Why McDonald's Soft Drinks Taste So Good

If you drink soda, chances are you have a preference when it comes to what you purchase. Some might only drink Coca-Cola out of an aluminum can from a 12-pack, while others are happy to stop into the convenience store for a 20-ounce plastic bottle. Though the liquid inside the vessel is the same, people's preferences can impact precepted taste, according to Popular Science. (The site does note, however, that the lining of cans or chemicals from plastic bottles could be altering the flavor ever so slightly.)

To some, Coca-Cola from McDonald's is the best way to consume soft drinks. But what makes it different from other restaurants, or even from the Coca-Cola that you can buy at the store? Throughout the years, there have been various rumors surrounding the drink — some say McDonald's adds an extra ingredient to the mix, or that the syrup they use differs from any other (via Reader's Digest). While those are just rumors, the truth is that the fast-food chain does make one small change.

The restaurants receive the syrup differently

Despite what some rumors may have you believe, McDonald's doesn't add any extra ingredients to its soft drinks, nor do they order an extra special formula directly from Coca-Cola. The fast-food chain just takes a little extra care when it orders its ingredients. According to Reader's Digest, most restaurants have soda syrups delivered to restaurants in plastic bags. The soda machines are programmed to dispense the perfect blend of sweet syrup and carbonated water into cups, creating the sodas we know and love (via How Stuff Works).

Rather than plastic bags, McDonald's has its Coca-Cola syrup delivered in tanks made of stainless steel (via The New York Times). This method reportedly preserves the soda syrup's flavor and freshness as it makes its way to each restaurant. According to Allrecipes, McDonald's also takes its water filtration system seriously, so the water is thoroughly clean before being mixed with the syrup — which is reportedly pre-chilled through insulated lines inside each soda machine, so every sip out of a McDonald's cup is cool and refreshing.

Each machine reportedly has an insulated tube inside, connecting the soda machines to a larger fridge, which keeps all liquids in the soda machines just above freezing temperatures (via Allrecipes). This can help beverages maintain higher carbon dioxide levels, keeping soda crispy and extra bubbly with every sip.

The flavor relies on a few factors

The perfection of a McDonald's Coca-Cola is thanks to a number of factors, though the stainless-steel tanks do make a big difference on their own. The McDonald's website even has a FAQ page dedicated to answering the question, since fans have speculated so much. It states that McDonald's works alongside Coca-Cola to develop guidelines for serving the beverage, ensuring the perfect flavor every time.

As the filtered carbonated water and sugary syrup are placed in each soda machine, both halves of the soda are pre-chilled. Once they are dispensed and blended together, there's no need for the drink to rely on ice in the cup to cool it down. In fact, McDonald's states that it accounts for melting ice in each cup.

The fast-food chain knows that the method of consuming the drink can have an impact on its perceived taste, too. McDonald's states that it uses straws that are slightly wider than the standard plastic straw, allowing for more Coca-Cola to hit your taste buds at any given time. That sugary taste can actually make your brain just as happy as your tongue — Let's Talk Science reports that the tongue's taste receptors detect sugar and send signals to the brain to release dopamine, acting as a reward for indulging in something sweet.

The companies work together closely

The partnership between the soda company and the fast-food chain began back in 1955, according to The New York Times, and McDonald's has remained Coca-Cola's largest customer ever since. The brands helped each other grow through the years, and McDonald's even reportedly has its own division at the soda company. As McDonald's expanded worldwide, Coca-Cola has allowed the company to make use of its international offices while working on building new locations across the globe.

Though the stainless-steel containers might cost a little extra for the company to transport, the company believes it's worth it — and the sales teams reportedly can't sell the syrup to anyone else for any cheaper. And the investment pays off, evidently — AntiFoodie states that McDonald's Coca-Cola tastes the best out of all the ways to consume the drink, and notes that, though they typically prefer Pepsi over Coke, they would enjoy a McDonald's Coke "any day of the week."