by Kate McMahon

Never mind, “Where’s the beef.” The culinary conundrum currently lighting up the internet is, “Where’s the cheese?” Or more specifically, “Where is the cheese placed in the burger emoji?”

The buns and brickbats began flying when Danish author Thomas Baekdal posted this simple tweet:

“I think we need to have a discussion about how Google's burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top.”

What erupted on Twitter was not a discussion but rather a full-throated debate on how to stack the burger, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Culinary directors at burger meccas such as Shake Shack and Sonic Burger and thousands of civilian foodies all rallied behind the cheese topping the meat patty.

This post was typical:

“What kind of monster puts the cheese on the bottom?” (Real-world answer: McDonald’s Big Mac.)

Even Google CEO Sundar Pichai entered the fray, tweeting:

“Will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday:)
if folks can agree on the correct way to do this!”

Agreement on the internet? Good luck with that. It’s similar to reaching consensus on whether the toilet paper roll should be placed in the over or under position, a topic that the legendary advice columnist Ann Landers called one of her most vexing controversies.

Beyond the cheese, many Twitter users were worked up about the lettuce and tomato placement, particularly Apple’s placement of the lettuce on the bottom.

The folks at, the online compendium of all things emoji, conducted a poll to determine the preferred order. The consensus: the correct top-to-bottom order was salad, cheese then meat. The emojis from Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter come closest to that order.

While debate over cheese placement in emojis may sound frivolous, the growing impact of the emoji in social media is not. Research has shown that the use of the digital pictographs to convey emotion and feeling and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even email is skyrocketing.

The media analysts service Socialbakers conducted a survey that found 59% of the 500 selected top brands used emoji in their tweets, and 40% include emojis on Facebook.

Appboy, a mobile marketing service, found the number of emoji advertising campaigns increased by 777% from 2015 to 2016 and has shown no signs of slowing down.

It also reported on other research which found that 92% of people online use emojis, that some 62% of the users are over 35, and women employed emojis more frequently than men.

What does this mean for retailers, marketers and service providers? It’s simple – learn how to effectively use emojis in marketing efforts and subject lines.

Domino’s pizza is consistently touted as a prime example with its Easy Order app, which allows mobile users to simple send the pizza emoji to initiate an order. (I tried and it works).

Other notables include Chevrolet’s move to announce the 2016 Cruze with an all-emoji press release, the World Wildlife Foundation’s use of emojis to highlight endangered species, and Taco Bell’s successful lobbying campaign to have the taco emoji added to the official Unicode Consortium of emojis.

For most marketers, it is more about using emojis to quickly convey your message amid a slew of subject lines. Research by Appboy found that individuals frequently use face emojis - including “tears of joy” which was named the Oxford Dictionary 2015 Word of the Year – to express how they are feeling.

Brands, however, tend to use more eye-catching emojis such as a thumbs-up, a money bag with a dollar sign or a party-popper, and those that evoke emotional responses.

For anyone, understanding the meaning of each emoji is also critical, or the user risks losing credibility.

While there has not yet been a move by Google to change its burger emoji, a Google office in Seattle last Friday appears to be holding the line and served its employees an Android Burger, with the cheese below the patty.

I’m not sure what all the fuss us about. It seems pretty clear to me that the cheese must be melted on top of the patty, topped by lettuce and ketchup (or the special sauces at In-N-Out or Shake Shack, my two all-time faves). I, for one, do not think mushy tomato adds anything to a great burger.

I checked with the Content Guy, and he disagrees - he feels strongly that a great burger needs a slice of tomato, but that it should rest underneath the burger patty, lest it conflict directly with the Heinz 57 or Sriracha Ketchup that he prefers. (He also thinks grilled onions are critical to the experience, but that takes us down a different path.)

The debate will go on, no doubt, until something else comes along to capture social media’s rapt attention.

Comments? Burger preferences? As always, send them to me at .