TIME russia

Russia Is Closing McDonald’s Restaurants Over Health Violations

The oldest of Moscow's McDonald's outlets, which was opened on Jan. 31, 1990, is closed on Thursday, Aug. 21.
The oldest of Moscow's McDonald's outlets, which was opened on Jan. 31, 1990, is closed on Thursday, Aug. 21. Alexander Zemlianichenko—AP

But the crackdown comes amid tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and the West

Russian regulators are targeting McDonald’s restaurants in a crackdown that authorities say is a matter of food safety.

But the closure of several Russian McDonald’s restaurants and unscheduled checks of several others comes on the heels of tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and Western countries over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Earlier this month, Russian authorities banned a wide array of food imports from the United States, the European Union and several other countries after Western powers enacted economic sanctions against Moscow.

According to Reuters, the Russian state food safety agency temporarily shuttered four restaurants on Wednesday, including the world’s busiest McDonald’s store in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, citing breaches of sanitary rules. On Thursday, the agency said it was conducting checks on other outlets across the country.

The agency has denied that its actions are politically motivated, according to Reuters.

“We are aware of what is going on. We have always been and are now open to any checks,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s in Russia told Reuters. The chain operates 438 restaurants in the country.


MONEY Fast Food

Taco Bell Breathes New Life Into Fast-Food Dollar Menus

Taco Bell exterior
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Monday, the fast food chain unveiled a new "Dollar Cravings" menu, with around a dozen items priced for a buck. For the historically cheap chain, in some cases that actually represents an increase in price.

The new Dollar Cravings menu hit Taco Bell restaurants on Monday, with a total of 11 items—some new to customers, others that have been around a while—priced at a flat $1 apiece. The move comes at a time when other big players in fast food, notably McDonald’s and Wendy’s, have been shifting away from dollar menus toward more value-oriented pricing, with items priced at $2 or even $5, alongside a few options still listed at $1.

What’s especially interesting about the new dollar menu at Taco Bell is that for this extraordinarily low-priced chain, charging $1 for some items actually represents an increase in price. Taco Bell prices can vary depending on location, but according to one independent price tracker online, the chain already had items on the menu for 99¢, like the Crispy Potato Soft Taco, Cinnamon Twists, and the Cheese Roll-up. Cinnamon twists and a slightly different potato taco are now on the dollar menu, meaning they’re actually more expensive (by a penny) than they were before. An order of Cinnabon delights is on the dollar menu for breakfast, but before the “change,” a two-pack of Cinnabons was also listed on menus for $1. That was and still is the price point for a few other Taco Bell breakfast items as well.

The other options on Taco Bell’s new Dollar Cravings menu include the Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla, Beefy Fritos Burrito, Spicy Tostada, Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito, and Triple Layer Nachos. The $1 price point for these items is meant to present a compelling and tempting alternative to options like the McDonald’s Jalapeno Double, a limited-time special offer that has been all over TV commercials lately. It’s part of McDonald’s “Dollar Menu & More” options, and it costs $2. To help you with the math, that’s double the price of, say, a Beefy Fritos Burrito.

But again, let’s put this all in perspective. For historically cheap Taco Bell, known for rolling out burritos for 59¢ and 79¢ during the recession and pricing entire meals for just $2 not long ago, a dollar menu means that many customers might actually pay more (not less) than they used to.

TIME burgers

The Best Burger Joint in the World Is About to Make a Big Change

Loic Lagarde—Getty Images/Flickr Open

The latest in a growing trend

This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By John Kell

Fast-food burger chain Shake Shack is reportedly planning to launch an initial public offering, the latest dining chain angling to give investors something to chew on.

The company’s majority owner, Union Square Hospitality Group LLC, has reportedly interviewed banks in recent weeks to appoint underwriters for the IPO, Reuters reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. Shake Shack, which first opened a kiosk in Madison Square Park in New York City, has restaurants in just four U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as a few locations abroad.

Shares of consumer-focused restaurant and grocery chains often surge on the first day of trading, as investors place a bet on smaller players they hope can one day be the next Chipotle, Whole Foods, or Panera.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Fast Food

Fast-Food Franchise Holders in California Score a Major Legal Win

A McDonald's restaurant sign is seen at a McDonald's restaurant in Del Mar, California
A McDonald's restaurant sign in Del Mar, Calif., on April 16, 2013 Mike Blake/Reuters

Supporters of the SB 610 bill say employees as well as franchisees will benefit

Major fast-food companies — ranging from McDonald’s to 7-Eleven — will find it harder to terminate agreements with their franchise holders after the California state legislature passed the SB 610 bill granting franchisees additional rights.

The proposed law pits industry bodies like the International Franchise Association (IFA) and the California Chamber of Commerce against small businesses as well as labor unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The SEIU argues that the bill’s passage will pave the way for increased wages and benefits for employees, as franchisees no longer have to worry about the threat of contract termination for introducing such benefits.

“Corporate headquarters control nearly every aspect of our business — we can be punished for speaking out or joining with other franchise owners to improve business conditions, and the franchises can even be shut down for arbitrary reasons — as mine was,” said McDonald’s franchisee Kathryn Carter to SEIU California.

Opponents, however, say the bill will negatively affect quality control and consistency — and reiterated their concerns following the assembly’s 41 to 27 yes vote.

In a statement obtained by MSNBC, IFA president and CEO Steve Caldeira criticized language used in the bill: “SB 610, particularly the termination language, is more vague and obscure in its definition than any other state franchise law.”

He added: “This bill without question will undermine franchise growth in California, lead to frivolous, unnecessary and costly litigation, reduced product quality, harm brand integrity.”

The bill’s next stop is California’s senate, where it is expected to pass.

MONEY Fast Food

The Demise of ‘Satisfries’ and the Sad History of Healthy Fast Food

Burger King's much-hyped low-calorie French fries have failed to resonate with customers, which shouldn't come as a surprise given why diners go to places like BK in the first place.

American fast food customers have spoken, and what they essentially have said is that when they’re hungry for French fries, they’re focused on the fries, not calories. The message comes by way of Burger King’s announcement that after months of lackluster sales, its “Satisfries” — introduced last fall as a regular fry alternative with 30% fewer calories and 40% less fat — would disappear from two-thirds of BK’s North American locations. It didn’t help the Satisfries cause that they cost more than regular fries, $1.89 versus $1.59 for a small order.

What’s particularly interesting is that in the same week that Satisfries have more or less been declared a failure, Burger King reintroduced a style of “fries” back to the menu that no one is pretending is health food: Chicken Fries. In both cases, BK is saying that the decision was ultimately made by customers. Diners didn’t order enough Satisfries to keep them on most menus, so they’re gone. And as a press release explained, the return of the “cult favorite menu item” of breaded chicken strip “fries” was “sparked by an overwhelming number of enthusiastic tweets, Change.org petitions, dedicated Tumblr and Facebook pages, and phone calls from devoted fans.”

In other words, Burger King maintains that it’s simply giving diners what they want. Wendy’s spread the same message this week, announcing that the reason its Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger—the biggest success in fast food last year—would now be on the menu permanently is because that’s what customers have demanded. “You said ‘bring it back.’ So we did,” Wendy’s Tweeted earlier this week of the 680-calorie burger. “Then you said “keep it on the menu.” And so it is.

Over the years, consumer groups and nutrition and anti-obesity advocates have pressed fast food giants to add items and tweak menus with a different purpose in mind—to help people to eat better, rather than just satisfy their cravings for grease and salt. The history of healthy (or “better for you”) fast food extends back decades, but probably hit its stride in 2004, when McDonald’s, under pressure after the documentary “Super Size Me,” dumped the super-size upsell option for fries and drinks. The odd celebrification (not a word, but you get the idea) of Jared Fogle, whose 200-pound weight loss supposedly due to dining exclusively on Subway sandwiches was chronicled in years of TV commercials, has permeated the era of fast food chains at least pretending to make genuine efforts to add healthier fare to menus.

The effort to woo more health-conscious diners—or perhaps just to get the health nuts off their backs—continues today. Earlier this year, Dunkin’ Donuts, for instance, significantly expanded its DDSmart menu, adding whole wheat bagels and sliced turkey breakfast sandwiches as alternatives to mainstays like the glazed or Boston Crème. McDonald’s has tried several healthier sides as non-French fry options in its kids’ Happy Meals: Low-fat Go-Gurt was added recently, and Clementines, bananas, and other fruits are being tested starting this fall.

Overall, however, the biggest players in fast food’s attempts at selling healthier options are riddled with more failures than big sales success stories. For example, before trying fruit, McDonald’s had offered baby carrots with Happy Meals, but very few customers went with that option—not even when the carrots were chopped to resemble cartoon characters.

In addition to Satisfries, here are a few other notable failures in the “healthy” fast food movement:

Dairy Queen Breeze: A healthier version of the Blizzard made with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, the Breeze was introduced in 1990 and discontinued in 2000. Too bad it didn’t stick around for the yogurt craze that started a decade later.

McDonald’s McLean Deluxe: Introduced as a “revolutionary” 91% fat free burger in 1991, the McLean was foiled almost immediately when it was revealed to include carrageenan (a.k.a. seaweed) as an ingredient. It was dropped from the menu a few years later, and is now considered one of the biggest McDonald’s flops of all time.

Pizza Hut’s The Natural: The all-natural organic pizza made with multigrain crust sweetened with honey debuted in 2008 and was declared “a big opportunity” by Pizza Hut innovators. But The Natural cost about $1 more than a regular pizza, and it quietly disappeared by 2010.

McDonald’s Fruit and Walnut Salad: Health magazine was a fan, naming this mix of apples, grapes, walnuts, and low-fat yogurt to its list of “America’s Healthiest Mall Food,” but McDonald’s pulled the plug in 2013 after “listening to our customers,” a company spokesperson told Reuters.

What’s particularly interesting about salads is that while virtually every fast food brand feels like they must offer them, greens don’t sell. In 2013, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson told investors that salads only constituted 2% to 3% of U.S. sales, compared to around 14% for dollar menu items.

There are even some who make the argument that McDonald’s shouldn’t waste any energy preparing salads and other healthier options. “McDonald’s is never going to be perceived as healthy, so for them to spend too much time on healthy items doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” one investment analyst explained to the Wall Street Journal last fall.

Sadly, then, the hardcore business advice would be for McDonald’s and the rest of the fast food field to stick with their core business approach by focusing on instantly gratifying greasy fare, calories and fat be damned. Consumers may say they want healthier options, but their actions (and dollars) speak louder than words. Even the addition of calorie counts on menus are shown to not have much impact on what customers order at restaurants. A concept like Satisfries sounds great on paper, but when customers are up at the counter or eyeing the drive-thru menu, the idea of low-calorie anything probably isn’t top of mind. It just doesn’t seem satisfying enough.

TIME Fast Food

Burger King to Phase Out Its Lower-Calorie Fries

Satisfries, a lower calorie and lower fat french fry from the fast food restaurant chain Burger King SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

Satisfries will remain in nearly one-third of its North American restaurants

Burger King has learned a valuable lesson: When it comes to french fries, customers might be more interested in ones made of breaded chicken than they are with a healthier option.

The fast food chain announced in a statement that most of its franchises in North America will phase out the lower-calorie “Satisfries” that was rolled out last September as a limited-time offering. About 2,500 of its 7,400 restaurants have opted to keep the item.

“At launch, Burger King Corporation (BKC) announced that guests would ultimately determine how long SATISFRIES would remain on the menu,” the statement said. “Earlier this week, franchisees in North America were given the option to continue offering SATISFRIES in markets where this game-changing product continues to perform well.”

A small order of Satisfries, which Burger King began automatically adding to kids meals in March, costs 30 cents more than normal fries but has 70 fewer calories. However, the small serving of Satisfries still has more calories—270—than McDonald’s small serving of fries, which has 230 calories and even weighs less.

News of the lower-cal fries’ rollback comes shortly after Burger King’s announcement that it would bring back the cult-favorite Chicken Fries for a limited time due to high customer demand.

TIME Small Business

This Is the Deeply Moving, Almost Unbelievable Story Behind Auntie Anne’s Pretzels

ABC's "Secret Millionaire" - Season Three
Auntie Anne's Pretzels founder, Anne Beiler. Fred Watkins—ABC via Getty Images

Sex, loss, grief, redemption and a Mennonite chicken farmer who made dreams come true

The genesis of most small businesses is filled with some measure of triumph and sacrifice, the natural elements that make up the heroics of entrepreneurship. But few “how I got started” tales are quite as rich as Anne Beiler’s, the woman behind mall staple Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels. Her’s includes devastating personal loss, grief, adversity, an abusive sexual relationship, long odds, achievement and at least one wildcard that appeared in the form of a Mennonite chicken farmer capable of writing million-dollar checks.

Fortune wrote about Beiler’s story last year (behind a paywall). Now, the site has a video (not behind a paywall) in which Beiler talks about how she grew her soft pretzel business from a single store to a worldwide brand with over a thousand locations. Here’s an excerpt from the 2013 story:

I was 19, and my husband, Jonas, was 21 when we married in 1968. We were a happy couple, and my only dream was to be a mom. We had two daughters until my daughter Angela was killed accidentally in 1975 when she was hit by a tractor on our farm. My life turned upside down. My husband and I weren’t able to connect emotionally, and I sought counseling with a pastor outside the Amish-Mennonite community. For six years I stayed in an abusive sexual relationship with that pastor, living in guilt and shame. The pastor’s license was revoked when his behavior with several women came to light. In 1982, when I began a life again with my husband, we were living paycheck to paycheck. My husband was a mechanic, and during our marital crisis he had studied to become a marriage and family counselor. He wanted to offer counseling services for free to our community, and we needed income. So I told him, “You’ve stayed with me despite all that I’ve done. So do what you want to do, and I’ll go to work.”

A friend told me that an Amish-owned store selling pretzels, ice cream, and pizza in the indoor Downingtown, Pa., farmers’ market was for sale. The owners wanted $6,000. I was astounded at the price because those kinds of weekend stores can bring in anywhere from $25,000 to $200,000 a year, depending on the location. We had no money, so we went to my husband’s parents, and they gave us the $6,000.

For anybody even remotely interested in starting their own business (or just reading an unbelievable yarn), it’s worth checking out.

MONEY restaurants

How Taco Bell Is Taking (Secret) Aim at Foodies

Winner Winner, US Taco Co.
U.S. Taco Co. features china plates and a menu that includes lobster, fried chicken, and pulled pork tacos. What you won't find is any branding that connects it to parent Taco Bell. courtesy of US Taco Co.

It will help if they don't actually know that the place where they're dining is run by Taco Bell, or Cinnabon, or another of the cheap, fast, lowbrow chains pushing into the upscale market.

This week, Taco Bell opened up an upscale offshoot called U.S. Taco Co. right off the beach in Huntington Beach, Calif. Thus far, that’s the only location for the new restaurant concept featuring $4-$5 “premium” tacos and an even fancier “One Percenter” lobster taco for $10. But if it proves successful in attracting a critical mass of high-end foodies, we’ll surely see more. When Taco Bell first announced plans for U.S. Taco, Chief Executive Greg Creed told the Orange County Register that he “would love one day to see 1,000 of these” around the country.

It may sound surprising that the restaurant chain best known for dominating the lowbrow, low-price “craversphere” with Doritos Locos tacos, Waffle Tacos, and fast sub-$1 snacks is trying its hand at wooing foodies who’d scoff at the usual Taco Bell fare. But Taco Bell isn’t the only cheap, quick-service chain that’s been dipping its toes into the higher-end market with new restaurant models.

Last summer, KFC (a sibling to Taco Bell, as both are Yum Brands), blurred the fast-fine-casual-quick-serve market by opening KFC eleven, a subdued upscale twist on the original. More recently, Yum began quietly testing a new concept called Super Chix in Texas. In this case, the model, with the braggy slogan “last true chicken sandwich,” is aimed not at Chipotle, Panera Bread, or other fast-casual stars but at KFC’s more upscale, rapidly growing upstart competitor, Chick-fil-A.

Similarly, in mid-September, Cinnabon will begin testing a fancy new bakery concept called the Bon Bake Shop at a mall in Houston. Instead of the usual Cinnabon cinnamon roll, which isn’t even on the menu, customers can select among bite-size treats covered in an array of unique and decadent frosting flavors, such as S’mores, Maple Bacon, Brownie Batter, and Pumpkin Caramel, Businessweek reported.

In some ways, these efforts are simply being used as tests that perhaps will expand the brand a bit—and push core customers to spend a little more. Another example of this is the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen, which opened earlier this summer in Pasadena, Calif., with a tea bar, orange chicken burritos, and other test items you won’t find at the typical food court Panda Express location.

Yet by launching entirely new restaurant brands—seemingly unattached to the original cheap-and-fast model, and, frankly, unburdened by an overt association with it—the companies are hoping to do much more. The goal is to win over entirely new customers, notably the folks who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Taco Bell, KFC, or Cinnabon, or perhaps those who frequent such establishments only as a once-in-a-blue-moon guilty pleasure.

Without knowing any better, you might assume that U.S. Taco would be a direct extension of Taco Bell, following in the footsteps of previous pushes upscale, like when the chain added gourmet-inspired Cantina Bell items to its menus in 2012. Like Cantina Bell, the higher-end U.S. Taco is likely to be seen by the industry as a response to the runaway success story of Chipotle, which with Panera Bread and others have helped make the pricier, higher quality fast-casual restaurant segment flourish at a time when the typical fast food joint has struggled.

Yet Taco Bell is insisting that U.S. Taco is not simply a Taco Bell spin-off, and that it’s not a Chipotle knockoff in any way either. “This is not a Chipotle walk-along,” Creed said in April.

The U.S. Taco concept was cooked up by an “intrepreneurial” team in a “secret war room” at Taco Bell’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif., as Nation’s Restaurant News put it. While much of the fast-casual space is hot on burritos, U.S. Taco will focus on its namesake tacos—with inspiration from American cuisine, as opposed to what Creed described as “Mexican-inspired” Taco Bell (a proposition some might question). The U.S. Taco menu includes thick and spicy steak fries, and tacos with ingredients such as pulled pork, smoked brisket, and fried chicken.

Other U.S. Taco options, such as Papa’s Fritas (steak fry wedges spiced up with habanero dust and served with homemade roasted poblano crema), and Shut Your Pie Hole shakes (vanilla mixed with strawberry pie), are squarely aimed at the hipster-foodie demographic. The décor seems to target this group as well. Despite the distinct American-ness of the menu, the restaurant’s design was given a theme of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, complete with a vibrant skull logo that pops up everywhere.

Originally, the plan was for U.S. Taco to also have craft beer on the menu, but for now at least, customers are limited to specialty craft sodas. The hope is that the average customer will wind up spending $11.50 or $12 at U.S. Taco, with a drink included. Taco Bell’s typical visitor, meanwhile, drops a little over $7, and sometimes a lot less.

TIME Food & Drink

Burger King Is Officially Bringing Back Chicken Fries

Burger King

For a limited time only!

Burger King’s chicken fries are back. We repeat: chicken fries are back. This is not a drill.

Starting today, the fast food chain is again selling the thin, breaded chicken strips served in a French fry-style box. They were originally launched back in 2005, and though they built up quite a cult following, Burger King discontinued them in 2012. Since then, die-hard chicken fry fans have taken to social media to urge the chain to bring the product back. Somebody even created a petition urging President Barack Obama to make this issue a national priority.

And now, Burger King has taken action. (It’s unclear if Obama had anything to do with this, but we’re going to assume he did not.)

For now, though, chicken fries will only be available for a limited time — for just 12 weeks or while supplies last, Bloomberg reports. So if you want to get your hands on some, you should probably act fast.

MONEY Fast Food

Why People Care So Much About McDonald’s One-Minute Drive-Thru Guarantee

McDonald's drive-thru sign
Ace Stock Limited—Alamy

A McDonald's drive-thru promotion in Florida has kickstarted discussions on the treatment of low-wage workers, the quality of food and customer service, and even fast food's effects on health and society in general.

When McDonald’s restaurants in Florida began a limited-time promotion guaranteeing that drive-thru orders would be ready within 60 seconds, it seemed like a pretty interesting development to us. But we had no idea just how interesting others would find it. The response it has generated on the TIME Facebook page has been off the charts.

And it all stems from what seems at first glance like some quick, little article about a limited-time promotion that’s only available at McDonald’s in one state. What gives?

After reviewing hundreds of comments, as well as seeking comment from McDonald’s, low-wage worker activists, and assorted industry observers, here are some theories for why the story received such a huge reaction.

Concern for Low-Wage Workers
The comments section discussion is dominated by a wide range of people—McDonald’s workers, former McDonald’s workers, fast food customers and noncustomers alike—who essentially are worried that McDonald’s employees will be screwed over by such a guarantee. They say that fast food staffers are already overworked and under too much stress, for wages that aren’t nearly up to snuff. There’s “enough pressure right now without having to deal with this,” one commenter who said she is a McDonald’s employee wrote. “They are some of the most mistreated workers in our community,” another commenter wrote of McDonald’s workers. “This is a terrible, terrible idea and I do not support it whatsoever.”

Worker activist groups such as Chicago-based Fight for 15 and New York City’s Fast Food Forward have been campaigning for more than a year to push fast food giants such as McDonald’s to institute a minimum hourly wage of $15. As a Fight for 15 statement explains, “We believe that people who work hard for a living should make enough to support themselves, their families and their neighborhoods—and that workers should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“This is just another example of how McDonald’s is the boss, despite what it says,” reads a statement released to MONEY, credited to Angeling Carter, a 23-year-old McDonald’s worker in Miami who makes $7.93 per hour. “The corporation sets rules and controls just about every aspect of its stores, from drive-thru service speeds to up-to-the-minute reports on labor and sales. If McDonald’s really wanted to improve customer satisfaction, boost their bottom line and help the economy, it would raise workers wages instead of telling franchisees they are paying too much.”

McDonald’s responded to our inquiry by saying it was “great” the post received such a big response on social media. A statement from the company also clarified, “The 60-second guarantee promotion is reinforcing a standard we’ve had for many years regarding timing from the ‘cash’ window to the ‘food present’ window.”

Because there’s been much confusion about what exactly is being guaranteed, let’s reiterate: The timer starts after the customer has placed an order, paid for it, and received a receipt. After that, employees are to deliver the customer’s food within 60 seconds. If they miss the cutoff, the customer does not get his or her order for free. Instead, the customer receives a coupon good for a free sandwich on a future visit to McDonald’s. And again, the 60-second guarantee is a promotion only at McDonald’s in Florida with drive-thrus (approximately 800 restaurants), only Monday to Friday from noon to 1 p.m., and only through August 29.

As for the criticism that the guarantee is unfair to workers, McDonald’s instead characterizes the promotion as “energizing our crew and … entertaining to our guests. Contrary to some of the Facebook comments, the feedback thus far from the crew is that they are having fun with it. They are engaging with customers in a new way and are having some fun camaraderie with each other.”

Concern About Quality and Service
Many commenters took the opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction with McDonald’s drive-thru service even when there is no timed guarantee. “I’ve had to wait at drive thru 10 minutes for a Coke,” one customer chimed in. “The staff employed have no idea how to count change back, poor interpersonal skills, and little to no work ethic.”

When employees are under the gun to get orders ready under a strict time restraint, the assumption made by many is that the service and quality of the food can only get worse. Commenters joked, “Now you can get your wrong order even faster,” and “I’ll take 50 Big Macs and 24 snack wraps. Good luck doing that in 60 seconds.” Others offered more measured, sensible thoughts: “I’d rather have good service and good food by a polite employee than rushed, bad service with a half-cooked burger,” and “Accuracy is better than fast.”

McDonald’s maintains that restaurant accuracy scores “actually improved when this program was tested in Tampa and we’re seeing similar results more broadly thus far.”

Steve Connelly, of the Boston advertising firm Connelly Partners, said via e-mail that the reaction shows how much people care about food quality. “The seesaw between quality and speed, which has for so long leaned towards speed, may be coming back into balance,” he said. “People have finally started to figure out that something worth eating is worth waiting for. In a down economy, food is fuel. When the economy is less dire … food elevates in importance. Dare I say, it may even be worth [waiting] 90 seconds.”

Concern about Society in General
Some received news of McDonald’s limited guarantee as yet another indication that the priorities of our instant-gratification, rush-rush-rush society are way out of whack. “It’s sad when society has gotten to the point where it can’t wait more than 1 minute for something,” one extremely popular comment reads. Another person commented, “increased speed = decreased quality, and if you don’t believe that you’re delusional, and if you don’t care… well that shows you where society puts its priorities.”

Concern That Fast Food Is Ruining the World
When McDonald’s introduced a creepy mascot named Happy recently to consumers in North America, the masses took to Twitter to declare it the stuff of nightmares. And sure, the idea of a Happy Meal come to life with googly eyes and big teeth might be a little scary. But that alone doesn’t explain why so many people felt compelled to bash the Golden Arches.

Connelly, the ad executive, explained at the time that McDonald’s isn’t merely a brand but “a piñata” that some people must poke at every available moment. Likewise, the reaction to the 60-second guarantee shows that, “McDonald’s is a target for everyone,” Connelly explained. “No matter what they do they will be bashed. This is very important to consider here: the people who don’t eat at McDonald’s or who will never admit they eat at McDonald’s will smash them at every available turn for being a bad employer and serving bad-for-you food.”

Indeed, the people who commented on TIME’s Facebook page along the lines of “Eating that timer would be better for you than eating McCrap,” and “now they can kill Americans a little faster than Usual” probably aren’t McDonald’s customers. At least, you’d hope they aren’t.

Concern That Some People Don’t Read Beyond Headlines
Many commenters said the guarantee was absurd because customers sometimes take more than one minute to order, or they don’t have their money ready and therefore take up more time to pay. Others wondered why their local McDonald’s doesn’t have a 60-second drive-thru guarantee. And still others commented something to the effect that they will place a huge order that will be impossible to deliver in 60 seconds, and then come away with all of that food for free.

What all of the comments like these reveal is that some of the commenters didn’t read the story before responding — or at least not very closely. (One commenter who did read the post chastised this group: “Reading comprehension people!”) To clarify again, the 60-second timer starts only after the customer has paid. The guarantee is only in effect in Florida McDonald’s. And if McDonald’s fails to meet the 60-second cutoff, the customer receives a coupon for a free sandwich in the future. You don’t get your current order for free.

But why even bother with this explanation here? The people who didn’t read the initial five-paragraph post probably aren’t reading the end of this much longer story now.

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