mustartd and pickle. That white chesse has no flavor. I could barely taste the one teaspoon of onion plopped in the middle of my burger. I was super dissapointed with this burger. If you do order it, order all the extra stuff with it and it may be good.
I got this last night and my burger was dry and the onions were dried out and chewy like crazy and didn’t taste like much of anything. I think the onions inject more variable into the ability to create a consistent product. I’m going back to the McDouble.
PLEASE introduce these burgers into the McDonald’s Canadian stores. They are one reason I love to visit the USA.
I limit myself to one at a time but it always tastes like more. Thanks McD’s USA.
Not everything needs damn mustard & pickles or worse, vile ketchup. I find pickles basically useless.
EVIL BAD FOOD
Love these burgers…for a BUCK, u can’t beat that. I usually add mustard, and extra onions…yummy!
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