Photographer Dario D was fed up with his fast food order not looking quite as appetizing as it did on the advert and decided to see how the food sold over the counter matched up to the promised product.
He bought burgers and tacos from some of the biggest chains in the United States and set them up in his studio for a professional standard photo shoot.
And the difference was clear to see.
Dario D found that most of the burgers he bought were not quite as tall as the adverts promised they would be.
In fact, Big Macs would struggle to fit inside their boxes if they matched their picture.
Another McDonald’s burger, the Angus Deluxe Third Pounder, would have the same trouble.
Dario D embarked on the project following: “a lifetime of disappointment, bafflement, and rage”, posting the results on his website.
He gave Burger King’s Whopper a few tries, but after slightly squashed results could only conclude: “They need to fire the guy who does his yoga on top of the Whoppers.”
In one side-by-side comparison, he showed the results of asking staff at different locations to make the Whopper look like its advert.
Photographer Dario D found that most of the burgers he bought were not quite as tall as the adverts promised they would be
“Both times, the cashiers turned and took strangely long, careful looks, as if nobody had ever requested that before,” he said.
“They said sure.”
Out of curiosity, Dario D complained about the “misleading” adverts.
A member of Burger King’s Consumer Relations Team replied: “One may find the Whopper Sandwich as pictured in commercials more attractive because during photo sessions, professional food stylists are used to ensure the consistency and appearance.”
It wasn’t just burger chains where the food failed to size up to its commercial counterpart.
In Taco Bell and Jack in the Box, the tacos were thin compared with the packed shells in the adverts.
Of the Taco Bell results, Dario D said: “Since these tacos are pretty dry and empty, I can only tolerate them with hot sauce, which, for me, is when they become good.”
With the help of a green screen and rotating chair, Dario D took each product’s photo at the most flattering angle he could before using digital software to show the advert and real product side-by-side.
Dario D said: “I gave the items as fair a chance as absolutely possible.”
McDonald’s is trying to tell us that a Big Mac is just like a home-cooked meal by posting a tutorial on You Tube explaining how to make the famous burger at home.
The warm and fuzzy PR stunt comes hot off the heels of the restaurant chain candidly revealing the secret to how it makes it’s burgers look so much bigger, juicer and tastier in its adverts than in its restaurants – using “food stylists”.
The latest video sees McDonald’s executive chef Dan Coudreaut casually preparing a Big Mac at home, but the fact the finished product looks nothing like the burgers served up in store doesn’t seem to bother him.
Just like the expose on why McDonald’s burgers look better in the ads, the video begins with a question from a customer.
“We have a question here from Christine… what is in your special sauce?” he says before taking viewers step by step through the process of making its two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
McDonald’s is trying to tell us that a Big Mac is just like a home-cooked meal
While chopping, whisking and grilling his ingredients, Dan Coudreaut continually reminds those watching that the produce he’s using is all available in their local grocery store.
For the so-called special sauce – which Dan Coudreaut reveals is “not really a secret” because the ingredients have been available in shops and online “for years” – store-bought mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish and yellow mustard are whisked together with vinegar, garlic powder, onion power and paprika.
The chef dices an onion and chops some lettuce which “gives you that nice moisture and crunch”. He then says the pickles he’s using are also from his local grocery store.
“Now the bun is the classic signature of the Big Mac experience,” Dan Coudreaut says as he slices it in half and toasts it, whistling while he works.
Then it’s patty time.
“This is 100 per cent beef,” he insists as he squishes the creamy looking pink stuff into a metal ring, “just like in our restaurants”.
He adds, clearly proud of his measly thin accomplishment: “There we go, that’s a good one.”
Before chucking them in a pan: “And they’re going in, you hear that sizzle?”
Again Dan Coudreaut insists he’s following the process used by the fast-food chain’s cooks around the world saying, “and once I flip it over I’m just going to season it with a little salt and pepper just like we do at the restaurants”.
Now the secret – or not so secret – is out, we’ll never have to go to an actual McDonald’s restaurant again.
Though that probably wasn’t the incentive behind the video.