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McDonald’s “Hugo” vs. TGI Friday’s “Right Size” Menu

Posted on | July 23, 2007 | No Comments

There’s a war going on in America’s fast-food nation, and consumers will determine who wins. In several recent Health Politics programs and in some previous blogs, I’ve outlined the origins of “super sizing” and our corn-based diet, and I’ve discussed the courageous efforts of TGI Friday’s CEO to bring sanity to portion sizing.

Well, this weekend, I tried out one of TGI Friday’s “right size” offerings — chicken parmesan on angel hair pasta. My review — tasted great, perfect amount of food, and a 30% savings to my wallet. Good news on all sides, and reports of early financials show it may make economic sense for the company, too.

Then came the counterbalance — the birth of “Hugo” — McDonald’s new 410-calorie, 42-ounce drink for 89 cents. Hugo ads are out there in multiple languages, reaching out to the poor and to diverse populations with disproportionate rates of disabling childhood obesity.

As I read about this in yesterday’s New York Times, I just couldn’t quite grasp why the chain would introduce such a thing, especially after it received such bad press after the “Super Size Me” movie. That year, 2004, McDonald’s immediately dropped the Supersize name and began offering healthier options and smaller portion sizes. With some other image improvements, it’s been on a roll ever since then.

So what’s the deal with Hugo? Time to send another message to McDonald’s?

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