The Real Reason McDonald's Started To Offer Supersizes

"Would you like to supersize that?"

Once a common question asked by McDonald's workers, now at best an archaic joke. It wasn't all that long ago that one could upgrade an already generous portion of fries to something that could probably substitute for a meal all on its own. It was a time when you could order a soda so large you'd probably still be drinking it when you got home from McDonald's. Of course, the fast-food giant wasn't the only one to have that "big food and big deals type of mindset." Wendy's had their "Biggie" options, and Burger King had Whoppers for only 99 cents (via YouTube). As many might recall, the 1980s and 1990s were the Wild West of fast food, as companies were slinging out bigger portions of salty, greasy, and sugar-covered snacks and sodas like no tomorrow. In 2004, Morgan Spurlock's controversial film "Supersize Me" held a mirror to junk food-loving Americans and is widely believed to have been the downfall of all the Supersize and Biggie options as fast-food companies scrambled to save their images. 

But what exactly made McDonald's introduce the Supesize option to begin with? Is it just the love us Americans have for some old-fashioned burgers and fries, no matter what the cost, be it money or health? Or was there another factor in the fast-paced, radical world of the 1990s that inspired McDonald's to go big or go home?

The Supersize option was a summer promo

"Try our new Super Summer Sizes!" harks the paper place mat on your tray (via Facebook). "Our Biggest Ever!" it reads in neon red scrawl, a bit stained from the salt of your fries and the moisture from your ice-cold cup of soda. On the paper, the images of "supersize" fries and soda — larger than the fries and soda you're eating now — are painted above a hopping, busy McDonald's in the middle of summer. For a split second, you find yourself wondering what the harm would be in getting some supersized fries to take home for later.

Introduced in the summer of 1987, McDonald's Supersize option was seemingly meant to just be a summer-only promo. The offer appeared to be so popular that the company extended it longer, even offering Supersize promotions for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (per Newspapers) and "Jurassic Park" (via YouTube). The continuation of the Supersize promo may also have been influenced by the infamous "Burger Wars" of the 1980s and 1990s (via Twisted). McDonald's and longtime rivals Burger King and Wendy's did everything they could to outshine each other, from Wendy's famous "Where's the Beef?" commercials to Burger King parading their flame-grilled burgers over McDonald's. The fast-food chain offering a bigger portion over competitors would surely put them ahead of the game, right?

While the Supersize option isn't around anymore, perhaps one day we'll walk into our local McDonald's and hear that glorious question once again.