Hungry Jack's, you cheeky bastard. You went and released a Big Mac knock-off didn't you? For legal reasons, I may not be allowed to say that's what you did, but we all know what's going on here. The "Big Jack"? C'mon.
The Big Jack is almost identical to the Golden Arches' Big Mac with, to quote HJ's online description, "two flame-grilled 100 per cent Aussie beef patties, topped with melted cheese, special sauce, fresh lettuce, pickles and onions on a toasted sesame seed bun".
The Pepsi of the burger world also advertised its new release on July 28 with a sly Instagram post: "There's something… 'special' about our new Big Jack." A winking face emoji directly follows.
McDonald's wasn't having any of this rubbish and on Thursday it was reported the fast-food giant was suing over the lookalike burger. Hungry Jack's has become a real world McDowell's, the restaurant where Eddie Murphy mops floors in Coming to America.
"They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs," says store owner Cleo McDowell in the 1988 movie. "They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds."
The Big Jack does have sesame seeds, however, plus the Mac's bonus slice of bread dividing meat. What's less obvious from the adverts is how the BJ tastes compared to Macca's 1967 classic. With a set of scales and much better things to do, I set myself the task of finding out.
Big Jack on the left, Big Mac on the right. Photo: Callan Boys
The Big Mac-Jack Smackdown
$6.10, 187g, 2430kJ
In a world where the Triple Whopper and Carl's Jr. exist, the Big Mac should probably change its name to Comparatively Sensibly Sized Mac. A lot of time and money has been spent perfecting the burger's balance of sugar, salt and fat, and you can't say it tastes bad.
Rewarding? God, no. Few fast food items are. (The Zinger when hungover is a strong exception.) But, that tangy special sauce brings the Mac's flavours together, and the whole thing can be eaten with one hand while driving and not fall apart. Very important. At the end of the day, it's fine.
$8.30, 231g, 3210kJ
The Mac and Jack's sweaty plus-sized uncles were sampled too. A DM is the same as a standard Big Mac but with four meat patties rather than two. Four meat patties, it turns out, is two patties too many. It throws the Mac's balance off kilter and brings the rissole-grey flavour of McDonald's beef to the forefront. Bring back the Son of Mac and discontinue this guy, I say.
Double Mac (left) v Mega Jack. Photo: Callan Boys
$8.65, 220g, 2400kJ
The last time I ate Hungry Jack's outside of Adelaide Airport (it's genuinely the best food option at the terminal) was when the chain released The Dark Knight Whopper in 2008. A Batman burger! Finally!
The World's Greatest Detective burger was Hungry Jack's biggest disappointment. Just a standard Whopper with foul barbecue sauce. I drove 40 minutes to buy that Batman burger and I'm still fuming.
The Big Jack doesn't fare much better. Sure it looks the same, but the mustardy "King Sauce" is way too sweet and it feels odd to eat sliced (not finely chopped) onions on a Big Mac impostor. Also, the smoky taint common to most Hungry Jack's burgers is in full force and it's gross.
I Frankenstein a Big Jack-Mac together by using McDonald's patties on the BJ, but it's nothing special without the Arches' special sauce.
$13.65, 420g, 4722kJ
Sweet Jesus, how is this legal? Combine the Mega Jack with a large Coke and chips and you have almost 90 per cent of an adult's daily recommended kilojoule intake in one meal. No wonder obesity in Australia is out of control.
(McDonald's, I see you too. Don't think sponsoring Little Athletics absolves your effect on the nation's health. If anything, it just causes kids to get hooked on junk food early in life.)
The Mega Jack is like a Big Jack but with bigger meat patties and a lot more bun. Everything I said about the BJ applies here but even more so. It might be the heaviest burger I have encountered outside the United States.
Big Mac original reigns supreme. Given it has been slowly refined over half a century, and the Big Jack could have been conceived by a work experience kid, this is not a surprise.
Credit where it's due though: Hungry Jack's makes a better chip than McDonald's. Jack's chips have the scoffability of Macca's fries, plus the chicken-salty seasoning of KFC's spud rods. The best of both worlds and much better than Red Rooster chips, which are often soggier than a post-match footy sock. Anyway, we're all probably better off eating a carrot.