These before-and-after photos show how much McDonald’s burger options have changed

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Hollis Johnson

Excluding the McNugget, there’s nothing more quintessentially McDonald’s than the Quarter Pounder with cheese.

But as customers’ tastes change, McDonald’s has rolled out the “Create Your Taste” burger experience, which may push the classic-burger menu out of the limelight.

The Create Your Taste system allows for the complete customization off hamburgers with surprisingly high-quality ingredients and toppings.

We decided to compare the two burgers to see how McDonald’s is looking to change perceptions – and its burgers in general.


The Quarter Pounder with cheese comes in a box now, meaning the disappointment of a smushed burger is rare.

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Hollis Johnson

It’s a simple sandwich: a quarter-pound beef patty, two slices of American cheese, white onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard all in a classic sesame-seed bun.

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Hollis Johnson

There’s not much real estate. Three anemic pickles and a half-hearted smattering of onions cover most of the patty. The cheese, however, is gorgeously placed and melted. But it’s just processed cheese, so don’t get any illusions of gourmet grandeur.

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Hollis Johnson

The patty is rather thin, and I can’t say that it tastes all that fresh. It’s fine, but a frozen patty by any other name tastes as … fine.

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Hollis Johnson

Finally, the bun is the simple, inimitable, iconic sesame-seed bun. What you see is what you get — it’s light, kind of spongy, and becomes more compacted as you hold the sandwich, leading to a mushy mess.

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Hollis Johnson

Now, the CYT burger — arriving in a flashy windowed limo of a box.

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Hollis Johnson

It’s an odd choice because it doesn’t make it any easier to pick up when the burger’s served in two halves. But that differentiates it from the typical McDonald’s experience, so if that’s the aim, I guess it works. Also, it allows for easy perusal of the toppings and ingredients — McDonald’s wants to show its hand here.

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Hollis Johnson

For the CYT burgers, you decide the inner workings, so I tried to stick to the Quarter Pounder with cheese idea as closely as I could, but with some higher-quality ingredients. I opted for the “Wisconsin cheddar cheese,” which melted thinly but appears to be real cheese with a slightly sharper flavor than the typical processed orange squares used.

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Hollis Johnson

There are more onions, and they’re hearty slices at that. The pickles are the same from what I can tell, so no improvement there. Most of the crisp crunch comes from the onions.

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Hollis Johnson

The patty is the same. I still can’t tell if it tastes any better — logically it shouldn’t, but maybe the idea of having a quality custom burger instead of the normal McDonald’s selection is fooling my taste buds. I chose to add lettuce, too — there are several veggie-topping options that are more fresh than the usual fare.

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Hollis Johnson

And the bun is a serious improvement. You can choose to have the classic sesame-seed bun, but I don’t see why anyone would when you can have the “artisan roll.” It’s light and fluffy, but it holds up better than the typical bun. It has the slightest hint of sweetness as well, which pairs nicely with a savory burger.

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Hollis Johnson

The future of McDonald’s is here, and it’s customizable. Is it better than the iconic fare? As more diners look to tailor-make their food, it may very well be the better option for quality and control. Of course, the Quarter Pounder with cheese is a classic, so I doubt it will be going anywhere.

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Hollis Johnson