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How the Big Mac became the Big Mac

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How an idea becomes a product at McDonald's:

When I visited his kitchen, Coudreaut made an exquisite endive and poached-pear salad with dried cherries and mustard-seed dressing. Say he wanted to put that salad on the menu. Among his first steps would be to go to the produce experts at McDonald's and ask about endive. He imagined the answer he would get: "Well, Dan, you're gonna have to get somebody to grow it. And that's not hard to do, but it's gonna take three years."

So then Coudreaut might consider mixing the endive with more commercially available lettuces, a step that would reduce the lead time. What about the mustard-seed dressing? You could do that even faster, plus it's a "great flavor combination with the cherries," he said. Except there's a problem with cherries: You can never guarantee that all the pits are out. Imagine the lawsuit from the guy who breaks a tooth on a pit. So you end up with only the pears. They are widely available and have a great shelf life. Coudreaut poached the pears he served to me in gewürztraminer. McDonald's could never do that for its outlets, but what if you softened pear slices in a poaching liquid other than wine — a step that would both enhance flavor and extend hold time?

And so on.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 18, 2010; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  Food  
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Comments

Cranberries instead of the cherries? (Remember Bob and Ray's cranberry farmer?)

But then there's the problem of getting people to understand that "endive" isn't a summer Olympics event.

And stealing all those pears by moonlight is bound to effect the profit margin.

Posted by: NoniMausa | February 18, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

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