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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big Mac Attack

So, I'm watching a CNN special, "Big Mac - Inside the McDonald's Empire"

In 2002 McD's posted first quarterly loss. A few years back two CEO's died within a short period of time. But now McD's is on track and making a Big Mac come back.

The beginning of the Mac:
The McDonald's brothers noticed that people in California wanted their food faster. In those days everyone had the drive-in thing, with a girl who took your order and brought your food back out to you. The McD's bros. knew they needed to get the food out faster. After all, this was the 1040s - this was life in the fastlane! So, they reduced the menu. Fewer items, make 'em faster. Mass production. Rock and roll.

Ray Kroc signed on not too long after rock and roll. Quality, Service, Cleanliness was the motto of the day for Ray. Hamburger University was eventually founded: a strong training ground for training management. Uniformity. Conformity.

These days McDonald's has culinary chefs to develop ideas for great food....uh, well, sort of.....you see, if McDonald's is going to release a product, the food item must be easy to duplicate. Did I say "duplicate"? Well, that's what I meant. Every food item must be the same. No deviation. Hence, a food item that reaches the restaurant goes through some 200 tests and years in the pipeline to make it perfect for mass production. It must taste the same. You must be able to purchase the exact same hamburger in Seattle that you purchase in Kokomo, Indiana. It must taste exactly the same.

BIG PORTIONS! All the fast food restaurants are serving lots of big burgers and super size meals. There's nine million fat kids in America. The CEO says, "We've all got to make responsible decisions." Oh, and after that one movie where the guy ate all the McD's food - remember that one? I still can't figure out why people were shocked and appalled that the guy was unhealthy after a month of non-stop fast food. Well, anyway, after that one movie McDonald's got rid of the super size line!

Marketing the Mac to Kids: Critics call it "manipulative" and "insidious" - kids can't tell that marketers are out to get them until they get to be about the age of 9.

These days McD's is global. In China, they had to train customers how to use McDonald's. We just take the drive-through for granted 'cause it's the American way. So, now McD's is worldwide, and some day we will all be eating the same food.

My eyes begin to water as this CNN special report comes to an end, and the realization sinks in that one day the world may unite and together eat a Big Mac in unison. Yes, my brothers and sisters, we can get there. Keep buying up the Big Macs and realize that you are making a down payment on world peace. Solidarity. Uniformity. That's the Big Mac.


Melody said...

Actually - McDonald's offerings vary from country to country as different cultures have different preferences in meats and seasonings.

So it would all be the same. Just in each country.

Don't you feel better now?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Surely all countries shall have their opportunity to consume a Big Mac??? I would certainly hope so, anyway.

Keep hope alive.



Melody said...

I don't know. Maybe Big Macs are just different in every country?

I don't think they have Big Macs in Indiana - the whole beef thing.

When I was in France the menu seemed pretty much the same - but I think all we ordered was a sundae so we could use their restroom!

Jonathan Erdman said...

You don't think that we have Big Macs in Indiana???? I'm confused. I could go buy one right now if I wanted to treat my stomach like a garbage disposal unit!

Jonathan Erdman said...

Incidentally, on the McDocumentary I saw last night they asked some manager or Corporate McD guy what the most important thing was about a McDonald's restaurant. And do ya know what he said??? "The restrooms. Because if a customer walks in to a dirty restroom, then we loose the customer."

Melody said...

lol, oops - India, there might not be Big Macs in India.

"The restrooms. Because if a customer walks in to a dirty restroom, then we loose the customer."

Not in France - you can't walk in to the restroom without buying something.

In America he might be right - but I always go through the drive-thru and eat in the car!

Beautifully Profound said...

I am going to tell my kids they grind up cute furry animals and put them into the burgers, that'll cure them of the need/want for fast food.

Melody said...

Cows are revolting. I feel no sympathy for cows. I don't feel sorry for pigs or chickens either.

They're just gross.

Beautifully Profound said...

cartoon, cows, chickens, and pigs are cute and that's all kids care about nowadays, cartoons. So it shall be so that I will horrify my children with above said explanation of why they shouldn't eat fast food. :D

Jonathan Erdman said...

It takes quite a while for it to register that we are eating the muscle tissue in another living thing. I don't know that I quite realized exactly what I was eating until like high school or college. I always knew I was "eating a cow" when I had a burger, but I didn't stop to think much beyond that.

So, BP, are you going to take your kids the veggie-tarian route? Or just encourage them (through the methodology of shock and terror!) that they should not eat animals?

Beautifully Profound said...

I eat meat, don't get me wrong. I was a vegetarian for awhile, but reverted back to carnivore status a few years after. As of now, the only type of meat I can stomach on a daily basis would be poultry. Other than that I can take it or leave it with the rest of meats. I just don't think it's healthy for anyone to eat fast food in general and kids are easily indoctrinated when it comes to advertisements about anything. So I will use shock horror tactics for as long as I possibly can yes. :D

PS Mik would shrivel up and die with out meat so vegetarianism is out. So even if I was a vegetarian, I would have to put up with his meat eating ways.

Matt said...

Don't worry Jon, there isn't much muscle tissue in McD's food. That is the a big part of the problem.

Beautifully Profound - At least make sure your kids are ovo-lacto-vegitarians. They can think of chickens happily laying eggs, and glad gladly being milked.

Matt said...

Edit: I meant "cows" instead of "glad". :)

Jonathan Erdman said...

BP: kids are easily indoctrinated when it comes to advertisements about anything

That's one of the points by the critics against McD's: That kids are being brainwashed into falling in love with McDonald's.

I'm not a psychologist, by any means, and unfortunately our resident shrink is on sabbatical, but generally speaking, kids trust and believe whatever they hear. It seems to be built into our cognitive equipment, as it were, that we are very open when we are young. Interesting to think that perhaps we need to be "taught" how to distrust (i.e. "Never talk to strangers, Billy") or learn from having our trust taken advantage of.

So, McD's creates the image of a wonderland with food that taste's like candy, and toys that come with your meal!

"Ina go to Donald's, Mommy! Ina go to Donald's!!"

Melody said...

Well - it's kinda parents fault too. They use it as a treat. McDonalds is special.

It increases the appeal.

Personally, I think children should be made to take a field trip to the kitchens of McDonalds every year.

We did that when Holly and I were little and for years we would only eat at McDonald's as a last resort.

Emily said...

"Ina go to Donald's, Mommy! Ina go to Donald's!!"

Was this a common chant of yours as a child?

ktismatics said...

Though Ray Kroc got his inspiration from a drive-in in California, he opened his first McDonald's in Des Plaines, Illinois -- which happens to be my home town. No seating package at the first one. Ray used to hand out free burgers to the cops as a good will gesture -- I guess he didn't have any donuts.

The French people assure me that the McDo burger patties in France have less fat than the American version, and I suspect they're right. Beef in France is quite tough -- less fat, no growth hormones. At a French McDo you can order a beer with your burger, which I think is a good innovation.

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