McDonald’s Archburger Review
Crystal Pepsi. Surge. Oreo O’s Cereal. Hi-C Ecto Cooler. These beloved products were long thought to be dead by nostalgic thirty-somethings, until a somewhat recent wave of 90’s food/drink retreads.
Several re-introductions per year have rendered the internet’s countless “90’s products you’ll never see again” lists useless, but one thing always continued to be the exception… McDonald’s Arch Deluxe!
For the uninitiated, in May 1996, McDonald’s introduced an upscale burger, designed especially for the adult palate.
Marketed as the Arch Deluxe, the new menu item featured a quarter-pound beef patty on a sesame seed potato bun with a variety of fresh toppings and a blend of mustard and mayonnaise, appropriately deemed “Arch Sauce”.
Its release was HEAVILY promoted, with financial estimates of the development and marketing reaching upwards of $200 milllion… the largest budget of any promotion in the company’s then 41-year history.
Although the sandwich’s taste was generally well-liked, its price point of $2.49 (about $4 adjusted for inflation) proved too expensive for a fast food item at that time.
By early 2000, the concept was scrapped altogether.
As a long-time fast food aficionado, I never expected another opportunity to try the Arch Deluxe.
I squandered my first chance in 1996, since as an 11 year-old, I bought into the constant reinforcement that kids wouldn’t like the taste.
Lo and behold, on Wednesday night, I stumbled upon an msn.com article teasing the Arch Deluxe’s reintroduction.
First off, before you get too excited, the sandwiches are currently available only in limited test markets.
These locations include seven restaurants in Tulsa, OK, one in Ft. Worth, TX and one in Allen, TX (which was inaccurately reported as Plano, TX in several articles).
With three varieties, the now re-branded Archburger includes similarities to the original that far outweigh its differences. Here’s a rundown of each type:
Arch Burger ($2.29) – 3 oz beef patty with cheese, onions, pickles and Arch Sauce on a potato bun.
Arch Burger L&T ($2.79) – 3 oz beef patty with cheese, onions, pickles, Arch Sauce, lettuce and tomato on a potato bun.
Bacon Arch Burger ($2.99) – 3 oz beef patty with cheese, onions, pickles, Arch Sauce and bacon on a potato bun.
After a 200+ mile drive from Austin to Allen, TX, I noticed a serious lack of promotional materials about the test of the Archburger – just one small lawn sign by the entrance and a science fair style tri-fold behind the counter.
Trying to remain as true to the original as possible, I ordered the L&T version.
When I unwrapped the sandwich, my first impression was just how small the burger was in width (it’s about the same size as their regular hamburger/cheeseburger).
The potato roll was missing its predecessor’s sesame seeds, but had a sturdiness that contained the burger well.
I took a bite and was immediately hit over the head with an intense onion flavor. Next, I noticed the mustardy taste of the Arch Sauce, which (fortunately) eclipsed its mayonnaise counterpart.
One of the selling points of the Archburger are its never-frozen, hand seasoned beef patty.
The meat was fine on its own, but inside the sandwich, you could barely taste it over the onions and mustard.
All the other toppings (cheese, pickles, lettuce and tomato) were fine, but didn’t add much to the flavor profile.
Overall, the Archburger was solid, but I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to try.
The burger was filling for its size, but I would have preferred a more substantial burger at a slightly higher price point.
I love the gimmick of re-inventing the Arch Deluxe, but the taste is a 5 out of 10.
US Executive Correspondent
Thanks for reading!