Say cheese? Not when I’m getting a hamburger

SHARE Say cheese? Not when I’m getting a hamburger

A McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, left, and Double Quarter Pound burger are shown with fresh beef March 6 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

A hamburger does not have cheese. A hamburger with cheese is called a “cheeseburger.”

And you shouldn’t have to pay for cheese if all you want is a hamburger. Two McDonald’s customers in Florida have filed a $5 million lawsuit against McDonald’s in federal court to make that point and I applaud their courage.


For at least 40 years I have been doing battle with fast food clerks and restaurant waitresses over the difference between hamburgers and cheeseburgers because I do not like cheese on my hamburger.

People who want cheese on their hamburgers should be forced to say, “I want a cheeseburger.” I should not be required to say, “I want a hamburger, no cheese,” or even answer a question such as, “Do you want cheese on your hamburger?”

No, I say, because if I wanted cheese I would have ordered a cheeseburger which is what you call a hamburger with cheese on it.

This semantic battle became outright war at a fast-food franchise one day when I was charged for a cheeseburger after ordering a hamburger with no cheese.

“Yes, you have to pay for the cheese because our hamburgers come with cheese,” I was told by a clerk who was rendered speechless when I asked if she would give me money for a diamond ring she did not request, and I planned never to give her.

I slowly explained that I ordered a hamburger and was now being told I had to pay for cheese that I was not getting.

“I’m sorry sir but you have to pay the same price because we sell hamburgers with cheese,” the clerk said, patiently explaining that I would not get any cheese on my burger and completely misunderstanding the point I was trying to make.

The majority of people I have spoken to about this seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to ruin a hamburger by putting cheese on it and think anyone who frets over the bastardization of the English language is simply a troublemaker. Just order a hamburger with no cheese, they tell me.

But the two people in Florida apparently side with me.

They claim in their lawsuit that by forcing people to pay for cheese on their Quarter Pounders, even if they don’t want cheese, McDonald’s is engaging in an antitrust action called an “unfair tying arrangement.”

In other words, McDonald’s is benefitting financially from cheese it does not deliver to customers.

McDonald’s told USA Today in a statement that the lawsuit is frivolous, has no merit and the company expects it to be thrown out of court.

Through the years I have been charged for cheese I did not order on fish sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, salads. I could be a millionaire if I got all my money back for cheese I never received.

Listen, I can almost understand the backwards logic.

If a restaurant orders its frozen burgers with cheese from a corporate entity, cooks them early in the morning and then drops them into some heated vat full of grease for hours, it would be difficult for employees to separate the melted cheese from the burgers. Employees would have to put down their cell phones, grab the burger patties, pull off the cheese and then go back to texting, which would really mess up their smart phones.

But if the burger is made fresh daily, it would seem to me that delivering a hamburger without cheese to a customer would actually save the restaurant time and demonstrate some good will.

Customers should not be forced to pay for something they do not want and did not order.

And Americans should never be forced to say they want a “hamburger, no cheese.”


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