How Your Favorite McDonald's Items Are Created

The Daily Meal joins the McCafè tasting panel in Illinois to taste new menu items

McDonald's
Pomegranate Blueberry smoothie from the McCafè beverage line, which also features a hint of raspberry

You’re probably already wondering how all of the McDonald's dishes make it to the menu, who decides if they taste good enough, and are marketable to be served to roughly 69 million customers per day.  And it’s probably no surprise to you that there’s an arduous tasting and marketing process that takes place to do so, one which can take anywhere from six months to four years. So now you’re probably wondering: what separates items from being a six month process or a four year process? Well, we were wondering too, so we headed out to Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois to talk with McDonald's executives from around the world to see just how they are able to produce and promote new menu items.

Take the fairly new line of McDonald's smoothies from McCafé, which took approximately four years to launch to the market. First, the idea is created — this may be the most integral part of the process, seeing as it involves the appeal, affordability, portability, and nutritional content of the meal (or beverage) before it is put through the testing process in the McDonald's system.

These steps are then are followed by developmental guidelines, which involve both business and accessibility of the product. Once it clears these steps it is sent to a focus group to test the product, and see if it can be appropriated into a McDonald's menu item. After this comes making sure that the product is sustainable, more casually, that by mass-producing this item, McDonald's doesn’t put consumers or the countries agriculture in jeopardy. These steps are followed by operations testing, consumer validation (to make sure that you will buy and enjoy the product, of course), planting McDonald's specific farms, prediction of cash flow, scaling the product for how much of it they predict to sell, and then finally, it ends up in your city, in your hands, and in your stomach.

The next time you’re in line for a Big Mac, you can be confident that the McDonald's tasting panel has everything perfected, down to the very last drop of special sauce. 


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