Sunday, December 21, 2008

McDonald's Egg Nog Shake

Like the Shamrock Shake, McDonald's Egg Nog Shake is a seasonal treat with a limited availability.

The McChronicles has discussed the Egg Nog Shake before, with regards to spotty availability. Last evening, while others were migrating en masse to the malls, The McChronicles navigated HEAVY holiday traffic to experience the 2008 Egg Nog product.

Availability: we pulled into our closest local McDonald's (no "Egg Nog Shake" promo on the exterior) and requested the product. No problem, it was available and pushed across the counter in minutes.

Quality: The Egg Nog Shake was quick, easy, cool, and clean - almost everything we are promised - and hope for. The McChronicles took a sip and detected a peculiar flavor - something a bit "chemically" that clearly rang out and put a bit of a damper on the experience.

Maybe it was just us, or maybe it was the store, or maybe it is the 2008 recipe. We don't know. But The McChronicles WILL head out today for a resample at a different McDonald's. More later.

The McChronicles: a b;og about, nmot affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: jeromes

Saturday, December 13, 2008

O.C. Register's Nancy Luna Investigates McDonald's Farm & Factories

Nancy Luna, good friend of The McChronicles, fast food maven blogger, and reporter for Orange County California's O.C. Register, just released a two-part series that explores one-each of the farms and factories responsible for McDonald's foods. We just finished reviewing the stories and slide shows - and The McChronicles loves it! Great job, Nancy.

In Part 1, "Fresh Buns: How Does McDonald's Get Them?", Nancy visits Brea, California-based Fresh Start Bakeries, and witnesses the entire bun manufacturing process. That's Nancy, all suited up, in the top image.

This tour of the company's Ontario, CA facility, was led by Plant Manager, Bob Mitchell. Bob's new $22-million facility cranks out 14.4 million buns per week! Nancy was joined by visiting nutritionists and they saw it all.

One segment of the tour was led by McDonald's head of U.S. Supply Chain Management, Todd Bacon. Quoting from Nancy's report, "Bacon, who holds a doctorate in "meat science," discussed the strict controls and guidelines McDonald's places on vendors and suppliers. Rules apply for just about any kind of scenario along the food chain — from how to treat a sick broiler chicken to requiring hot buns to pass through metal detectors." Good stuff.

This report includes a very interesting slide show (pix snapped by Nancy). It is worth the read. You'll even grab an awesome trivia point: How many sesame seeds adorn a sesame seed bun? The answer is in the slide show.

In Part 2 of the two-part series, titled, McDonald's: Let-tuce Assure You of Quality, Nancy visits lettuce supplier Taylor Farms, in California's Salinas Valley. She opens her story with, "I will never look at a McDonald's salad the same way again."

Nancy is no stranger to food safety and related health issues. As a reporter, she has covered this beat for years. She has a keen eye for the issue. So, impressing her is quite a feat. Nancy reports, "Taylor's safety reputation is considered to be the "gold standard" of the Salinas Valley with its plant subject to 62 audits a year."

According to Nancy, "We saw everything from the hearty green leaf lettuces used in Angus burgers to delicate, red oaks found in the chain's entree salads."

Nancy was joined by other industry professionals on this tour and shared this:

Mary Barbour, a Los Angeles dietitian and tour participant, said she was impressed by the level of care taken "at every stage" of the growing and packing process. She also noted that the spring mix varieties mirrored selections used in salads found at top, fine-dining restaurants.

"The next time I'm craving a gourmet salad, I'll go to McDonalds knowing the quality of care that is placed in every serving," she told me after the tour.

For more on Nancy's detailed experience at the farm, read the second part of her story. A slide show accompanies this segment, too.

The McChronicles really appreciates the effort that Nancy invested to capture and deliver this excellent two-part story. We also appreciate McDonald's increasingly open and transparent stance regarding sharing information with the public. Name another fast food purveyor that even comes close to this level of openness.

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

Friday, December 05, 2008

If you are interested in the quality of McDonald's food (everyone SHOULD be interested in the quality of the food they eat), then do spend 5 minutes at

This website offers up all sorts of info about various products. For example, The McChronicles drilled down into the chicken sandwich and was presented with a Q&A session that informed us, "First, we fry the breaded all white meat chicken strips in our Canola oil blend. While the chicken is cooking, the flour tortilla is being heated. " There are TEN pages of this stuff, just for chicken!

There was much more, and even deeper drilling available for full nutritional information.

Check it out. This stuff is important to know.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: screen grab from

Gibson, PA McDonald's

The McChronicles was in Gibson, Pennsylvania today (or were we in New Milford? - both cities are listed on the receipt). Anyway, this regular McDonald's store is right off US Interstate Highway 81 in northeast PA.

store #: 28453
city: Gibson, Pennsylvania

  • McDouble $1.00
  • Small Fries $1.00
  • Water free (in cup)

The store is handy (easy access to the interstate) and pretty "standard looking" as approached from the parking lot. As we entered, it was obvious that this store was quite clean and friendly.

Let's start with friendly. We were greeted by the smiling "Mercedes" who had several counter customers backed up (waiting for their food to arrive). Was she distressed? Rude? No! She was very pleasant. As the orders arrived she got them to all the right people and everyone was happy. Mercedes is a great counter person.

After our order was ready we turned to the condiment counter. To our surprise, the area was a wreck. It didn't make sense - since everything else was so tidy it just didn't fit.

As we took our seat, we noticed that the dining area was decorated in a very crisp, neat style. It felt very warm and inviting. Everything was tidy and clean - even the salt and pepper shakers were all lined up properly. This place was really looking good. Impressive!

As we ate we kept thinking about that messy condiment area. It was so out of place.

After a fast meal (about 5 minutes) The McChronicles headed out. We passed by the condiment area and ... well, let the picture speak for itself. Apparently we arrived immediately AFTER a messy customer. Somebody had been busy cleaning while we ate. The whole area was sparkling! It makes sense.

Great job Gibson!

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

McDonald's McDouble: Part 2 (more info - slightly)

The McChronicles couldn't let it sit. Fueled by the several comments at our previous posting on The McDouble (thanks everyone!), we went to the next McDonald's down the road (New Hartford, NY: store #825) to see how they rolled out the McDouble. It wasn't expected to be a big difference since they are both owned by the same man.

Anyway, we noted that everything, including the price, was the same, the McDouble is on the dollar menu. What we DID notice was that this McDouble was wrapped in slightly different but equally mysterious paper (top image), like yesterday's McDouble from the other store (bottom image).

The McChronicles guesses that these stores just don't have the proper wrappers yet.

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

McDouble! McDonald's Newest Product.

The McChronicles dropped by McDonald's today for lunch and detected a change to the Dollar Menu.

Missing was the double cheeseburger, replacing it was the new McDouble. The McDouble is a double cheeseburger with only one slice of cheese. The McChronicles was told by the crew at the Clinton, NY McDonald's (store #2499) that the McDouble was launched yesterday, December 1st.

According to speculation on bloggingstocks, "One possibility is that McDonald's will attempt to market the new burger as healthier, eliminating one slice of cheese hacks off 15% of the fat and 11% of the calories." The blog also says, "Analysts estimate that the McStingy will cost about six cents less to make -- combined with the company's plan to raise the price to about the dollar mark, it could spell increased profitability for the chain."

Immediately after this experience, a friend of The McChronicles, Neal, called and reported that he, too, was surprised by the menu tweak.

Neal (a 20-year old college student) added these points:
  • I never realized a double cheeseburger had TWO slices of cheese to begin with
  • I don't detect any big difference with only one slice of cheese
  • I don't think $0.19 is a lot for one slice of cheese
The McChronicles WAS surprised at the price effect that the one slice of cheese had. The McChronicles also wonders if the McDouble (pictured here) is in a temporary wrapper or if this is the final design.

Please COMMENT with your McDouble experience.

FOLLOW UP NOTE: See the McChronicles' subsequent posting on The McDouble.

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