What’s an Angus Burger Anyhow?

Angus Third Pounder

By: McDonald’s

I Paid: $3.99 (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3stars


Marketing: 2stars

What, precisely, does Angus actually mean? That’s the question sentient Americans must be asking as McDonald’s rolls out its new line of Angus Third Pounder burgers, made from 100 percent Angus beef. Well, Angus cattle are heavily hyped and marketed for having richer, more fat-marbled flesh. Which means this burger, which costs $4, is supposed to be superpremium.

I tasted an Angus burger side by side with a regular McDonald’s hamburger and a Wendy’s hamburger, and the Angus stood out as being significantly more enjoyable. (I tried the Angus Deluxe, which has American cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes; the other two varieties are Bacon & Cheese and Mushroom & Swiss.)

The Wendy’s burger was the saltiest of the three, with a low-grade-meat snap or crunch to it and a cheap, fluffy bun. The regular McDonald’s burger was somber and gray—dry, flat, a bit mealy—and much smaller than the Angus Third Pounder. From a burger-for-dollar perspective, the Angus was a better deal even before differences in quality were factored in.

The Angus, by contrast, had an almost whipped texture to it. The meat was juicier, and it had a bit of actual beef flavor and char to it and a nicely balanced amount of salt. The bun seemed denser and a little more serious than usual (indeed, the Angus is marketed as having a roll rather than a bun), and though the burger wouldn’t stand up to the real deal in an actual restaurant, it certainly kicked the butts of its low-grade fast-food competition. This, truly, is an OK burger and a decent $4 value.

Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito

By: Taco Bell

I Paid: $2.99 (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2stars


Marketing: 4stars

The name “Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito” cunningly suggests delicious little chunks of thick-cut bacon floating in a carb-y mass of, well, everything else. Put that notion out of your mind. The bacon is likely part of why this burrito is so incredibly salty, but it doesn’t chart as far as being a texture or flavor contributor. The overwhelming experience of the Bacon Cheesy Potato Burrito is that of eating mediocre cheese fries stuffed into a low-grade tortilla. A salty, creamy cheese-sauce flavor leads, followed by a tolerable starchy potato kick, then more salt—the beef and bacon elements get completely lost in the mix. The end result is 680 calories—plus 70 milligrams of cholesterol and 36 grams of fat—that don’t even taste particularly good.

In fact, if the BCPB is good for anything, it’s unveiling the deeply misleading fraud that is commercial food photography: Take a gander at the official site and then unwrap one of these suckers at home. You’ll find a squishy, indistinguishable mess.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.