McDonald's aims to slim down its 145-item menu

The fast-food giant apparently sees its attempt to be all things to all people as another of its problems.

By Jonathan Berr May 17, 2013 1:10PM
McDonald’s breakfast menu at a McDonald's restaurant on Sept. 12, 2012 in New York (© Mark Lennihan/AP)McDonald's (MCD) is slimming down its menu, which has ballooned by 70% since 2007 to a lineup of 145 items.

First came word that the fast-food king was getting rid of Angus burgers, chicken selects, and fruit and walnut salads. Now Bloomberg News reports the Southern Style Biscuit, Caesar salads and McSkillet Burrito may be next to go. The report comes from an internal company email and indicates the House of Ronald realizes that being all things to all people leads to shoddy service and angry customers.

"They can’t make the food fast enough," restaurant consultant Richard Adams said in an interview with Bloomberg.

So far, however, as McDonald's cuts some items from the menus at its 14,000 U.S. locations, it keeps adding others. Among its new offerings are the Egg White Delight McMuffin, the Premium McWrap chicken sandwiches and three new Quarter Pounders. A McDonald's spokeswoman declined to comment to Bloomberg about the internal email.
 
Rivals such as Burger King (BKW) and Wendy's (WEN) have improved their menus in recent years and have taken some business from McDonald's. When it comes to taste, at lease one survey found consumers say Wendy's is best by a wide margin.

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is under pressure from Wall Street to bolster U.S. same-store sales, which slumped 1.2% in the first quarter and gained 0.7% in April. But all the big fast-food rivals are having an especially hard time attracting cost-conscious customers who also are frequent patrons of fast-casual restaurants.

Shares of McDonald's have gained more than 15% this year, outperforming both Burger King's and Wendy's, indicating that investors are optimistic that Thompson's strategy will work.

The challenge that McDonald's faces isn't easy. Wall Street wants it to sell tasty food that the public wants, while a growing chorus of public officials want the chain to do more to fight the nation's obesity epidemic, particularly among children.

Meanwhile, at least it appears to be trying to slim down its own overweight menu.

Jonathan Berr has a small position in McDonald's. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.


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98Comments
May 17, 2013 2:49PM
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I get so sick of this harping on eating. It's not the eating that's the problem, it's the lack of exercise. You would be amazed how much you can eat and not gain any weight if you get off your dead a$$.  When I was a kid all I can remember was I was constantly eating, but I walked every where and so did everyone else and there were very few over weight people.  My mother would give me bus fare when I went to the movies and instead I walked and had a hamburger and a large Hershey bar and when I got home I made myself a snack and I was thin. It's not the eating ,stop talking about it !
May 17, 2013 2:03PM
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First, things in this economic climate certainly are not going to grow. Going out to eat, even if it is McDonalds, is a luxury. No matter what this administration says, the US is hurting.

Second, I don't see it being a challenge for McDonalds when it comes to fighting obesity. Our public officials should be concentrating on what they were elected for......I am tired of these officials getting involved in issues that really don't concern them.....

May 17, 2013 1:39PM
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You can't try to please everyone because somebody won't like that.
May 17, 2013 3:37PM
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In N Out Burger has basically four items on its menu.  Burgers, Fries, Shakes, and soda.  They are very successful, and there is pretty much always a line whenever you go in there.  

Why does McDonald's think that they need hundreds of different items?
May 17, 2013 2:43PM
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I don't believe that fast food sales are declining because of hard times or "cost-conscious" consumers, it's because the quality of the food is (generally) equally as horrible as the quality of the worker. They never get my order right and the taste is just not as good as it was years ago, I guess cost may be a slight factor but only in the sense that I didn't mind so much paying 2 bucks for a sub par burger but now that I pay 5 bucks for the same sub par burger, thats a little harder to swallow. If the food tasted better i would consider giving fast food another try but until then count me out.
May 17, 2013 3:57PM
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Whatever happened to burgers, fries and milk shakes?  Jack of all trades, master of none, should go back and focus on the basics, like In-and-Out !
May 17, 2013 2:08PM
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145 items ?

I didn't realize they had that many choices on the menu because they all taste and look the same ...

prefabricated .

May 17, 2013 3:41PM
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Let us alone !!!  Let us eat what we like - not what you food control freaks insist on !!!  If we die early then we go on to what we are told is a much BETTER LIFE !!!  SO THERE !!!
May 17, 2013 3:04PM
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Nothing's funnier than someone standing at the register of a McDonald's going hmmm.. what should I eat?
May 17, 2013 2:00PM
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Stupid decisions is what causes this. If they really wanted to fix this, they would trim the menu, and make all of the Mcmuffin sandwiches available all day long.
May 17, 2013 2:31PM
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when McD's done away with the Mc DLT because of the cry of the liberals and greenies for it's packaging, it was years before I spent money there again. It was a damn good burger! Now, I hear McD's is doing away with the angus burger line, which is why I went back! McD's, keep listening to them and you'll be going to Burger King for lunch!
May 17, 2013 3:38PM
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They keep getting rid of the things I order. Guess it's time to switch to Wendy's
May 17, 2013 3:10PM
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The last time we stopped at a McDonalds for a snack while on the road we ended up dumping it.  We just ordered  coffee and an order of French fries to share. The coffee was bitter and burned tasting, like left over from the previous day...awful and undrinkable .  The fries were cool,  stiff and dried out as though they were also old.  So the last time we stopped at a McDonalds is the last time we will ever stop  at a McDonalds.   
May 17, 2013 3:52PM
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If they take away the only items I eat, they will lose my business. I tried the new egg white delight a couple of days ago and it was NASTY. I had a southern style chicken biscuit this morning, its my favorite. The only other breakfast item I like there are the McSkillet Burritos. And go figure, the only salad I like from there is the caesar salad......WAY TO GO McDonalds, WAY TO GO!!

May 17, 2013 4:52PM
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I remember when Mcdonalds did 49 cent hamburgers on Wednesday evenings when I was a kid. And I was a skinny little runt all through my childhood. With the internet and videogames blooming ever so much, just gives kids no motivation to go out and expierence life and be active. I agree with most poeple in these comments that it's not the food making people fat, it's the people themselves. If you want to go eat mcdonalds 5 times a day...Go right ahead. Just don't complain when you're obese and people are laughing at you fat ****s.
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They could simplify it by just categorizing things differently

Sugar
Salt
Fat


that's pretty much everything that's on their menu :)

May 17, 2013 3:51PM
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The menu needs to be edited there is so much stuff it has taken FAST out of FAST FOOD, and its usually cold.
May 17, 2013 3:32PM
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Way too much sodium is added to their food.  They don't even make the pancakes at the restaurants. They come in frozen and are just reheated.

May 17, 2013 3:55PM
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Disappointed about the possible disc of the Caeser salad. It's nice to have one nearby fast food option that isn't fried and doesn't have bread. I'm within walking distance at work of a McD's on those days when a last minute crunch forces me to bail on making my lunch, and these salads have been perfect.   They already have the stuff to make the salad if they're going to have the chicken wraps, just put the actual wrap component sans wrap in a container. I guess I'll go back to keeping a can of tuna in my desk drawer...sigh.
May 17, 2013 4:41PM
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i only go to McDs for the fries and BigMac....but i refuse to pay full price for a Big Mac, paying $4.29 for one bigmac is way to much with those small burgers they put on it   .....maybe if they made a new "bigger" big mac with 1/4 patties I would be more willing to pay the $4+ price....or if they cut the price down on the normal BigMac
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