Reality Check »

Reviews of fast food burgers and a look at how the real life version compares to the advertised beauty shot.

Reality Check: The Lauginator, McDonald's Germany's Pretzel-bun Burger

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[Photographs: Top, McDonald's; others, Conor O'Rourke]

To generalize, my fast food experiences are typically late-night, distracted affairs that devote a minimum of attention to the task at hand. Sometimes I leave without even really being sure what it was that I just ate. So walking into the McDonald's at two in the afternoon felt strange. It was hot in there, like really hot, and the trash littering the floor turned out to be a more permanent fixture of the restaurant than I had previously imagined.

In a move probably alleged to be a miracle of social marketing, McDonald's Germany recently unveiled the top five crowd-sourced burgers that earned the most votes in their "My Burger" campaign, in which about 330,000 burger recipes were submitted online by McDonald's fans. Each with a vaguely German focus, the first and most interesting of the combo was the Lauginator (€4.69, about $6)—call it a Pretzelnator, I guess—a burger with a pretzel bun, minus the exterior salt. It kinda looks like a brioche, though.

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It came with a bunch of toppings: sour cream sauce, red onions, lettuce, ham, "Italian hard cheese," and cheddar cheese. The shiny surface of the pretzel bun glistened sweatily as I opened the box. It seemed to be winking at me. The toppings seemed to be of reasonably good quality; the onions and lettuce were crunchy and fresh. On the other hand, the three (!!) different dairy products that were present kinda just blended together into a pungent fattiness. This burger is greasy.

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Fast food burgers usually have a problem with being dried out, but not this one. Really, I felt like I was wringing the grease out of it every time I picked it up. Once I thought I saw oily droplets falling out, but maybe the oppressive heat in the restaurant was causing me to hallucinate. The burger itself was juicy, after a fashion, but didn't have much flavor. The pungency of the red onions played well with the ham and Unidentified Classy Italian Cheese, while the cheddar and sour cream sauce seemed entirely superfluous and just added to the greasiness. I can't emphasize this aspect enough.

Halfway through now, I was losing steam, and the burger only seemed to be getting stronger, its flavors multiplying into a weird bitterness. Exhausted, sweating, and with my stomach rebelling, I gave up and left the restaurant. I couldn't even ride my bike home.

Note: Each burger from the "My Burger" campaign is available at all McDonald's in Germany for only one week (the Lauginator's week is already over). View all the dates and burgers at mcdonalds.de.

About the author: Conor O'Rourke is a freelance journalist living in Berlin. He can usually be found losing at pub quiz or at home trying to cook the perfect fish curry.

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