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McDonald’s Dollar Menu: A Closer Look

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Well, I wasn’t planning on writing about McDonald’s again but you never know what you stumble across that makes for a good post. If you eat much at McDonald’s or have just been following the food biz news much, you likely heard that McDonald’s revamped their dollar menu and are now calling it the Dollar Menu and More. This revamp includes not just more offerings, but also higher prices. I’m not really going to get on McDonald’s case for increasing the prices of some of their dollar menu offerings, it has been over 11 years since the dollar menu debuted and prices for all kinds of food items have climbed a lot since then, but I am going to point out some of the interesting things they have done, and also point out some things that they may not want you to notice:

  • All the new items are sandwiches. Three of them are chicken and two of them are burgers, two of them are $1.00 and three of them are $2.00.
  • Those new $2.00 sandwiches, what do they all have in common? Bacon! Bacon has always been considered a premium style ingredient and to have bacon on these sandwiches (as well as cheese on two of them) makes it easier to be willing to pay the $2.00
  • The McDouble went up 19 cents and was likely the most popular dollar menu item over the years.
  • What is the difference between the McDouble and the Double Cheeseburger? The Double Cheeseburger has a second slice of cheese. You pay 30 cents more for that extra slice of cheese and tack on an extra 50 calories to your meal.
  • So about that $5.00 20 piece Chicken McNugget selection on the dollar menu? In my opinion, it is not there as a legitimate offering on the dollar and more menu but it is actually a menu decoy. What’s that? A menu decoy is a higher priced item on a menu used mainly to make the other surrounding offerings look more reasonably priced in comparison. It is not just the most expensive item on the dollar menu but it is three dollars more than the next highest set of items.
  • Did you notice what is missing now? Would you like fries with that dollar menu burger? Go ahead and order some, but you’re not going to get them from the dollar menu anymore, you will have to pay a bit more for some small fries off the regular menu.
  • Same deal with the beverage offering, you used to be able to get a small soft drink off of the dollar menu, but now your only choice is a large sweet tea.
  • That’s 32 ounces of sweet tea in a large, the tea mix must be even cheaper than the soda mix and soda has a reputation for being one of the highest profit margin items for any restaurant, not just fast food.
  • The two pies for a $1.00 have hit the road as well, but you can still have your cookies or an ice cream cone. The fruit and yogurt parfait is still on the menu as well which has a reputation for being a steal at just $1.00 considering what you get in it (fruit) and it’s fresher quality compared to some of the other dessert selections.

I will have to get out and do some field research to see how good these new dollar menu sandwiches actually are.

I Hop, You Hop, We All Hop For IHOP! Sandwiches That Is…

Ham and Cheese Griddle Melt

When you think of IHOP the first thing that usually comes to mind is pancakes, French toast or maybe a Belgian waffle or even crepes. But not breakfast sandwiches, most other places known for their breakfasts have had some sort of variety of breakfast sandwiches on their menu for many years. Earlier this year though, IHOP made a major addition to their menu with their Griddle Melt series of sandwiches. They were initially available as a special add on to the menu and then at some point this fall they were added permanently to the menu. I have seen 4 of the sandwiches since they started offering them, unfortunately only three of them are available on the menu at present. I will tell you why I think that is unfortunate in a bit…

The four sandwiches are, with IHOP’s own description below:

  • The Bacon and White Cheddar Melt (shown below): “This hand-crafted breakfast Griddle Melt is layered with bacon, fresh spinach & green onions in a classic omelette, then topped with melted White Cheddar and fire-roasted tomato spread on grilled artisan sourdough bread.”
  • The Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Griddle Melt: “That’s this new, hand-crafted breakfast Griddle Melt with sautéed spinach and onion in a fluffy omelette, layered with roasted red peppers and melted Provolone, Parmesan and Pepper Jack cheeses on grilled sourdough artisan bread.”
  • The Ham and Egg Griddle Melt: (shown at the top of the page) “This Griddle Melt takes traditional ham and cheese to a whole new level! Grilled artisan sourdough bread is stuffed with a fluffy omelette, sliced ham and melted Swiss and American cheeses.”
  • The Western Griddle Melt: “This new hand-crafted breakfast Griddle Melt is layered with smoked ham, sautéed peppers and onions in a classic omelette, then topped with sliced ham and melted cheese on grilled artisan sourdough bread.”

Bacon and Swiss Griddle Melt

Although still listed online, the Western Griddle Melt is no longer being offered on their menu, perhaps it is still being offered somewhere out there in some fortunate IHOP, but alas it is not on the menu at the IHOP I frequent. That’s a shame because it was my favorite, I have tried all but the Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Griddle Melt, and the Bacon and White Cheddar Griddle Melt (which replaced the Western Griddle Melt) sounds like a tastier option that it actually is.

My thoughts on each:

  • The Bacon and White Cheddar Melt: The first few bites were good, but the flavor profile got old quickly. Like most red blooded people, I like bacon, but I got really tired of the taste of bacon by the time I polished off this sandwich, the cheddar cheese was not as good of a compliment to the other ingredients as American cheese might have been. The veggies didn’t really work either, I could not detect the green onions, the spinach was ok, but the “fire roasted tomato sauce” tasted more like a blah topping from an off brand TV dinner veal parmesana. The main taste sensation I got was one of salty bitterness (salty bacon and the bitter sharpness of the cheese and tomato sauce). Can’t really recommend this one, even for the bacon lovers out there. The picture was amusing though as the sandwich halves were held together with pink plastic swords making me feel strangely like more and less of a man at the same time…
  • The Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Griddle Melt: I didn’t try this one but my dad has. He liked it as it was not as massive as the others and had a good blend of cheese and veggies. I promise to try it the next time I get a sandwich from IHOP.
  • The Ham and Egg Griddle Melt: A fine combination (though I swear the egg used to have diced ham in it) The grilled and buttered sourdough bread really shines with these fillings, I often make a variation on this at home on the weekends with a ham egg and cheese sandwich on whatever bread is around. Worth getting from IHOP if you are in a breakfast sandwich kind of mood.
  • The Western Griddle Melt: The best of the bunch, get it if you can still find it. The sautéed peppers, onion and ham in the egg give this sandwich its excellent flavor and it also comes with the extra ham layer that the ham and egg version above has. This was also the most massive of the Griddle Melts offered (perhaps a reason why they no longer offer it?) and the seasonal fruit is the recommended side instead of the hash browns just so you can eat it all.

One very small word of caution, regardless of the time of day, there is a chance that one of these Griddle Melts may also come out with an unexpected addition not mentioned above, a dill pickle spear, welcome with most sandwiches, but not so much at 8:00 in the morning. Consider yourself forewarned.

 So if IHOP is the destination of choice and the pancakes, waffles, etc… just aren’t striking your fancy, grab a Griddle Melt instead.

Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwich from Starbucks

An eggcelent sandwich!

What is the second best part of the workday? Lunch!

The best part is going home at the end of the day of course…

I have had success in the past with the sandwiches from Starbucks and a friend told me to give their egg salad sandwich a try. Now egg salad is one of those foods, at least for me that I really have to be craving in order to enjoy, so it took me a while to get around to grabbing one to try.

Egg salad has been one of those foods that I always remember liking, my mom would make it somewhat often, especially in the spring and summer and almost always when one or the other of my sets of grandparents would come to visit, it was usually served for the lunch on the first full day they would be in town. What made it distinctive was the way my mom would give the salad its kick and a bit of crunch were the pickles she would add. She would use the pickles out of the Vlasic Hot & Spicy Garden Mix Pickles. Apparently they are no longer making these pickles, but I remember that the only cauliflower I would ever eat for years was the cauliflower they would add to this mix. It made for a tangy slightly spicy egg salad that was always a family favorite.

The Starbucks egg salad sandwich does not quite meet the pinnacle of egg salad described above but it is the best pre-made egg salad I have come across in a very long time.

They describe it as: “This traditional lunchtime favorite is dressed with chives and arugula for a truly outstanding sandwich. At once creamy, tangy and bright, this superb egg salad, served on cider wheat bread, makes a deliciously substantial meal.”

I disagree with the tangy part, it was not bland so much as mellow, rich and mellow. Bright? Well, it does present well as seen above. It was a pleasing consistency, not runny at all like some pre-made egg salads, and actually quite thick, none of it escaped from the sandwich as egg salad tends to do.

The bread and lettuce combo was a winner just like it was in the BLT Chicken Salad Sandwich of theirs I tried a few months ago.

I paid $5.99 for this sandwich, which is a bit pricy for my blood for a mere egg salad sandwich, but it is very good quality. Not going to try to make a recipe based off of this one, it’s just not interesting enough and you don’t have to look to hard to find other egg salad recipes out there on the web.

If you are out there in the world and find yourself craving a pre-made egg salad sandwich, by all means, grab the one from Starbucks.

It Was Delicious, But It Was a Sad Desk Lunch…

My Chicken Salad Sandwich

You may remember this picture from my post back in July when I made my own version of the Chicken BLT sandwich from Starbucks.

You were amazed and delighted when I discussed the original sandwich prepared by Starbucks and nearly passed out from sheer ecstasy when I posted my own version of the sandwich (recipe included).

But while you were drooling over your keyboards and thinking if you had the ingredients on hand to duplicate the masterpiece, did you notice the background of the picture? Did the benevolent rays of the unfiltered sun beam down on my sandwich like a spotlight on the tender chicken? No. Did the cedar planks of the picnic table contrast nicely with the verdant greenery of the lettuce? No. Was there a bottle of wine and a beautiful lady blending in to the background? Oh hell no!

This was a lunch at my desk at work. (Cue the sad trombone.) My only companions were my desk phone, a highlighter, an electric stapler and a bedraggled notepad.

Fortunately I am not alone in my suffering, millions upon millions of people worldwide eat their lunch at their desk. Some eat there because they have no time to break away from their work, I eat there because I prefer not to spend any more time at work than necessary. An extra half hour seeking and eating lunch outside the office means an extra half hour stuck at work in the late afternoon, and a half hour less to do something useful outside of work, like making dinner.

The website saddesklunch.com chronicles the culinary attempts (some delicious looking, lots of leftovers and some that just have to be seen to be believed)

You may laugh and think that a sad desk lunch is something that only happens to other people, but I guarantee that it is only a matter of time till you are reheating Thai leftovers from the weekend out of the container they sent it home with you with a pink fork from that office birthday gathering back in May.

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