Way back when in the early 00s, McDonald’s was synonymous with supersizing, grotesque methods of food preparation, fattening additives, and a whole bunch of other nasty and unnatural ingredients (I’ll never forget the Simpsons McRib episode).
Since then, however, McDonald’s has actually made some impressive health centric-changes, many of which you might have heard before. It’s not quite “lose weight on a diet of McDonald’s,” but I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised to find out a few things you never knew about the fast food company. Here’s 11 of the best.
1. McDonald’s used to own Chipotle
McDonald’s once owned a 90 percent stake in one of the most health- and socially-conscious – brands before selling it back in 2006. The fast-food giant sold their share as they deemed it a distraction. Without the investment, it would be hard to see Chipotle being the fresh food stalwart it has now become. During the McDonald’s ownership, Chipotle grew from 14 locations to 460.
2. The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is basically corn syrup
Don’t let the nostalgia for this childhood favorite blind you from the cold facts: the Shamrock Shake is blended with vanilla reduced fat ice cream (made from corn syrup solids), shake syrup (which is mostly high fructose corn syrup) and topped with whipped cream and cherry.
3. There are diet-expert-approved meals at McDonald’s
If you drop the mayo and fries and choose lower calorie options like the McDouble, you can still enjoy McDonald’s pretty much guilt-free. Just make sure to guzzle down water and steer clear of empty calorie added sugars in salad dressings.
4. Now introducing… McDonald’s next
Instead of the iconic contrasting red and yellow decor and fluorescent lighting, one McDonald’s location in Hong Kong was transformed into an eatery that features a silver interior, soft lighting and a salad bar. It’s called McDonald’s Next and it also offers free Wi-Fi, phone-charging stations, self-serving kiosks, table service after 6pm and premium coffee.
5. Happy meals may help you lose weight
The happy meal isn’t just for kids, the Journal of Experimental Psychology did an experiment and discovered “when a small incentive is offered with a meal, as is the case with the toys found in McDonald’s Happy Meals, people are motivated to limit their portion size.”
They continue “As it turns out, the combination of a half-sized portion and a non-food gift stimulates the same part of the brain – the area responsible for reward, desire, and motivation – as the full-sized portion alone.”
6. They’re eliminating antibiotics – but only in certain meats
McDonald’s have a three-tiered plan that made it outlined the steps they are taking in order to cut unnecessary antibiotic use in its poultry in the US markets by 2018 and in global markets in 2027. However, the restaurant chain failed to give specific deadlines for pork and beef.
7. They serve superfoods
McDonald’s rolled out breakfast bowls in nine locations in southern California in 2015, one of which included kale, as well as offering a whole wheat, kale and feta “More-Ning McWrap.” The wrap, which proved to be hugely popular, featured baby kale, tomato, feta, and scrambled eggs. Recently the company also debuted the Signature Sriracha quarter pound burger
The burger is packed with baby spinach and baby kale. Despite the nutritious addition of leafy greens, the spicy burger boasts a walloping 670 calories, 35 grams of fat, and 1,1010 milligrams of sodium. Quite a bit for a ‘healthy’ burger.
8. Their McRib has no rib
Back by popular demand, you’d think that, given its name, the McRib would actually have a rib in the sandwich, right? Wrong. Instead, the pork is pressed into the rib-like shape via a mold, just like Jell-O and slathered with sugary sauce, briny pickle slices, and onions.
9. You can BYOB
Build your own burger to be specific. In order to meet customers demands and expectations, McDonald’s have allowed their consumers to build their own perfect burger. More often seen in the kiosk ordering and mobile app systems, you can now have your customized Big Mac sent straight to your door.
10. They used to offer an organic burger
Ronald debuted his first organic burger the “McB” in Germany in 2015. While its patty was sourced entirely from organic beef, the toppings weren’t. Offered for a limited time only, the chain stopped selling the sandwich in early 2016.
11. Their chicken nuggets have been known to melt
According to Reddit user DFunkatron, they said “I accidentally left a whole bag of about 100 chicken nuggets out on a counter for way too long. They melted. Into a pool of liquid.” They are made with a water-based marinade of sodium phosphates, food starches, dextrose, citric acid, autolyzed yeast extract and natural flavoring, of course.
If reading those things didn’t make you crave a big mac or two, you are made of some seriously strong stuff. I, in the meantime, am going to my lunch with one, and a couple of chicken McNuggets to match.