The Burger Debate Catches a Second Wind

(Photo: zaneology)

Remember this blog post in which a reader asked if the McDouble is perhaps “the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history”? It spawned a lot of commentary on the blog and we followed it up with a Freakonomics Radio podcast

Now the question has been taken up by many others, spurred on by a N.Y. Post column by Kyle Smith and echoed by, among others, Yahoo! and the Wall Street Journal in this country and, in the U.K., the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and the Times.

I have gotten about one zillion media requests to talk further about the story but I am busy writing so I had to turn them down.

If you scroll through the comments on the links above — the Yahoo! post has more than 4,000 comments as of this writing — you will likely be struck, as I was, by how great Freakonomics commenters are compared to the rest of the world. Literate, lucid, knowledgable, and even when you get enraged you manage to say something useful.

All hail the readers of this blog!


"I don't often comment on blogs, but when I do it is always at Freakonomics. Stay Lucid and Concise, my Friends"---Dos Equis Guy. :)

Caleb B

Freakonomics blog is nice because commenters are expected to be able to back up what they write with sources, data, and studies. Even studies should be linked an open gated. It keeps the discourse civil, i think. I've been humbled at least a couple of times by other readers who knew more than me about certain subjects (light truck accidents, chicken intelligence).

Stay classy, Freakonomics.


I think you mean "stay cheesy". Two slices, cheddar, if you please.


It's why I like this place. Even the comments I disagree with are often thoughtful, instead of just angry sloganeering.

John Glenn

Anyone know why the McDouble is 1,39$ in Canada, a whopping 39% more?


I was traveling on the NJ Turnpike yesterday and I got a McDouble for $2.69. Perhaps they read your post and realized it was undervalued,

Yes, I realize everything priced higher on those monopolistic rest stops :)

J. D. Smith Jr.

Nothing is as unfair in argument as irrefutable fact and unassailable logic.

Steve Nations

I certainly agree that Freakonomics blog posters are a cut above. Now if we can just get more of them to use their full names. I really don't understand what they have to fear.


Why on earth would any sane person put private info in a public space?

Steve Nations

Does that question apply to the Freakonomics authors and the writers of these posts too, James? Or just the commenters? I'm not asking for your social security number, or a full set of dental records. I don't think my name is private information, and I'm not afraid to post it. Anonymity breeds a callous disregard for others. That's generally true for car drivers and blog commenters.

Valerie Cady

People who eat at Mcdonalds and shop at walmart are not poor let me remind you Walmart started as a very very small store and its in a will to always give to the Salvation Army and Mcdonalds everyone and I mean everyone eats there I seen very wealth people buy the mcdouble for $1.00, so obliviously you didn't do your research on this subject and I can almost bet you eat the mcdouble well next time do your research

Zane Aveton (@zaneology)

Yay! And, that's my hamburger pic - I feel so special right now.


Zane, Zane, Zane....shaking my head....why would you call your masterpiece of a McDouble a "hamburger pic", they are so different.


Last night, I think I found the real solution. A Li'l Caesar's pepperoni pizza costs $5. It can feed, surely, 4 people, perhaps more for a single meal. It has dairy (cheese), meat, grain (if the crust is whole grain), and for few pennies more, perhaps some veggies thrown in. Also, you can cook ONE and feed 4+, but each hamburger must be prepared separately. Possible?

Caleb B

It is only $4 on mondays.

Mark R

The Little Caesar's near me has the pepperoni (or cheese only if you desire) for $5 every day.

According to their Website, the pepperoni has 280 calories and 14 grams of protein per slice (1/8 th
of the pie).So 4 people , for $1.25, would get 560 calories and 28 grams of protein.It's 500 calories and 24 g of protein for the cheese option.

Do with these numbers what you will.


Did you guys read the NY Post story on this? It cited your story and went on a long culture war screed that includes such topics as the XL pipeline, people's opposition to Walmart, and some good old fashioned red baiting. "If the macrobiotic Marxists had their way, of course, there’d be no McDonald’s, Walmart or Exxon, because they have visions of an ideal world in which everybody bikes to work with a handwoven backpack from Etsy that contains a lunch grown in the neighborhood collective."

El Conquistador

I have three young children so fast-food visits are a twice a week treat for them. Purely on price, very hard to beat Little Caesars $5 deals plus some breadsticks. I can feed three boys (10, 8, and 5) for less than three bucks a tummy. What is also surprising is that they prefer Ceasars over Pizza Hut or Domino's (which still sucks despite all the cool TV adds).

Is it just me or fast-food joints are getting, how should I put it, better? Recently we tried Hardee's, a place that I used to abhor. The burger was a surprise: tasted good and it was nicely put together - I always peek inside my food before I bite into it, one of my OCD signals - and had fresh (looking) lettuce and well distributed condiments. I hate when you look inside a bun and all mayo is on one side and dollop of ketchup next door.

Wendy's, for me, has some really good salads and original sauces.

It just feels that you can eat better and healthier in fast-food nowadays than when I was a poor grad student 10 years ago. I totally get the McDouble claim even though it is not a good burger.

P.S. - McDonals in Brazil used to have a wonderful passion fruit juice.