Why Coca-Cola Tastes Better at McDonald’s

October 19, 2018

Although Americans can buy a Coke just about anywhere, no other place seems to make the soft drink better than McDonald’s. And that’s not an accident: the company has had a special connection with Coca-Cola since the burger chain’s founding in 1955. Back then, McDonald’s boss Ray Kroc struck a handshake deal with a local Coke supplier, establishing a close business relationship that continues to this day. “Those two companies helped each other grow and expand around the globe,” said former McDonald’s executive Dick Starmann. “Neither one would be what they are today without the other.”

As Coca-Cola’s biggest customer, McDonald’s receives special equipment that no other company can use. While other restaurants have their soda syrup delivered in plastic bags, McDonald’s keeps their Coca-Cola syrup stored in stainless steel containers that protect the product from high temperatures, light, and air. The fast food chain also pre-chills their syrup so that each drink is served as cold as possible. McDonald’s keeps its water chilled as well, ensuring that it stays just above freezing in a refrigerator located near the back of the store. What’s more, the company’s advanced water filtration system allows it to maintain the same flavor and consistency no matter the location.

McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have also developed the perfect syrup-to-water ratio that even accounts for melting ice. This ensures that each sip tastes just as refreshing as the first one. In fact, McDonald’s recommends that customers always order a Coca-Cola with ice, otherwise they might throw off this carefully calibrated soda experience. Finally, the burger chain says that its straws are “slightly wider than a typical straw so all that Coke taste can hit your taste buds.” Of course, McDonald’s may change that soon as more food companies turn away from plastic straws out of concerns for sustainability.

Questions:

  1. How does the special relationship between McDonald’s and Coca-Cola benefit both companies?
  2. Should Coca-Cola provide other businesses with the same equipment that it gives to McDonald’s? Why or why not?

Sources: David Gelles, “Coke and McDonald’s, Growing Together Since 1955,” The New York Times, May 15, 2014; Kimberly Holland, “This Is Why McDonald’s Coke Tastes Better Than All the Others,” MSN, October 18, 2018. Photo by Paul Siarkowski.

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