McDonald's vs. Burger King: Which is better?


Fact Box

  • Burger King began in 1954 in Miami by business partners James W. McLamore and David Edgerton, with the first nationwide franchises starting in 1959. 
  • Brothers Maurice ('Mac') and Richard McDonald opened the first-ever McDonald's in 1940 in California, with the vision of producing 'huge quantities of food at low prices,' something they achieved by limiting the menu. 
  • A YouGov poll reveals that 34% of Americans believe McDonald's has the best fries--making their fries top-rated in the US--while Burger King takes the crown for their burgers that 15% of Americans deem one of the best, tied only with Five Guys' burgers.
  • According to the CDC, over 1 in 3 (36.6%) American adults consumed fast food “on a given day” in 2013-2016.

Joanna (McDonald’s)

McDonald's is the most popular fast-food franchise, a consistent finding that studies such as this 2019 one by UBS Evidence Lab proves. The fact that the company has 38,000 locations in 100 countries further vouches for this. 

Food-wise, McDonald's offers better fries and chicken-based menu items than Burger King. In fact, its fries are the second-best across the US, though many consumers rank them even higher. Its nuggets also rank in the top-three across most lists, higher than Burger King's 'slightly soggy,' non-crunchy nuggets.

Further adding to McDonald's appeal is it being slightly healthier. Whereas the Whopper has 660 calories, the Big Mac has 540 calories. And when it comes to fat and saturated fat, the Big Mac wins with 1g and 10g, respectively, while the Whopper has 1.5g of trans. fat and 12g of saturated fat.

Complementing the food is McDonald's dedication to staying ahead of the curve. For instance, it launched McCafé in 2009 to improve breakfast performance. Burger King didn't begin competing in the coffee market until ten years later.  

It has also stayed up to date with the latest tech to make customers' experience smoother. In 2019, for example, it launched a customizable drive-through experience that can be tweaked according to weather, popular menu items of the day, and traffic. 

Another feather in McDonald's business cap is its inclusion of children--who make up 22% of the population--in their targeted demographic. The company's Happy Meal, which features colorful packaging and a toy, is marketed directly to its young consumers--to truly make the meal a happy one. 

So, despite their mascot being a clown, McDonald's is serious about staying at the top--where it belongs.  

Maha (Burger King)

Burger King has truly established itself as the royalty of burger chains over the span of 60+ years--a point that doesn't require a crowned mascot to prove. 

When it comes to food, Burger King is better in terms of taste. For instance, BK's signature Whopper has a char-grilled patty that's so satisfying and filling that it doesn't need an additional bun. It's also wider and heavier than a Big Mac, allowing people to share it or have it later. 

As for value, Burger King is, well, the king. A serving for medium fries costs around $3.39, but the portion is more generous than its counterparts. Similarly, Burger King's double cheeseburger costs $2.29, whereas McDonald's costs $3.79. Yet, the former delivers more value for less through a thick beef patty rather than additional toppings.

But what truly makes Burger King stand out among its peers is its focus on delivering fresh, healthier food. In 2020, around 85% of its foods were free of additive colors, flavors, and preservatives. The Moldy Whopper campaign confirmed this by showing the burger decomposing naturally. 

Food aside, Burger King has been quite innovative in reaching out to consumers. In addition to the Moldy Whopper, it came up with the QR Whopper Giveaway during the pandemic. TV watchers scanned a code on their screens to get a free burger. 

Burger King's marketing team even targeted disgruntled McDonald's customers. In addition to lighthearted responses, customers got a link to grab a free Whopper.

With a blend of flavor, value, and out-of-the-box marketing, Burger King won't be giving up its throne any time soon. 

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