Friends, as many of you may have noticed, Burger King has begun a promotion for its BK Stacker line of cheeseburgers. The ad focuses on Burger King’s Meat Mathematics Institute, where mathematicians from around the world gather to find ways to bring consumers a maximum amount of meat flavor for a minimum cost. Sadly, as of this writing, the ad is not available online, although this related video has made an appearance on YouTube.
While the institute seems like a delightful place to work, I regret to inform you that the research coming out of the institute is as bogus as the existence of the institute itself. The claimed solution to the problem of maximizing meat (or meat flavor, depending on your source) while minimizing cost is contained in the 3 BK Stackers pictured here (image courtesy of foodbeast):
Right off the bat you should notice something problematic with their solution. If the aim is to optimize meat, why are there components that don’t involve meat? These components would only add to the cost, without adding to the amount of meat. You should be able to sell just a single beef patty with some bacon for less than you would be able to sell the $1 stacker, for instance. Right away, then, we see the corrupt influence that the Burger King sponsorship has had on the otherwise (I’m sure) irreproachable standard of academic integrity set by the Meat Mathematics Institute. Without this sponsorship, I’m sure the mathematicians would’ve discovered a far more optimal meat-delivery system: the (possibly bacon-wrapped) meatball.
Even if we restrict our attention to solutions to the “meat/money” problem that are in cheeseburger form, however, it’s still easy to see that the solution proposed by the Meat Mathematics Institute is not correct. Indeed, a quick stop at the Burger King website reveals the meat differences between the $1, $2, and $3 BK Stackers. The differences are as follows:
- $1 Stacker: 1 beef patty, 2 half slices of bacon.
- $2 Stacker: 2 beef patties, 3 half slices of bacon.
- $3 Stacker: 3 beef patties, 3 half slices of bacon.
If we divide out by cost, we easily see that per dollar, these three options give you different amounts of meat! In particular,
- $1 Stacker: 1 beef patty, 2 half slices of bacon per dollar
- $2 Stacker: 1 beef patty, 1.5 half slices of bacon per dollar
- $3 Stacker: 1 beef patty, 1 half slice of bacon.
Clearly these three solutions are mathematically inconsistent. How can the $2 BK Stacker be as optimal a solution as the $1 stacker, when two $1 stackers yield one additional slice of bacon? Similarly, how can the $3 stacker be as optimal a solution as the $1 stacker, when three $1 stackers yield three additional slices of bacon? The only way these three solutions can be consistent is if the cost of bacon is 0, which, unfortunately it is not. But if it were, then the optimal solution still would not be present here, since one could put as much bacon as one wanted on his or her burger without affecting the cost.
It’s a shame that this institute has been compromised by corporate interests, but this is perhaps not wholly unexpected. While normally I would advise you to trust your local mathematician, in the case of the meat mathematician, I must regretfully ask you to be on guard. Especially if he asks you to take him out for a meal.