America has finally had its fill of the Quarter Pounder and Big Mac. Faced with another quarter of disappointing financial earnings, McDonald's is fast-tracking plans to let customers build their own burgers at its fast food locations. The "Create Your Taste" effort has been running at a small subset of McDonald's restaurants in California, but today the company announced a significant expansion that will bring it to 2,000 McD's locations in 2015. That's approximately one in every seven, as USA Today notes. For the more immediate future, Create Your Taste will be made available in 30 restaurants across Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Custom burgers cost more and take longer to make
Thankfully, building your "dream" McDonald's burger doesn't involve relaying every ingredient to someone at the order counter — a measure that preserves the sanity of customers and employees alike. The company uses touchscreen kiosks to let customers pick every ingredient (including a choice of bun, number of patties, and topping sauces) that will make up their burger. Spicy mayo, jalapeños, and grilled mushrooms are just a tap away. McDonald's also lets you build your own chicken sandwich, which is something not many fast food competitors can lay claim to.
But in exchange for that total control, you should throw out the typical serving time expectations you've come to expect from fast food chains. McDonald's takes around seven minutes to fully prepare and serve up Create Your Taste burgers. The end goal is to make customers think they're eating something a step or three above your everyday double cheeseburger. That mission extends to presentation; instead of coming in a cardboard box or wax paper, burgers are dressed up gourmet-style. Oh, and you'll be paying way more, too. USA Today notes that a custom burger, fries, and a soda can average more than $8.
Ultimately McDonald's hopes this focus on choice and quality will help stem the exodus of customers to Chipotle, Panera Bread, and other businesses luring consumers away from McDonald's for "healthier" options. Just don't expect to make your own burger from the drive-thru, where is where McDonald's makes the majority of its transactions; creative freedom requires eating in. And at that point, any illusion of a premium meal could quickly be lost.