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SNEAK PEEK: McDonald’s unveils menu makeover, ‘signature’ sandwiches

Call it a McDonald’s makeover.

The fast-food giant this week is launching its “Signature Crafted Recipe” sandwich lineup that is part of what McDonald’s calls its “multi-year food journey.” That journey has included a switch to cage-free eggs and hormone-free milk, and has been accompanied by all-day breakfast and, at an increasing number of stores, table service, in which employees bring your food to the dining room.

The new Signature sandwich options appear to be an important step in the journey. These are not just new menu items, but in some ways, a new concept, moving away from pre-made sandwiches snuggled in wrappers or Styrofoam containers waiting to be ordered, toward a new line of customizable sandwiches that are made to the diner’s specifications.

RELATED: McDonald’s rolls out the ‘frork,’ a utensil made of fries

The concept calls for diners to choose from among three Signature Crafted Recipes: Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ Bacon and Maple Bacon Dijon. Diners then pair their sauce/topping with one of three sandwiches: a 100 percent beef quarter-pound patty, a “Buttermilk Crispy Chicken” filet, or an Artisan Grilled Chicken filet. Customers can put their masterpiece on an artisan roll bun or sesame-seed bun.

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The new Signature Crafted burger with Maple Bacon Dijon. TABATHA WHARTON/STAFF (Staff Writer)

McDonald’s invited some Dayton-area media folks, bloggers and other foodies to its Wilmington Pike restaurant Tuesday night to sample the new menu. The overwhelming consensus was positive. This is not your Grandpa’s McDonald’s anymore.

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Derek Allen, whose Sinclair Community College department chair duties include overseeing the college’s culinary arts program, singled out the Sweet BBQ Bacon sauce for praise.

“It has a nice smoky flavor, with a nice little kick at the end,” Allen said.

And of the pico guacamole, Allen said: “This guacamole is delicious. It’s chunky, and I can taste the individual ingredients —the onion, tomato and jalapeno.”

I was partial to the “Buttermilk Crispy Chicken” sandwich with the pico guac. And here’s an insider tip that emerged as a consensus from the table: For those who have grown bored of ketchup, these Signature Recipe sauces make an excellent dip for fries. Especially the pico guacamole.

And it’s clear that McDonald’s REALLY wants you to try one of its new signature sandwiches — so much so, it will give you free medium order of fries and soft drink when you buy one of the new sammies. That offer is good from Thursday, May 4 through Monday, May 8. The sandwiches cost about $5.

And on Friday, May 5, McDonald’s will be releasing a limited number of a “Frork,” a cross between a fork that sort of uses French fries as the tines, that is designed to scoop up the toppings that fall out of the new sandwiches. The chain has released a mock info-mercial for the Frork.

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