Healthy Synergy

For the longest time, getting pieces for McDonald’s Monopoly promotion was relatively straightforward. There followed the collecting of tiny pieces of glossy paper that inevitably wound up re-appearing in every nook and cranny of home and automobile for months after, of course. But if managing the pieces was a gigantic pain in the ass, at least there wasn’t a lot of thought required to get them: order the biggest shit they had in a pre-bundled offering, and get pieces.

Then a few years ago, getting pieces seemed to be as much of a treasure hunt as tracking the things down every time you got another railroad piece (but, no, you just had another Reading so you could argue about its pronunciation). At some point you got pieces by ordering “premium chicken,” which, so far as I can determine, is pretty much “chicken that’s not nuggets.” Way to hate on the nugget, Mickey.

Anyway, I was in line the other day, and, having started finding those tiny little pieces on random food packaging again, I took a look to see how the puzzle fit together this year. Large fries. McMuffins. Medium drink.

Hold up: medium? And for a moment, I was impressed. Look at that, I thought, McDonald’s is incentivizing customers to drink less soda. Good for them! Hooray relatively healthier choices.

And then my brain caught up: McDonald’s has another promotion in place, which makes all their drinks the same price. Getting people to order smaller drinks increases their profit margin. That it might have the appearance of healthy choices was just a back-end bonus.

I know it’s obvious. I’m eating at McDonald’s, people. Saturated fats and sugars aren’t Quick Thinking foods. So: corporate synergy and all that, not altruism. Which is a relief, because I’m always a bit uneasy when corporations seem to actually think about people instead of profits. I feel in those cases someone is surely watching the movie version of me and yelling “you idiot! Ignore the cat! The killer’s right behind you!”

With the balance of un-nature now restored, however, please excuse me. I can’t remember if I already have Baltic Avenue…

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