When it comes to satisfying your grumbling stomach, Weekend Post reporters Zandile Mbabela and Yoliswa Sobuwa established that size does matter and much of the time the burger you think you are buying and the one that ends up on your plate are worlds apart
SPOT tests of burgers from five of Port Elizabeth’s most popular fast food franchises revealed that looks can definitely be deceiving.
On more than one occasion customers, lured by mouthwatering images of burgers on display menus, were left unsatisfied – with less on their plates, or in takeaway boxes, than they anticipated.
Weekend Post visited three McDonald’s, three Steers, three Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), three Wimpy and three Spur franchises in various parts of Nelson Mandela Bay, to find out if they were, in fact, delivering on their promises.
Some of the burgers received were a far cry in appearance from those on displayed menus, and from the images on online menus. The fast food companies say the difference in appearance is because of the preparation process – the time taken, and having the ingredients made prominent for display menus and photo shoots.
Steers’ King Steer burger
Steers’ King Steer burger, made out to look huge and stacked, in hand looked more like the smaller Prince burger. Steers marketing executive Adolf Fourie said customers received what they were promised, but the ingredients looked more prominent in photographs.
“Our promise to our customer is [two] 100% pure beef patties, [two] slices of cheese, fresh garnish and the famous sauces, and that is the product we deliver, ” he said.
Spur’s original beef burger
In hand, Spur’s original beef burger looked different from the photographed burger and, when the dry bun was opened, the garnish looked measly.
Restaurant spokesman Etienne Ralphs said a comparison between the actual takeaway burger and the open one on a plate on the menu would reveal differences, as the ingredients were not placed in the same way.
“Unfortunately, [it] would have been a better exercise if the comparisons were made with photographs of plated burgers as a sit-down meal, not a takeaway, ” he said.
“Presentation, as in the images, is obviously not the same as the plated shot as the burger patties would [have] moistened the garnish and spread the Spur pink sauce dressing. I do note that the burger patties in the takeaway shots could be basted a bit more.”
Ralphs said there was no difference in preparation for a photo shoot and for customers.
KFC Colonel burger
The exact same ingredients were used in both instances. KFC kept up to its slogan of “finger -licking good” with its generous chicken fillet patty in its famous R29.90 Colonel burger, although the bought one seemed to be a tad drier than the promised product.
The outlet’s corporate communications manager, Gail Sham, said the franchise took any concerns about its advertising being misleading very seriously, and in no way intended to misrepresent products or mislead customers, as this would be against ethical and legal business practices.
“We take great care in the visual representation of KFC food on our menu boards and in all our advertising,” she said. “We have always had a policy of photographing products with precise restaurant specifications . . . We only capture the product as per the ingredients that are supplied, prepared and cooked in the exact same manner that they would be in our restaurants.
“During the photography session we also make sure all contents of the product are visible to the customer as we want to make sure customers know exactly what is in the product. While the contents are exactly the same for the product made in our restaurants, the ingredients haven’t been placed as intentionally.”
McDonald’s Big Mac burger
McDonald’s Big Mac burger looked flat – in stark contrast to the towering burger advertised on menus and display boards. Corporate affairs director Sechaba Motsieloa attributed the difference in appearance to the time taken to prepare food for an advertisement and for customers.
“In line with industry standards, our food advertisements are created by professional food stylists who use our ingredients to illustrate the look of customers’ favourite McDonald’s food,” Motsieloa said. “The main difference is that items in our advertisements take several hours to create and are shot in a studio . . . We also highlight ingredients that are usually hidden under the bun . . .”
Wimpy Champ Burger
Defending the slight difference in appearance of its Champ Burger, Wimpy spokesman Sean Lilley said: “We ’d like to think that our famous breakfasts, burgers, grills, wraps, baguettes, salads, desserts and drinks don’t need any help when they are photographed.
“But like us, they all rely on great lighting and an excellent photographer to look their best.
“All our products are only shot with ingredients that actually make up the product that we serve in our restaurants.”
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This story appeared in Weekend Post on Saturday, 19 December, 2015