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A nearly $18 Big Mac meal is creating a stir on social media

In 1972, you could purchase a Big Mac for just $0.65.
A McDonald's Big Mac meal.
Posted at 1:45 PM, Jul 31, 2023

The magic of McDonald’s? You always know what you’re going to get. No matter which one you walk into — whether in Islip, New York, or Istanbul, Turkey — you can order a Big Mac and fries. And it will taste the same.

But will it cost the same? No.

Recently, a man named Sam Learner was traveling on the Connecticut Turnpike when he discovered just how variable the prices can be. After pulling into a rest stop in Darien, Connecticut, he was astounded by the prices he saw on the McDonald’s menu. A Big Mac combo meal with fries and a soft drink costs $17.59. So he snapped a photo and posted it on social media.

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Why so expensive? Since about 90% of McDonald’s franchises are independently operated, the owners can set their own prices. If you own a McDonald’s at a rest stop along a highway (where people are hungry and in unfamiliar territory), you can charge more for the same product. And franchise owners in areas with a high per-capita income also tend to charge higher prices.

Learner did some more sleuthing and quickly followed his post up with a second one, including a link to a site that tracks the cost of a Big Mac at various locations across the U.S.

Unsurprisingly, Learner’s posts sparked lively debate about the economics of fast food.  

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“I downloaded the Mcdonald’s app to check – same items are just about half the price less than 2 miles away at a different store,” commented Bad Gibbon @Mostlymonkey. “Wow, that is a hell of a convenience premium!” 

Many people commented on the injustice of price gouging, with others urging people not to eat at McDonald’s anymore. 

“Rest stops are literally highway robbery,” wrote Bella @imbellawonder

But possibly the most depressing response came from @ednycinc44 on Twitter, who shared what McDonald’s prices were in 1972, when a Big Mac cost just $0.65 cents. "Those were the days," the user said.

This story was originally published by Jennifer Graham Kizer at Simplemost.com.