Category Archives: mcdonald’s

McDonald’s must simplify menu for society’s sake

The site of the original McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

The site of the original McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

Dick and Mac McDonald must be rolling in their graves. The two brothers, sons of a New Hampshire shoe factory foreman, would probably turn apoplectic if they walked into a McDonald’s today and took one look at the menu. The 145 choices on offer are the exact opposite of the business phenomenon they built 65 years ago.

The brothers originally opened a hot dog stand in Pasadena in 1937. It was a hit, but they were looking for a bigger volume of business, so they moved to the nearby boom town of San Bernardino on busy Route 66 and opened the first McDonald’s drive-in restaurant in 1940. It quickly became popular with teenagers, who came for the burgers and stayed to hit on the attractive car-hops that served them.

Like many California drive-in restaurants, McDonald’s was raking it in. Yet the brothers thought they could do more, so in 1948 they closed the place down to refit it for speed and volume. They designed new equipment to speed up cooking, fired the car-hops to discourage the sort of lazy hanging out teens are known for, and they pared the menu down from dozens of items to just 11. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on May 23, 2013 in food, mcdonald's


McBurgers don’t go bad; neither does a lot of food

McDonald's_HamburgerIt seems like every couple of weeks, the internet generates a new meme designed to make fast food look bad. Don’t get me wrong, fast food does indeed come up with a lot of that itself, but the unfortunate part of many of these viral things is that they’re either outright wrong or based on bad science.

The latest is the McDonald’s hamburger that didn’t go bad, even after 14 years. David Whipple, a Utah man, made news this week after going public with his relatively ancient burger, which showed no signs of mold or rot even after being placed in a coat pocket - where it was forgotten about - for a few years.

“My wife didn’t discover it until at least a year or two after that. And we pulled it out and said, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it looks the same way,’” according to the UK’s Daily Mail. “It’s great for my grand-kids to see. To see what happens with fast food.”

The Daily Mail, being the bastion of correctness that it is, breathlessly reported about how the burger had no discernible change in colour or odor, and that the only noticeable difference - shock of shocks! - was that its pickle had disintegrated. A bunch of other news outlets followed the lead, with the general implication always being that such McBurgers don’t go bad because they’re full of chemicals, so of course they’re not good for you. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 26, 2013 in burgers, mcdonald's


McDonald’s free iPads only the first step

Want an iPad but don’t really want to spend the money? You could always go to McDonald’s.

That’s the idea at one McDonald’s restaurant in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The franchise owner has installed iPads on mounts on tables that patrons can use for free. The pluses seem obvious: allowing customers to surf the web encourages them to stay longer. Combined with McDonald’s big emphasis on cafe-style offerings over the past few years, this one particular restaurant is obviously thinking that patrons will buy more if they’re whiling away on the ‘net.

Of course, this sort of thing can also backfire. Starbucks, for one, has had to crack down on laptop hobos, or the people who come into cafes and mooch the free wi-fi for hours while refusing to buy additional drinks. That’s one of the reasons why Forbes doesn’t believe the free iPad idea will take off for McDonald’s, with the additional cost of the devices and table clogging being some of the others.

That negative prediction doesn’t take into account the supply side of the matter, however, wherein Apple could be offering sweetheart deals to many chains in an effort to get its device into the public’s collective subconscious. As Fox News reports, airports and hotels are also offering free iPad usage, which may or not be the result of deals with Apple.

The company has certainly saturated television shows with its products - try watching an episode of Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory without seeing an iPad or hearing the iPhone’s distinctive notification sound go off. Flooding the real world with similar products makes all kinds of sense.


Posted by on October 19, 2012 in apple, mcdonald's


Fast-food going upmarket: what about the bottom?

Sbarro: Home to what is possibly the world’s worst pizza.

There’s a fascinating trend going on in the junk food world. Whether or not you eat at burger and pizza joints, it’s one that’s worth paying attention to because it’s likely to have ramifications on how food is bought and sold everywhere.

Sbarro is the latest to go upmarket, the Wall Street Journal reports, following a trend started a few years ago by McDonald’s. The “Italian food” chain (I use the term loosely so as to avoid offending Italians, who doubtlessly find Sbarro’s food as repugnant as I do) is looking to raise the quality of its offerings thanks to “technological changes.” Outlets will now be able to make fresh tomato sauce and shredded cheese on site, rather than relying on prepackaged goods. That might actually result in pizza that doesn’t taste like the bottom of someone’s shoe.

Taco Bell has been doing the same thing for much of this year, with a new, fancier menu featuring better ingredients designed to compete against Chipotle, not to mention a revamp of restaurant locations that’s already under way. They’re all following McDonald’s lead, which has seen improved financial results on the backs of “premium” burgers, smoothies and salads, plus a massive revamp of restaurants.

With better profits based on premium products beckoning, there seems to be a big hole opening up at the bottom. As the WSJ puts it, who will be left “to champion the cause of good old fashioned junk food, sold at junk prices?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Burger King, food, mcdonald's, robots


McDonald’s social media blitz raises questions

For the past few years, McDonald’s Canada has been on a real tear in terms of rebuilding its image. It started with a $1 billion renovation project that not only elevated the restaurants from dives to respectable places where one can grab a snack or meal, it raised the bar for other chains as well. The company has also been adding so-called premium items such as Angus burgers and chicken sandwiches for the past few years. Put it all together and the difference between a typical McDonald’s restaurant and most competing chains is now night and day.

The moves have been followed with a social media blitz that aims to dispel some of the myths associated with McDonald’s and fast food in general. Most famously, there was the video earlier this summer of executive chef Dan Coudreaut explaining what’s in Big Mac sauce.

The latest addition to the campaign is a video that looks at how the chain’s beef patties are made. As supply chain senior vice-president Jeff Kroll explains, the burgers are pure beef with no chemicals used in the process:

It’s hard to say anything negative about the overall transparency, which is good, but the campaign by McDonald’s Canada does raise some significant questions. Like many companies, McDonald’s Canada is using social media to go straight to the consumer. While many evangelists of the medium think this is great, skipping traditional media means avoiding a whole part of the process, like the follow-up questions asked by knowledgeable skeptics.

One of those might be: Why is this happening now? McDonald’s has had decades to do this sort of thing through traditional media. Is it perhaps because social media allows it to control the message, yet at the same time also appear like it’s being transparent and consumer-friendly?

There are also questions about the process itself, some of which were raised by commenters over on Gizmodo (some of whom might want to consider becoming journalists). As a few comments suggested, do the high standards purported by McDonald’s Canada apply to U.S. operations as well? In that vein, the most important question seems to be: Why is the chain’s Canadian operation leading this transparency charge and not the U.S. parent? Do the American operations indeed operate with lower standards?

On a trip through Ohio this weekend, I stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru and picked up a McChicken meal, with fries and a drink. I had to ask the cashier if she had made a mistake, because it only cost $3.10, or less than half the price in Canada. Fast-food is another area where Canadians inexplicably get the shaft. There are inevitably volume issues and differing costs of supplies, but there is a limit. I’d really like McDonald’s Canada to explain that huge price discrepancy and whether food quality standards really do come into play.


Posted by on October 1, 2012 in internet, mcdonald's


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