We investigate our suspicions concerning a vertical and horizontal cheeseburger conspiracy theory

On October 21, McDonald’s Japan brought back a lineup of popular burgers which are also well-known for their commercials starring Japanese singer-actor heartthrob Kimutaku (who noticeably holds his burgers in a very strange way). These three limited-time releases are the spicy double cheeseburger, the hami double cheeseburger (hami is short for hamideru, which means “sticking out” or “protruding”), and the triple cheeseburger.

▼ A Kimutaku commercial highlighting the triple cheeseburger

Our story today transpired when our Japanese-language reporter Tasuku Egawa was practicing the Kimutaku-style of holding a burger in front of his local McDonald’s. He happened to take a closer look at the poster advertisement for the lineup and the seeds of distrust began to grow in his mind. Could it be that the hami double cheeseburger and the triple cheeseburger are ultimately the same? 

Directly below Kimutaku’s face in the ad were large photos of each of the burgers. To Tasuku’s eyes, apart from the number and size of the patties, they appeared the same. There was nothing else to do but investigate further.

Hami double cheeseburger (top and triple cheeseburger (bottom)

Each of the burger descriptions were as follows on the official McDonald’s Japan website:

Hami double cheeseburger: Features two juicy beef patties that are 1.3 times larger* than usual and protrude outside of the buns (*prior to cooking)

Triple cheeseburger: Features three 100-percent beef patties with no thickeners along with three robust slices of cheddar cheese

The major differences between them were supposedly that the hami double cheeseburger patties were larger than usual and that there were three patties in the triple cheeseburger. To add further fuel to the fire, they were both priced at 420 yen (US$4.00). Maybe it was just a visual trick of stacking the normal-sized patties vertically and laying the larger patties out horizontally, but did they actually contain the same amount of beef in the end…?! 

▼ Kimutaku doesn’t seem to notice that anything suspicious is going on.

Tasuku quickly procured one of each burger and pulled out his kitchen scale to begin his experimenting.

▼ Hami double cheeseburger (left) and triple cheeseburger (right)

The hami double cheeseburger clocked in at 193 grams (6.81 ounces). In contrast, the triple cheeseburger was 213 grams. Tasuku had been certain that they would be almost exactly the same weight, so this came as a bit of a surprise–especially since they cost the same amount of money. So far, it appeared that the triple cheeseburger edged out the hami double cheeseburger in terms of cost-effectiveness.

He could have concluded his investigation then but he still had some nagging questions. For instance, was the 20-gram difference in weight a result of the meat or the addition of an extra slice of cheese? Upon disassembling the burgers it was clear that the two hami double cheeseburger patties were indeed bigger than usual. For condiments they had cheese, pickles, onions, and ketchup.

On the other hand, the triple cheeseburger had three patties and one slice of cheese more than the hami double cheeseburger. The condiments were exactly the same as on the other burger.

He decided to weigh the meat by itself out of curiosity, so he scraped off as much of the cheese and other condiments as he could from all of the patties.

Although there was still a tiny amount of cheese clinging to the beef that he wasn’t able to remove, the results showed that in comparison to the hami double cheeseburger’s 104 grams of total beef, the triple cheeseburger contained 111 grams of beef. It was a very subtle difference, but the triple cheeseburger’s patties were ultimately heavier.

However, at the same time, there was also more cheese that he couldn’t entirely scrape away clinging to the triple cheeseburger’s three patties. For some reason the amount of cheese that couldn’t be scraped away seemed proportional to the area where the patties and the cheese were touching, and that space was of course greater in the case of the triple cheeseburger. Moreover, it was only a mere seven grams in difference.

The triple cheeseburger was still 20 grams heavier in the end, though. As a further test, he decided to weigh the bottommost buns along with the cheese, pickles, onions, and ketchup. That came out to be 50 grams for the hami double cheeseburger and 66 grams for the triple cheeseburger. Setting aside the condiments, it was clear that the difference was due to the amount of cheese used in each.

The weight difference in cheese seemed amplified because of the portions that wouldn’t easily peel off from the uppermost buns or that clung to the knife. In addition, when comparing the collected cheese and other condiments, the biggest difference appeared to stem from the addition or absence of one slice of cheese. He consequently thought that there was indeed a strong possibility that the amount of the meat was virtually the same.

In the end, Tasuku admitted that his original suspicions that the two burgers were almost exactly the same weren’t quite on target. As far as the measurement results are concerned, the total amount of the meat used in each did seem to be almost equal, though. The amount of cheese on the triple cheeseburger was unmistakably greater and that seemed to be the determining factor for its greater weight.

Their cost was exactly the same. The amount of the meat was almost exactly the same. In terms of weight and the amount of cheese, the triple cheeseburger won, making it slightly more cost effective. Come to think of it, the catchphrase for the triple cheeseburger was “Breaking away from the other competition.” Perhaps the answer had been hiding in those words all along. In any case, there were bound to be people who preferred one over the other–Tasuku guessed that it all had to do with how big of a cheese fan they were.

Sources: McDonald’s Japan, Twitter/McDonaldsJapan
Images: SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]