Monday, July 31, 2006

“The Most Illest, Futuristic Sandwich Ever”

CasimirN and the people from have delivered up an interesting video on the Big Mac - ahem - "The Ghetto Big Mac", aka "The most futuristic, illest sandwich ever". View the Ghetto Big Mac video.

Lest anyone take this thing too seriously, allow us to quote CasimirN:'s not meant to convert anyone. It's mostly intended to be funny and
celebrate the very human - borderline impractical - innovating enacted one night
by one hungry dude.

The video instructs us on how to score a Big Mac ($3.39 according to this piece) for $1.00. It takes a little work, a little time, a little manipulation, and a little bit of getting over the mess, but it seems to work.

Hey, the point is to have fun, not to save a buck, so check it out and enjoy the attitude.

Thanks to pylbug (self-proclaimed "Brand mechanic, trend bucker, agent of change ") for the tip.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: CasimirN's YouTube video - screen grab.

Friday, July 28, 2006

All Wrapped Up

It's no secret, The McChronicles LOVES McDonald's new Snack Wrap. So it was no wonder that we dropped in for a Snack Wrap lunch this afternoon.

It was raining cats & dogs and the drive thru was quite busy - as is usual when no one wants to get out of their car. We braved the rain, ran through the puddles, and entered the dining room ... only to find a long queue. We quickly discovered that there were 8 customers ahead of us, already waited on. It was a massive McShuffle. So, there we stood. And more customers were coming in.

It turned out that many people were buying the Snack Wrap - and that there was a problem. Finally a manager announced that the Snack Wrap is made with Chicken Select pieces, and that they had just had a run on these items. It seems that it would take a while to replenish the stocks.

We waited ten minutes to get served!

The McChronicles has made note of the fact that certain chicken items require special (long) preparation. This represents a bottleneck and a problem - for everyone on both sides of the counter. The crowd didn't seem to mind too much, but this issue could be a real problem for a popular new product.

Secondly, The McChronicles' sense of taste hints that the Snack Wrap may be a bit high on the calories. We reviewed the in-store nutritional info and found no data. Perhaps the info hasn't yet been updated. Next, we noticed that our tray liner was a full-page ad for the Snack Wrap - and on the flip side was a big nutritional info table. Figuring that, since they had had time to get the ad on side 1, they must have had time to get the nutritional info on side 2. Nope.

So, we went online and found nothing on the product - even after a product-specific search.

With all the hubbub over nutrition, McDonald's HAS to know the scoop on this product. We wish they'd let us know, too.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McDonald's website.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"This Is THE BEST McDonald's I've Ever Been In"

...those were the words that were ringing in The McChronicles' ears as we toured the Cortland, NY McDonald's (store #5365).

As we approached the store the exterior seemed almost nondescript. Yes, the store has a nice outdoor "al fresco" dining area, and yes, it is tidy.

But, when we walked through the doors it was obvious that something very special happens here. First off, the place is very clean and tidy. No litter, no brooms, no mop pails, no dust pans laying around. Secondly, this place is more like a boutique ice cream shoppe than a McDonald's. As you enter, you walk right toward an ice cream/coffee station that is simply enthralling - complete with a quaint blackboard full of specials and a counter person brimming with personality.

Then, as we looked around, we noted an almost Victorian musical instrument theme. This McDonald's features numerous musical instruments hanging on the walls ... and a BABY GRAND player piano in the extremely-well appointed dining room (this place has several beautiful floral displays throughout).

Slightly confusing, but equally as elegant and impressive, is the second dining area's "original McDonald's" theme. This section features photos of behind-the-scenes shots of '60s-era McDonald's crew frying burgers, customers lining up outdoors, etc. Very interesting.

Even the rest room was beautiful!

The McChronicles interviewed a manager who shared that this store is privately-owned by a person with a strong vision and a ton of pride. We were told that the owner petitioned to corporate, got permission to execute on a vision, and created this masterpiece. Thank goodness they did.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles.

Would You Like FLIES With That?


What has happened to the Clinton, NY McDonald's?

The McChronicles dropped in for lunch to discover that the place was full of flies. That's extremely unappetizing and unhealthy.

In addition, the place seems to be falling into disrepair. We noted that the bathroom doorknob was missing. Good thing we didn't need to get in there!

This store is known for its neatness and friendliness. Looks like it is time to spruce up a bit.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Snack Wrap: Awesome!

McDonald's new Snack Wrap is great.

First reaction: it is like a small, tightly-wrapped soft shell taco. Unlike a taco, the Snack Wrap is neat, tidy, and not dripping.

Taste: The McChronicles was a bit surprised (in this day and age of McDonald's strong emphasis on a healthy choice) to find the new wrap chock full of cheese, packed with fried chicken, and well-laden with a ranch dressing. It is noticeably rich and moist - making us feel that it may be a bit unhealthy (it could be very healthy - we did NOT check the dietary stats). It really tastes great and is easy to manage & eat.

Verdict: McDonald's Snack Wrap is a real winner. Everyone that was interviewed by The McChronicles likes it.


1) reduce the last one-inch section that contains 6 layers of tortilla (too much bread). Don't ask us how - it all seems necessary to keep things tidy. We're stumped and willing to accept it "as is".

2) create a new "Snack Wrap Value Meal" giving us two wraps, fries, and a drink. The McChronicles would gobble them up!

Good job McDonald's.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles.

A Great Ice Cream Stop

Several friends were gathered for some hot summer fun. It was getting late and we all were preparing to go home. The suggestion arose that we stop for ice cream before heading our separate ways. It was unanimous, we would drop by a McDonald's.

After thinking this over for a minute it became clear why everyone was in agreement:
  • McDonald's represents LITTLE RISK. Everyone knows what to expect. This is especially important when a person is in a strange location, or, in this case, when kids are present.
  • McDonald's is convenient - and on main roads.
  • McDonald's offers good (not awesome, not bad) food.
  • McDonald's has fair to very good prices and value for the money.

McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.


Oneonta, NY McDonald's: Really Bad

The McChronicles was on a jaunt through the Southern Tier of New York State and came upon the McDonald's in Oneonta. The timing was perfect so we dropped in for a late lunch. Expectations were high - only to have them dashed by poor service, insects, and below-par food.

Store: Oneonta, NY
Online Time: 45 seconds (no one was in line ahead of us)
Order Wait: 2 minutes
Service: not rude, but unprofessional
Quality: fries were stale
Cleanliness: store was slightly messy and was full of flies

Our first impression was from the road. The store has the typical big PLAYPLACE building/sign right out front. It felt good going in. As we entered, the restaurant looked fairly OK, but we were immediately surrounded by flies. Not a billion, but a noticeable amount. That always gets our mind running (why are they here? where else are they (on the food)? is it a cleanliness issue? etc.). Upon looking around a bit we noticed that the layout of this store is a little bit funky. The restaurant area is small, and seems to need another table or two. The PLAYPLACE seems plenty large.

The counter person seemed a bit stressed even though we could not detect anything happening. She wasn't rude, but she clearly needs some training on how to speak with people.

We then waited a little too long, only to end up with some of the worst fries we have ever encountered. We know - you're saying, "just take them back, exchange them". Well, people don't like doing that, although The McChronicles HAS done it in the past (and the staff is ALWAYS eager to please). And we were kind of put off by the whole experience up to this point, so, disappointed, we just wanted to eat and get out.

We all felt that the chairs and other items in the dining room seemed just a bit cheap.

Overall, this ranks among the worst McDonald's experiences we have ever had - not for one big reason, but for numerous small reasons.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wicked Cool McDonald's Sundial Billboard

The McChronicles was perusing all things McDonald's when this image was discovered. It appears on danzden's Flickr account and just blows us away.

It is an image of a McDonald's billboard (in the USA - learn more here) that is also a sundial. But not just any sundial. This timekeeper lets us know which McDonald's item we should be eating at the current moment. Just brilliant!!!

McDonald's fans LOVE to see the company doing really cool things. Kudos to everyone involved with this genius ad.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
danzden on Flickr, protected by a Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shaka Shaka Potato

The McChronicles was tipped off to an interesting Japanese activity by Craig Maginness' GOING GLOBAL blog. Bruce links to an interesting review of the Shaka Shaka Potato by Japundit. Interestingly, this "technique" is something The McChronicles has been doing for years. But we've never taken it to this level.

In a nutshell, Japanese McDonald's seem to have rebranded and expanded the interest in the french fry by promoting a technique for adding spices. Quite simply, a person orders the fries, dumps them into an empty take-out bag, dumps in some spices, shakes the thing, and enjoys. Of course, they gave the whole procedure a cool name, make it sound snazzy, etc. This whole affair is a common occurrence with us when we add more salt to our fries (sometimes we get a batch with little or no salt - yuk!). The concept of providing a variety of different spices sounds great, and reminds us of how other restaurants are enabling product customization via spice addition by the customer. It sounds like a very low cost way to create a cool buzz, and to provide a valued product. The McChronicles likes it!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Japundit blog.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Seasonal McDonald's

The McChronicles has never heard of a McDonald's that is open only for certain seasons throughout the year - until now.

The Old Forge, NY McDonald's (located in the heart of New York's Adirondack Mountains) is nestled in a community that caters to summertime hikers, boaters, swimmers, and the like ... as well as to skiers and snowmobilers who enjoy the winter. During the off seasons, the village is empty.

Accordingly, their McDonald's is only open during the summer season.

We've thought about this a lot, sometimes taking a negative view of the "undependability" of the schedule, and other times appreciating the fact that, for at least part of the year, this small community gets to enjoy a McDonald's.

In the end, The McChronicles proclaims that this is a good thing. Better some McDonald's than none at all. And we give KUDOS to the management for providing a regionally-appropriate decor theme.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Haight-Ashbury McDonald's

The McChronicles was feeling a bit groovy, so it dropped into San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, birthplace of the hippie revolution.

Many McDonald's offer a unique theme, suited to the locale or region. We hoped to enjoy a hippie-type theme, or something celebrating the psychedelia that Haight-Ashbury is so famous for.

Imagine our disappointment when, upon entering, we discovered that this store had NO particular theme, and was decorated only in crooked wall sconces and nondescript wallpaper.

Regions with far less (of note) to brag about do a much better job of reflecting their tradition or community than this store does. What should be a landmark is actually a disappointment.

Bummer, man!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Motor City McD

The McChronicles passed through the Detroit airport recently. While there we dropped in (twice) to the McDonald's in terminal A.

The McChronicles is well-experienced with airport McDonald's, having sampled them worldwide. Unfortunately, this store doesn't rank too highly in that category. Here's why:
  1. Slow service: when the line at the register grew long, this team did a good job of organizing the customers, directing us to the next available register, and McShuffling us while our order was prepared. That's when the trouble started - the orders took a very long time to be delivered. At one point we counted 10 customers waiting for their order (even after the line had emptied).
  2. Below-average food quality: this food wasn't "bad", it was just prepared poorly. The hamburger was dry and the meat was overcooked.
  3. Unprofessional staff: once again, this wasn't a flagrant foul, but there was a group of crew - who appeared to be off duty - standing on the customer side of the counter, flirting, chatting, etc.

Our guess is that local management needs to be improved. We've had great experiences with airport McDonald's - even during periods of extremely high demand. Crews can handle it when they're managed properly. Heck, we've seen the team at Chicago's O'Hare airport whittle down a crowd of 100 hungry, hurried travellers like it was child's play. Perhaps a little cross-training might help.

This store is in an excellent location, in an attractive airport. We were psyched to find them during our layovers. Everything was adequate, but there is clearly room for improvement.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: The McChronicles.