Reality Check »

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

Reality Check: Cheddar Bacon Onion Angus Burger from McDonald's

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[Photographs: above, McDonald's; all others, Todd Brock]

If you're the type to believe primetime TV ads, then you might be lured in to your local McDonald's to try the new Cheddar Bacon Onion Sandwich, expecting to be wowed by its threemendous combination of premium toppings. Yes, white cheddar, hickory-smoked bacon, and caramelized grilled onions is a trio that certainly sounds promising. But any high hopes I had were more a direct result of the chain's most recent limited-time offering. Ronald rocked my world with his deep-fried chicken wings; who's to say his new burger wouldn't be as nice a surprise?

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Out of the box, my CBO compared pretty favorably to its gussied-up PR shot. I've been burned before by bad fast-food bacon, though, and admit to being somewhat suspicious at the sight of so much crisp pork belly sticking out from underneath.

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No strategic-arrangement shenanigans here; these were long strips of bacon that actually stretched beyond the bun on both sides. A quick visual inspection uncovered a few details that weren't as attractive: The white cheddar showed almost no melt, and the grilled onions didn't constitute a "pile" so much as a "pinch."

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But there was reason for hope. The braided bun Mickey D's uses on the Angus burgers has a substantial density to it, a far cry from the overly-airy pillows that disintegrate if you look at them wrong. But what really intrigued me was a sauce I didn't realize would be part of the equation. Listed as "Creamy Mustard Sauce," the CBO's page on the corporate website reveals that its first ingredient is nonfat yogurt and that there's some horseradish in there for added bite.

Personally, I found the Dijon-based sauce to be the best thing about the CBO, and I'm not a mustard guy. The combo of toppings was very good; I just wish it had been on a better burger. McDonald's beef—Angus or otherwise—is boring and bland, with no juiciness about it at all. It's a sad state of affairs when the weakest part about a burger...is the burger. But that was precisely the case with my CBO.

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The Cheddar Bacon Onion is also available as a chicken sandwich, and I'd like to believe that it's a better overall package, given how I now feel about McDonald's ability to fry pieces of chicken. As for the burger, I'll pass—but I pass on all of the burgers at Mickey D's. I think these toppings could make for a sensational burger, but only if you transplant them onto a juicy, hand-shaped, liberally-seasoned beef patty that hasn't been cooked to a dull, lifeless grey. That might actually be threemendous.

About the author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT and pizzas for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.

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