Fast Food Revealed: Real vs. Ads

You know how fast-food menu items always look amazingly juicy and delicious in advertising and marketing materials? WD was curious to see exactly what these food-styled concoctions actually look like fresh from the fast food, er, kitchen. We hit the city, dealing with long lines and mediocre service to snap some photos of a few franchises’ signature items. See what we found below, as we compare actual results with what the company advertises—the good, the bad and the ugly. [via womansday]

Burger King Whopper

This burger is described on as containing “1/4 pound of flame-broiled beef, ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, ketchup, crunchy pickles and onions on a toasted sesame seed bun.” After sitting down with 50 other Burger King customers, we found it was more like a cold sesame bun filled with a thin layer of beef, three tablespoons of mayonnaise and warm lettuce with an over-ripe tomato. Although the advertisement shows layers of onions and pickles, our version contained one small pickle and two skinny slices of onion.

McDonald’s Small French Fries

We can’t muster up much negativity about these favored all-American fries. McDonald’s fried potato strips have always been at the top of the fast-food chain for their perfect flavor and texture. Hot and fresh right out of the fryer, our order was shoved into what we wish was a little bit bigger package, but, just as we suspected, when we opened the bag we uncovered exactly what is described on—“golden, long, thin and perfectly salted fries that are crisp on the outside, tender inside with a great potato taste.”

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

The outside of the ever-so-popular Crunchwrap Supreme is pretty comparable to the ad; however, the inside is an entirely different story. Though it’s described on as including “seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, a crunchy tostada shell, reduced fat sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes,” we hardly found any lettuce and tomato on the Crunchwrap we ordered, and when it was cut open, the contents oozed out—nothing like the perfectly layered neatness in the image.

Pizza Hut Tuscani Lasagna

As one of Pizza Hut’s new Tuscani Pastas, the lasagna is something they are really trying to beef up. Pitched on as “layers of lasagna noodles and real ricotta, Parmesan and Romano cheeses smothered in Italian-seasoned meat sauce and freshly oven-baked with a layer of melted cheese,” the new menu choice looked more like a lasagna pizza. We finally located the noodles, the minimal sauce and ricotta in the center below the thick layer of cheese, but the fresh basil garnish in the ad picture was nowhere to be found.

Wendy’s Homestyle Chicken Fillet

If we used the advertisement image as guidance, the Homestyle Chicken Fillet sandwich from Wendy’s would have a piece of chicken breast large enough to hang over the “premium bun,” a thick slice of tomato and fresh green lettuce. What we got on our tray was a cold white-bread bun filled with a piece of chicken that fits nicely inside (because it is much smaller), one piece of lettuce, lots of mayonnaise (of course) and a piece of tomato.

KFC Potato Wedges

Another selection pretty true to its advertisement is KFC’s Potato Wedges, which, according to, has no trans fat and is flavored with “savory herbs and spices.” Even though we can’t tell that from the outside, we must say the picture is a nice representation of what these wedges really do look like. Made with real potatoes and special seasonings, this side dish needs no extra salt and pepper. However, it does weigh in at a whopping 260 calories per small order and contains 740 grams of sodium.

Quiznos Primo Meatball

After lifting up the top half of the somewhat “golden brown” sesame bread and digging under the layers of mozzarella cheese, we found three small meatballs nestled in the “zesty marinara sauce.” In reality, what appears in the picture to be a gigantic meatball creation is just a regular meatball sub that doesn’t have enough sauce on it and is overpriced—the smallest sandwich will cost you $7 a pop.

Dunkin’ Donuts Egg White Veggie Flatbread Sandwich

This DDSmart menu item looks quite slim and trim, neatly sliced and stuffed with veggies—Dunkin’ Donuts seems to have the perfect tactic for promoting it. Described on as having “fluffy egg whites, peppers, onions and mushrooms,” in actuality, the sandwich has a premade egg white patty with a few veggies tucked in it. Pitched as “easy to hold and eat with minimal mess,” when we attempted to pick up the fast food breakfast sandwich, the cheese spilled out the side. Although the presentation is far from what they led us to believe, the taste is pretty flavorful.

KFC Kentucky Grilled Chicken Box

Even Oprah supported this more wholesome option from the otherwise extremely unhealthy Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. Because of all the hype, the KFC Kentucky Grilled Chicken Box just had to make our list, but we were disappointed at what we found after seeing the tempting advertising image. We braved the hoards of people in line at the 3-in-1 chain restaurant, and found the chicken was shriveled and small, the potatoes seemed to be more like gravy with a drop of potatoes, and the biscuit was—well, a biscuit. Most disappointing was the chicken; unlike in the photo, both pieces were extremely dry.

Burger King Crown-Shaped Chicken Tenders

Much to our surprise, as you can see, these small chicken masterpieces actually do look almost identical to what Burger King shows in the advertisement (and are surely fit for a king). “Have it your way” by choosing four, five or eight tenders and dressing them with BBQ, honey mustard or sweet-and-sour sauce. We opted for four tenders with no sauce, since the fried, 180-calorie menu item is already quite high in fat for something that hardly fills you up. Overall, in an attempt to stand out among fast food chicken nuggets, Burger King has made fun-shaped little rascals that kids will love.

McDonald’s Big Mac

After setting this sucker down on the tray and examining its contents, we must say it’s nothing that’s going to cure your “Big Mac attack.” It appears in marketing campaigns and advertisements that the Big Mac is a double-decker sandwich packed with two layers of veggies, special sauce and beef patties. The sandwich we got came with one piece of American cheese and one layer of veggies along with the two beef patties, three parts of a sesame bun and two coatings of “special sauce” that looked more like plain old mayonnaise.

Subway The Feast

The Feast is the ultimate menu item for this sandwich chain—containing five types of meat and your choice of cheese and bread. According to, “It’s the kind of concrete slippers that hunger fears the most”—whatever that means. We aren’t entirely sure that what looks like a fresh and healthy option in ads and billboards fully meets those expectations. After requesting “the works” as our condiments, we unwrapped it to discover, instead of the neatly stacked meats and fresh veggies, a sandwich soaked in mayonnaise and mustard, containing almost no lettuce—and when picked up, all of the contents slipped right through the bread and onto the paper.

Taco Bell Nachos

This 99¢ menu option is an easy and quick on-the-go option—that is, if you don’t have to wait for 15 minutes until your order number is called, like we did. The small side of nachos comes complete with about 20 chips and a side of nacho cheese. We have to say, the snack looks pretty similar to the original image, with hot and crispy tortilla chips and creamy nacho cheese, but perhaps the order is a bit smaller than the overflowing image shows.

Wendy’s Broccoli and Cheese Potato

To avoid all of the fried meals and other greasy temptations, many consumers opt for Wendy’s Broccoli and Cheese Potato, which contains only 2.5 grams of fat and 340 calories. What seems to be a plump baked potato with fresh broccoli florets and cheese in the marketing materials actually looks more like frozen broccoli bits atop a microwaved potato with melted cheese. While it is definitely healthier than most menu options, don’t be alarmed by what it looks like when you open the container.

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