The untold truth of MrBeast Burger

It's hard not to get sucked in by the viral videos of YouTube phenom MrBeast. Expertly edited and fun to watch, one of their biggest draws is MrBeast himself, A.K.A. Jimmy Donaldson. The 22-year-old entrepreneur is the second-highest paid YouTube star of 2020 according to Forbes, but instead of sitting around counting his money (and he's a stellar counter), Donaldson is known for giving it away. In fact, he's donated millions since launching his YouTube channel back in 2012, Business Insider reports. In March 2020 alone, as millions lost their jobs, Donaldson gave more than $1 million in supplies to food banks. It's hard not to like the guy!

If you're out of the loop, here's the basics: MrBeast is a North Carolina native whose fame is based on his antic-filled philanthropic videos. He gives away cars, money, tech gear and, most recently, food. In December, he launched 300 virtual kitchens, dubbed MrBeast Burger, and gave away food and cash to what seemed like thousands of people as part of the marketing. He also uploaded a corresponding video titled, "I Opened A Restaurant That Pays You To Eat At It." 

It. Went. Huge.

Donaldson's video has gotten about 34 million views at the time of this article. You might have also seen some of Donaldson's fellow YouTubers reviewing the burgers, chicken sandwiches and fries themselves on their own channels. But reviews are not all you need to know about MrBeast's first venture into the world of fast food. Here's what you're missing:

All MrBeast Burger locations are delivery only

While the YouTube video in which MrBeast and friends served their first customers might make it look like you can visit this restaurant chain, or at a least a colorful drive-through, to pick up your burger and fries, the operation is 100 percent delivery-only.

MrBeast Burger uses multiple third-party delivery apps to get food to customers, which can mean the chain has less control when it comes to quality upon delivery. But using multiple services also means the food is more accessible, and despite some quality concerns, The Spoon reports that MrBeast Burger's virtual model might be an example for other restaurant chains.

And in response to those quality complaints, Donaldson himself let fans know the team at MrBeast Burger was "the first to admit we are not perfect!" and that while "an overwhelming majority of people are happy with their orders," he would refund those who weren't and added he'd "do what I have to make it right!" 

As for the issue of eating crispy MrBeast Burger fries after they've turned soft from delivery, customers with air fryers have been getting good results by re-crisping them before digging in.

For now all locations are in the US. If Donaldson's Twitter feed is any indication, there could be plenty of demand in other countries, including Australia, Canada, The Philippines and Mexico. Time will tell whether the company waits to see how successful it is before rolling out the concept around the world or just goes big (again).

MrBeast Burger is helping out an industry severely impacted by COVID-19

MrBeast Burger is a virtual kitchen concept. The credit for the idea goes to Virtual Dining Concepts, the startup that Jimmy Donaldson/MrBeast partnered with for the 300 restaurants.

The startup specializes in linking pre-existing restaurant kitchens with new virtual restaurant concepts. This means that an up-and-running restaurant kitchen can make food for another brand while maintaining its own establishment. Considering it had already established its "turnkey, delivery-only restaurant concept" with other big-name celebs like Mario Lopez and DJ Pauly D, Virtual Dining Concepts had the setup in place and connections it needed to make the MrBeast Burger venture happen. 

Restaurant chains whose kitchens MrBeast Burger has been using include Brio Italian Grille, Buca di Beppo and Bravo Italian Mediterranean, as well as The Burger Boy location in Wilson, North Carolina. Not only has the virtual MrBeast Burger concept been successful for the brand, it might also be a way to support the partnered restaurants, who might have recently faced difficult times, while providing jobs for food industry workers. Now, MrBeast is looking for more restaurant partners. 

Focusing on the growth of virtual restaurants instead of brick-and-mortars could be a more long-lasting investment for MrBeast, as the COVID-19 pandemic might have gotten people more used to ordering in.

There's no original location of MrBeast Burger

Multiple MrBeast Burger kitchens opened on the same day, and since the chain follows a virtual model, there is no original MrBeast Burger location where patrons can go to experience history. The viral video featuring the MrBeast Burger giveaway took place at The Burger Boy in Wilson, North Carolina, where Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, grew up and is based. 

By the end of 2020 there were 169 cities listed on the MrBeast Burger locations website, and according to Donaldson's Twitter, the chain had already "launched 300 restaurants nationwide." The delivery-only model also means there are no actual addresses listed on the MrBeast Burger website. But if you're concerned about how to track your order, rest assured: After some MrBeast Burger fans couldn't find addresses of the locations post-launch, they created a master list on Reddit. The list will at least give you an idea of how far a location is from your home and how long delivery should take –- though the arrival time might depend on how busy your local restaurant is when you order as much as it does on location. 

After all the initial MrBeast Burger buzz, diners were waiting a long time for their delivery orders, and there were some mistakes. It looks like MrBeast Burger might have some quirks to work out, but considering that even established fast food chains make mistakes, the company might just be experiencing some growing pains.

MrBeast Burger gave away more than just food during its launch

In addition to the free burgers given away during that day of filming in Wilson, NC, MrBeast Burger also gave away wads of cash to "customers" through their drive-through window. A line of cars outside the temporary brick-and-mortar location was so long — more than 20 miles to be exact — that police officers had to shut down the restaurant for disrupting traffic. Now that's a successful launch (and it made for a great moment in the video)!

Then there were the Apple products that were given away and, at one point, even a new car. MrBeast told the car recipient, a woman whose car had been damaged while waiting in line, that he'd happened to have a car to give away that day and he'd like to gift it to her. She cried, and MrBeast also looked misty-eyed, in what was a heartwarming moment.

Will you get a tablet or a stack of bills nestled between some crinkle cut fries in your next order? Probably not: Now you have to actually pay for your food, with an average meal for one costing between $10 and $20 with tax, tip and delivery. The price is in line with McDonalds but a bit less expensive than Smashburger. But even without free stuff, you can still feel good about a charitable act: Part of the money raised from sales is supposed to go to feeding "hungry families across America." And judging by app reviews, plenty of MrBeast's fans are liking that part of the transaction.

The MrBeast Burger launch was topped the charts

The viral "I Opened A Restaurant That Pays You To Eat At It," where MrBeast and his friends announced the launch of the MrBeast Burger chain by running a temporary location for a day, got so big that it became the number one trending video on YouTube according to QSR. It also landed in a top-five spot for Google searches for a bit, QSR Reports.  

And it wasn't just dumb luck. According to an interview with Bloomberg, Donaldson and his friends spent months researching and analyzing what makes a video go viral and then integrating what they learned into their own channel. Donaldson himself studied other YouTube videos and filmmaking, he told Bloomberg. And it seems like he was a good student!

But it's no surprise that Donaldson's quirky video went viral: His breakthrough was a video called "I Counted To 100000!" where all he did was sit and count all the way from 1 to 100,000, after all. Sounds simple, but it turned out to be a little bit genius. From there came other viral videos, including "I Uber'd People And Let Them Keep The Car" and "I Gave People $1,000,000 But ONLY 1 Minute To Spend It."

MrBeast Burger menu items are smashed and crinkled

Like the restaurant chain Smashburger, these burgers are short and have a wide circumference. They're shaped like hockey pucks and then flipped from wax or parchment paper onto the hot grill, so the meat spreads out a little and there's more meat touching the grill, which means more caramelization and crispy edges. It also means the patties are thinner.

It's a concept that's proven successful for others, and MrBeast is riding the wave of its popularity. And even though these burgers might lack in heft and density, if you really want height, you can always get a third patty for an extra $2.

When it comes to fries, MrBeast is going with classic crinkle-cut fries, which come seasoned with spicy red pepper, garlic, paprika, lime, sugar and salt. With straight fries you lose out on a lot of nooks and crannies. The Beast fries, though, are un-crinkled fries, but still have some rough edges for texture, because you don't need all that crinkling to pick up seasonings when there's already so much else going on with the fries. In this case that includes caramelized onions, cheese, ketchup, mayo and pickles.

The MrBeast Burger menu isn't complicated, but it has some beloved classics

Unlike with most fast food chains, the MrBeast menu is small: There are just three sandwiches, and they're named after members of the store's team of employees. There's a Beast Style burger ($6.99), a Chandler Style burger ($6.99) and a Chris Style burger ($7.99). The Beast Style is two seasoned smashed beef patties with a slice of American cheese, pickles, diced white onion, mayo, ketchup and brown mustard on a soft roll, and you can upsize to a triple patty burger for an extra $2. The Chandler Style is the same two patties and a slice of cheese, but none of the other toppings — essentially a plain double cheeseburger. And the Chris Style is two seasoned patties with bacon, cheese and fries stuffed between the buns. 

The only other items on the menu are Karl's Grilled Cheese ($4.59), where the buns are flipped so the domes are facing inward; a crispy chicken tender sandwich ($6.99) with mayo, lettuce and pickles; a Nashville hot chicken sandwich ($6.99), which adds ketchup and soaks the chicken in a spicy, juicy sauce; spiced crinkle fries ($3.25); and Beast Style non-crinkled fries with caramelized onions, cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickles. You can add chopped burger or bacon to those loaded fries, and you can also get them seasoned or unseasoned. The only drink options are Pepsi and bottled water. Oh, and there's a chocolate chip cookie ($2.49) for dessert.

MrBeast Burger spent no money on marketing

Instead of spending money on advertising, MrBeast simply tweeted about the launch and made a viral YouTube video. Why waste money on Instagram ads, Facebook or even billboard ads when your audience is already following you, especially when you're sometimes spending $100,000 per YouTube video? Between the 10-minute viral video on the MrBeast YouTube channel with its 50 million subscribers, plus MrBeast's 8.8 million followers on Twitter, 3.7 million followers on Facebook and 11.9 million followers on Instagram, he might have built a big enough audience to not need to pay for marketing.

And it makes sense: Donaldson is the one other brands go to when they want to market their products, not the other way around. 

MrBeast/Donaldson also launched a separate @mrbeastburger account on Instagram, which a couple of weeks later already had almost 60,000 followers. That's small for MrBeast, but we all know how it might grow as he cross-promotes.

For awhile, the MrBeast Burger app was the #1 app on the App Store

Yes, it topped the chart. But that's not all. The MrBeast Burger App Store app had more downloads at one point than YouTube. That's not total downloads, but downloads over a period of time, which is still impressive when you're competing against media juggernauts like TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. 

While MrBeast joked about betraying his master in a reaction Tweet, it was probably pretty amazing to briefly surpass the platform that birthed his success, even though it clearly has been a mutually beneficial relationship. YouTube benefits from the viewers that MrBeast brings to it just like MrBeast benefits from having a platform for his creative work. 

YouTube benefits from him more than some other creators, though, since MrBeast brings a whole lot more viewers than most other channels. He was, after all, the top YouTube creator of 2020.  

Fans crashed the app pretty quickly

MrBeast Burger's success meant the app ended up crashing for a while on the day of its launch, leading MrBeast to apologize to fans and quickly upgrading the servers to get everything working again. But there still seemed to be some glitches with mixed up orders, which some said could have been the app's fault or the fact that there were so many new locations all at once. 

Judging by Donald's history, MrBeast Burger might still have a successful road ahead. These glitches could have been less stressful for MrBeast than filming $100,000 worth of videos that would later be thrown out. Or, you know, cracking the YouTube code for making viral videos in the first place.

And some fellow YouTubers are praising Donaldson for launching the company's own app, which one business news influencer says develops more brand loyalty, reduces fees paid to other third-party apps and allows Donaldson to potentially translate those customers into more sales down the road for additional MrBeast ventures.

But if you have problems with the MrBeast Burger app, you can also place orders on Grubhub, Doordash, UberEats, Postmates and directly from the MrBeast Burger website

How good is MrBeast Burger food, really?

As for how good MrBeast Burger food tastes, the reviews are mixed. According to one YouTuber, the bun is fluffy, and the seasoning is tasty, while the cheese is gooey and the bacon really sets it all off. Other reviewers have expressed concern about the quality of a MrBeast burger after transit, while some don't like the greasiness of the Chris burger that comes with fries in the bun. The Tube Family reported not being into dryness of the Chandler burger.

But for every critic there's someone who loved their burger experience: In the Apple App Store there are plenty of mixed reviews, with lots of people calling out the haters and swearing that they loved their burgers, sandwiches and fries. 

How long MrBeast Burger lasts will most likely depend on how smoothly the business runs and if people like the product, but for now, the 300-restaurant rollout puts it in line with the number of Smashburger, Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger restaurants. Plus, those restaurants have had to grow slowly and build a following, while MrBeast Burger started with a strong brand in place and a connection to philanthropy that has meant some might be ordering the food simply because they believe in Donaldson.

Plus, there's also enough customization available on the menu to tweak your order to suit your tastes, so once the glitches are worked out, MrBeast Burger could become a solid fast food contender with a charitable heart.