Images of McDonald’s menus went viral this week. Because I couldn’t believe the price shown. Twitter user Sam Lerner said the photo was taken at a McDonald’s in a rest stop in Connecticut. In the photo, a Big Mac combo meal with fries and a soft drink is $17.59 for him.
Other combo meals pictured, including the Quarter Pounder with Bacon and Cheese, cost $18.99. Menu prices for many restaurants are often higher on delivery apps than in store. On GrubHub, Darien store’s Big Mac combo meal is available for his $21.59.
The fast-food chain is known for its low-cost food, which is striking given that many of its locations boast even $1 menu items.
After spotting an expensive McDonald’s on Interstate 95 in Darien, Lerner said he did some more research on the company’s prices. “Okay, a little research and I may have landed on the most expensive McDonald’s in the country,” he tweeted.
Using data from food research site Pantry & Larder, Lerner found a Big Mac listed for $8.09 at a McDonald’s in Lee, Massachusetts. Still, at the Darien store, the more expensive Big Mac he sells for $8.29.
According to budget site SavingSpot, the United States has the 19th most expensive Big Mac in the world, with an average price of $5.35. The site says the Swedish Big Mac is the most expensive at $7.75.
Some social media users were outraged by Lerner’s post. Some compared Darien’s prices to McDonald’s in their area. “If you check out your local McDonald’s in the Bay Area, the number one Big Mac meal is $10.48 for him, so you’ll see up to a 70% markup at rest stops.” someone replied.
Some advised students not to spend so much money on a Big Mac.
At an independent McDonald’s location in Stamford, just about 16 miles from Darien, a Big Mac meal with fries and a soft drink costs $11.79 on GrubHub, above the national average.
At the Darien rest stop location, the same meal is a whopping $21.59 on GrubHub.
According to Learner’s photo and the location’s GrubHub page, the Darien store shows many items priced above average. On the delivery app, a sausage-egg McMuffin meal (with hash browns and coffee) at the Darien location is priced at $17.39. The same meal at McDonald’s on New York City’s Upper East Side costs $8.29 on GrugHub.
Considered one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, the Upper East Side median household income is $138,490. This is about 92% higher than the citywide median household income of $72,150.
One of Connecticut’s richest towns, Darien has a median household income of $250,001. This is 57% higher than the median household income on the Upper East Side, but McDonald’s prices there are about 70% higher.I
The minimum wage in Connecticut and New York City is $15 an hour.
So what drives price differences between McDonald’s stores? Owners. About 90% of McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned, McDonald’s said, allowing franchisees to set their own prices. As such, the company does not post prices on its corporate website. Prices vary by location.
According to SavingSpot, the two states with the highest average Big Mac price are Hawaii at $5.31 and New York at $5.23. Mississippi is his cheapest at $3.91.
CBS News has reached out to the McDonald’s entity and the Darien location and is awaiting a response.
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