McDonald’s, which has been focusing on upgrading its core items to increase sales, is introducing a series of changes designed to improve its signature burger.
Cakes will be softer. Cheese, sticky. Onions are added to pancakes directly on the grill. And Big Mac sauce? There will be more of it.
“We’ve found that small changes, like tweaking our process for hotter, meltier cheese and tweaking our grill settings for a better sear, add up to a big difference in making our burgers tastier than ever,” said Chef Chad Shaver, senior manager. Culinary innovation for McDonald’s USA, in a statement Monday. Promotions apply to the Big Mac and McDoubleburger as well as the classic cheeseburger, double cheeseburger and hamburger.
The company said the improvements were first made to its burgers in international markets, and have already reached some US cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix and Las Vegas. It will be available nationwide by early next year.
The changes follow other improvements to the main menu items.
In 2018, McDonald’s announced that it would switch to fresh beef for its Quarter Pounders, a complex move with significant sales profits. In 2021, it launched a crispy chicken sandwich to replace its previous iterations—a relatively late arrival in the chicken sandwich wars, but one that seems to have resonated with McDonald’s customers. .
“We’re gaining market share in both chicken and beef,” Chris Kempzynski, CEO of McDonald’s Corporation (MCD) said during a January call with analysts, “thanks to improved burgers and items like the chicken sandwich.” “In an environment where our customers are looking for things simple and familiar, our menu staples have never been more relevant,” he said. In the US, sales at stores open for at least 13 months jumped 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022, rising 10.3% for the full year.
Focusing on promoting core menu items, rather than introducing new products, is a way to keep operations simpler and reduce friction in the kitchen. McDonald’s has used promotions such as Celebrity Meal Stands and the Adult Happy Meal to generate buzz around its signature items.
“Throughout 2022, some of our most successful campaign platforms have brought our customers closer to essential menu items,” Kempzinski said during the January call.
McDonald’s isn’t the only brand trying to improve its flagship offering.
Burger King, which last year announced a plan to shake up its business, is focused on improving its whoppers and making them more visible in ads. In the fourth quarter of last year, Whopper trainings were held for franchisees. The brand said in February that the Whopper contributed to the increase in US sales in that quarter.