On Sept. 3, McDonald’s tweeted a hamburger emoji and a cactus emoji from its official Twitter account. The cactus emoji represented “Cactus Jack,” the record label and nickname of Jacques Webster II, better known by his stage name, Travis Scott. The subtle message alluded to the viral phenomenon that is the “Travis Scott Meal.”
The rollout for the meal included a photoshoot, an animated commercial, and a merchandise collaboration between Scott and McDonald’s. All of the hysteria, however, surrounded a combo meal that was already available to McDonald’s customers. “The Travis Scott Meal” includes a Quarter Pounder hamburger topped with lettuce, pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, bacon, cheese, and a packet of Tangy BBQ sauce.
The burger is complemented by a medium order of fries served with a famous McDonald’s Sprite. What makes this otherwise normal order so special is the connection it gives the customer to Travis, who orders this combo when he goes to McDonald’s, the commercial explained.
McDonald’s sent out a tweet reading, “say Cactus Jack sent you” on Sept. 8, the day the meal launched. This prompted me, millions of other Travis Scott fans, pop culture minions, and shameless clout chasers to storm our nearest McDonald’s in the hope that we could get our hands on the “Travy Patty,” as some have come to call it.
Many arrived at the drive-thru uttering the aforementioned script McDonald’s gave them to order, but I chose to keep at least a shred of my dignity when I rolled up to the menu board, simply asking for a Travis Scott meal. After I ordered, I drove up to the window and paid for my meal, before I finally arrived home, eager to experience the most exciting part of my months-long quarantine.
The presentation of the meal was ordinary despite all of the hype, with a standard McDonald’s brown paper bag and box for the burger. The only discernible association with “Cactus Jack” was the receipt in the bag which read “The Travis Scott” — the packaging left a lot to be desired. However, after laying the meal out on the table and preparing it in the most alluring way — seductively spreading the thick, zesty BBQ sauce on the bun — I was ready to dig in.
The first bite was a surprise. I liked it. A lot. I needed to reaffirm my opinion, so I quickly took a second bite, and it was settled: this is a solid meal. Maybe, Scott really does know what he’s doing.
The pleasant combination of tanginess from the condiment mixtures and juiciness of the beef patty with bacon can only be described by Travis’ primary ad-lib: It’s lit! The medium order of fries and the unique punch that McDonald’s trademark Sprite provides complemented the entree perfectly.
The meal disappeared in a mere five minutes; each next bite was just as satisfying as the last. Perhaps I’ve gone too light on burger toppings in the past; I usually go plain-N-dry, but this was a satisfactory sandwich. I think it would be difficult for any skeptic to disagree, even with the low-quality stigma surrounding McDonald’s. With its toppings, fries, and complimentary beverage, the meal is filling and made me want to sit down and take a long, deep breath. I might have eaten it too fast, but I couldn’t help myself.
Fans swarmed Travis when he made a surprise, not-so socially distanced visit to his local McDonald’s on the launch date. As I mentioned before, the meal announcement also came with a merch drop that included a litany of t-shirts, sweaters, tote bags, and a full-size McNugget body pillow (I refuse to believe we aren’t living in a simulation). The merch was only available for 48 hours and felt like a joke.
While some of the designs weren’t completely awful, I just can’t understand why anyone would spend upwards of $40 to sport any piece of clothing that promotes a collaboration between hip-hop superstar Travis Scott and the infamous McDonald’s fast food chain.
When all is said and done, this entire event feels bizarre. It’s a pop culture spectacle that will surely be remembered by this generation when we grow old, and the internet paid tribute to it with a week-long barrage of memes.
Despite this, the actual product, a meal with surprisingly exceptional taste and variety, is something I would definitely recommend people try at least once. Even without an album release this year, Travis Scott found an incredibly entertaining way to stay in the spotlight in 2020.