McDonald’s Big Mac (Student Project)

Derrick Lin


Designer: Jessica Stoll
Project Type: Student Project
School: Arizona State University
Course: Packaging Design
Location: Tempe, AZ
Packaging Contents: Greasy and Delicious McDonald’s Big Mac and Fries
Packaging Materials: Recycled paper

McDonald’s sells 17 hamburgers every single second in the United States alone. I account for at least 13 of them. As a broke, hungry design student, it often feels like I spend more time in the drive-thru at McDonald’s than sleeping in my own bed. When given the assignment to re-package an existing product, naturally my mind and my stomach immediately went to McDonald’s.

The true challenge quickly became clear to me. I had a find a way to balance the conflicting halves of myself as a designer and as an avid McDonald’s consumer. The childlike half of myself saw this as an opportunity to create a delightful adult Happy Meal. The empathetic problem-solving half of myself longed to find a solution to universal issues that exist beyond the packaging, but with the culture in which we purchase and consume (or more accurately; inhale) Big Macs.

Following the traditional product design process, I started with copious amounts of research. Beyond testing the product (a task I took very seriously), I became an expert in the history and tradition of McDonald’s as a company and in the meticulous way they maintain their brand identity today. This deep understanding allowed me to begin ideating branding changes that felt authentic to the McDonald’s we are all familiar with.

As I transitioned from 2D to 3D exploration, I began to see an opportunity for a solution that delivered an engaging experience for customers instead of simply a functional artifact. From my own life, I noticed the haphazard process of trying to eat a Big Mac while driving through traffic on the way to school or work. All around the country, students, corporate executives, and soccer moms whizzing by on the freeway are fishing around for lost fries in the bottom of the Mary Poppins-esque McDonald’s bag. The concepts I began to build and test aimed to make this stressful meal become one that was intuitive and delightful. With every new model, I gained more empathy for the needs of the users and a new, versatile Big Mac package began to take form.

The burger and fries fit snuggly into their own compartments of a two-sided meal carrier. The packaging can reside in either a resting form or an on-the-go orientation depending on the needs of the user. The package in its resting position stands upright on any surface, ready to be eaten. In addition, perfectly placed handles pop out from the sides that are perfect for easy delivery through a drive-thru window or for carrying your feast to the park for a romantic picnic. To eat on-the-go, the package can fold into itself for easy handling. The form transforms into a tapered diamond to easily eat the Big Mac or fries with just one hand. This new form resembles a wedge that fits perfectly in-between a users’ legs. The intuitive method of eating our food from our laps becomes user-friendly in this re-design. Instead of blindly reaching for food, this new package keeps the Big Mac and fries easily accessible. Whether in traffic or sitting in class, this form allows for a comfortable, natural eating experience that is also downright delightful.

What’s Unique?
This packaging is simple at its core. Its purpose is not to alter the orbit of the globe or solve world hunger (quite the opposite, in fact). Its goal is capture the simple delight of a child opening up a Happy Meal, while understanding that reality is often hectic and complicated. Eating a meal should be a break from the chaos. This packaging aims to make the Big Mac meal a small improvement in a user’s day. The idea of eating food from your thigh gap can make people giggle on their way to work. The joy of swinging your Big Mac from the handles of a cute adult Happy Meal can make people smile when they’re running late for an appointment. Experiencing this package can make anyone say, “I’m lovin’ it.”