Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

The Starbucksization of McDonaldís

Ted Balaker
July 10, 2006, 11:17am

With so much heart-healthy talk and its new veggie-heavy ad campaign, you might forget that McDonald's still sells big, gooey burgers. Otis White addresses (3rd item down) some of the other changes going on at the Golden Arches. Would you believe wi-fi, moveable fake-leather chairs and fireplaces? Increased affluence gave rise to suburbia and a legion of sour critics who derided it for being soulless and ugly. But at some point the rise in affluence also prompts people to care more about aesthetics. It's not enough to fill their bellies cheaply; consumers now want an experience. McD's is even sexing-up its outward appearance: no more ugly brown roofs, where are those golden arches? Of course, this sort of transformation is pretty common. Even newer suburban subdivisions are often much less "cookie-cutter" than their predecessors. Shows how the the caricature of a diabolical corporation forcing us to buy whatever it's selling is so unsatisfying. McDonald's makeover is more proof that we consumers are in charge. And how about this for a "Super Size Me" sequel: Spurlock gets fat again and then loses the weight by exercising and eating only the healthy items on McDonald's menu. For more on the rise of the aesthetic, see Virginia Postrel.

Ted Balaker is Producer

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