McDonald's Downsizes Fries

As a nation, we're often all about getting more while paying less. Unfortunately, that trend has been most prevalent in our expanding waistlines. In a nod at the current trend towards healthy eating, news agencies report today that McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) will pull its "Super Sized" options -- especially for fries and drinks -- by the end of this year.

Most people Super Size as a way to shell out a few cents more to get more fries or cola -- more "value," supposedly. However, media attention to the growing problem of obesity in this country has led many to believe that those ever-greater portions are a big part of why Americans are wearing ever-larger clothing sizes.

Despite the growing media focus on our eating habits, McDonald's has been hitting a happy medium with its restaurants lately. When Dave Marino-Nachison took a look at the company's sales numbers in early February, he pointed out that McDonald's menu mix is appealing to its old demographic and also reeling in customers with its healthier options, including salads.

McDonald's is not the only fast-food name that's been inspired to submit menu changes related to new public attention on fast food. Wendy's (NYSE: WEN  ) , Subway, and Yum! Brands' (NYSE: YUM  ) Pizza Hut, to name just a few, are serving up healthier menu items as well.

However, maybe the downside of being the granddaddy of fast food is that you become an icon, and sometimes a negative one. The term "Super Size" has become part of pop culture lingo, which probably doesn't go over too well in McDonaldLand. Meanwhile, according to USA Today, the term has gotten even more flak recently, with the upcoming documentary "Super Size Me," which explores the health effects of the director's switch to an all-McDonald's diet for a month. "Grimace," for sure.

Although McDonald's denied the move had anything to do with the unflattering documentary, one might wonder about any public relations fallout from the film, which is due for release this spring. Never fear, though. For those of you who like your Super Sized fries, what will soon be the high end of fry size, the large, is six ounces -- only one ounce shy of the Super Sized version.

So, this move seems less about healthy eating and more about unhealthy image. After all, moderation and Super Sizes don't really go hand in hand.

Are you sad to see Super Sized fries and drinks go? Share your thoughts on this and other issues with other Fools on the McDonald's discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned. She has wondered for years what food "Grimace" was supposed to represent.


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