Who’s the real burger king?


Flavour feud: Burgers

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. August 4, 2016

When it comes to food, I find the burger to be the consistent favourite, one that seldom disappoints. Pick the burger on the menu and you know what you are going to get. It might never blow you away, but it’s also hard to mess up.

In this Flavour Feud, we’ll look at four players in the fast food game, and see which burger stacks up best against the competitors.

A&W’s Teen Burger: The initial bite had a generous serving of bread, crisp in my mouth, soft between my hands. As I made my way through the flavour landscape of the Teen Burger, I was filled with fluctuating emotions. Like a song that had a good beat but awful lyrics, the Teen Burger was great one bite and mediocre the next. This is because of the ingredients.

A&w flavour feud

Nobody takes centre stage on the Teen Burger, all the ingredients share a unique spot and that is its downfall. One bite I’ll get the bacon, one bite I’ll get the lettuce, and one bite I’ll get the mustard.

While there is no spotlight on any individual ingredient, it’s not surprising that the bacon is the saviour, the hero. Sometimes I find that bacon can overwhelm a burger, but here it is perfect. It’s subtle, doing its thing in the background.

However, the lettuce is lackluster and the mustard—whenever put into a burger—is a lame attempt. It’s not a hotdog, after all. A bad supporting line-up of ingredients let the Teen Burger down.


McDonald’s Big Mac: Long have I been a fan of the Big Mac. When I talk about consistency, I’m thinking of the Big Mac. On this occasion, it was ready to impress. There is always a wild card when ordering fast food. One thing that can spoil the burger is the freshness. Feeling the warmth of the burger bun assured me that this experience would not be affected by the timeliness of the bite.

The Big Mac is a marshmallow of a burger. It is never “big,” but as you eat it, it slowly compresses within your grip. Smaller and smaller, it gets. That’s not the only pattern that the Big Mac has: the flavour crescendos one bite after the next, until you reach the creamy middle. There is a lot of bun in the beginning, but as you reach the core, you cannot ignore the savoury goodness.

mcdonald's big mac

The sauce is what separates the Big Mac from any other burger in the world. It relies so heavily on it that I wonder what a Big Mac without the sauce would taste like. Probably very bland. The thing is, the sauce can elevate every burger on the menu, but it is reserved solely for the Big Mac. And that is why the Big Mac is still one of the most popular options on the menu. One criticism: Get rid of the middle slice of bread.


Burger King’s Whopper with Cheese: The Whopper with Cheese comes wrapped like a gift. And, like most gifts, there is sweetness to it. Warm and soft, the Whopper is so much more with the cheese. It’s definitely worth it to have the premium.

Where the Whopper falters is with the construction of the burger. Take a bite and you’ll notice the big crunch of the veggies, but the patty and the sauce are lost. The Whopper does not melt, it requires you to chew, chew, and chew. With the sauce at the top and the thick layer of ingredients in the way, you never truly taste the soul of the burger. Try eating it upside down.

The burger patty itself doesn’t get a lot of love, which is ironic considering it is the Burger “King.” Where it redeems itself is with the vegetables. They taste fresh, like actual vegetables in a market, which is high praise for a fast food restaurant. The onion, however, was a bit overwhelming.

Overall, the Whopper is filled with missed opportunities to highlight the key tastes you would expect from a burger.


Wendy’s Dave’s Single with Cheese: Held tightly within the trashy looking wrapper is the not-so-famous Dave’s Single with Cheese. Yes, even the name is less than impressive. I’ve driven 30 minutes to order a Baconator from Wendy’s, but I would not go out of my way for the Dave’s Single with Cheese.

While the Baconator is in another league, the Dave’s Single with Cheese is barely even playing the same sport when compared with the other burgers on this list. It is cafeteria food at worst and a McDonald’s hamburger at best. While eating this burger, I can’t help feel that we have overpaid for it—the same feeling I get when buying food at a movie theatre.


So what qualities harmed the Dave’s Single with Cheese the most? First, let’s talk about the bun. It’s uninspiring and almost insulting. Without any sesame, the bun feels fake in my hand, as if I’m holding a prop. Secondly, the sauce is boring. What is it? Ketchup. Lastly, the square burger patty is gimmicky and tasted as though it might have past its prime.

Good thing Wendy’s is not relying on the Dave’s Single with Cheese as its sole attraction. It’s a lazy burger, one that I can make at home with a frying pan—and I’m not a good cook.


Elliot’s rankings:

Big Mac
Teen Burger
Whopper with cheese
Dave’s Single with Cheese

By Eric Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief

A&W’s Teen Burger: This was the burger of my childhood. I’m not sure I even set foot in a Burger King or Wendy’s until high school, and my mother had a bad experience with McDonald’s meat growing up…amusingly meaning the rest of us were restricted to their chicken and fish offerings as well. Clearly a bullet dodged.

This was probably my first Teen Burger since I was actually a teen, and it’s still fantastic. “Good” fast food is a bit of a crapshoot—it takes a bit of luck. If you get stuck with a smaller tomato slice or onion, the cheese isn’t centred to melt properly on the patty, or the employee was generally a little sloppy in creating your solidified grease, it’s quite possible to go from a good burger to a disappointing one. I got lucky in this case. First bite had it all. Tomato, lettuce, bacon, onion, pickles, cheese, ketchup, mustard, and teen sauce. Scrumptious goodness.


McDonald’s Big Mac: The Big Mac is the definition of a flagship burger and it’s so wonderfully iconic that most everyone immediately knows what it is. You can hold up any other burger and have some confusion, but not the Big Mac. You know it’s the Big Mac. Two buns, two patties, lettuce, pickles, onion, special sauce, and the all-important bread in the middle. Thing of beauty.

The day I had a Big Mac for the first time was the moment I realized there was more to life than five value picks for under $10. It didn’t disappoint then and it never has. The key here is, of course, the bread in the middle. Part of the problem with burgers is that it’s very difficult to get every part of the burger in every bite; the Big Mac solves this. Whether partially as a placebo or actually backed up by heavily funded and biased fast-food science, the middle serves to soak up all the flavours and present them in one delicious mouthful after another. I’d probably be more than happy to just eat a bunch of middles with nothing else. Probably.



burger king flavour feud

Burger King’s Whopper with Cheese: My first experience with the Whopper came last year when I was working at a Starbucks right beside a Burger King. It was love at first bite then and it hasn’t changed since. Easily one of the heftiest burgers around; it sits so solidly in your hand that you could swear there’s some invisible ingredient in there weighing it down. But there isn’t. It’s just a real burger. Giant juicy patty, adequate support ingredients, and quality thick wrapping. And while you can eat more than one, there’s no need to unless you really want to. It’s like the Gatorade of burgers: hunger quencher. Get it on Whopper Wednesday for $3 ($3.50 with cheese) and it’s the best value out there.


Wendy’s Dave’s Single with Cheese: When I first picked up the burger I assumed the apostrophe following “Dave” was to show ownership. Whose single with cheese is that? Dave’s. However, halfway through my first bite I realized my mistake. The apostrophe is for a contraction. This offering is so bad that it’s resulted in the bachelorhood of poor Dave. Dave is single with cheese. What an absolutely garbage excuse for a burger. One of the precious few times I’ve been unwilling to finish.

burger journalism

Starting with the presentation, things were already going downhill: an overbearingly shiny foil wrap with metallic red print—food attire so offensive to the eye it even looks like it’d get kicked out of even the most desperate of nightclubs. The bun was tasteless and thick, the patty had a weird taste to it, and the rest of the ingredients—while mediocre enough to pass in any other burger—sure weren’t even remotely good enough to salvage the barely edible performance. The meat at Wendy’s, and thus, in a Dave’s Single with Cheese, may be fresh, never frozen, but if this were a prizefight, that burger would be out cold.


Eric’s rankings:

Big Mac
Whopper with cheese
Teen Burger
Dave’s Single with Cheese

Whole Foods to start selling ‘imperfect’ fruits and vegetables


Why we should stop being so shallow towards our food’s appearance

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 17, 2016

First it was organics, now Whole Foods is aiming to make the buying and eating of “imperfect” fruits and vegetable as mainstream as drinking kombucha.

Approximately 20–40 per cent of all fruits and vegetables end up in the trash. According to Environmental Protection Agency, US consumers wasted 35 million pounds of food in 2012. There are a number of reasons why such a large quantity of food ends up in the garbage, and including the fact that supermarkets have a high standard for the produce they sell. So, like a model for a talent agent, the tomato in your supermarket must also go through an appearance assessment.

Now whether this experiment is going to work for Whole Foods and a number of other forward-thinking grocers is still up in the air. Consumers, especially consumers in developed countries, are quite fickle about what they buy. We work hard for our money, so why would we buy something of lower quality when we can have the better one for the same price?

Still, there is something heartwarming about finding a good home for these rejected fruits and vegetables. Like an orphanage for food, it’s good to know that Whole Foods is doing its part to change the superficial ideal that is ultimately harming our society. Buying “ugly” food is not a novelty, though. It’s not a freak show, it’s not for a one-time entertainment, it’s something we need to make habitual. That is where the challenge will be.

We must remember that in the end, it all just ends in the same place. Why does it matter how good an avocado looks before you mash it up into guacamole? Why does it matter how a carrot looks before you toss it in a stew? Sure, some fruit and vegetables—those you set on a platter for a house party, for example—need to look somewhat desirable, but in the end, why does it matter?

We are so shallow about fruit and vegetables, but when it comes to animals we are fine with them being unattractive. Beef, pork, and seafood are not as cute as the little potato, but many of us eat them all the same. As long as you can tell the difference between fresh and spoiled, it rarely matters how the ingredients look.

In fact, I believe we should start eliminating the idea of disgusting food from our society altogether. Our diets consist of many environmentally damaging productions. Acres of forestland are dedicated to cattle. Animals that were once in abundance, like species of salmon, are now being carefully rationed for fear of causing a greater imbalance. Yet, there is one species in the animal kingdom the Western world still finds grotesque: insects.

Like ugly fruits and vegetables, insects are often scorned for their pesky nature. We see them as many things, but nutritious is not one of them. However, many people in developing countries depend on them for survival daily.

Pushing for ugly foods to be sold is a small step, but there is a long way to go to create a sustainable world. If that is the goal, we need to change our opinions about imperfect fruits and vegetables—and soon our opinion about all things edible.

The gravel is always grayer


Don’t be pressured to purchase by the snobby world around you

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept 10, 2015

I won’t do it. I won’t spend eight hours a day, 251 days a year working to buy an expensive car or a fancy-ass watch or anything that I don’t need. I won’t do it to impress an employer, I won’t do it to impress friends, and I won’t do it to impress family. Life is so much more than being frivolous. Even if I am wealthy, I will not blow my paycheque on items that are supposed to catapult me to the next social class. Fuck that!

Today everyone is a connoisseur of some sort. Fashion, food, drinks, and so on. Everybody thinks they are experts at something and therefore are encouraged—nay, expected—to judge it. This type of snobbery extends from music, to food, to transportation, to neighbourhoods.

We have all behaved like snobs at one point or another. Most of us don’t even notice it. The reason is that we all have our own interests, and we live in a democracy where many around us don’t share those same values. Someone who is interested in beer and wine would know the lengthy details of how the drinks are produced, and which are “better.” Someone who is interested in cars would tell you that he or she would never go back to driving anything with a six-cylinder inline engine after leasing a vehicle equipped with a V6. Some who are interested in luxury handbags would tell you that it is so much more than a container for make-up products; it’s a statement on the social climate. I get it. We all have our things.

Learn to tell the difference between good and bad of course, but stop yourself from trying to discover good from great. Great is not that great. Great does not make you happy. Great is meaningless luxury. Great can be sustenance, yes, but it is also wasteful. Great is a lie you tell yourself so that you don’t feel bad paying double for a bottle of wine or a pair of shoes or a meal.

Having a palette for good things and appreciating them is much healthier than constantly demanding the finest. You deserve to be happy, but if happiness is having the best things in the world, you are just getting ripped off, my friend.

“Don’t be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.” I feel like an elementary teacher told me this, but it was probably some television PSA I saw. Nevertheless, that statement stuck with me. But I don’t live by it. I do many things that I don’t want to do. I don’t like cleaning, but I do it. I don’t like waiting in long line-ups, but I wait. I don’t like paying taxes, but I have to. That’s just life. However, what I can control is what I want to spend my money on and I don’t have to spend it on what you want me to spend it on.

Flavour feud – Potato chips: Lay’s versus Miss Vickie’s

Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy

Originally published in The Other Press. May 5, 2015

There is nothing more frustrating than standing in the snack aisle, surveying the selection, getting overwhelmed, and breaking down in tears. We know how hard it is to make that tough decision. We want to help you pick the perfect snack. But everybody’s taste is different, so in this series we’ll carefully evaluate each flavour and offer our opinions. Take it or leave it, but you should really buy something soon or else you’ll start looking suspicious. In this edition, we’ll look at potato chips—Lay’s and Miss Vickie’s to be specific.

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Lay’s Classic: An almost perfect blank slate, Classic offers comfort and simplicity. A delightful crunch and a salty potato taste that is as authentic as McDonald’s French fries. I don’t always pick Lay’s Classic as chip of choice, but when I do, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed.

Lay’s Salt and Vinegar: This flavour proves to me that Lay’s has a pretty solid handle on subtle flavour. I’m not the biggest fan of vinegar. For some chips it’s too overwhelming for me, but Lay’s version is innocuous as long as you have a beverage close at hand.

Lay’s Ketchup: Perhaps the reason I enjoy Lay’s Ketchup so much is because of its exclusivity, since the flavour is not available in the US. But no, it’s good. Not every brand can deal with the fine taste of a familiar condiment, but Lay’s tried and it’s uniquely their own. Few chips can offer the same savory experience that Lay’s does with Ketchup.

Miss Vickie’s Jalapeño: A staple food growing up, Miss Vickie’s Jalapenño ignites a sudden burst of nostalgia coupled with an innocuous zig. While it was the popular choice in my high school vending machine, I must say that I have grown out of it. The spicy jalapeño flavour is dull in comparison to Doritos. Once you leave high school, you realize that there is more out there than a bag of chips that makes you cough every third crunch.

Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar: Not just simply salt and vinegar, but sea salt and malt vinegar—ohhh! If saltiness is what you want in chips, then S&V is your thing. It’s one step above Lay’s in flavour, which to me is too much. A few bites and I’m parched. If you pick S&V be sure to pair it with a chilled bottle of Coke.

Miss Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream: A flavour uniquely Miss Vickie’s. An epic crunch takes away from the flavourful chip. The chip crumbles in your mouth and your tongue will do its best to savour the taste, but it doesn’t last. Nevertheless, it is a delightful choice for those caught in between decisions. It has a little of everything.

Verdict: There is just something special about Lay’s that’s simple and enjoyable without destroying your taste buds and churning up your stomach. Miss Vickie’s is a kaleidoscope of flavours, nothing wrong with that. But Lay’s is more of a microscope. They do the originals and secondary flavours right. Consistency is the key to a good chip.

By Eric Wilkins, Assistant Editor

Lay’s Classic: Easily the I-can’t-believe-that’s-what-you-got of chips. Seriously? Tasteless and poor consistency. It’s a lot like their former spokesman, Mark Messier, in the twilight of his career: super recognizable, but not that good.

Lay’s Salt and Vinegar: Everyone’s first relationship is an intense experience, and one that is often significantly less perfect in hindsight. Such was my time with this salty vixen. It was all fun and games when Lay’s S&V was my favourite growing up, but I’ve since come to notice the lack of substance. Always addicted to being as thin as possible, S&V never quite got the flavour-chip ratio right. Forever with a chip on its shoulder.

Lay’s Ketchup: I may have it out for Lay’s, but if there’s something they’ve got right, it’s their ketchup chips. I’m admittedly more of a mustard man—where are those eh?—however, credit is given where credit’s due. Few of the more unique flavours taste even remotely similar to what they’re supposed to and the majority of taste is in the suggestive packaging, but Lay’s Ketchup really hits it near the edge of the bottle. The only reason anyone should ever pick up a bag of Lay’s.

Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno: Short disclaimer before I proceed: anything even remotely spicy gets me sweating; however, I love spicy food. Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno? Not that spicy. Me? Very sweaty. An enjoyable chip that will have the average person indulging just a tad bit more than normal in their carbonated beverage of choice.

Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar: How a chip should be. Strong flavour without beating you over the head with it. Crunchy without being brittle. And even the bag feels more quality. Chip game on fleek. My go-to after a long day of dealing with curmudgeonly people.

Miss Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream: As mentioned in the section dealing with Lay’s Ketchup, companies often fail to get the flavour right for more obscure tastes—Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream is one of those failures. However, by no means is this a bad chip. Inasmuch as my plebeian tongue has difficulty trying to discern what exactly is going on with this crunchy morsel, it is fully aware that it is a scrumptious confusion. Poor execution, but a fantastic mistake.

Verdict: Miss Vickie’s by a production-line mile. Both companies do alright in the flavour category, but a chip is nothing without the … chip. In this regard, Ms. Vickie’s easily trounces the competition. I’m not saying I’d like to change her title to “Mrs.” but Vickie’s is definitely my favourite chip.

What’s on the menu?

Illustration by Ed Appleby

… And other questions a person who can’t cook would ask

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

Why are we so indecisive when it comes to food? Everyday, regardless of my workload, obligations, or responsibilities, I’m required to ask myself a key question: “What the fuck should I shove in my face to shut my stomach up?”

Sustenance, pleasure, and an inconvenience: food. I’m not super picky, but I do have my preferences, although sometimes my preferences change due to external influences. These influences include my vegetarian friends, the price of the meal, and of course, what people deem to be healthy. Needless to say, I eat most of my meals in front of the television, at my computer, or even lying in bed. I’m not a role model, I agree.

But the problem is that I choose not to consider what I want to eat until I am already too hungry to cook or even to drag my lazy ass to a restaurant. I just pop something into the microwave or oven and forget about it. Done. I’ll worry about that problem again in five hours or so.

Cooking is a skill that I simply never acquired and now I feel a bit ashamed, especially when I’m invited to potlucks or any social gatherings where I’m expected to craft some edible dish to impress my peers and friends. “I’ll bring the cups and napkins,” I’ll jest, dying a little on the inside.

Correct, I’m not Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, and I’m not even Guy Fieri in someone else’s kitchen. I’m just a guy who aims to stay alive and not get a steam burn when peeling back the cellophane of my Hungry Man.

It’s a sad position I have found myself in. In life, every person should be able to lick their fingers after a satisfying meal they have made for themselves—and then, of course, clean up after themselves. Nevertheless, I’ll never be an exquisite cook because of my bland taste, just like I’ll never become a tenor in a choir because of my tone deafness. It’s a fact that I have accepted. So I try to make myself useful in other ways: by suggesting meals to those willing to cook for me and by stocking up on crap that I can halfheartedly make at a moment’s notice. I don’t care if you don’t mind.

I have scrolled through Urbanspoon enough times to know that options and variety are far from the solution. Someone at some point needs to make an executive decision. When it comes to food, I have always been hesitant to speak up because I feel as though I have no authority in the say due to my taste. I was wrong. If I’m not the driver, I should at least be the navigator. Yes, true, I don’t care what we eat today, but I should be able to suggest something.

When it comes to picking restaurants or ingredients for dinner, it’s not about caring or not. You’ll have to eat, that is the fact! So make suggestions or pick something for yourself. At least one meal out of your day doesn’t have to be an indecisive mess in your schedule. So when it comes to soup or salad: I always pick soup.

Canadian Startup Lazymeal Delivers Quality Meals to Your Door

A good meal is worth every penny. A good meal delivered to your door, well, that might just be the jackpot.

Vancouver-based Lazymeal is aiming to improve your odds of enjoying quality food in the comforts of your own home or office. The innovative food ordering website allows normal everyday people the luxury of dinning in without the hassle of cooking.

With deadlines and responsibilities clouding our judgments, determining what we want to eat is an absolute challenge. Yet nourishment is essential. So, Lazymeal does the heavy lifting for us by researching the highest rated restaurants in your area and assisting in the process of selecting dishes and placing order. All we have to do is sit back and wait for the knock on the door or the chime of your novelty doorbell.

“We are not trying to have any kind of restaurant,” Shervin Enayati, a cofounder of Lazymeal, told Techvibes. “We want to maintain a balance between service and quality. Our requirement is that they have to have delivery. Without delivery it is not going to work. We find the best delivery restaurants in town, get their menu digitized for our platforms and from there you can just order.”

Only the best restaurants make it onto the website. Using Yelp and Urbanspoon ratings, the crew at Lazymeal handpicks the top restaurants in different cuisine. Greek, Thai, Japanese, the possibility is vast, yet the process is concise.

The idea for Lazymeal came in 2011 during a rainy day in Vancouver, go figure. When the weather conditions caused phone lines to go out of service and ordering food became almost impossible since most restaurants operate with landlines.

“There has to be a better, more efficient way,” thought Enayati. “We moved from building software for clients to building software for ourselves. We evaluated the market, realized what is missing in the current food ordering market. It was a market space that has already seen traction, it wasn’t one with zero activity, but we realized there was a lot of improvement left to be done in the food ordering experience.”

By incorporating pictures and statistics, Lazymeal offers a sophisticated approach to what was once considered a tedious task. Although food delivery services is not as popular as other metropolitan cities, Lazymeal believes that as the city continues to grow, food delivery will inevitably improve.

“If you go to a bigger city, like New York,” explains Ryan Charmley, lead technologist at Lazymeal, “delivery is so ingrained into daily life of people there. There are bicycle couriers delivering food everywhere and all these little boutique shops offering their own little delivery. It is a very convenient way to access food when you are busy.”

Lazymeal allows us to fit a delicious meal into a hectic schedule, even though delivery food is often accompanied by a slight stigma.

“It’s usually the traditional pizza or Chinese food,” notes Charmley, “there is no real movement. I’m hoping that everything moves in the same way as the food carts that have happened over the past few years. It’s been popularized and ingrained in everyday lifestyle.”

Perhaps this is the beginning of a dinning revolution or maybe it is just an alternative to the hustle and bustle of eating out. Either way, Lazymeal is hungry for change and they are leading the charge.