Your Next McDonald's Order Might Come On A Tray Instead Of In A Bag. Here's Why

Remember the good ol' days, when the entrance to McDonald's dining room wasn't locked, you looked the employee in the eye when you placed your order, and your Big Mac, fries, and drink were arrayed nicely on a plastic tray for you to take to your table? As the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on, you may have thought those days were gone for good. But we're finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which might be the oncoming delta variant speeding in our direction. Nevertheless, as America marches arm in arm toward normalcy (some of those arms more vaccinated than others), McDonald's customers in some parts of the country are starting to enjoy the dine-in experience once again.

Employees, however, are still packing meals in a bag — even "for here" meals — rather than setting them on a tray, according to The Wall Street Journal. As a result, McDonald's is dealing with yet another pandemic-related supply chain problem. One month, restaurants are running out of ketchup packets, as The Wall Street Journal reported in a separate article in April. Now, the nation's paper bag supply appears to be running low. McDonald's restaurants are using even more to-go bags than they did last year, when dining rooms were closed pretty much everywhere and customers flocked to the drive-thru to get their fast food fix. From July 1, 2020 to June 30 of this year, 81% of all restaurant business was to-go.

To-go bags may be running low, but McDonald's says it won't run out

It seems that pandemic habits die hard for both customers and employees at McDonald's. The Wall Street Journal reports that customers ordering in are still asking for their food in bags. As The Takeout suggests, customers may be avoiding trays these days for fear they might carry germs. Some of the newer McDonald's employees have never had to deal with trays before and are slow to pick them up, a message from the corporate office to restaurant owners said.

The paper-bag shortage isn't at a crisis level. McDonald's corporate is asking individual owners to limit their to-go bag orders and to pass the word on to employees to use trays instead of bags with customers who are dining in. "We are confident customers should not see disruption," the chain said. "We will continue to watch closely."

McDonald's is also asking restaurant owners to go light on their orders for new straws. Straw deliveries to restaurants may be limited for two months because one of McDonald's straw suppliers is having trouble keeping up with demand, according to The Wall Street Journal. The straw maker is facing disruptions from the West Coast wildfires, a lack of resin to make the plastic, and not enough workers. As with the bags, however, McDonald's says customers should still be able to get their straws.