Careful with your assumptions. Rice and beans is a staple in most other countries.
I don't want to upset the rice fans. I would have guessed rice as the "greatest food in human history" before seeing this provocative story on the Freakonomics blog. It's true, when there are no better alternatives, people will even eat mud pies. But I strongly suspect, and some reading suggests, that rice and beans is topped with meat, vegetables or some kind of garnish whenever possible. And even if arroz con frijoles meets the criteria, it does not mean the McDouble does not.
Let's not change the ball game, nothing is going to beat fast food on this mark. I'm responding to claim directly made in the title of the submission.
Your alternative wins in cost-per-calorie, but I don't think that's very meaningful. A sack of sugar would do even better. My request was for an argument that the McDouble is not, as the author claims in his first paragraph, cheap, nutritious, and bountiful.
It's not gourmet, but we're working with a dollar here.
This is the crux. It's a dollar! What else can you buy for a dollar? You are already a little over budget with your monochromatic staples, and you still have to supply kitchen utensils, a stove, energy costs, and now a plastic container. I'm getting "tangy pickles, minced onions, ketchup and mustard" thrown in! People may be eating plain rice and beans around the world, but how many of them would switch to the burger if it were available?
McDonald's is doing something singular here. I can give a guy on the sidewalk a dollar, and if he is fortunate enough to live in a state with no sales tax on food, he can have something tolerably pleasant and relatively safe to eat ten minutes later.
In my view, the author is vindicated, despite being a smartass.
• Cheap: I think we all agree on this, though we may have reservations about why it's cheap.
• Nutritious: If it means "contains nutrition," this is hard to argue.
• Bountiful: More than 33,000 locations. Where two all-beef patties are not popular, the McAloo Tikki is available (about US50¢ on the Happy Price Menu).