The final frontier: McDonald's to offer all-you-can-eat fries

To cleanse the palate, it’s not all McDonald’s that are offering them, just one in western Missouri that hasn’t been built yet — and still, national headlines as far as the eye can see. Is there any other item in all of American cuisine so beloved and iconic that a bottomless option for it at one franchise in the midwest would make national news? Maybe all-you-can-drink Bud? That comparison’s unfair, though, since some people are literally addicted to that product rather than quasi-addicted, as we all are to McD’s fries. And the news value is different. In the case of the fries, the news interest is that a product everyone loves will be offered in endless supply at no extra cost. You may sate yourself at management’s expense. It’s a small vision of heaven. In the case of all-you-can-drink Bud, the news interest is in taking bets on how many hours into the promotion it’ll be before all the drunks there riot and burn the place down.

I can sort of imagine an all-you-can-eat Cinnabon promotion that would rival this one in notoriety, actually. You might think that “all-you-can-eat” and “Cinnabon” are mutually contradictory, since who could possibly eat more than one? Ah. All that tells me, my friends, is that you don’t know America.

The best part about the fries promotion, incidentally, is that the guy behind it seems to have hit on like six different other gimmicks to try to promote his new franchise before realizing that nothing captures the public’s interest quite like appealing to our very fat asses. This is going to be the McDonald’s of the future, he said! (Meh.) You’re going to do all of your ordering at newfangled kiosks! (Meh.) You can customize your order any way you like! (Meh.) And it’ll be oh so comfortable, with couches and armchairs! (Meh.) There’ll be table service too! (Meh.) And “interactive light board tables and tabletop video games” for your kids so the whole family can have fun! (Meh.) And, uh … all the fries you can shove into that Sarlacc between your nose and chin. WUT.

But that’s part of a trend with McDonald’s: Remember, just last year, their idea of a smart promotion was inviting customers to hug strangers in return for a free item. Once that fiasco came and went, they changed gears and decided that a better way to get people back into the seats was — crazy, I know — to give them what they want. That meant all-day breakfast. So they did all-day breakfast, and revenue soared. There’s only one thing on the menu that people like more than Egg McMuffins and hash browns and now, lo and behold, the Missouri franchise is going to give ’em that too (at least for a little while, to promote the new opening). I doubt they’ll take a horrible beating on the cost either. The public is now sufficiently well educated about carbs, I’d bet, that even at McDonald’s during an all-you-can-eat promo, relatively few customers are going to want to do more than two large at a sitting. After all, they need to save room for that Cinnabon for dessert.