Taco Bell took a direct shot at rival McDonald’s—and its longtime clown mascot—earlier this year when the chain rolled out a new TV ad featuring various men named Ronald McDonald savoring Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco breakfast sandwich. The not-so-subtle put-down of the similar McDonald’s McGriddles prompted Consumer Reports to join the fray and settle the argument objectively with a Taco Bell Waffle Taco vs. McDonald's McGriddles battle of the breakfast sandwiches. (Check our buying guide and Ratings for fast-food restaurants, and look at our gripe-o-meter to see what bugs Americans when they dine out.)
To tackle the project, three expert testers drove to several McDonald’s and Taco Bell restaurants near our Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters and ordered multiple bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches to assure they didn’t get a bad apple. One staff member placed the order, anonymously, of course, and brought the food back to the car so that the team could sample it at the peak of freshness.
They bit into their sandwiches to get an overall impression, then jotted down notes. (They also used a spit cup—a common accessory tasters use to avoid palate fatigue and to keep from packing on the pounds.) They also tasted each of the components separately and discussed the attributes until they reached a consensus.
Fortuitously, the car windows happened to be tinted. That kept out the eyes of curious passersby who might wonder what all the chewing and spitting was about. The experts knew what attributes to look for in a high-quality sandwich based on knowledge and experience tasting eggs, breakfast meats, and a variety of breads. (Read "New Taco Bell Breakfast Menu Is a Nutritional Mixed Bag" and watch the accompanying video to get all the details.)