Our Secret Masters: McDonald’s vs. Starbucks

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Mona, Gwen, and I drove up to Amherst, MA this weekend for a visit with Mona’s mom. With this comes our road trip tradition: mmmmmmm, mmmmm fast food. I grew up in New York City in the 70s, and neither cars nor fast food made much of an impact on my life, so now I try to make up for lost time when road trip opportunities present themselves.

After a meal of McDonald’s finest on Friday night, we spent a painfully long time in line at the Starbucks booth, waiting for people to place their seventeen syllable, multi-lingual coffee beverage orders; this led into a discussion of what people mean when they “buy a cup of coffee” these days. Putting aside the cost of anything other than drip coffee at Starbucks, Mona and I placed bets on the McDonald’s nutiritional equivalent of Starbucks drinks, and upon returning home to a high-speed internet connection we checked our guesses…

You can get the details here and here, but I’ll give you the big winner. A Grande Whole Milk Caffe Mocha with Whip Cream is an almost perfect nutritional analogue to tossing a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger into a blender and drinking it down.

McDonald’s has gotten all the attention recently what with Super Size Me and all, but my vote for Super Secret Corporate Master has to go to Starbucks: the same calories, fat, cholesterol, and sugar delivered via a stealth mechanism that lets people think they’re “just buying a cup of coffee,” plus they charge the victim two or three times what the McDonald’s nutritional analogue costs. Genius…