Why 30 Rock Fans Were So Upset By This McFlurry Product Placement

Perhaps one of McDonald's most underrated items, the McFlurry stands as a popular staple to this day. And although the U.S. and U.K. versions may be different, as well as locations all over the globe (in fact, the McFlurry was invented in Canada, not the U.S.), the one thing they have in common is their ability to spark joy in children and adults looking for an inexpensive ice cream treat on a hot day, or even just a bad one.

Despite their popularity, they also have a claim to fame as the often hard-to-get dessert, as those familiar with the running joke know that supposedly, McDonald's ice cream machines are nearly always broken. According to Reader's Digest, the equipment doesn't break down regularly; it's owing to the fact that the machines take four hours to sanitize, so despite their hiccups, at least the public knows they're being cleaned. But this wasn't the joke that Tina Fey's series "30 Rock" told in 2009, sparking a bit of outrage among fans. (Fey is pictured above, with co-star Alec Baldwin.) So what was it that got them so riled up?

A publicity McMess

As the episode goes, Jack (Alec Baldwin) and his girlfriend (Salma Hayek) were big fans of the McFlurry on the show, and when they get into a fight, they make up at McDonald's. Gawker suggests that fans were annoyed because they thought this was subliminal advertising utilized due to a partnership with the franchise, but Tina Fey, the show's lead as well as executive producer, addressed that question by explaining that the references were actually of her and the writer's own volition.

TV Guide quotes Fey saying, "the references to McDonald's in last night's episode of '30 Rock' were in no way product placement. (Nor were they an attempt at product placement that fell through.) We received no money from the McDonald's Corporation. We were actually a little worried they might sue us," then reiterating, "Seriously, though, it's not product placement." So fans were a bit upset that the real-life brand was worked into the show when they could have made up a franchise instead. But have you seen the episode? It's not exactly off in its message.

"30 Rock" is now streaming on Netflix.