It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve had a fast food burger. Yesterday was another brutal day as we try to deliver our 3rd concurrent project in the same two-month period. I had a meeting at the Forest & Stream Club and had to immediately drive the four hours to Ottawa and back for two more meetings. No time for lunch, but I was really hungry and running low on energy.

I spotted a Burger King at one of the service centers on the way to Ottawa. I figured I had about 15 minutes to gas up, eat, and still be on time for my first meeting. Looking at the BK menu on the wall at the order counter, I must admit the burgers looked pretty good. I opted for the BK Veggie Burger, a pretty fair compromise given that I’m not a big fan of commercial ground beef from the factory farms. Here’s what it looked like on the wall:

I was pleased that since there weren’t too many people in the store, they were making the burgers to order rather than just stacking them up in advance. So, my freshly-made Veggie Burger arrived in about 2 minutes. Needles to say it looked nothing like the above. It was small, soggy, thin, and kind of squished; I had to peel back the top of the bun to make sure that there was actually lettuce, tomato, and pickle in there. The tomato and pickle consisted of one micro-thin slices each, and the lettuce an afterthought; although they seemed to have been quite generous with the mayo (which BTW, doesn’t even appear in the picture).

All in all it tasted OK and did stop the rumbling in my stomach with a minimum of guilt (the BK nutrition guide lists this burger at 310 calories and 7 grams of fat – hard to believe with so much mayo). But the discrepancy between the promoted image and the reality is quite striking; a classic definition of stress being when expectation and reality diverge.

The dining area was about half-full of hapless looking people drearily dipping their plastic forks into plastic tubs of poutine (french fries with gravy and cheese curds). This seemed to be the sustenance of choice in that particular outlet on that day.

Overall, I still don’t get the appeal. It’s fast, it’s cheap, but overall not very good: As the old adage goes, “For very little you get next to nothing, which is fair”.