The Reason McDonald's Filet-O-Fish Only Comes With A Half Slice Of Cheese

There's really no reason to overthink most of the items on McDonald's menu. Those salty, hot, and crisp French fries in their fire-engine red carton have looked and tasted the same since your childhood. Same with the burgers, from the understated hamburger, to the jacked up Big Mac — they've come to define the prototype for what a fast food burger should taste like. Every now and then, McDonald's will introduce a new menu item that generates buzz, but for the most part, going to the Golden Arches is a break for your brain when you've got other things on your mind, and just wanna eat.

Except, can we talk about the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich? This McDonald's institution raises more questions than it answers. Especially when it comes to its half-cheese slice. Putting aside the question, "Why is there cheese on my fish sandwich?" an even more pressing question is, "Why did someone cut the cheese slice on my fish sandwich in half?"

McDonald's doesn't think a fish sandwich should taste cheesy

For years, McDonald's customers have gotten angry when they inspected their Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, mistakenly believing they'd been shorted a full cheese slice. One angry customer in Singapore put the Golden Arches on blast on Facebook a few years ago, convinced that the fast food chain had pulled a fast one on him. But McDonald's has always provided only half a slice. This is not to save costs but to save flavor. The full slice of American cheese would overpower the mild, delicate flavor of the lightly breaded fish patties, the brand claims.

"When you think of a cheeseburger, it's really cheesy. With the filet, a half slice complements the taste, rather than overwhelming it," McDonald's spokesperson Julie Caturano explained to The Journal Star

A larger question — which also has been haunting Reddit — may be why anyone is putting cheese on a fish sandwich in the first place. "Cheese doesn't belong on fish anyway," opined user LLVP938. At least not a whole slice, anyway.

Less cheese makes the Filet-O-Fish lower in calories and fat

Whether you love or hate cheese on your fried fish sandwich, the fact remains that a slice of processed American is going to add calories and fat to your lunch. So, if health is a concern, perhaps going halfsies on the cheese is a good thing? According to McDonald's website, the Filet-O-Fish has 380 calories and 18 grams of fat. Other fast food restaurants serving fried fish sandwiches pack a bigger caloric wallop; Culver's North American Cod Sandwich has 600 calories and 33 grams of fat, going by the chain's website. Meanwhile, White Castle's cheese-topped panko sliders, which are small — meaning, many people eat more than one — have between 340 and 350 calories, depending upon the type of cheese, and fat grams range between 22 and 23 grams.

Of course, if the calorie count's at the top of your mind, and you want a sandwich with cheese, the Filet-O-Fish option isn't your best bet at McDonald's; a plain cheeseburger has only 300 calories and 13 grams of fat. As CNBC reported, the seafaring favorite actually has the most calories per bite, assuming that a single bite equals an ounce. Each mouthful of cheesy fish will cost you 78 calories, while each time you sink your teeth into a hamburger, you'd be chewing on just 68.6 calories. The outlet concluded, "if you're counting calories, don't just look at the nutritional value. You'll also want to consider how many calories you're getting per bite."

Here's why you should order the Filet-O-Fish without cheese

Let's say you're not really that concerned about calories (you are at McDonald's, after all!) Even if that's true, you should order the Filet-O-Fish sans cheese. This isn't to save yourself calories or fat grams, because, let's be honest: the fried breading on the fish is what's making this Lent-time favorite a dietary indulgence — not that little remnant of American (per RD). Rather, McDonald's regulars have reported that the request for a cheese-free sammy will force the fast food joint to make your sandwich fresh, Clark reported.

This blog suggests that if you really are craving that half-slice, you can instead "politely ask for a cooked-to-order Filet-O-Fish, which will take about five minutes. Ordering any item off the menu this way will ensure that it's hot and fresh." But, you'll only know for certain that they heeded this request if you ask that they omit the cheese because the sandwiches are pre-assembled with the tartar sauce, cheese, and other toppings already in place.