Big Mac Vs. Whopper: Which Bun Contains More Crap?

It just isn't fair that Taco Bell is getting all the free press these days concerning integrity of ingredients -- or lack thereof. Granted, nobody is accusing McDonald's or Burger King of faking beef content, but what about the other stuff that goes between the buns? The sauce lathered upon Big Macs, for instance, contains soybean oil, potassium sorbate, spice extractives, polysorbate 80, distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate, mustard bran, sugar, caramel color, vegetable protein (better known as MSG), extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric, and calcium disodium EDTA. The pickle slices on a Whopper contain more than a dozen ingredients, including yellow dye #5 and blue dye #1 -- so now you know how the Burger King folks make their pickles green. 

And what of the hamburger buns, which traditionally are made from flour, water, yeast, sugar, and salt? Let's just say these fast food fiends have foisted much more complicated and unhealthy breads upon the hungry masses. Keep going to see just how ugly it gets in our fake bread smackdown....

In this corner, we have the Big Mac bun:

  • enriched flour
  • water
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • sugar
  • soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil
  • calcium carbonate
  • ammonium sulfate
  • ammonium chloride
  • sodium stearoyl lactylate
  • azodicarbonamide (extra points: banned in many parts of the world)
  • mono-and diglycerides
  • ethoxylated monoglycerides
  • monocalcium phosphate
  • calcium peroxide
  • calcium propionate (perservative)
  • sodium propionate
  • soy flour
  • real sesame seeds!
Mighty impressive showing. And now we turn to the Whopper bun:

  • enriched unbleached wheat flour
  • water
  • high fructose corn syrup or liquid sucrose
  • yeast
  • vegetable oil or soybean or cottonseed oil
  • salt
  • wheat gluten 
  • soy flour
  • corn starch
  • enzymes
  • calcium propionate and/or sorbic acid (preservatives)
  • vinegar
  • yeast nutrient which may contain one or more of the following:
  • wheat starch
  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • sorbitol
  • sodim chloride
  • magnesium stearate
  • distilled monoglycerides
  • sodium stearoyl
  • lactylate
  • ascorbic acid
  • azodicarbonamide (extra points: banned in many parts of the world)
  • mono-and diglycerides
  • ethoxylated mono-and diglycerides
  • calcium peroxide
  • calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate
  • datem
  • L-cysteine
  • real sesame seeds!

Well, as you can see, it's quite a battle, with both sides showing real gusto and imagination in  what they've been able to throw into bread dough. And yet...we declare Burger King's Whopper bun to be even more fake than the Big Mac bun -- nearly twice as many unnecessary chemicals and other health-threatening additives.

Congratulations to our hometown BK fast food cronies for their impressive victory! And congrats, too, to the valiant showing by McDonald's. Let this contest be a reminder: When it comes to fattening and sickening the public, Taco Bell isn't the only game in town.

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein