I stood in line to order a custom burger from a futuristic McDonald's kiosk -- and now I get why the company is betting on them

As part of a big revamp plan, McDonald’s has been rolling out futuristic kiosks in its stores that let you create your own custom burgers.

The kiosks are gigantic touchscreens that let you customise your burger with toppings like guacamole, grilled mushroom or onions, bacon, and sauces like sriracha mayo. The kiosks have drawbacks, like not working in the drive-thrus that provide 70% of McDonald’s revenue, and being relatively expensive.

But I stood in line to try one at the McDonald’s VIP lounge at South by Southwest, and I get why the company is betting on them to succeed.

The hype in the line was palpable. South by Southwest has a lot of “experiences” set up by marketers, but people were genuinely excited to order a custom McDonald’s burger, more excited than they were to see an exclusive “Game of Thrones” trailer.

Why? One reason is that the interface lets you customise burgers in ways that would be annoying otherwise. Are you going to ask the cashier to read you out every possible option at every step (sauces, for example)? No, it just doesn’t work. But with the clicking and swiping of the kiosk, which felt like an oversized smartphone, it’s easy and takes seconds. And you get to craft your perfect burger.

Here’s what it was like:

To choose which topping you want, you swipe down like on smartphone or iPad, tapping when you see something you like.

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I definitely wanted bacon.

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This is what I ended up with. My ideal burger, and not one I would have ever thought to order at McDonald's.

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To pay, you just swipe a card at the bottom of the kiosk. No cashier required.

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My burger was then prepared in a mobile McDonald's kitchen.

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There is was, with fries of course.

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They didn't skimp on the jalapeƱos.

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After giving it a taste, I didn't regret my choices -- the burger turned out to be excellent.

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