With all the negative publicity swarming like bitey insects about Ronald McDonald’s ghoulish coulaphobia-inducing visage, how is McDonald’s managing to turn around its sagging profit margins? It’s not from selling salads to hippies. It’s not from setting up a Corporate Responsibility Blog. It’s largely by a return to basics: selling delicious, greasy double cheeseburgers for a buck apiece.
The New York Times has an excellent article up, examining how the Dollar Menu pulled McDonald’s out of what appeared to many analysts to be a long decline after the release of Supersize Me. There’s also a good summary of a lot of the criticisms leveled at McDonald’s Dollar Menu, mostly for promoting obesity, specifically in minorities. Overall, McDonald’s nod to healthy alternatives looks more like a PR move than any sort of actual pandering to the healthy-thinking gourmand, and the success of the Dollar Menu pretty much proves it.
Where do we stand on this? To be completely frank — we don’t think McDonald’s ever should have stopped degrading the taste of their product just to try to appease the inherently unappeasable fast food health crowd. McDonald’s burgers taste like crap now, but they didn’t always taste this bad. They taste awful now simply because all the fat is gone, because the preservatives have been removed, because the beef tallow is no longer added. Cook our fries in bubbling bull’s blood for all we care, just make it taste great. The Dollar Menu is some of the best tasting food on the McDonald’s menu simply because it’s so bad for you.
We think McDonald’s has gotten confused, punch-shy from all of the lawsuits and complaints. They are a fast food restaurant: there’s nothing inherently shameful in that. But you can’t be all things to everyone. Giving their customers better service, making their franchises more pleasant to be in, setting up free wi-fi are all great steps for McDonald’s to take to improve their customer’s satisfaction. But those Premium Chicken Sandwiches? Those plastic cups full of salad? They suck.