How Well Does Burger King Hold Up via Delivery? We Ordered & Found Out.
We revisit some of America’s most iconic fast food menu items in the age of social distancing.
After the 42-minute debacle of placing a McDonald’s order for the last edition of How You Holding Up?, I did not expect to have so much ordering drama going forward. “I also don't expect to have so much ordering drama going forward,” I messaged my editor, so that’s proof. But, as I am merely a subject in the fast food kingdom, I was felled by my own hubris.
This round, I revisited (without visiting!) Ronald McDonald’s noblest and equally creepy rival: the Burger King. Here is how it’s most famous menu item, the Whopper, looked and tasted after its odyssey from the majestic land of paper crowns to my humble abode.
The royal journey: Ordering, wait time, and delivery experience
As with McDonald’s, I went straight to Burger King’s site rather than a third party delivery platform. Unlike McDonald’s, I wasn’t able to choose between platforms. Instead, the “order delivery” option brought me to a pre-filled delivery address form and small print indicating that either DoorDash or Postmates would be handling the delivery at... random? Decided by duel? It would have been nice to have been able to choose, since DoorDash already had my information and competition allows you to opt for lower delivery and service fees (savings that you should always add to the tip), but I had relinquished my will to the King. Plus my info was already staring back at me, so it seemed like DD won this round. But that became murky, too.
Prompted to sign in, the site didn’t recognize the DoorDash account I’d previously started for McDonald’s and I had to go through a multi-pronged new account set-up to place the order. I finally added a Whopper combo ($10.59), Impossible Whopper ($6.89), and a medium fries ($3.59) to my cart and tried to modify the order note to make my phone number more apparent for the delivery person, which set off some electronic chain of events that erased the order, changed the whole operation to a pick-up endeavor, and wouldn’t let me click back through to the cart so I could just give someone, anyone, my lunch money. This went on for a few minutes until the King released his grip and allowed me back into the enchanted cart to claim my goods.
This all took 21 minutes, and my combo, fake Whopper, and extra fries had an ETA of 31 minutes. It wasn’t clear which location would prepare the order, but there are two Burger Kings a little less than a mile away from my apartment, both in Downtown Brooklyn where I used to go shopping when I still needed hard pants, big-girl shoes, and other Outside Clothes. Ultimately, I received an email receipt from Burger King, a text from some other vaguely named “corporation” referencing both BK and DD but identifying as something else, and a phone call from a very kind human delivery person before I got my food 40 minutes later.
Have it your way. Really, with your own plates and stuff: Taste, presentation, and how it holds up
I don’t know how they did it. Somehow the delivery person, a knight in shining armor if there ever was one, managed to transport a paper and plastic-encased Whopper, Impossible Whopper, large French fries, and medium French fries from about a mile away, poised next to the largest icy diet Coke known to man, and it was still hovering between warm and hot on arrival. I unwrapped everything, trashed the packaging like it was a poisoned apple, worried about what would happen to the modest environmental strides local government had made by attempting to ban plastic bags and straws after All This (™), and bit into an improbably hot fry.
The burgers were warm, too, and nothing looked any worse for the wear. Both the Whopper and the Impossible Whopper were wrapped in paper, but they were just as structurally sound as the Big Mac I’d previously ordered from McDonalds, which came in a protective clamshell box. The Whopper’s flame-grilled flavor is exponentially more pronounced than some of its burger competitors that derive their personality from special sauce and dumb middle bread. If you’ve ever had a Whopper, you can probably evoke that sense-piquing taste and aroma that hits you right in the back of the nose right now. Its pickles and sliced onion were floppy in that fast food way you’d never let a Fancy Sandwich Shoppe get away with, but are appropriate in this context. Due to the limits of delivery, I wasn't expecting a proper Whopper, but a proper Whopper I got.
This is not the time or place to debate the merits of the Impossible Whopper in general, suss out whether it’s healthy, or interrogate how closely it approximates meat. It’s too new to market to tether to memory like the Whopper, so for me its taste and texture conjures little more than times when I’ve dabbled in some diluted notion of “wellness” and started buying mass-market boxed veggie burgers. And it’s a stand-up option for anyone seeking a plant-based (though not vegetarian or vegan due to preparation and the curious inclusion of mayo) sandwich.
Neither Burger King’s nor DoorDash’s purportedly real-time maps seemed to reflect anything happening in reality. DoorDash’s tracker was about four minutes behind Burger King’s for the duration, and before too long I figured that Burger King’s was merely counting down to its own estimated delivery time, ultimately landing on “ETA: less than one minute” for several minutes before the delivery person called to tell me that the order was here. Unsurprisingly, the machines disappoint, while the real people involved make sure these platforms actually function, so make sure your contact information is clear to the folks actually doing the work here, and tip with abandon.