The First Meta Burger

It’s ridiculous, really: a burger inside a burger. Why not simply have two burgers? Why? Because we revel in the ludicrous. A Big Mac was a sensation in it’s day. It was a fast food display of a country on top of the world. Hell yes we could throw an extra patty and a bun in the mix! Why not?

It wasn’t the first, that title arguably goes to the Big Boy, against which the Big Mac was competing. But McDonalds being what they are handily beat poor old Big Boy within an inch of his life with a marketing campaign that dominated our psyches.

Now, of course, we are locked in a fast food arms race to build the most ridiculous concoction and see if people will eat it (the Double Down, anyone?), but when the Big Mac went national in 1967 it sparked a national clarion call with a familiar jingle:
Two all beef patties
Special sauce
Pickles, onions on a sesame bun…

Yes, a nation was singing the ingredients of a sandwich. The jingle even overtook the sandwich for a time as I can remember singing its praises on the playgrounds despite having never once taking a bite of this legend.

So here we had layer upon layer of cultural ether heaped upon a sandwich that itself was comprised of layers. Big Mac? Big Meta.

1984 McDonald’s Big Mac Commercial

What makes it meta is this:

  1. MacDonalds, a larger corporation co-opted a concept for various reasons and made it it’s own, integrating an idea and rolling it in its own marketing speak til well done.
  2. The marketing campaign for this was entirely meta, using a description of its components as the sole foundation for the jingle… you know the one…”Two all-beef patties, special sauce… [ad nauseam]
  3. The larger organization’s ad budget virtually owned the new concept, just about burying the original based on its mega popular footprint… it essentially bought the mind-space around the idea.

Very old Big Mac 70’s commercial

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