Since we enjoy finishing what we start, here is our report on the third Jewelry Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s, the Ruby Spark…
Given our past experiences getting the Gold Ring and the Black Diamond, I figured I could saunter down to the neighborhood McD’s around 10:30 and pick up this new one-day-only premium burger, no sweat. In reality, it required a lot of sweat, because when I showed up an employee came and said if I was hoping to get the ¥1,000 burger that the line cut off with the guy directly in front of me.
Shock and despair clouded my mind as I raced for the nearest subway station. I could think of any number of McDonald’s locations, but which one would be sure to have the goods? If my local and not-terribly-major location was sold out, could the entire country have run out? In less than 10 minutes?
If I felt a little silly getting off the train after one stop, I felt even sillier sprinting through the station; just imagine what people would think of me if they knew I was rushing in order to buy a McDonald’s hamburger!
The humiliation paid off. I received a number in a rather convoluted line (some people had cups with numbers written on them, others had plastic cards like me; numbers were not necessarily called in order), while anyone who showed up even a few minutes later was out of luck.
If you’ve been following our saga, you’ll know about the special packaging that is one of the hallmarks of the Jewelry series, so we’ll skip right to an examination of this week’s ingredients. “Soft French bread,” OK. “Rich avocado filling, like dip.” I suppose they refer to guacamole, but why not just say that? Jalapeño pepper jack cheese seems to continue the Mexican theme. Grilled onions and a beef patty? Well that just makes it a burger. Now for the curveball: Why do I care that a German fleischmeister made the the five slices of chorizo flopping there just under the bun top?
In an attempt to answer this question, I learned some things about chorizo, like how the ground meat I am used to from tacos in California is Mexican-style (which one could argue would make more sense in this burger), but that the sausage actually originated in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal), where they do slice it. I don’t mean to discount the expertise of the German meat master, but were the Spanish ones busy? Still, the fact that there is a European tradition is something, and the sausage, for what it was, tasted pretty good, with the spiciness I expected.
McDonald’s meant to play the hot elements off the cool avocado, but I found that I actually enjoyed the chorizo kick melding with the beef just as much as the way it jibed with the green goo, even though I’m not that into piling meat on top of meat. At any rate, the heat worked for me.
Hit or not, it’s gone, gone like the other two Jewelry burgers. So what have we learned? We learned in the face of wacky campaign food we go soft, where we would normally fortify our resolution and seek out a “proper hamburger.” Oh, and that pineapple is kind of stringy for a sandwich, but combining beef paddies with truffles or chorizo isn’t a bad idea.
I’m curious about what McDonald’s learned. Watching what was going on behind the counter on Saturday, I couldn’t call it chaos, but it did look like everyone was working a lot harder than usual. Did it pay off? Was this a test for a premium menu offered on a more regular basis?
I wonder how many people eat more conventional campaign burgers (ones that are available for longer than a day) more than once. If the answer is close to zero, then this style of ultra-focused, ultra-extravagant campaign might be a natural evolution. Am I looking forward to what’s next? Um, for now, I think I’m ready for a break.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5