kottke.org posts about McDonalds
This is likely the best piece you'll read about the economics of the McRib and McDonald's motivation in its periodic reintroduction.
At this volume, and with the impermanence of the sandwich, it only makes sense for McDonald's to treat the sandwich as a sort of arbitrage strategy: at both ends of the product pipeline, you have a good being traded at such large volume that we might as well forget that one end of the pipeline is hogs and corn and the other end is a sandwich. McDonald's likely doesn't think in these terms, and neither should you.
Oh and speaking of pipelines:
And for its part, the McRib makes a mockery of this whole terribly labor-intensive system of barbecue, turning it into a capital-intensive one. The patty is assembled by machinery probably babysat by some lone sadsack, and it is shipped to distribution centers by black-beauty-addicted truckers, to be shipped again to franchises by different truckers, to be assembled at the point of sale by someone who McDonald's corporate hopes can soon be replaced by a robot, and paid for using some form of electronic payment that will eventually render the cashier obsolete.
There is no skilled labor involved anywhere along the McRib's Dickensian journey from hog to tray, and certainly no regional variety, except for the binary sort -- Yes, the McRib is available/No, it is not -- that McDonald's uses to promote the product. And while it hasn't replaced barbecue, it does make a mockery of it.
To get to a McDonald's in the lower 48 United States, it's never more than 145 miles by car. And the McFarthest Spot in the US is in South Dakota.
For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map: the barren deserts of central Nevada, the arid hills of southeastern Oregon, the rugged wilderness of Idaho's Salmon River Mountains, and the conspicuous well of blackness on the high plains of northwestern South Dakota.
See also maximum Starbucks density and Starbucks center of gravity of Manhattan.
Update: The distribution of McDonald's in Australia is a bit more uneven. (thx, kit)
The McGangBang has to be one of the more American things I've ever seen. It's a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger with a McChicken sandwich crammed into it.
Let that soak in a bit before you actually view this piece of hideous gorgeousness. The best part is that it only costs $2.16.
Karen Hanrahan shares her favorite prop that she shows parents in her Healthy Choices for Children workshop: a McDonald's hamburger purchased in 1996 that still looks like it did the day it was made.
People always ask me -- what did you do to preserve it? Nothing -- it preserved itself.
(via wider angle)
Update: Looks like the post got taken down for some reason? Server getting a little melty maybe? Anyway, that hamburger was amazingly preserved. Serious Eats grabbed a pic before the site went down.
The Russian/Georgian conflict has proven the McDonald's theory of war wrong. The theory stated that no two countries with McDonald's restaurants would ever go to war with each other. (via mr)
Update: Depending on what you consider a war, the theory has been proven incorrect before. (thx, lots of folks who sent this in)
Morgan Spurlock ate McDonald's for 30 days, gained 25 pounds, and had health problems. US swimmer Ryan Lochte has eaten McDonald's for "almost every meal" since he arrived in Beijing and has won four Olympic medals. His fellow swimmer Michael Phelps doesn't eat so healthy either. In a sport where you can win or lose by tenths or hundredths of seconds, I wonder what impact a proper diet would have on their times. (And to not eat any Chinese food -- one of the world's great cuisines -- while in Beijing? A travesty.)
Update: The Guardian's Jon Henley tries Michael Phelps' diet for a day. Unsuccessfully, I don't need to add. (thx, laura)
Update: Fear of illness may also have something to do with Lochte's standing reservation at McDonald's.
Adding sushi to the ever-growing list of everyday consumables as economic indicators: steak, Big Macs, Starbucks coffee, Coca-Cola, and cigarettes.
What's in a McDonald's Chicken McNugget? 56% of it is corn and a tiny percentage is actually lighter fluid (for freshness!). (via cyn-c)
Update: There are several comments in the above thread that indicate that the chemical sprayed on McNuggets for freshness is not butane (lighter fluid). Also, the 56% corn figure counts meat from corn-fed chickens, for which corn is not a natural food. (thx, demetrice)
Is Food Network doing subliminal advertising during its shows? This video shows a McDonald's ad that was displayed for only one frame during a recent episode of Iron Chef America. (via the grumpiest)
Update: Additional information from my inbox: "Thank you for pointing out that Food Network one frame commercial! They do this _all the time_ and the technique was driving me batty: not only is it annoying, I didn't know if anybody noticed/cared. There is at least one other channel (either HGTV or TLC) that does that exact same thing." (thx, alex)
Update: Michael Buffington writes: "You sure the single frame ad isn't a case of local market cable ads getting dropped onto the national feed? When I had cable, I'd see this all the time. A single frame for some well known brand suddenly hijacked by Cal Worthington and his 500 used cars."
Video of a Steven Levitt talk on the economics of gangs and why gangbanger is not such a good vocation (for one thing, the job pays less than McDonald's). The board of directors stuff made me think of the co-op on The Wire.
Clever McDonald's sundial billboard. "The billboard features a real sundial whose shadow falls on a different breakfast item each hour until noon, when the shadow of the McDonald's arches are dead center."
Big Mac index, meet the Coca-Cola index. The more wealthy, democratic, and the higher the quality of life, the more likely a country's inhabitants are to drink Coke. See also Starbucks as economic indicator.
Because of their Dollar Menu (which doesn't feature any of their recently added healthy menu items), sales at McDonald's have risen sharply over the last three years. In the article, a McDonald's rep calls the Egg McMuffin "a very nutritious sandwich". I like me some McMuffin, but if you look at its nutrition info (22% of your daily saturated fat and 77% of your daily cholesterol...and a McMuffin isn't that big), it's hard to imagine the circumstances under which you could call it "very nutritious".
McGriddle Fan Fiction group on LiveJournal. "Keep it focused on breakfast products. I don't want to hear about any french fries." (thanks, thirteen) -dj
Some big brands like Coke, McDonald's, and Disney are growing more unpopular with "global teens". "What applies to young people is 'Did it break? And did my friends say it was cool?' [It's an] opinion process that goes on through IMs and text-messaging, and it applies to everything from movies to cargo pants." (thx, stan)
Interview with Soso Whaley, director of Mickey D's and Me, counterpoint to Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me. "Even without seeing [Super Size Me] I could tell from the clips and the description by Spurlock that this was nothing more than junk science masquerading as legitimate scientific discovery."