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.