November 16, 2012

Does McDonald's CBO add up?

The critique's undercover camera caught the CBO nestling down in its packaging as if hiding from its dullard name.
Since I place a high priority on finances, I have no doubt my readers do, too. After all, if you like to read the musings of a guy who pinches pennies until they scream for mercy, you’re surely the type who would melt the copper-colored coins down and sell them as scrap if they still contained any reasonable quantity of the valuable metal.

Actually, I’m a big proponent of eliminating the penny from circulation entirely -- mostly because I hate carrying them in my pocket. I never end up spending them, then they end up spilling from my pockets in a grandiose shower when I pull out my wallet at a restaurant, leaving me feeling like I'm wasting money. But that’s an aside.

We were talking about how much my loyal foodie followers love finances. Which means everyone will be thrilled to learn I’m writing about the CBO today!

CBO, you ask? The Congressional Budget Office? The nonpartisan budgetary wing of the U.S. Congress?

Calm your heart palpitations. I’m not actually talking about that CBO. I just pulled a bait-and-switch at the beginning of this post to capture your attention. It’s an old journalistic trick, right up there in cleverness with spelling lede l-e-d-e.

The real topic of my review today is McDonald’s CBO, its Cheddar, Bacon, Onion. Why the golden arches chose to take those three delicious words and compress them into a bullion of alphabet soup is beyond me. Maybe Ronald McDonald is secretly a budget hawk.

Regardless of the name, I ordered myself a CBO recently and came away with mixed feelings. The sandwich comes in two different varieties: ⅓ pound Angus beef and chicken. I picked beef because I’ve had good experiences with McDonald’s Angus third-pounders in the past. Perhaps we’ll look at chicken another day if you, my loyal readers, demand it.

The Angus CBO’s blueprint will probably shock you. It takes a beef burger, lays on sliced white cheddar cheese, adds bacon and slathers it all with grilled onions. Oh, it also drops a dollop of something called creamy mustard sauce on top. There’s a bun, too, one that’s so inoffensively dull that I won’t mention it again.

The beef is juicy and tasty. I don’t know if McDonald’s injects its Angus thirders with special juices or just uses higher-quality meat, but they’re in a whole different herd than the chain’s regular red meat. The arch factory also excels in the bacon department. Its pork strippings are reliably crispy where other chains’ offerings vacillate between rock-hard, overcooked castoffs and limp strands of unrendered fat.

We’d be on pace for a stellar spork rating, but the CBO has one massive flaw: its onions. They might as well not be there. I have a recurring complaint about grilled onions on burgers, namely that they tend to have no flavor and add very little texture. If they’re noticeable at all, they generally just serve as a reminder that a meal lacks the satisfying crunch and bitter twang of an honest-to-goodness raw onion. The CBO's onions aren’t noticeable, yet the burger’s inclusion of “onion” (or “O,” at least) in its name meant I was left longing for them to show up.

Fortunately, the CBO has an ace up its sleeve. The oddly named creamy mustard sauce defies its nomenclature by delivering a cool yet flavorful burst with every bite. It makes the onions completely superfluous and forces you to actively wonder why they didn't just name the burger the CBCMS.

OK, not really. But I still haven't figured out why they'd call it the CBO.

One more major downside to the CBO is its price. This thing was obviously constructed to raise revenue, because Mickey D’s charges well over six bucks for a meal with it. It's nearly enough to push you to your own personal fiscal cliff.

The thought of shelling out that many pennies for fast food makes me want to beg for mercy. And that’s holding this burger back from a four spork out of five rating. As it is, the CBO gets a downgrade to three sporks. I just can’t overlook its impact on my treasury.

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