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

The Big King Is a Whopper of a Disappointment

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[Photographs: above, Burger King; others, Dennis Lee]

I don't know about you guys, but I think the fast food arms race is hilarious, especially between McDonald's and Burger King. Burger King has a history of creating bizarro versions of McDonald's food. This isn't the first time they pulled this kind of shit. They ripped off the Egg McMuffin by calling it the Egg'wich back in 2002, along with other sandwiches I thankfully can't recall. These days, Burger King is pulling a one-two punch combination with a simulated rib sandwich creatively called the BBQ Rib Sandwich, and now, they've created the Big King, which is an alternate-universe Big Mac.

It's not the first time they've taken pot shots at the Big Mac, either. According to good ol' Wikipedia, they created a version called the Double Supreme back in 1993, decided it wasn't good enough, and revived it as the Big King in 1996. Apparently that sandwich took a crap too, and they discontinued it not long after. But in the world of Burger King, dead things don't stay dead. They come back ten years later. So we're essentially looking at a zombie sandwich.

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The Big King will set you back $3.49, and at my neighborhood Burger King, it comes in a Whopper Jr. wrapper, which is a little confusing. In case you guys are wondering why the background of these photos is red, and resembles a couch, that's because it is a couch. I don't want to talk about it.

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The profile shot reveals a burger constructed with three layers of toasted sesame bun. It also has one piece of American cheese, onions, pickles, and special sauce.

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Instead of using dehydrated onion bits like the Big Mac, Burger King goes with the same giant fresh onion slices they use on Whoppers.

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And instead of using finely shredded iceberg lettuce, they use salad-sized chopped lettuce. The toppings don't live under the patty like the Big Mac, either. They're piled on top. But these are minor details.

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Like any good scientician, I also purchased a Big Mac to do a side-by-side comparison. I happen to live by both a Burger King and McDonald's (heaven, I know). Next to each other, they don't look terribly different, which is good, if your goal is to copy the other shamelessly.

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When you peel back the domes on both of these bad boys, the first thing you'll notice is your sense of major disappointment and shame that you're about to eat these things. Or is that just me? The other thing you'll notice is that the patties on the Big King are significantly bigger than the Big Mac. Notice I said bigger, not better.

There's a big flavor difference between the two burgers. The Big King's secret sauce is cloyingly sweet and pumped full of sugar, to the point where it gets overwhelming. Another difference is the flavor of the meat; Burger King's patties are "char-broiled" but end up tasting strongly like fake smoke, and the meat is gristly and dry. It's absolutely wonderful. And by wonderful, I mean pretty gross. I couldn't even eat half of the Big King.

The Big Mac isn't an angel by any means—look at how gray and thin that patty is. But its flavors are much more balanced, and even the dehydrated/rehydrated onion bits are better than the giant acrid bites of fresh onion on the Big King. While neither sandwich is remotely near the definition of the word "good," the Big King comes off as a weird farce. Which, like I said, I find sort of hilarious.

About the author: After a failed attempt at starting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.

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