Most of the time, limited-time-only releases are just that: limited. Once they’re gone, they’ve disappeared to that magic place in our memories where they reach nostalgic status. When I think about the McDonald’s of yore, there are a few limited-item sandwiches I remember fondly: the Cheddar Melt (which was McDonald’s version of a patty melt), the spectacularly failed Arch Deluxe (R.I.P.), and the McJordan Special, which was only sold in the Chicagoland area in the early 1990s when I was a kid.
For those of you who weren’t in the Chicago area when the Chicago Bulls team had its massive NBA Championship run between 1991 and 1998, you missed out on a pretty special time. I wasn’t raised as a sports fan (this was just something my immigrant parents never got into), but when the Bulls won those championship games, our house lit up. I’d never seen my mom shout at the television before. Back then Michael Jordan was a god. All of Chicago worshipped him, and McDonald’s was ready to cash in.
The McJordan Special, which debuted in 1992, wasn’t actually anything particularly, well, special. It was a Quarter Pounder patty with American cheese, circular bacon (designed to fit perfectly over the patty), mustard, pickles, onions, and a specially made barbecue sauce just for the sandwich.
If that sounds like a relatively familiar combination, that’s because Travis Scott’s McDonald’s celebrity meal was somewhat similar—basically a Quarter Pounder with bacon, accompanied by barbecue sauce on the side to dip your fries in.
The simple build of the McJordan Special, however, makes it easy to recreate anytime you want. Granted, the bacon may not be circular, but it will taste relatively the same. And the custom barbecue sauce, which was dark and thick, is long unavailable, but you can make do with the regular Tangy Barbecue sauce McDonald’s carries for McNuggets. (Well, the sauce is technically available on eBay right now for a cool $8,900, but... I don’t recommend consuming it, because it will probably kill you.)
Making your own McJordan Special is easy. Order a Quarter Pounder with bacon (it’s a standard menu item), which comes with cheese, bacon, ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles, and simply ask to omit ketchup. Add a container of Tangy Barbecue sauce on the side.
Flip the lid on the burger and absolutely douse that patty with the barbecue sauce. In my memory of the sandwich, the barbecue sauce was the main flavor, with the bacon coming in second. That’s all you have to do.
The end result is a sweet barbecue and bacon burger with little bites of onion and pickle to cut through the heavy fast food patty. It’s pretty good, provided you like barbecue sauce. These days we’re pretty spoiled, and limited-time-only sandwiches have only gotten arguably more ornate over the years. But if you want a fast food DIY walk down Chicago’s memory lane, try making a McJordan Special for yourself. And maybe watch a reel of Michael Jordan’s sick dunks while you’re at it, to set the mood.