Is there a deeper meaning to fast-food burger giant McDonald’s bringing back Hamburglar to help launch a series of ingredient and cooking revamps to its stable of classic burger recipes?

We may never know, but the world’s most successful fast-food chain, which brought in over $23 billion in revenues last year from its 38,000 locations across 100 or so countries, has stayed on top of the fast-food food chain in part by making savvy menu moves and is at it once again.

On Monday, McDonald’s announced plans to make changes to its Big Mac, McDouble burger, classic Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger and Hamburger that include tweaks to ingredients and cooking/preparation techniques.

Here’s how McDonald’s described the changes in a posting to its website:

  • Softer, pillowy buns that are freshly toasted to a golden brown.
  • Perfectly melted cheese that will make you want to savor every last bit off the wrapper.
  • Juicier, caramelized flavor from adding white onions to the patties while they’re still on the grill.
  • Even more of everyone’s favorite Big Mac sauce, bringing more tangy sweetness in every Big Mac bite.

McDonald’s Chef Chad Schafer, the company’s senior director of culinary innovation, said while the changes are minor, they add up to tastier final products.

“I’ll always remember my first burger from McDonald’s,” Schafer said in a statement. “And now my culinary team and I have the best job in the world: thinking about ways to bring even more of that iconic McDonald’s taste to fans.

“We found that small changes, like tweaking our process to get hotter, meltier cheese and adjusting our grill settings for a better sear, added up to a big difference in making our burgers more flavorful than ever.”

McDonald’s says it tested out the new ideas in international markets including Australia, Canada and Belgium and received “rave reviews.” The company announced the upgrades have already started rolling out in “several cities on the West Coast” and will show up in all U.S. McDonald’s outlets by the end of 2024.

McDonald’s also dropped word on Monday that it was bringing back the Hamburglar character that first appeared in ad campaigns in 1971 as a “villain” to the company’s chief mascot, Ronald McDonald the clown.

Once, and not that long ago, Burger King was McDonald’s top competition when it came to filling the collective urge for a fast bag of burgers-n-fries. But the home of the Whopper has slipped to several rungs below the company Ray Kroc purchased in 1961 and grew into a burger behemoth. And while Burger King is in the midst of a financial struggle, and a number of large-scale franchisees are currently in bankruptcy proceedings, other U.S. fast-food businesses have been on a tear of late, thanks in large part to inflation-weary customers looking for deals when it comes to their food purchases.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s reported same-store sales grew by over 10% in the last quarter of 2022, the second straight quarter of increased customer traffic at the company’s U.S. stores.

“Overall, the consumer, whether it’s in Europe or in the U.S., is actually holding up better than what we would have probably expected a year ago or six months ago,” CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a January earnings call, per CNBC.

McDonald’s reports plans to open 1,900 new restaurants. More than 400 of those will be in the U.S. and international operated markets, while the rest will be opened by developmental licensees.

Drivers wait in the drive-thru lane at McDonald’s in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News