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It's a Bad Year for Fast Food

Kanzi Kamel By Kanzi Kamel Published on November 3, 2015

Arguably the greatest moments of childhood somehow involved fast food: family trips to McDonald’s to get a Happy Meal with a cool new Power Rangers action figure, dropping by the Burger King drive-through after school, and jumping in the massive ball pits at your classmate’s eighth birthday party. Undoubtedly memorable – and delicious – days of our youth. But today, fast food just isn’t the same.

Since the rise of quinoa, kale and green juices, the Western world has moved on from the grease and fat of fast food to healthier options, and popular chains have had to innovate to keep up with the changing market.

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McDonald's reported a 11% decrease in revenue.

McDonald’s, the long-time fast-food superpower, has staggered in the past years, with an exponential drop in sales since 2010. This year alone, the fast-food chain announced that they would be closing 700 stores in Japan, the United States and China as part of its plan to boost profits. In April 2015, McDonald’s reported an 11 percent decrease in revenue and a 30 percent drop in profit for the first quarter of the year from its almost 32 500 branches worldwide.

In an effort to boost sales, McDonald’s announced the launch of an all-day breakfast. Starting October 6th, customers can order breakfast favorites like hash browns and the Egg McMuffin during all opening hours. Company officials are confident the move will meet with success, as they’ve reported over 120 000 tweets from customers requesting an all-day breakfast in the last year alone.

Meanwhile, Burger King – facing the same obstacles as its biggest competitor – reached out to McDonald’s in hopes of creating the “McWhopper,” a hybrid of McDonald’s Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper, which would be sold for one day in one store only. The publicity stunt would double as a fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting the anti-conflict non-profit Peace One Day. Burger King even went so far as to create a website as a plea to turn their vision into reality.

McDonald’s rejected the offer via a Facebook post:

Dear Burger King,
Inspiration for a good cause... great idea.
We love the intention but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference.
We commit to raise awareness worldwide, perhaps you’ll join us in a meaningful global effort?
And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.
We’ll be in touch.
-Steve, McDonald’s CEO
P.S. A simple phone call will do next time.

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Despite the public snub, Burger King has been making efforts to boost their sales abroad. To toast its 40th anniversary in Spain, the fast-food chain launched its own brand of wine to be served for a limited time only. The “Tempranillo” is made with Valencian grapes and aged in “flame-grilled” barrels – a nod and the perfect pairing to Burger King’s most popular item, the Whopper.

Although this decade hasn’t been kind to fast-food companies, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this September reveals that one third of children in the US eat fast food every day. That’s 12 percent of their daily calories, but a much smaller percentage of their recommended daily nutrients.

In spite of Whopper wines or all-day breakfasts, it doesn’t look like fast food will be going out of fashion any time soon.

Egyptian-American food enthusiast born in Chicago, raised in Beirut, and living in Dublin. Multitasker at Bookwitty. Intimately familiar with the term "identity crisis".