At first glance, a horizontally oriented double cheeseburger doesn't seem very flashy: Mankind is well accustomed to taking our meals the long way. Cheesesteaks, ribs, roll-ups, Twinkies, wraps, corn, whatever the hell a hoagie is: All these and more have been served to us on the landscape setting since long before Subway started selling lunch by the inch.
But a double cheeseburger presented side-by-side, rather than in the traditional stack, is less common than sandwich logic would seem to dictate. The low-slung double is often available at dingy mid-block sub shops, but I bet you've never ordered one, because dingy mid-block sub shops also have meatballs and chicken parm and pastrami and all that other dope shit you can't get at a regular hamburger stand. You didn't end up at Doctor Jeff's Extended Sandwiches by accident, and your intent probably wasn't burger-derived.
But let's say you've ended up at Burger King armed with $3.49 and a hankering for more bread than afforded by the typical double cheeseburger arrangement. (Let's also pretend you couldn't just get two single cheeseburgers, because to acknowledge this real but dreary option would dull the crucial point we're building toward here, which, if you're patient, will involve onion rings.)
If that's your lot in lunch, you should order the new Extra Long BBQ Cheeseburger, which nets you two dinky little cheeseburgers rubbing shoulders beneath barbecue sauce and onion rings on 7.5 inches of sesame-seed bun. Yup, there's onion rings in this rig! Burger King has gone down the ring road before, with the Rodeo Burger, but despite that precedent it's still surprising that they fail to mention this feature in the name of the new burger. I mean, they've got cheese all over every damn thing in the store, yet they still manage to get that into the headline. So let's do them the favor of renaming this thing thus:
Burger King's Sideways Double Rodeo
The "toasted hoagie bun" is adequate if uninspiring; you may be familiar with it from the Original Chicken Sandwich or the superior but elusive Italian Chicken rendition. The cheese is present and yellow. If your body can handle lactose and your conscience can handle enslaving the beasts of the field, it is overwhelmingly likely that you love cheese even more than you love cats and money. Me too! But what percentage of the cheese we eat is actually worth a good goddamn?
So the bread's plentiful and mediocre, and the cheese is a rung below that; the dinky little burger patties are what they are. This means the Sideways Double Rodeo's got a lot riding on the barbecue sauce and onion rings. The sauce is almost insultingly bland. What do you take me for, Burger King? The kind of simpleton who lets a motherfucker tint his ketchup a shade darker and pretend that all of a sudden it's tangy or zesty or otherwise barbecued? Lot of pressure on the onion rings here, huh?
The trick answer to "Which are the best fast food French fries?" is, of course, "Burger King onion rings." Incidentally, this is also the answer to "What are some of the shittiest onion rings you can buy?" That's how good onion rings are. The four fatties on the Sideways Double Rodeo make it relevant. If you aren't civilized enough to love onion rings, then this isn't the sandwich for you: There's simply not enough else going on. But a right-thinking ring-eater could do worse for the money.
McDonald's Jalapeño Double
McDonald's took a more conventional approach to marketing their new burger, opting to mention the jalapeño factor right in the name. They went similarly inside-the-box with bread selection, as this one's sheltered within an old-style round bun devoid of the seeds, herbs, and toast-marks that have been showing up lately on our quick burgers.
Couple burger patties, sure. And there's cheese, too, of the "white cheddar" variety that gets asterisked down to "pasteurized process" in the fine print. But the real draw here are the jalapeños, which come in two forms: surprisingly potent pickled slices and broken tentacles of fried stuff that provide a bit of crunch, though little discernible pepper character. The only other adulteration is an ill-advised splort of ranch sauce that tastes like thin, sour mayonnaise.
Ranch aside, McDonald's is to be commended for skipping the rusty lettuce and wack-ass tomatoes that sully so many fast-food sandwiches. This stripped-down condiment approach really lets the jalapeños speak for themselves, and I'm pleased to report they say, "We are much spicier than you'd expect, which is why the Jalapeño Double is a very good way to spend $2."
Winner: McDonald's Jalapeño Double
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states, including, come to think of it, Vermont. Find him on Twitter@WillGordonAgain.
Image by Sam Woolley.
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