Dollar Menu Pulls McDonald’s Away From The Abyss

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.

Salads or No, Cheap Burgers Revive McDonald’s [NY Times]

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  1. Special K says:

    Just a minute. How the heck can you blame McDonald’s for this? They have indeed put some fairly healthy items on the menu, and they have spent good money advertising it. It’s not therefore wrong for them to also advertise their 1$ menu. Ultimately, if minorities are being stupid and collectively letting their health go to hell in a handbasket, it’s not McD’s fault any more than it is any fast food chain’s fault that they sell greasy food.
    Minorities oght not be treated any differently when it comes to food than white people. As a minority myself, I know full well the dangers of fast food indulgence.

  2. Jay Levitt says:

    Exactly – when you try to stretch the brand, you dilute the brand. McDonald’s doesn’t stand for “delicious vegetarian dinner”. McDonalds stands for “cheap, quick, clean, consistent comfort food.”

    There was a great business biography called, I think, “Behind the Golden Arches” that detailed how McD’s managed to take what was once a reasonably specialized skill – cooking a burger and french fries evenly – and, through massive agriculture, technology, facilities and training programs, make it available any day of the year in any corner of the country using only unskilled labor. We take it for granted, but if you think back to the era of greasy-spoon luncheonettes, it’s really quite an achievement.

    Now, I’m a food-snob vegetarian. I am simply never going to eat at McDonald’s. There is never a day when I say “I’m starving. Oh, good! A McDonald’s!” (Exception: A large fries and apple pie are just the thing at an I-95 on a winter morning.)

    If I want a quick, premade, brand-name salad, I’ll find a Panera Bread, or a Whole Foods, or as a last resort a Wendy’s. (Their salad bar was actually quite good, may it rest in peace.) I’m not going to stop at Mickey D’s for vegetables, anymore than CEOs started having business lunches there to eat an Arch Deluxe.

    And even though I can’t stand the thought of eating meat anymore, one of my last burger memories was the old, crispy, thin, FRIED burger at McDonald’s. That’s comfort food. They need to return to that.

  3. GenXCub says:

    I think McD’s should sponsor White Castle to come out west… if people in SF and LA actually got to eat those greasy pieces of heaven, they’d totally stop harranguing McDonalds about how unhealthy they are and point their fingers at White Castle.

  4. geedeck says:

    The health food is really bad. I tried to eat one of their Cobb Salads, but the lettuce was kind of limp, the chicken so-so and well… half and hour later it and I were saying goodbye on the porcelain throne, my intestines actually in pain. Friends have noted similar experiences.

    But damn, they have a fine big-mac. Regarding Jay’s post, I can’t even imagine eating one properly fried. It’s similar in the “used to be so good back in the day feeling” like getting Passover Coca-Cola… Oh the glorious throw-back substance that is, all high-fructose-less, sucrose-ridden glory.

  5. Bubba Barney says:

    Do they make money off of the DVD rental ‘Redbox’ as well?

  6. AcidReign says:

    …..My only gripe with mickey D’s was that you couldn’t get tomato on your burger. It’s a snack, folks. If you believe you can live on that stuff, well…