Why, though? McDonald’s hot-and-cold burger

McDonald’s tried to keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool, but a green push killed its plan.

McDonald’s McDLT wasn’t really a failure, despite being discontinued after only a few years.

A McDonald’s McDLT box in front of a landfill on an orange background.

Rather, it was a victim of inconsistency and its special packaging.

What happened?

The McDLT was a simple cheeseburger, but it came in a patented double container (one of which currently resides in the Smithsonian’s collection).

The idea was that, by putting the bottom bun and the meat on one side and the toppings on the other, “the hot stays hot… and the cool stays cool” — the refrain of this incredible musical commercial starring future “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander.

It’s unclear why the cheese wasn’t included on the hot side for added meltiness, but keeping the lettuce crisp wasn’t a terrible idea and the burger sold well.


… the McDLT’s special container drew the ire of an environmentally concerned public. It was, like much of McDonald’s packaging, made with polystyrene, which is slow to degrade and can leach chemicals.

In 1990, McDonald’s agreed to switch its burger packaging to paper before fully phasing out the material in 2018.

But paper couldn’t keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool, thus negating the entire selling point of the McDLT.

McDonald’s grill master Ken Forton also doubted the overall concept, telling Serious Eats that many locations likely only had a regular heating rack without a cold side, and perhaps only ever delivered warm burgers.

Today, the big push is for companies like McDonald’s to move from single-use packaging to reusable, already mandatory for dine-in service in France.

Want even more? Here’s a great half-hour video all about the McDLT and other McDonald’s trivia.

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