Let me start off by saying that this isn't an anti-pickle rant. Pickles
aren't for everybody. This is a rant about the particularities of the
on a McDonald's cheeseburger
. The pickle on a McDonald's
cheeseburger is one of the most joyless things in existence
. It is
an affront to the very concept of a pickle, even by fast food
standards, and is hated by pickle lovers
and pickle haters
To start with, it's too small, between the size of a nickel and a
quarter, rather than the more pleasing size of a golden dollar.
It sits, hidden, in the much-larger cheeseburger, covering only a tiny
center portion of the sandwich. On the standard cheeseburger (as
opposed to the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder), the pickle
invariably appears alone on the sandwich. The pickle haters don't like
having a pickle on the sandwich to begin with; the pickle lovers either want a bigger pickle, or more pickles.
The texture of the McDonald's pickle is off. Ask the average pickle
lover what they expect of a fast food pickle, and they'll describe a
pickle a little more than an inch across, about an eighth of an inch
thick, and ripple cut. In addition to being too small, McDonald's
pickles are often also so thin that they're almost translucent.
They're also flat-sliced, rather than ripple-sliced. The combination
of thinness and flatness takes almost all the crunch out of the pickle,
concealing it as a shapeless flavor within the sandwich.
The color of the pickle is another strike against this poor excuse for
a garnish. A good pickle is supposed to be a dark, vibrant green, and
the inside of the pickle is supposed to be a lighter, almost whitish
green. While strictly speaking, the McDonald's pickle has these
traits, it has a sickly yellow tinge on top of everything, like the
cucumber was already slightly wilted when they pickled it.
The nail in the coffin for the McDonald's pickle is, of course, the
taste. A good pickle tastes of vinegar and brine, but in a very
clean, fresh way. Taking a bite of a pickle helps to clear your palate,
making the next bite of food taste better and more distinctive. Much
like wasabi does for sushi. The McDonald's pickle still has the
acidity and brine of a real pickle, but not the clean, fresh taste. A
McDonald's pickle has a bad aftertaste, like the pickle is resting
just on the old edge of the barrier between old and rancid.
So, a McDonald's pickle sits in the center of a cheeseburger like a
tiny bite of strangeness amidst other flavors. It lacks the texture
to change the way the food feels in your mouth, lacks the freshness
to make the rest of the sandwich taste better, and lacks the size and
frequency to satisfy a pickle lover's desire. The pickle's only
saving grace is that its sickly off-yellow color is mercifully
obscured by the bun of the sandwich.
The McDonald's pickle is small, poorly-cut, cheaply-made, bad-tasting
(but not so bad that you won't ever eat another one), and every single
pickle you get from McDonald's is the exact same as every other pickle
you get there. This is actually true of everything McDonald's serves,
from their watered-down drinks, to their sandwiches, to their french
fries, to their desserts, to their breakfast foods. It's especially
true of their salads, and it's even true of the prizes that
come in their Happy Meals.
The pickle on a McDonald's cheeseburger actually serves as a good
metaphor for the way McDonald's does business. They use inexpensive,
ugly, homogenous ingredients, which always taste the same way every
time you eat them. They've accepted mediocrity in exchange for
reproducibility. Since anyone can make the food, everyone will eat it.