There’s a McDifference – EXTRA!

Courtesy of our McDonald’s-lovin’ burgiatrist-in-residence, here are some fun facts about everybody’s [TSB: Dave’s] favorite restaurant.

  •     McDonald’s sells more than 1/3 of all the French fries sold in restaurants in the U.S. each year.
  •     Nearly one in eight workers in the US has at some time been employed by McDonald’s.
  •    Sälen, Sweden, opened the first SKI-THROUGH McDonald’s in the world.
  •    More than 50,000 students from all over the world have graduated with “Bachelor of Hamburgerology” degrees from McDonald’s “Hamburger University.”  Our own “Burgiatrist” is being considered for an honorary degree.
  •      McDonald’s’ three kosher restaurants in Israel are the only McDonald’s in the world where you cannot buy a cheeseburger.
  •     On average, there are 180 sesame seeds on a Big Mac bun.
  •     The northernmost McDonald’s restaurant is located on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. The southernmost franchise is located in Invercargill, New Zealand.
  •    Antarctica is the only continent without a McDonald’s.
  •    The most popular international McDonald’s location is located in Pushkin Square Moscow. The store serves an amazing 40,000 people each day.
  •     McDonald’s is the world’s largest distributor of toys.
  •     The Queen of England owns a McDonald’s near Buckingham Palace as part of her vast real estate portfolio.
  •    Americans alone consume one billion pounds of beef at McDonald’s in a year. That’s five and a half million head of cattle.
  •    Every month, about 9 out of 10 American children visit a McDonald’s restaurant at least once.
  •      A personal note: I have eaten at McDonald’s almost 2,000 times (visiting restaurants in Mexico, Canada, Austria, China, and the US), consuming an estimated 500 pounds of McDelicious burgers. Oh…in Austria, they serve it with beer.

There’s a McDifference #6

There’s a McDifference!

3710 Western Blvd., Raleigh (West of NC State)

This McDonald’s is right on the edge of the NC State campus. I know I tend to go on about the parking situation at these places, but this one ranks number one on my list of parking nightmares. There seems to be plenty of spaces, but at lunch it is almost impossible to find a space. It is so close to NC State that if you park anyplace but the dedicated parking lot, it’s a tow-away zone. Good luck finding a parking space.

When it is crowded, the service line is chaotic. The lineup policy seems to be as follows: Stand in a big, disorganized crowd. Eventually, somehow, make it to the front register. Though this adds undue stress to my outing, I let go of it once I get my food.

Atmosphere: The theme is everything NC State, with nice wall murals of State sports greats. There is an awesome full-size scoreboard attached to a rafter system you would see at an arena. The scoreboard has TVs on all sides and highlights some of the school’s past championships. The seating is all in one area, with half of the seats being hardback chairs and the other being high-back padded swivel chairs. I have to say that these high-back seats are the most comfortable seats I think I have ever sat in.

Quarter Pounder: The burger patty flavor is excellent. I was tempted to eat this one without a bun and condiments; it was very tasty. The bun was fresh, the onions crunchy. My only problem was that they didn’t put any care into assembling it. The patty was hanging off to one side, the pickles in a big clump (which I generally remove anyway), and onions were just piled off-center, and the ketchup just slapped on. After a little creative burger surgery, it was very delicious. Because of this lack of quality I will have to deduct a half point.

Fries: Are the fries burnt? They don’t taste burnt, but they are all dark brown. Oh, I see, they must cook them in really dirty oil. That is the only explanation I can come up with.

Burger rating: 4.5 out of 5 Grimaces

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There’s a McDifference #5

There’s a McDifference!

3810 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh (just off I-440)

Our senior McDonald’s beat writer Dave Foley is back with his oft-debated hypothesis that if you look closely enough, each Mickey D’s is different from the next. Here’s installment #5 of “There’s a McDifference.”

The Lake Boone Trail McDonald’s sits in a very crowded strip mall. It is a well-maintained building with that quintessential McDonald’s look. The only thing missing was the “Over 10 Trillion Served” sign under the golden arches.

Atmosphere: The inside has granite on all surfaces (including the planters), tile on the walls, and stainless steel equipment. It looks like my ideal kitchen. The place is extremely clean, though I didn’t see any hand sanitizers. There is also no playground, so I guess those two things go hand in hand. There is lots of seating, including outside tables under a nice veranda. I counted five big-screen TVs.

Quarter Pounder: The patty is so compressed that it actually sticks out about a quarter inch on all sides of the bun. The flavor is still pretty good, but they have completely pressed every ounce of moisture out of the meat, so it is a bit dry. The bun is very soft, and they use fresh onions with good coverage.

Fries: I’ve been here many times, and every single time the fries are burnt. One time might be an anomaly, twice a coincidence, but half a dozen times in a row and I’m sensing a pattern. Instead of golden brown, they are just…brown. They were so completely burnt on my latest visit that I almost took them back.

Burger rating: 3 out of 5 Grimaces

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There’s a McDifference

There’s a McDifference!

By Dave Foley, guest burgiatrist

Review 4: 601 Corporate Center Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607

For his 4th review, Dave eats fries that “defied the laws of fry physics.”

This is one of my favorite McDonald’s, and I will often drive a little out of my way for this one.

Atmosphere: This is a brand-new McDonald’s with a décor dedicated to the 70s, complete with its bent-back laminate chairs. The wood-slatted drop-down ceiling is quite striking. This is the only McDonald’s I can remember that has a dedicated desk, computer, and chair for filling out job applications.

Quarter Pounder: This McDonald’s is consistently in my top 5 for burger taste. The meat has great flavor and is generally cooked to perfection. Nice, soft bun and symmetrical cheese placement. My only complaint is about the onions. This is a perfect example of what I was talking about in previous reviews: They place a pile of big onion chunks directly in the middle of the burger, and the chunks are too big to spread evenly across the burger, so I’m frustrated with no clear way to maximize my coverage.

Fries: As much as I like the burger here, I always seem to find problems with their fries. This time, they defied the laws of fry physics and I had practically raw fries mixed in with burnt fries. There were also salty fries mixed in with unsalted fries. This McDonalds need’s to really get together with the McDonald’s in my last review because this one has great burgers and that one has great fries.

Burger rating: 4 out of 5 Grimaces


There’s a McDifference!

There’s a McDifference!

By Dave Foley, guest burgiatrist

Review 3: 1001 Morrisville Carpenter Road, Morrisville

For his 3rd review, Dave eats a “ketchup-flavored chew toy.”

I’ve been to this McDonald’s a few times since it opened last year. The building has a high-tech look and a nice angular design, which is quite different from what you find inside.


Everything in this place is circular: the lights, various plates/covers/speakers on the ceiling, chairs, tables, the main seating area, holes in the backrests of the chairs, and even the fabric pattern used for the booths. There is a small main section of seats, some booths along the edge, and a semi-private seating area in the back with bench seats with retro-circular back rests, along with a flat screen TV.

This has got to be the cleanest McDonald’s I have ever seen; even the area behind the counter is immaculate. There are hand sanitizers everywhere you look. This place is a germaphobe’s paradise.

There are big square windows (not sure why they are not round) on the bathroom doors. They are frosted, but I found it odd that they would even have a windowed door here.


The fries are really really good here…really. They always seem to be cooked to a nice golden brown, with crisp outsides and warm soft insides. They are not greasy and are salted very consistently.

Quarter Pounder

The burger, unfortunately, is not very good here. The meat is very salty, extremely overcooked, and rubbery. If I took the patty out of the bun and threw it against the wall, I swear it would bounce back in this spherical alternate universe. The bun seemed very soft and fresh, but have you ever eaten something that when you bring it to your mouth you pick up the slightest scent of something that is a little off, but you can’t figure out what it is? That was the bun. The onions were very fresh and provide good coverage, but they went crazy on the ketchup, which ends up making you feel like you are gnawing on a ketchup-flavored chew toy.

Burger rating: 1 out of 5 Grimaces


There’s a McDifference!

There’s a McDifference!

By Dave Foley, guest burgiatrist

One of our classmates at burgiatry school, Dave Foley, has developed a new burgiatric niche: rating McDonald’s. Not the restaurant chain in general, mind you, but each store individually. But the burgers are identical at every McDonald’s, you say? Tell that to the author of The Straight Beef’s feature, There’s a McDifference!

Review 2: 1567 Hwy 70 W, Garner

This shopping mall—Lowes shopping center at 401 and 70—is really crowded, and the parking lot for the McDonalds is always full, except I always seem to find the last parking space. My favorite saltwater fish aquarium store is in this mall, so it’s worth a visit.

Quarter Pounder: Mixed reviews for this Quarter Pounder. The meat is almost flavorless. It’s like they’re just cooking ground beef patties with absolutely no seasoning. The biggest disappointment, though, is the bun. It’s kind of hard on the outside, and you wind up poking holes in it just by holding it. Either they are not overly fresh or they toast them and let them get cold. The redeeming ingredient, though, is the onions. This McDonald’s cuts them into smaller pieces (most others cut them into those really big slices, which requires strategic arranging for good burger coverage), which pulls the weight for the whole burger. This time, that allowed for a surprisingly tasty burger all the way through—almost. The flavor train had ended by the last few bites, so I ended up with a very bland finish.

Fries: I think they overcook the fries here by a minute or two. It doesn’t affect the larger individual fries, but those little guys definitely pay the price. The salting is also very inconsistent. The result was that some of the fries were very good, but others were overcooked and unsalted.

Atmosphere: They really have gone the extra mile here to create a relaxing environment. If you enter through the main entrance, you’ll see a nice fountain in the entryway. They also have a huge play area with a separate bathroom. Along the far wall they have a row of nice lounge chairs facing a flat-screen TV. It seems to say, “Come on in and enjoy a cup of coffee.”

Burger rating: 2 out of 5 Grimaces


Our New Feature: There’s a McDifference!

Introducing our New McFeature

One of our classmates at burgiatry school, Dave Foley, has developed a new burgiatric niche: rating McDonald’s. Not the restaurant chain in general, mind you, but each store individually. But the burgers are identical at every McDonald’s, you say? Tell that to the author of The Straight Beef’s new feature, There’s a McDifference!

Dave’s Intro

I love McDonald’s. I have been eating McDonald’s at least once a week (recently on Wednesdays) for the last 30 years, and I order the same meal every single time: a Quarter Pounder With Cheese (no pickles) Meal Deal. Just the thought of my usual Wednesday McLunch brings joy to my heart. You may not be aware of this—and you may not believe it—but every McDonald’s tastes a little different. I have learned which McDonald’s are better than others.

During high school, I was trained and worked under some top chefs, learning how to prepare burgers at one of the fast-food giant’s competitors: Wendy’s. Although I learned how to craft a great burger, my allegiance was always to my first love.

My burgiatric colleagues have asked me to share my experience, and to help others find McDonald’s euphoria. I have eaten at almost every McDonald’s in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Garner, and Holly Springs. As part of this series, I will visit a different McDonald’s each time and share what I like and dislike about the restaurant and my meal.

There’s a McDifference!

Review 1: McDonald’s at 2010 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary

I’m starting at this one because it’s consistently my favorite McDonald’s, and this is the one I eat at most often. The owner of this McDonald’s, who owns a few others in the area, displays a calendar advertising the special deal of the day. Quarter Pounder day used to be on Wednesdays, which was a double bonus for me, but they have moved it to another day of the week. I’m almost over my bitterness and won’t dock them for this inconvenience.

Quarter Pounder: This McDonald’s delivers the most consistently good burger with the best flavor. If you nibble the meat that sticks out of the bun before digging in, you’ll find the meat is not too dry, not too moist, and has just the perfect amount of seasoning. I love pepper, and the patty has a definite pepper flavor. On this visit, it almost tasted like eating a peppercorn steak on a bun. Yummy!

Fries: Their fries at this McDonald’s are also consistent good, with that nice crisp on the outside and moistness on the inside—with a minimum of the crunchy end cuts. The fries break apart easily while you’re eating them, rather than giving you the feeling you’re chewing French fry gum. They also do a good job salting. I always grab a salt packet but rarely do I have to use it here. If anything, they’re usually very skimpy on quantity in the medium-size fries.

Atmosphere: After a complete redesign—it’s now a “green” McDonald’s—the place is very informative about all the construction methods and “green” devices that were used, including the high-tech, low-energy hand dryers in the bathrooms. For you electric car drivers, they have an electric pump outside, though I have never seen anyone using it.

There are two flat-screen TVs in the restaurant, one usually showing ESPN and the other a kids’ show. There is no play area at this McDonald’s, but the interactive nature of the place makes up for this shortcoming.

Burger rating: 4.5 out of 5 Grimaces