Can I get change from my Big Mac?

12 May

Guess who’s getting a face-lift and a whole body tuck?  No, this isn’t about Chaz Bono’s appearance on Oprah this week.  It’s bigger.

Everything is changing!

Give up?  It’s McDonalds.  That’s right, the fast food Godfather is ditching the red tile roofs and its iconic golden arches in favor of a more upscale, contemporary look.  I remember years ago hearing about a “study” that discovered that the McDonald’s arches were the third most recognizable symbol in the world, after the Christian cross and the Coca-Cola logo.  I don’t recall which came in first.  Um, wow.

The universal sign for fast food

But the transformation isn’t just on the exterior.  Mickey D’s has been doing some serious soul searching and some “inside work”, too.  That therapy bill is going to invoice for around a cool billion dollars and change.  That grody rust colored tile floor with the mildew concealing black grout is being replaced by wood floors or travertine look tiles.  Buh-bye laminate everything and hello to lounge chairs, coffee tables, farm tables and faux leather seats.  The alarming primary scheme of red and yellow is being replaced by calming neutrals with punches of color here and there.  Think Starbucks with burgers.  They even offer free Wi-Fi.

McDonald’s has gotten a tough rap in the past few years.  Ever read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser?  Not a great marketing tool.  Ditto Martin Spurlock’s eye opening documentary, Super Size Me.  The public reaction was akin to the aftermath of Upton Sinclair’s explosive novel, The Jungle, which lifted the curtain on the unregulated meat packing industry at the beginning of the twentieth century.  So, the muckety-mucks at the tippity-top have made menu changes, too.  The salad offerings are more, there are grilled chicken options, apple wedges and even oatmeal.  Their coffee ain’t bad neither.

I gotta say, my neighborhood McDonald’s has already been retooled and…I’m lovin’ it.  Starbuck’s can be fucked out for me.  I like being able to go in there and write my blog, have a coffee and maybe a nibble.  But my coffee is $4 and the muffin offerings are high fat and high calorie.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re great tasting, but I need to eat that kind of thing while shackled to a treadmill, not sitting in a comfy chair.  At McDonald’s I can get a drink and a low-fat yogurt for about $2.  And I can always find a seat or a table to spread out at.

Mimes in McDonald's?

The downside is that they play that new-age Musak replacement stuff that sounds like ambient yoga jazz.  Take your iPod lest you start thinking someone is going to offer you a glass of cucumber water and introduce your masseuse.  I am also a bit concerned that the higher-ups may get carried away with this rebranding and trade in Ronald McDonald for something more sophisticated, like a mime.  That would be bad.

I’d like to see the old guard make a come back.  Of course, they would need to be in sustainable hemp jumpers and TOMS shoes.

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One Response to “Can I get change from my Big Mac?”

  1. Laurel May 12, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I vastly prefer McDonald’s coffee to Starbuck’s. It tastes better. I like strong coffee, but Starbuck’s is bitter and I don’t do the mocha-coco-caramel-whipped cream things that put enough sugar in to cut the bitter. Caribou is my fave, followed by Mickey D’s.

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