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McDonald’s new ‘menu hacks’ promotion requires no new ingredients or employee training and it’s a brilliant continuation of its pandemic-era strategy


  • McDonald’s is introducing social media menu hacks to official menus.
  • An analyst says it’s a smart way to expand menus without adding complexity.
  • The chain simplified menus in the beginning of the pandemic. 

McDonald’s just announced that customers can order “menu hacks” beginning on January 31, and one analyst says it’s a smart business move. 

The fast food chain will sell four “hacked” items by combining already-existing menu items. Customers can order a Hash Brown McMuffin with a hash brown inside a Sausage McMuffin with egg, a Crunchy McDouble with chicken McNuggets in a Double Cheeseburger, The Land, Air and Sea with a McChicken, Big Mac, and Filet-O-Fish stacked together, and The Surf and Turf, with a Filet-O-Fish on a Double Cheeseburger.

Adding these hacks to menus is “really smart,” according to Mark Kalinowski, CEO and founder of Kalinowski Equity Research, told Insider. All the components are already on menus, so there’s no added costs or complexity for workers. McDonald’s even asks customers to assemble the menu hacks themselves, eliminating any need to train workers on new dishes.

“McDonalds has iconic menu offerings, why not create something a little playful?” Kalinowski told Insider. With this announcement, the chain can harness some of the excitement and attention of adding new menu items without actually introducing new dishes and the expenses those would include. 

Menu hacks like the ones promoted by McDonald’s are a natural extension of the chain’s COVID-era menu policies. In 2020, like many competitors, the chain cut some low selling menu items and eliminated all-day breakfast. The smaller menu was intended to “simplify operations in our kitchens and for our crew,” McDonald’s told at the time. Menu hacks grow the menu without actually adding the complexity of additional items. 

The move is also smart because it plays into the ongoing trend of customization, Kalinowski told Insider. Restaurants that prioritize customization, like Chipotle and Starbucks, have thrived in recent years, so this is a way for McDonald’s to get in on the trend. The McDonald’s customizations come from ideas on social media, which allows McDonald’s to stay young and culturally relevant, Kalinowski said.

McDonald’s has previously experimented with allowing customers to order menu hacks in Australia, Kalinowski told Insider. 

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected]

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