McDonald's unveils its highest-calorie item ever

The three-quarter pound serving of fries is called the 'Mega Potato' in Japan. It's also the type of gimmick competitors are using to crush the fast-food giant in the US.

By Jason Notte May 22, 2013 4:55PM
2013 McDonald's -- “Mega Potato” French FriesMcDonald's (MCD) has had a tough time giving customers what they want when they want it here in the States, but in far less judgmental Japan it has no problem backing a dump truck's worth of french fries onto a customer's tray.


Japan Today notes that McDonald's outlets there are offering customers the Mega Potato, a container of fries double the size of an order of large fries that goes for roughly $5. At 350 grams, it's more than three-quarters of a pound of fries poured into a Golden Arches-stamped cardboard trough that McDonald's has advertised as "perfect for sharing."


The food press has already begun clutching its pearls over the fat content and the potential health consequences of the boat-sized order of fries, which will be available May 24 through June. At an estimated 1,142 calories, it is the highest-calorie food served at McDonald's, reports Muripo.


However, RocketNews24 provides illustrated examples of how customers in Asian countries haven't been opposed to ordering fries by the tableful. Besides, scoffing at this sort of stunt here in the U.S. has started costing McDonald's a chunk of fast-food market share.


Foreign markets tend to bring out the creative side of fast-food giants like Burger King (BKW) and Pizza Hut parent company Yum Brands (YUM). But even stateside, the rise of higher-end fast-casual establishments like Panera Bread (PNRA), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and Five Guys have forced fast-food chains to abandon upmarket options and play to their strengths. Taco Bell is offering Waffle Tacos as part of a new breakfast menu and testing a new value menu packed with $1 items. Burger King, meanwhile, is basically cloning the McRib boneless rib sandwich while offering delivery service in major cities.


Even lower-tier chains like Del Taco are spicing up their menus with offerings including Chili Cheese Fry burritos.


After years of success emulating Starbucks (SBUX) coffee and Jamba Juice (JMBA) smoothies, however, McDonald's has been forced into a full retreat. McDonald's first-quarter same-store sales were off 1% worldwide. Its menu, which Businessweek says has grown 70% since 2007 to 145 items, is getting a much-needed trim. Angus burgers, Chicken Selects, fish bites, burritos and premium items that franchise owners say are slowing down their kitchens are being shown the door in favor of an enhanced dollar menu.


Yet the chain still hasn't quite backed off its all-things-to-all-people U.S. approach. In China, McDonald's customers get free Egg McMuffins if there's even a chance the press might say something unkind about the chain. In Japan, McDonald's serves canoes full of fries without a whole lot of backlash over the consequences. In the U.S., it hesitantly hints at all-day breakfast and trots out the McRib only when sales numbers are at their softest.


McDonald's fries are a staple and one of the primary reasons that customers who disdain other McDonald's items will still drop in on rare occasions. Providing customers with more of them -- and more of the rare breakfast items that are hurled off the production line at the stroke of 10:30 a.m. -- is only giving them more of what they're seeking. McDonald's critics will pound away at it regardless of how broad it tries to make its menu. Its core consumers, as the company is discovering in Japan, just want more of what they crave.


At some point, maybe McDonald's will stop placating its critics and start rewarding its loyalists. Yes, they want fries with that.


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286Comments
May 22, 2013 10:21PM
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UNSCIENTIFIC POLL

 

I) If you like the CURRENT TASTE of McDs fries VOTE > Thumb Down

 

II) If you like the OLD TASTE of McDs fries > Vote Thumb Up

May 22, 2013 5:11PM
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Just be sure to order the "diet" coke to wash it down.
May 22, 2013 7:38PM
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Oh, great.  Now I'm hungry and want fries.
May 22, 2013 5:38PM
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Not that big of a deal. I remember when mcdonalds had "bucket of fries" here in the USA. I ate them sometimes growing up. And guess what... Im not fat. shocking right?
May 22, 2013 6:05PM
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Maybe it's time they quit trying to appease those that hate their food and cater to those who made them the success that they are. McDonalds food was better when they had the higher fat burgers and cooked their fries in lard. Add the salads and low fat crap for the women but try making better burgers not lower fat ones.
May 22, 2013 8:51PM
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The liberal food patrol must be going crazy.  Let adults eat what they want; it is still a free country.  Government already controls too many aspects of our lives and throws away our money on wasteful government spending.  Adults have the freedom to choose.
May 22, 2013 9:39PM
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Bring 'em to NYC.
It'll drive Bloomturd crazy !!!

May 22, 2013 7:50PM
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'Mega' is so outdated.
It should be a gigapotato at least,  if not a tera tater.

May 22, 2013 9:31PM
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If people want to buy it, they should be able to sell it.  No food Nazis, please.
May 22, 2013 7:39PM
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Super large orders of French fries have been around for years. If you have ever spent time at a beach in the United States you will note that many establishments ( like Boardwalk Fries ) serve giant size servings of fries on their own so why shouldn't McDonalds. Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to purchase them to eat.

May 22, 2013 9:21PM
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This would be great when you are ordering for a group or a family.  They used to do something like this at our local McD.  You could get a bag of fries and 20 piece nugget  for a lot less money than ordering 4 happy meals.  If you do not like the calories, try a small fry.  It is not the restaurants responsibility to make sure I or my family eat a balanced meal. 
 
May 22, 2013 6:46PM
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 People order multiple items off the dollar menu and nobody talks about the total fat content of people order three mchicken at a buck a piece or three double cheeseburgers and and order of value frys.  The real problem is it is cheaper to eat unhealthy items at a fast food place than lower fat grilled instead of fried food items.  The price of order a grilled chicken sandwich is usually twice as much as a fried version.  People who want a lot of frys will and do order more than one.  The idea that just because the servings are smaller that people are consuming less is not true if they order more of higher fat items.

  

May 22, 2013 6:49PM
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It alooks like it might be kind of fun for a family of four to share...
May 22, 2013 5:54PM
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Love it!!!  Who's going to die first?---just like that man who was eating the biggest hamburgers in the US

 

So if the thin Japanese want to grease up their bodies with plaque and artery killers, let them do it.  At least there are no food patrols there--like here in the US.

May 22, 2013 5:42PM
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This huge fry isn't a bad idea in Japan, where they do a lot of meal sharing.

 

In the US, that would be a fry for 1 person.  Other there though, 3 or 4 people might split that.

May 22, 2013 7:43PM
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It really gets me how McDonald's and other fast-food conglomerates are continually introducing and removing items, constantly tweaking the menus, coming up with new gimmicks that results, at times, with shrinking market shares . . . whereupon I look at the regional fast-food outlets, "In N' Out", in the western states.  All they serve are burgers, fries, and shakes . . . and their locations are always busy, many times packed!

Ah!  But what they do is provide a simple, but favorable burger for under two-dollars, using quality ingredients.   The cleanliness of the locations are always kept up well.  The professionalism and politeness of the employees is first-rate towards their customers.  It's a combination that keeps me coming back as a customer, much to my doctor's chagrine.  LOL

The In N' Out owners strive for the best with the basics in their outlets, and they've done well at it . . . including paying a decent wage.  But, the owners of In N' Out does not franchise its outlets, they maintain quality control with ownership control with all of its outlets.

The owners of In N' Out has attracted many customers, and have retained a large customer base without gimmicks, without marketing promotions, without contests, and advertising is very minimal for a company of its size.

Much has been said about the good quality of In N' Out's fries, but I'm not a fan of fries.  Why?  When attending college 35 years ago, the university's dormitory meal program fed me fries morning, noon, and night for two years . . . it was a burnout factor with that food item that has stayed with me 35 years later.  What I substitute for fries at In N' Out is to order an additional burger or two . . . very yummy!! :)
May 22, 2013 9:10PM
May 22, 2013 7:02PM
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In the picture it looks as if people just ordered huge fries and are sharing it.
May 22, 2013 5:53PM
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tit for tat....plus you never see a fat japanese.
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