Pulling the Wool

Why Do People Keep Saying McDonald’s Has ‘Won’ Something?

By “won,” they mean “became even more profitable.”

Oh boy: Over on The Atlantic, Hank Cordello is up to his old tricks. You’ll recall that the McDonald’s-loving writer is affiliated with a conservative think tank that has taken money from Mickey D’s, and that he has a whole other host of unseemly connections to the Golden Arches. So! It should come as no surprise that the guy wrote a piece titled “Are McDonald’s and Walmart Winning the War on Obesity?” in which he declares that the corporations “have raised the bar for what food companies can do to address public concerns about nutrition and obesity while still satisfying their need to turn a profit.” Those guys sure are smart. They’re putting fruit in their Happy Meals! But he’s not the only one saying something along these lines.

In tomorrow’s Sydney Morning Herald (time zones: crazy), writer Michael Evans draws a link between the “healthy” options being offered by fast-food chains and their soaring profits. (He’s talking about Australian McDonald’s, but you’ll recall the company’s stock price here in the U.S. is at an all-time high, owing to “its increasingly diverse menu.”)

But Evans’s point is different than Cordello’s. He’s not saying the fast-food chains have some sense of civic responsibility. He points out the obvious strategy here: “While the big players are offering health conscious foods to lure customers in the door, they’re hoping the habits of old will see you also pick up a shake or sundae on the way out.” It’s also worth noting that if you click on over to the McD’s Australia site, you’ll be greeted by a slow-mo food porn video promoting “succulent spicy new Chicken McWings.”

We’re going to have to side with another Atlantic story that ran earlier in the week, in which Dr. Marion Nestle says that “McDonald’s tested healthier meals with disappointing results. So [the addition of new Happy Meals] has to be about McDonald’s trying to appear to do something to promote kids’ health.” In other words: By adding apples and cutting fry portion size, McDonald’s is probably just giving itself an out if any healthy-eating advocates try to blame the chain for making America (and Australia) fat.

McDonald’s ‘Healthier’ New Happy Meals: Still Unhealthy [Atlantic]
Are McDonald’s and Walmart Winning the War on Obesity? [Atlantic]
How fast food chains went on a health kick, and won [Sydney Morning Herald]
Earlier: McDonald’s Now Forcing Kids to Eat (Local, Seasonal) Fruit
Related: Writer of Pro-McDonald’s Stories Has Connections to (You Guessed It) McDonald’s

Why Do People Keep Saying McDonald’s Has ‘Won’ Something?