McDonald's Is Hoping You Won't Notice This Menu Price Increase

Elected officials come and go, but if there was one thing McDonald's fans could count on, it was the consistency of the fast food chain's dollar drinks promotion, which The Wall Street Journal says managed to endure in spite of the 2008 financial crisis and the economically devastating coronavirus pandemic, which saw an estimated 70,300 food and beverage dining outlets close their doors across the United States, according to The Washington Post.

But even the mighty McDonald's appears to be vulnerable to the effects of inflation, which has soared to 40-year highs, and now several outlets, including WSJ, say McDonald's has quietly done away with its dollar drinks promotion, leaving fans thirsty just as the summer heat is starting to bite.

Signs that the dollar drink promotion has become a thing of the past (at least for now) first appeared on TikTok, per Daily Dot, when a user posted a video along with text, which read: "That depressing moment when you realize dollar drink days are finally ruined by inflation." The clip was viewed 4.3 million times during the week it was posted.

McDonald's franchisees were worried about their costs

The Wall Street Journal says concerns over the dollar drink offer began in late 2021 when McDonald's headquarters told franchisees that food and beverage costs could go up by 10 to 12% a year, or between $106,000 to $124,000 per restaurant. Not only that, but they were also expecting labor costs to increase, and by January of 2022, restaurant owners were allowed to quietly phase out the dollar drink promotion, which simply involves offering customers any drink for $1.

The decision to end the dollar drinks promotion wasn't top-down, because McDonald's actually allowed franchisees to decide whether to advertise its value meals or its dollar drinks. The company also wanted the dollar drink offer to stay put, but consumers have since noticed beverage prices going up for drinks measuring a medium or large. And while some ended the offer almost immediately, others kept it going for as long as they could. As McDonald's tells Insider, "Customers can always count on McDonald's for great value, which remains an important part of our marketing strategy. Franchisees set prices and have the flexibility to create promotions that will drive demand locally."

Social media mourned the loss of the popular promotion

If McDonalds's was hoping changes to its dollar drinks promotion wouldn't attract too much attention, social media has made it clear that hope was futile, with users posting about the change since the middle of June. "Please don't tell me McDonalds got rid of all drinks being 1 dollar!!! Please god don't do this!!!!" one Twitter user wailed.

"Corporate greed finally caught up to @McDonalds dollar drinks," one social media user fumed. "First the dollar tree now @McDonalds large drinks... what has the word come to? Inflation has hit the diet cokes people," another said. The change even impacted McDonald's fans north of the border, as one Canada-based member of the Twitterverse called out to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tweeting, "@JustinTrudeau Mcdonalds dollar drinks are now $1.50, please do something about inflation. How can we let these increases go on?"

Will the chain bring its dollar drinks offer back? The Wall Street Journal quotes one franchisee as saying that "the shift has significantly improved restaurant profits," so we think it might be a while before it comes back — if it comes back at all, that is.