Monday 3 November 2014

The Ryanair in-flight cheeseburger

Just when you think you've hit rock bottom in the burger stakes - as I did back in 2011 when I boiled (yes BOILED, my friends) and ate the cheeseburger in a can - along comes another challenge to assault the senses...the Ryanair in-flight cheeseburger.

I've never been one to shy away from a burger challenge, and so having spied the Ryanair cheeseburger on the way back from Spain where I'd been spending a week holidaying and sampling a a selection of fine cured meats in Jamoneria, and quaffing great Ribera del Duero and Rioja. So obviously I was really fancying a burger to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay.

So what was I expecting? A surprise gourmet treat from an airline who's increased focus on customer service has seen an uplift in passengers, revenues, and profits in the last quarter? Or a bag of disappointment for 5 Euros on an airline who's CEO famously once joked he may start charging passengers £1 or use the toilet? Read on, my friends, read on...

Let's start off with the expectation gap. The difference between what's promised by the product advert, and what's delivered. At the start of this article is what I was promised (although I obviously didn't think I'd get it in a glass cakestand)...and here's what I received:
Clearly Ryanair are taking lessons from discount furniture retailer IKEA with their flat-packed DIY burger kit. And true to the Ryanair brand this burger is suitably 'no frills'. The packaging simply states 'Cheeseburger' followed by a terrifyingly long list of ingredients (more on those later).

At the offset, it's unclear what's happened to half the burger, as the meat has disappeared in a cloud of steam that's condensed on the plastic wrapping, where a lump of melted cheese has also welded itself, but once unwrapped (and the smell of canned luncheon meat has wafted away, choking a young family two rows in front of me) the full horror of what I've ordered becomes apparent.
I'm going to start with top bun / cheese / sauce combo - certainly a unique presentation - particularly as I've spent the last 15 months doing up my house, and that cheese is almost exactly like the spray foam insulation I used to fill in the gaps around the down and outlet pipes for the toilet - it's thick, claggy stuff that binds on contact and refuses to let go - an admirable quality in a spray insulation, less so in cheese.
The bit that welded to the wrapper and then ripped off on opening reveals hole into a blood red gash of relish coating the bun, which I fondly refer to as 'sharp vinegary tomato stuff'. According to the list of ingredients, this is 'relish sauce'. Although it could be 'Neopolitan pizza sauce'. Who knows. Needless to say it was rank.

The meat was a floppy, lifeless patty made of 40% (!) beef with a range of fillers, emulsifiers, additives and colourings which made it taste almost, but not completely, unlike beef. And don't get me started on the cynical faux grill marks, made in the factory using blasts of hot air before the burger is dipped in a chemical cocktail deemed to make it taste authentically grilled.
The bun was the surprise star of this freakshow, if being a star means being utterly unlike a ciabatta roll, but rather a soft, damp sponge infused with the steamy tears of a desperate cattle lot cow. It's role in watering down the flavours of the rest of the burger should not be underestimated.

I said I'd give the ingredients a special mention, and they deserve it. A list that covers almost the entire front of the burger's original packaging is interspersed with E-number this, and natural flavour that. It's just like the cheeseburger in a can all over again. Here's the full ingredient experience in glorious technicolour for your enjoyment.
Just one last thing, and surely the most terrifying part of this whole burger experience...the use by date is 5 October 2015, meaning it will keep for A YEAR!

In summing up, I would say this experience is one bloody good reason to eat at a restaurant where you know where your beef is sourced from, and who has had a hand in forming your burger patty.


  1. Yeah, yeah, but what did it taste like?

  2. Thanks for doing it for us, so that we don't have to !!

  3. Probably worse than it looks but we should be told. Science and the pursuit of knowledge call for it.

  4. Cliff Harald08 May, 2015

    Is it alive?


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