One burger to rule them all…

If you’re a fan of democracy and hamburgers, you are in luck! It’s the first ever McDonald’s General Election in Japan. This is where 12 of the fast-food chain’s most popular sandwiches will battle it out to become “the number one burger in Japan.”

■ The race is on

Here’s how it works: the dozen items will be divided into two Blocks. Block A will consist of beef-based burgers, while Block B will be made up of burgers using meat other than beef.

Block A: Big Mac, Double Cheese Burger, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Bacon Lettuce Burger, Egg-Chee (cheeseburger with egg)
Block B: Teriyaki McBurger, Chicken Fillet-O, Fillet-O-Fish, Ebi Fillet-O (breaded shrimp burger), Barbi-Po (barbecue pork), Chickee-Chee (chicken cheeseburger)

It should be noted that McDonald’s Japan doesn’t seem to grasp what the “O” in Fillet-O-Fish means hence the oddly named Chicken Fillet-O and Ebi Fillet-O which end up sounding much more erotic than they should.

■ Voting

From 6 to 24 January voting will begin to choose a winner in each block. After that, the winners of each block will go head-to-head in a final vote from 25 to 31 January after which the number one burger will be declared.

Votes are accumulated in three ways: First, you can “Vote by Eating” every time you purchase one of these sandwiches. Their wrapper will have a special QR code that you can use to access a special website. Doing so will give you free wallpaper for your smartphone and enter you in a chance to win a 4,000 yen (US$34.45) McDonald’s Card.

You can also “Vote by Tweeting” by going through the General Election website and showing your support for your favorite by tweeting it. However, given the difference in tweeting about a Big Mac and actually putting your money where your mouth is, one Vote by Eating is worth 100 Votes by Tweeting. Finally, the sales of each burger will also be factored into the final decision.

■ Campaigning

As with any election, the candidates are out in full force to curry your favor. First and foremost, each burger has a central campaign promise that they will deliver if they’re chosen as the number one. They all come in the form of upgrades for no extra charge during the first week of their presidency from 1 to 7 February.

Here are the promises of each burger:

  • McDonald’s classic Big Mac will evolve into the legendary Mega Mac with four beef patties.
  • The Double Cheeseburger will add another patty and slice of cheese to become a Triple Cheeseburger.
  • The Quarter Pounder with Cheese will keep the same price but become a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese to undercut the actual Double Quarter Pounder. They should probably call it a Half Pounder to avoid confusion though.
  • The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese will become a Triple Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
  • The Bacon Lettuce Burger will add another slice of bacon because you can never have enough bacon.
  • The cheeseburger with an egg on top, Egg-Chee, will also add a slice of bacon since it always goes so well with egg.
  • The Teriyaki McBurger will become a Double Teriyaki McBurger.
  • The Chicken Fillet-O will be jazzed up with some cheese and bacon.
  • The Fillet-O-Fish will become a Double Fillet-O-Fish with two breaded squares of fish.
  • The Ebi Fillet-O will also become a Double Ebi Fillet-O with two breaded discs of shrimp.
  • The Barbi-Po yet again will slap on another pork patty to become a Barbi-Po Jiro.
  • And last but not least: I have a cheese. I have a Chickee-Chee. Uh! Chee-Chickee-Chee, which would be a chicken cheeseburger with two slices of cheese.

In addition to their campaign promises, each burger has their own campaign video outlining why they deserve to be crowned number one in Japan. Since burgers can’t talk, each block has been assigned a spokesperson. The beefy burgers of Block A will be represented by Nobuhiko Takada, whereas the leaner sandwiches of Block B will be repped by Shoko Nakagawa.

During the campaigning, the candidates will all have special wrappers with various slogans such as: “Boys & Girls Love Bacon” (Bacon Lettuce Burger), “Size is Strength” (Double Quarter Pounder), “100 percent beef, 120 percent fun” (Quarter Pounder), and “HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo PaPeyPo HaHeyHo HaHeyHo” (Barbi-Po).

■ Analysis

It’s still early in the voting but it would certainly seem that this is Big Mac’s race to lose. As of this writing, it is in the lead of its block and as a standard-bearer of the McDonald’s brand for decades, it should be able to ride that notoriety into an easy victory come February.

However, there is also the dark horse Fillet-O-Fish (currently in third place of Block B) which is the only candidate that is available on both the breakfast and regular menu in Japan. That will give it a distinct advantage as sales are also taken into account. Also, as far as the campaign promises go, I’m probably most intrigued by the prospect of a Double Fillet-O-Fish.

The Teriyaki McBurger (currently in first place of Block B) is also favorite in Japan, but it has been marred by scandal after an exposé by RocketNews24 revealed that it sometimes gave McDonald’s staff panic attacks due to its difficulty to make. I’ve actually stopped ordering it for that reason and have since stumbled upon a new personal favorite: the Bacon Lettuce Burger.

So, if I’m going to vote with my heart I would go with the Bacon Lettuce Burger (currently in fifth place of Block A), but if I want to spare the cooks the mental anguish of making a double teriyaki burger I should strategically back the Big Mac. However, the opportunity to go into a McDonald’s and say, “Chee-Chickee-Chee please” is also very, very appealing.

To learn more about the candidates and vote for your favorite by Twitter, visit the McDonald’s General Election website (Japanese only)

Source: McDonald’s Japan (Japanese)
Top image: McDonald’s General Election website
Insert images: McDonald’s Japan