- McDonald’s salads disappeared from the menu in April. Nine months later, they still haven’t returned.
- Few customers seem bothered by the loss of salads, and the simplified menu has helped McDonald’s speed up service.
- McDonald’s declined to comment on the future of its salads, but said that the chain is still actively exploring opportunities to bring back missing menu items in new ways.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
McDonald’s salads have disappeared. And, no one seems to be missing them too much.
In late March, the chain announced plans to slash All Day Breakfast and many of its less popular items from the menu, including yogurt, salads, and grilled chicken sandwiches. The decision was said to be a temporary move to simplify and speed up operations.
Read more: McDonald’s All Day Breakfast might have disappeared forever, as workers and franchisees rally against the beloved menu
McDonald’s began adding some menu items back over the summer, including the return of the Bacon McDouble, vanilla ice cream cones, and chocolate chip cookies. The chain has also rolled out new menu items, such as spicy nuggets, and brought back seasonal favorites, such as the McRib.
However, one category still has not returned. McDonald’s salads seem to have disappeared without a trace.
The disappearance of the McDonald’s salad
McDonald’s added salads to menus across the US in 1987. The company’s push into “healthy” menu items served as an attempt to combat its negative reputation, solidified with the 2001 book “Fast Food Nation” and 2004 film “Super Size Me.” But, despite various revamps, salads did little to drive sales.
“Even priced at $1, double cheeseburgers bring in more revenue than salads or the chicken sandwiches, which cost $3.19 to $4.29,” The New York Times reported in 2006.
Salad iterations over the years have included “premium” salads, McSalad Shakers, and – most recently – options like the Southwest and Bacon Ranch salads. Then, after more than three decades on the menu, salads of all kinds disappeared early in the pandemic.
“McDonald’s is a business with one primary goal: to generate profits for shareholders,” Marion Nestle, a professor of food policy and nutrition at New York University, told Business Insider. “It is not interested in producing foods that do not sell or bring people into outlets.”
Franchisees have celebrated the decision to cut less popular items from the menu, with two telling Business Insider earlier this year that the changes helped speed up service and cut complexity behind the scenes.
“Keeping our menus simplified is your NOA’s number one priority,” an independent group of McDonald’s franchisees called the National Operators Association (NOA) wrote in an internal memo viewed by Business Insider in June.
McDonald’s menu simplification strategy has paid off so far. The chain’s drive-thrus are faster than ever, and same-store sales were up were up 4.6% in the third quarter. Analysts have said that McDonald’s is the most likely chain to thrive in the months and years to come, as many other restaurants struggle to survive the pandemic.
Read more: McDonald’s is the chain most likely to thrive in the months and years to come as restaurants scramble to recover from the pandemic, analysts say
Are McDonald’s salads gone forever?
Not many customers seem to be missing McDonald’s salads. Sure, there are a few people on Twitter who are confused.
—McRib is Back (@McDonalds) December 2, 2020
—Kara’nique 💋 (@kaaayq) November 23, 2020
—McRib is Back (@McDonalds) November 29, 2020
But, these are tiny blips on the fast-food radar – especially compared to the explosion of viral tweets sparked by changes such as Taco Bell cutting potatoes from the menu. McDonald’s seems to be seeing far more social media complaints are centered on the loss of All Day Breakfast. Even the McRib, with its cultish fanbase, is in higher demand.
Read more: McDonald’s McRib is returning to menus across America for the first time in 8 years, sparking celebration among the obsessive fans of the cult-classic sandwich
McDonald’s said in a statement to Business Insider that the chain cut menu items in April in an effort to simplify operations while improving customer experience. The company declined to comment on if its salads would return to menus.
“With customers at the center of everything we do, we’ll continue listening to them and evolving our menu to meet their needs,” McDonald’s said.
Does that mean salads will be off McDonald’s menu forever? It would be a bold choice – probably too bold for McDonald’s. Since the ’80s, salads have served as a key option to prevent a “veto vote” from health-conscious customers or vegetarians, who might otherwise block a family or group of friends from going to McDonald’s.
However, when some version of salads do return to McDonald’s menu, they may take on a new form. Chick-fil-A’s salads have received top marks from Business Insider taste testers, with the chain exploring options such as the kale and broccolini-based superfood side instead of bland lettuces. According to McDonald’s, the chain is still actively exploring opportunities to bring back missing menu items in new ways in the future.
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