As a fast-food staple that’s been around for more than 50 years, the cheeseburger is a classic dish enjoyed by Americans from all ages and walks of life. It has become so iconic, even its mere mention elicits smiles and a sense of nostalgia for the days before obese pandemics and cholesterol counts. Indeed, for many people, a cheeseburger is just plain comfort food.
A cheeseburger, of course, is a hamburger with cheese added. The original cheeseburger was created in 1924 by a 16-year-old named Lionel Sternberger who was working at his father’s Pasadena, California restaurant. The “Steakhouse Burger” featured a beef patty with American cheese melted on top.
When it comes to fast food, however, McDonald’s cheeseburger reigns supreme. The chain’s version was first introduced in 1955, the same year Ray Kroc founded the company with his brothers. Today, the McDonald’s cheeseburger is one of the chain’s most popular items, consistently ranking high on consumer surveys conducted by the chain.
The McDonald's cheeseburger is made up of 100 percent U.S. beef, 2 slices of processed American cheese, slivered onions, another slice of bread, pickle slices, and their signature special sauce. The beef is seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, and other natural flavors such as sucrose, garlic powder, and sesame oil. Customers can opt to add a slice of tomato and lettuce to their burgers, as well as additional sauces such as mayonnaise and ketchup.
From a nutritional perspective, the McDonald’s Cheeseburger clocks in at 300 calories, containing 13 grams of fat and 740 milligrams of sodium. Burger fans will be glad to know, though, that the cheeseburger is surprisingly low in cholesterol, boasting only 75 milligrams.
For those with bigger appetites, the Big Mac is another option. The burger consists of two all-beef patties, American cheese, special sauce, lettuce, and pickles, all served on a three-piece sesame seed bun. Calorically, it’s almost double the cheeseburger; however, it does contain fewer grams of fat and cholesterol.
In 2018, McDonald’s introduced a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a burger that uses two 1/4-pound patties, two slices of melted American cheese, sliced onions, pickles, and ketchup served on a soft and buttery bun. Thanks to the size, this burger clocks in at just over 600 calories and 43 grams of fat.
Another noteworthy variation of the classic is the Bacon Cheeseburger. As the name implies, this burger adds crispy bacon, giving it added flavor and crunch. The Bacon Cheeseburger from McDonald’s contains 360 calories, 17 grams of fat, and a whopping 1,050 milligrams of sodium.
The bacon cheeseburger clearly isn’t for the health-conscious, but as an occasional indulgence, it sure does hit the spot. And when it comes to fast food burgers, the McDonald’s cheeseburger is a classic that continues to never go out of style.
How a Cheeseburger (McDonald’s) Gets From a Plant to a Plate
McDonald’s is a major global fast food chain, offering an iconic menu of classic items such as the cheeseburger. In the USA alone, McDonald’s serves an estimated 25 million customers a day and nearly 7 million lbs of beef per day according to a 2015 report. So, how exactly does the hamburger, a staple item on the McDonald’s menu, arrive at your plate?
In this article, we will explore from start to finish the steps necessary to turn raw ingredients into a delicious home-cooked meal. From harvesting and processing of the beef, vegetable, and cheese ingredients, to the way it is cooked and served, you will gain a better understanding of how a McDonald’s cheeseburger arrives at your table ready for consumption.
Harvesting and Processing the Beef
A McDonald’s cheeseburger starts with the beef. This particular chain sources its beef from supply chain partners that raise exclusively Angus cattle, which best allows for achieving the desired flavor and texture profiles. To ensure product quality and safety, these suppliers have a stringent testing program in place to ensure that the beef is free of contaminants and only of the highest quality.
The beef then moves to the processing plant. Raw and unprocessed, the beef is inspected, trimmed, and broken down into ingredients that are subsequently ground, shredded, chopped, and blended. For example, a chopped beef patty may start out as a center cut chuck, a piece of beef that is both high in flavor and tenderness.
Once all of the beef has been processed and inspected, it is then sent to various locations all over the country, depending on where it will be used to make McDonald’s burgers. In addition to being frozen or preserved, the beef is also vacuum packed to maintain freshness and stability during transportation.
Processing the Vegetables
The next step in producing a McDonald’s burger is processing the vegetables. The vegetables can be either prewashed or washed before further processing, depending on consumer preference. In order to preserve the quality of the veggies, they are sorted and washed with cold water and inspected for damage and discoloration.
For instance, tomatoes are cut into slices, onions are chopped into small pieces, and lettuce is shredded in order to be used as toppings. To ensure that the vegetables retain a fresh and crisp texture and look appetizing, these vegetables are cooled to just above room temperature and placed in a tray with a preservative solution called “ethylene” to seal in freshness.
These vegetables can then be utilized as ingredients in various stages of the McDonald’s cheeseburger production process, such as the actual manufacturing of the hamburger patty.
Processing the Cheese
The cheeseburger is built upon the cheese. Its flavor is distinct and adds that unmistakable cheesy flavor to an already delicious burger. For McDonald’s burgers, the cheese is sourced from a supplier approved by the company, who provide freshly processed cheeses that are transported to the restaurants where they are applied as toppings.
The cheese itself goes through a myriad of processes before it’s ready for use. The cheese starts as a fresh product, such as cultured milk or fresh butter, and is subject to a process of molding, pressing, cutting, slicing, and wrapping.
McDonald’s uses American cheese slices as its standard cheese, due to its flavor, melt reconstruction and cost effectiveness.
Assembling the Cheeseburger
McDonald’s uses a range of procedures during the assembling process, aimed at maintaining product quality and consistency to ensure that each customer receives the same burger each and every time. The beef patties are cooked on a heated grill, the buns are toasted, the toppings are added, and the cheese is melted. Once the burger has been assembled, it is then ready to be served.
Packaging & Delivery
Once assembled, the cheeseburger is automatically placed in a box and sealed. The majority of McDonald’s restaurants in the USA now use what is known as the ‘Quick Pack’ method. Here, up to eight individual boxes of burgers are placed in a larger box, creating a “convenience pack”. This method is designed to make it easier to carry and deliver the burgers to the customers.
In the US, delivery orders are placed via Uber Eats and DoorDash, with third party delivery companies such as Grubhub also providing services, allowing customers to have burgers delivered right to their door.
When you receive your McDonald’s hamburger, you may not give much thought to what it takes to create this iconic dish. From the harvesting and processing of the beef, the selection and processing of the vegetables and cheese, to the assembly and delivery of the burgers, the amount of effort that goes into producing a McDonald’s cheeseburger is impressive.
To create millions of burgers per day of consistent quality and flavor for consumers all over the world certainly isn’t easy. The success of McDonald’s as an international chain partly relies on the continued performance of each and every one of these steps and processes. Without them, McDonald’s wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is today.
|Vitamin C||0.6 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.22 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.26 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.00403 grams|
|Vitamin B9||0.059 mg|
|Vitamin B12||0.86 ug|
Daily Value 1.3 g
Daily Value 0.018 g
Daily Value 0.4 g
Daily Value 1.25 g
Daily Value 4.7 g
Daily Value 2.3 g
Daily Value 0.011 g
Daily Value 0.9 mg
Daily Value 0.0023 g
|Total Sugars||6.2 grams||
|Total Sterols:||0.04 g|