McDonald's tests new take on custom sandwiches

Fast food giant McDonald's is testing a new spin on its customized sandwich platform called "TasteCrafted" at select restaurants in Atlanta, Portland and Southern California.

Through TasteCrafted, customers can pick a meat, bun type and one of a handful of different flavor combos, including pico guacamole and hot jalapeño. The service is a middle ground in customization, offering more options than a typical menu board but not quite as many as another idea McDonald's is testing, a kiosk called Create Your Taste that cooks burgers to order with a wide array of possible combinations.

A McDonald's Pico Guacamole burger
Source: McDonald's
A McDonald's Pico Guacamole burger

"The Create Your Taste test will continue to expand to additional restaurants while Tasted Crafted Burgers and Chicken creates a more immediate opportunity for a broader base of restaurants to provide customers with the variety and choices they enjoy today," wrote Lisa McComb, a McDonald's spokeswoman in an email.

Some franchisees have criticized Create Your Taste, saying it would be too pricey to install and present additional operational headaches in a system that is already strained by a large menu.

In a research note, Janney Capital Markets noted that TasteCrafted is available in the drive-thru, whereas Create Your Taste is not. This matters because more than 60 percent of the chain's U.S. sales occur via the drive-thru, McDonald's has said.

Other advantages of the new test are a quicker rollout and a smaller investment for franchisees than Create Your Taste, Janney added. The firm has a "neutral" rating on McDonald's stock.

About 30 restaurants are currently using the Create Your Taste platform in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia, Missouri and Pennsylvania, with plans to expand it to additional ones domestically.

In recent months, McDonald's has backed off of a strict timeline for its expansion. Earlier this year, the company said it planned to expand customized burger platform to up to 2,000 locations in the United States.

But at a March conference, Chief Administrative Officer Pete Bensen said, "what we've agreed is that we're not going to set a specific number in the U.S. to roll it out."