If you are still trying to figure out what makes The Travis Scott Meal, also known as Cactus Jack’s Favourite’s, unique to the Houstonian rapper and our cover star this month, you’re not old or out of touch. Only real McDonald’s heads will know what makes this $6 limited edition meal (running until October 4th) special. My editor, bless his heart, emailed me asking if I was up for writing this piece and if I ate meat (I’m from Los Angeles, so it’s a fair question). Little did he know, I had been at McDonald’s the previous night. If I needed an excuse to hit up the Golden Arches two days in a row, Travis was it. Cholesterol, please forgive me.
The drive-thru attendant is not required to ad lib “It’s Lit!” as you pick up your food. The meal does not come with a Kylie Lip Kit toy. So what’s in the bag? Consider it a quarter pounder with cheese gone not Animal Style, but Sicko Mode: lettuce and bacon in addition to its standard ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles. It’s served alongside a medium fry with BBQ dipping sauce and the famously potent McDonald’s Sprite that launched a million memes. The McDonald’s website suggests that you, like Scott, ask for a Sprite “straight up” with extra ice like you can afford bottle service. But anyone who’s anyone knows that’s a scam to give you less soda.
Yes, you could technically order this anytime – presumably, Scott has been. While it may sound like a slightly customised order with some teen-friendly branding slapped on it, historically, this is a big deal. Scott is the first person since Michael Jordan’s 1992 McJordan – a quarter pounder similarly customised with bacon, sub ketchup for BBQ sauce – to have a menu item named after them. The McDonald’s Wiki even inaccurately claims that the McJordan was rebranded as the Cactus Jack, but this is a Travis Scott original. No stranger to the branded partnership game, Scott has collaborated with everyone from Nike to Hot Wheels to Reese’s Puffs. (This is his first time selling a $90 photorealistic McNugget body pillow, though. Like the rest of the capsule merch collection that accompanies the curated meal, it sold out in days.)
Personally, I am not a fan of trying to make my McDonald’s taste more “real”. I’m partial to the two, tiny, clearly-not-real cheeseburgers over a quarter pounder. Add bacon and lettuce and this is starting to feel like something cosplaying as a restaurant-quality burger. But Scott is known for his vision and good taste. So here I am. Turns out, McDonald’s is McDonald’s, no matter how you dress it up. That’s the point of it. Travis says he’s had “the same order since back in Houston”. Like going to McDonald’s in an airport in another country, that meat-cheese-bread combo can be transportive.
The everyman nature of this collaboration is at odds with the limited edition nature of most hip-hop and streetwear related campaigns. Unlike his past partnerships, Cactus Jack’s meal combo doesn’t come in collectible packaging and doesn’t sell out. No camping out outside a store or sitting in an online queue before speed-typing your credit card information needed. Save an Instagram photo of an unphotogenic burger, there’s not much to show except an affordable meal and knowing that Travis approves of your sauce choice. But does sitting in your car and eating fast food in the same style as your favorite rapper bring you closer to him? If a burger is eaten in Astroworld and there is no one to see it, what happens? I know we love when Stars are Just Like Us, but do we want rappers to be? It’s difficult to say, but I did only spend six bucks.