The Hamburger Project

Issue: Hamburgers that don’t taste like hamburgers
Anger Factor (out of 10): 3
Mission: Get McD’s to make a decent burger or at least bring back the McDLT
Mission Difficulty (out of 10): 10
For Bonus Marks: Appear on TV giving Ronald McDonald a high five
Status: Ongoing

This is the first and perhaps most ambitious project that the Last Angry Young Man is taking on. But by capitalising on a pre-existing anti-capitalist hatred of McDonalds and by developing as yet untapped anger, I think I can win this war. I’m not bothered by a lack of healthy menu choices, the death of oh so many cows or questionable environmental practices. Fast food ain’t healthy. People gotta eat. And it’s going to make garbage. But, if we’re going to get fat, kill millions of animals and throw millions of tons of paper and plastic in the trash, can’t we at least get a hamburger that tastes remotely like beef?

Phase I – Letter to Chief Operating Officer
On February 1, 2004, this letter was sent to Charlie Bell, President and Chief Operating Officer of McDonald’s Corporation on the outside chance that a simple letter can resolve this problem.

Mr. Charlie Bell
President and COO
McDonald’s Corporation
McDonald’s Plaza
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Dear Mr. Bell,

I write to you with a simple request. I just want a really good hamburger.

I’ve never cared about McDonald’s environmental practices, or the healthiness of the menu. In fact, your company has made more improvements in both of these areas than I would ever have expected. The area where I feel you have dropped the ball is the core business – making hamburgers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk into a McDonald’s restaurant anywhere in the world and get a really good hamburger? The kind that people cook in their back yards. A big thick ground beef patty that plumps up when you cook it and tastes like beef when you eat it. The kind of burger we associate with summertime and neighbourhood barbecues. There’s nothing about a BigMac that evokes summertime or barbecues. It doesn’t even taste like beef.

I know there are technical challenges to preparing a home-style burger. But if your company was willing to take a chance on the incomprehensible McGriddle, and invest millions in fast cooking ovens to prepare pizzas that nobody wanted, can you not find the cash to invest in a really good hamburger?

The closest you ever came was the McDLT. I could taste the meat. I could taste the lettuce and tomato. It wasn’t smothered in orange mayonnaise-based sauce. It was not a bad burger. It was served in a great big styrofoam protective case, which no doubt angered the environmentalists, but it was pretty tasty. I wouldn’t mind seeing the McDLT make a comeback.

The Last Angry Young Man is a web-based organization ( dedicated to using anger in productive ways. We identify maddening issues, assign them an anger value and set measurable goals against which we can measure the productivity of our actions. In this case, the issue of unsatisfactory hamburgers was assigned an anger value of 3 out of 10. The return of the McDLT would be considered a partial success. A new home-style burger would be considered a full success. And the project would be deemed an outstanding success if I were to appear on TV giving Ronald McDonald a “high five.”

I look forward to seeing a great new beefy tasting hamburger from McDonald’s. I know you can do it. maybe you can use some of that beef flavouring you used to put on the fries.


The Reply to Phase I – Who are these clowns?
On March 1, 2004, I received this reply from McDonald’s Corporation. If I was trying to set someone up to fail in business, the first bit of advice I would give them would be to follow the McDonald’s “don’t listen to your customers” model. This is basic stuff. They learned it on the 2nd episode of The Apprentice for pete’s sake – you have to listen to your customers. I wonder if Ray Kroc would be proud to see that his company now enforces a strict policy of not accepting customer suggestions. I guess when you have brilliant ideas coming from inside the company, like McPizza and a pork sandwich patty shaped to look like it has bones in it, you don’t really need to listen to customers. Just because 2003 saw the first ever non-profitable quarter for McDonald’s, doesn’t mean they need new ideas – maybe they simply need to close another 700 restaurants in the US and Japan and withdraw from three more Latin American countries. Or, heaven forbid, they could do what their customers suggest and MAKE BETTER HAMBURGERS.

The game heats up from here on in folks.

Phase II – Letter Writing Campaign – You Can Help!
Well they can ignore a solitary lunatic, but they can’t ignore thousands of us. And this time, we’re going straight to the top – Ronald himself. With the help of Last Angry Young Fans from around the world, I think we can send a powerful message. To do your part, go to this page and tell McDonald’s how you feel about their hamburgers. A form letter is provided below, but feel free to improvise. The McD’s online form requires some fields to be filled in, but you can put gibberish in place of your real information if you like. Let’s tell this clown how we feel.Dear Ronald,

I come to you with a desperate plea. I’m not asking you to save the rainforest, make people thin or prevent cruelty to animals. I don’t think you have any more or any less responsibility than the rest of us in those regards. But you do have a greater responsibility than the rest of us when it comes to the quality of hamburgers worldwide. It’s a responsibility you have taken upon yourself and one you have failed to meet.

Your patties are grey and flavourless. Your toppings are bland and certainly not fresh. Your buns ooze with an overabundance of orangey mayonnaise-based sauce. And the entire concoction is smooshed together in a generally unappealing mass with only the slimmest resemblance to a hamburger. The last good burger you made was the McDLT. It was flavourful, used real toppings and was neither oozing nor smooshed. Not a bad burger.

I’m part of a rapidly mobilising group of people who would like to help you improve the quality and flavour of your hamburgers. Maybe you could use some of that beef flavouring you used to put on the fries. As a good interim step towards some great future burgers, I humbly suggest that you reinstate the McDLT, the best burger you ever made.

I know times are tough at McDonalds these days with the falling revenues, failed expansions and whatnot, but there’s a simple solution. You run a hamburger company: Make better hamburgers.

A Last Angry Young Fan