McDonald’s stopped selling salads because nobody was buying them

Seems kind of obvious in retrospect.
McDonalds Begins Selling Fitness Videos
McDonalds Begins Selling Fitness Videos / Tim Boyle/GettyImages

When you think of McDonald’s, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Burgers, right? Then french fries, McNuggets, shakes… Chances are the last thing that comes to mind is a salad. And turns out that was a pretty widely held opinion, as McDonald’s removed salads from the menu because, uh, nobody was buying them.

The menu change actually happened back in 2020 (sort of, more on that in a second), but a new report from CNN has bumped the excision of salads from McDonald’s menu into the public consciousness. Their report pivots off a quote McDonald’s USA president Joe Erlinger gave in June at WSJ’s Global Food Forum, noting that if people want salads again, they’ll start selling them, “But what our experience has proven is that’s not what the consumer’s looking for from McDonald’s.”

As CNN goes on to note, salads were served for years at McDonald’s in various forms, up until a health scare in 2018 took them off the menu. Then with the advent of the COVID pandemic, the menu was once again simplified in 2020, leading to salads being once again off the menu, boys. However – here’s the little caveat I mentioned above – salads were offered as an option by corporate in 2022 but per another WSJ piece titled “McDonald’s Customers Love Salads – Who Knew?” it turns out that franchise operators did not love salads, and so they’ve stayed off the menu.

…At least in the United States. Abroad, other countries still serve salads and salad wraps, you just won’t find them on US menus anymore. Which, frankly, is a bummer. I realize that I personally am not enough to keep McDonald’s salads going, but as someone who really does not like eating food from the chain – it makes me feel greasy and disgusting every time I have it – when I do go there with my kids, a salad was a great option. They weren’t even that bad, either. Sure we’re not talking bright, crispy salads that pop in your mouth with flavor. But the Southwest Salad was pretty good, and I’d occasionally partake of the Bacon Ranch salad as well.

The problem is that the salads were presented as a healthy alternative when A) they’re not actually that healthy, they’re still covered in creamy dressing, and B) nobody (other than me) wants an alternative when they get to McDonald’s, they want the main event. If you’re a fan of the chain, would you rather have a limp salad that doesn’t fill you up; or five cheeseburgers? I’m guessing most folks would go for the latter, and hence, salads are no longer served at Mickey Dees.

There is one additional note at the bottom of the CNN article that’s a little more shocking, though: the same push to get rid of salads has seemingly resulted in the McPlant, a plant-based burger, also not heading to the main menu.

According to Erlinger, their data shows that consumers in the US aren’t looking for plant-based products at McDonald’s. While perhaps true, it’s surprising that the chain hasn’t joined others in at least providing an alternative for those who are vegetarian, vegan, or have different dietary needs. He seems open to reevaluating in the future, mind you.

But with no McPlant burger and no salads, there’s a whoItle section of the population that will just need to avoid McDonald’s and head somewhere else. Which seems like you’re losing out on a potential business opportunity, honestly? But hey, I don’t run McDonald’s. If I did, they’d still be serving salads.

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