McDonald’s Shows Some Love for Kale

McDonald's kale breakfast bowls
McDonald’s kale breakfast bowls

Just a few months ago McDonald’s was showing no love for kale.

In a TV ad promoting the beefiness of the Big Mac, the chain poked fun at the leafy green and other vegetarian fare: “You can’t get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa,” a low voice quips as the camera focuses on a juicy burger. “Nor will it ever be kale.”

But the chain is now showing it some affection. McDonald’s has announced that it’s testing a new breakfast bowl that blends kale and spinach with turkey sausage and egg whites. McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb says the bowls are “freshly prepared.”

For now, the company is testing the $4 kale bowls in nine locations in Southern California.

So, why kale now? Well, the company promised earlier this month that it was on the path to becoming a “modern, progressive burger company.” And there have been a string of significant changes to the menu from sourcing chickens raised without antibiotics to adding clementines to Kids Meals while in season. “We’re always innovating on McDonald’s food and drinks,” one company spokesperson recently told BloombergBusiness.

But to a lot of observers, the company’s flirtation with kale looks like a move to revive its sales, which have been sliding in the U.S., as we’ve reported.

“I think it is a bit of an about-face, but I think it’s a measured about-face,” says David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University.

McDonald’s is in a tricky spot, Just says. The chain does not want to alienate its hamburger-and-fries lovers. “You don’t want to offend your main customer, right?” says Just.

But, at the same time, he says, “They’ve got to recognize there are a lot of people who really don’t see themselves as the mainline McDonald’s customer at this point, and don’t want that style of food.”

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Allison Aubrey

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