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The Grilling Question This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Throughout history, there has been one single question that has stumped every fast food connoisseur, every college guy, every frequent traveler: Whopper or Big Mac? Can the Whopper, with its flame broiled classic American goodness, still hold its own against the legendary Big Mac and its secret sauce? Each burger is its respective restaurant’s Numero Uno, their first item on the menu. And for good reason. Each burger has made it’s restaurant famous and vice versa. But I ask, which is better? In the past I have always preferred a Big Mac for its originality and lower price, but I’m curious to see if I have been making the wrong choice all these years.

I’ll start with the Whopper. As I walk into Burger King, I smell the familiar aroma of the fast food business: grease. I order my burger, but not the meal. French fries will play no part in this experiment. Together, the burger and drink cost $5.73. Once I get my burger, I can tell it is fresh. It is practically radiating heat. It is also well made. The tomato, onion (in rings), pickles, American cheese, and lettuce chunks are stacked wonderfully. The ketchup, mustard and mayo are applied in just the right amounts and are spread evenly. The smell is outstanding: the garden fresh fragrance of the tomato and lettuce mixed with the warm mayo and zesty mustard. I get a very homemade sensation when I start to devour this burger. The sesame seed bun is soft and fresh. The chunks of iceberg lettuce crunch between my molars. Tomato juice and its distant cousin ketchup stream down my chin. This problem is solved by a swipe of a finger. The entire burger is rather large, but I finish it. I leave with a satisfied, full feeling.

After burning a few hours, a few bucks and a few hundred calories at Wal-Mart, I head to McDonald’s. I am greeted by a similar odor, only this time with a salty finish. Here, the burger and drink ring up to only $4.29. But when I get the burger, the legendary Big Mac, I am less than impressed. It is borderline cold; the sesame seed bun hard and dry. Unlike the very fresh looking lettuce chunks and rings of onion from Burger King, the Big Mac holds uniform shreds of both. It gives the burger a very processed look. I have to re-stack the entire thing before I continue. The extra bun separating the two patties is askew. One pickle had abandoned ship and lay at the bottom of the burger box. The odor of the cardboard interferes with the distinct scent of the Big Mac. As I begin to eat, though, the familiar taste inspires me to finish this meal. As I take a bite out of the center, an explosion of taste hits my tongue. The rich secret sauce is a great compliment to the smooth American cheese and tart dill pickles of the burger. But after I finish eating, I do not feel full, but more bloated. It’s as if the three buns have expanded in my stomach. This is not unusual, however; it is a normal post-Big Mac sensation.

As I drive home, I come to the conclusion that the Whopper did in fact beat out the Big Mac. This surprised me because McDonald’s has always been my favorite. But tonight I realized that I preferred the Whopper’s full, classic American-style taste to the Big Mac’s tangy originality.

There you have it: the Whopper, the unsung second favorite of most burger buffs, actually won out against the Big Mac. I think part of the reason for my surprise is that the Golden Arches have always presented a sort of golden standard for other fast food restaurants. All competitors have aspired to McDonald’s fame and popularity. However, being on top so long may have hurt the franchise. Speed and competitive prices has come to outweigh quality and freshness. That’s why next time I’m craving a good burger, I’m headed to Burger King.




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