Until recently, few people outside of Ireland had heard of Supermac’s, the upstart burger chain which beat McDonald’s in a legal trademark battle.
But, being Irish, I grew up with both chains – and can say that Supermac’s is, hands-down, the better of the two.
The restaurant’s battle hinged on whether the name Supermac’s was too similar to McDonald’s flagship Big Mac burger. McDonald’s had used the similarity as a reason to prevent Supermac’s expanding into more markets, but was overruled by European Union officials.
Supermac’s is tiny in comparison to McDonald’s – but should still be worried about its newly-empowered contender. Here’s why.
The first way that Supermac’s has McDonald’s beat is the fries. The menu has 5 different varieties that include chilli, cheese, and curry sauce.
You can also get taco fries.
The fries are also thicker and taste more like actual potatoes.
McDonald’s regular fries do not compare well.
Even the announcement of bacon cheese fries — which are only just hitting the US market — leaves McDonald’s with a lot of catching up to do.
Business Insider first revealed the fries were coming in December 2018. They launched nationwide in January.
Supermac’s wins on burgers, too. The mainstay is the 5oz beef burger, a rival to the McDonald’s double quarter pounder with cheese. The meat is tastier, the is salad more generous, and the bun feels like higher quality.
Supermac’s chicken also has the edge — the chicken patty is far meatier than McDonald’s.
You will not find a salad in Supermac’s — one area where McDonald’s admittedly has it beat.
But nobody wants a salad from Supermac’s. What they do want is food by the bucket. You can buy dozens of nuggets, chicken tenders, or potato wedges all in one go.
The jewel in the crown is a bucket of 100 tiny sausages.
Supermac’s also has a better approach to meal deals. As well as the classic meal-fries-drink paradigm, you can buy a snack box, which gives you a way to get a food bundle without buying a drink you don’t want. This one has fried chicken.
Supermac’s also has McDonald’s beat in the dessert department. Instead of volcanic apple pies, Supermac’s signature dish is hot muffins covered with vanilla ice cream. They have a cult following in Ireland.
Supermac’s also has a canny business model involving tie-ups with other brands. Many of the stores share a counter with the Irish franchises of Papa John’s.
You can even buy combo meals that include food from both brands.
— Supermac's (@SupermacsIRE) January 23, 2019
And, finally, Supermac’s gets a bonus point for being part of an Irish national treasure/source of humiliation — the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, County Offaly.
The plaza is a highway rest stop between Dublin and Limerick, built in honour of Barack Obama’s 2012 visit to Moneygall, where he drank Guinness with locals in a pub.
It has a Supermac’s and some other restaurants, as well as a museum of American-Irish history featuring a pint glass said to have been used by Michelle Obama.
Out front is a Cadillac, which is plastered with the Supermac’s logo on the side and has an “Obama-1” licence plate.
This is me with the car.
Supermac’s may not have the deep pockets, thousands of stores, or brand recognition of a fast food giant like McDonald’s. But the plucky rival has plenty to offer, both in Ireland, and, thanks to its court victory, even further afield.
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