Monday, October 27, 2008

McDonald's International Media Days 2008 (Day 1, Part 2)

The second part of our first day of McDonald's International Media Days (see part of McDonald's International Media Days 2008) was much less formal and a lot more hands-on. And since it was getting to be about that time, The McChronicles is talking about hands on LUNCH!

Today's lunch was served in McDonald's ultra-top secret "Innovation Center". Seriously, this place has such limited access that many of ther McDonald's staff that accompanied The McChronicles into the facility expressed excitement that THEY were able to get inside. A tour of this detail, with the degree of openness that we experienced was said to be "unprecedented".

Now, while The McChronicles WAS hungry, it was still all about, "Chronicling the McDonald's Brand Experience From The Customers' Point Of View." Here's what we learned (in between bites and while touring the facility):

  1. There are some very tasty new foods in the pipeline.

  2. There are some very tasty foods in existence around the world that aren't in your region.

  3. There are some very sophisticated processes (and equipment) in place - and being put into place - to keep our meals tasty, consistent, and safe.

  4. There are some very cool ideas as to how to make our total experience faster and more accurate/rewarding.

  5. There are some very dedicated professionals working hard behind the scenes to make this all happen for us.


A discussion and demonstration and video of experimental equipment led up to the cool new products that were under consideration. While we didn't get to sample any of the "concepts" The McChronicles can report that all sorts of food products are being evaluated, from vegetables, to beverages, to traditional sandwiches made in new ways.

The McChronicles dove into a table full of food that can only be found in McDonald's around the world. As loyal readers know, The McChronicles travels extensively, but having such a variety of meals in one room at one time was special, even for this experienced traveller. We enjoyed the (sort of) previously-reported on Shaka Shaka Chicken (it was potato in our report from 2006). This version of the Japanese Shaka Shaka concept is a real winner. The concept is to receive an already tasty piece of chicken in a semi-sealed bag, insert your personal favorite selection of spices, shake it up (shaka shaka) and enjoy it. The McChronicles tried the lemon pepper spice and LOVED it, a lot.

Another of the several awesome regional products is THE CBO. CBO, from France, stands for Chicken, Bacon, Onions. With the proper garnishment, a slice of cheese, and sauce, this sandwich is awesome.

The McChronicles' favorite was the Canadian Angus Burger. All we can say is, Wow! The garlic mayonnaise is just right and adds the perfect flair to the basic large burger. Loyal readers will recognize, by studying the 3 photos of the Angus Burger, that McDonald's is using the "McPamper" concept suggested by The McChronicles in 2005. See the three photos at the top of this post. This sandwich, and others, can be silghtly unwieldy and juicy, and the extra support from the included piece of tissue paper really helps. Thanks, McDonald's.

There were others, but these were our highlights.

Fry lovers - occasionally disappointed by fries that are: undersalted, oversalted, undercooked, overcooked, too cold, cooked in less-than-perfect oil? Sure you are. The McChronicles witnessed a new machine called the LOV Fryer (low oil volume) that uses less oil and less energy while frequently filtering the oil (keeping it cleaner), using less oil so the oil can be changed more frequently, while automatically salting the fries with the proper distribution and volume. We sampled the machine's output - best McDonald's fries we ever tasted!

McDonald's demonstrated some new software the allows us, the customer, to place our own order (like we do when checking in at an airpoirt, for example) from a very intuitive, simple to use touch-screen menu. It not only is easy to find what you are looking for, change it, go back in mid-order and delete things, etc., but it also presents more choices than the traditional wall-mounted menu has space for. Curmudgeons and traditionalists may not like it, but anyone under 40 has been yearning for such control (and speed) for a long time now. Yeah!

The concept of a "McDonald's Engineer" is probably not in most of our heads, but such people do exist - and they are working hard to make our McDonald's experience better. The McChronicles had the opportunity to chat briefly with a few. Truth be told, they are almost geekily into automation, process excellence, pareto charting, focus grouping, video monitoring, and the like. Hey, we don't need them at our parties, we just appreciate the fact that they make our lunches more consistent, safer, and faster. The last photo is one we snapped while in the top secret Innovation Center. Stand down McChronicles legal counsel - we were granted permission for this long-distance shot.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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


Georg said...

Thanks for the great report! It was a joy reading!

Big D said...

I'd like to second georg and also give him a second 'e.' Great report, McChronicles.

My brother works at Henny Penny in Eaton, Ohio, and they were excited to get the contract to manufacture the LOV Fryers.

I can imagine the excitement of the insiders that were finally privileged to go behind closed doors during your tour. I'm sure they understand the importance of keeping the area closed off to all but hoardes of media types with cameras.

McChronicles said...

The people at McDonald's are justifiably proud of the LOV Fryer - and all vendors associated with the project can feel the same way.

McDonald's wins: costs go down, quality goes up, satisfaction goes up, product returns go down, raw materials consumption goes down, waste goes down, etc.

Vendors win: they get to create state-of-the-art technology and sell it to a large customer.

Customers win: food safety goes up, food quality goes up, order time goes down, more attentive service, etc.

The world wins: reduced consumption, reduced waste, reduced energy demand, "a better way" existing for others to emulate.

Tell your brother that a lot of people will be much better off due to his contribution. And say "thanks" from The McChronicles.

Big D said...

I will certainly pass your comments on, McChronicles!

viagra said...

The Angus is a delicious and tasty burger, one of the best from McDonalds.


Excellent project