Why A McDonald's Straw Change Had Fishermen Complaining

Long before life hacks were even a thing, fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico were doing it anyway. According to Mental Floss, prior to 1984, many of these essential workers opted out of using pricey lures and instead tweaked an iconic fast food utensil — the McDonald's straw.

The early 1980s wasn't just known for epic music, neon colors, and the Cold War. McDonald's was the dominant fast food chain of the decade, and just thinking about their trademark red-and-yellow striped straw on a white background makes any Gen Xer want to pull up those tube socks and ride around on a bike with handlebar tassels. The straws are an iconic symbol of nostalgia for the bygone era.

But it turns out that those colored straws were good for more than just sipping soda. In fact, fishermen of the era in Pensacola rigged them into excellent fishing lures for catching Spanish mackerel, according to the Gainesville Sun. They were none too pleased when the brand switched up the colors of the straw to brown and yellow. To put it in McDonald's terms, the fishermen were not "lovin' it."

Why the old McDonald's straw was so effective

The old-school straw lures allegedly caught five times as many Spanish mackerel as other lures, Mental Floss says. The fact that up to three lures could be made from only one straw clearly made it a very cost-effective way to catch fish. Sadly, the redesigned straws didn't fool those mackerels, which distressed the fishermen.

To make a Spanish mackerel lure, the fishermen would cut the straws into three-inch pieces. Then, they'd run the fishing line through the straw and stick a hook on the end. Per the Gainesville Sun, a lure "gurgles and bubbles and attracts" the fish. The workers also theorized that color played a role because, "other straws just don't work as well, if at all." Whether or not McDonald's sympathized with the fishermen's plight, the chain didn't change the straw color back and instead suggested the Big Mac as an alternative. To this, one fisherman implied that Burger King could earn their business by producing straws in the old McDonald's color scheme. "Have it our way, please," said outdoorsman Colin Moore.

So, if you've ever wondered about any changes in Spanish mackerel availability around 1985, you might be able to point to a change in McDonald's straws.