McDonald’s soda has a reputation for being reliably cold and crisp.
The restaurant’s Sprite, in particular, is known for being “undefeated” and so electrically crisp that some fans joke it could charge their phone.
“I spilled McDonald’s Sprite on my phone 6 months ago and I haven’t had to charge it since,” one fan joked on X.
“Dropped My Phone In McDonalds Sprite, & IT Started Charging,” another quipped.
I spilled mcdonalds sprite on my phone 6 months ago and I haven’t had to charge it since
— Brady (@pebbut) September 4, 2019
Dropped My Phone In McDonalds Sprite , & IT Started Charging
— AllDayJokess (@Alldayjokess) September 29, 2020
So, is the soda at McDonald’s actually different? And why does it taste so good?
Is the Coke from McDonald’s different?
No. The Coke products served at McDonald’s have the same recipe sold everywhere, but McDonald’s claims to closely follow Coca-Cola guidelines for optimum flavor while employing a few more tricks to enhance flavor.
“There are many reasons the Coca-Cola tastes so great at McDonald’s. We simply follow the guidelines set by Coca-Cola and take steps to ensure that we serve a high-quality fountain beverage,” per the official McDonald’s site.
“The water and Coca-Cola syrup are pre-chilled before entering our fountain dispensers with the ratio of syrup set to allow for ice to melt. We also keep our fountain beverage system cold so your drink is always refreshing. In order to ensure our drinks are always meeting a gold standard, we filter all the water before it enters fountain dispensers.”
An insulated tube runs to the soda fountain, keeping filtered water and soda syrup consistently at a chilled temperature, reports AllRecipes. These cold temperatures aid in maintaining high levels of carbon dioxide — so your drink stays bubbly and crisp for longer.
McDonald’s also provides slightly wider straws, a trick it claims delivers more flavor to the consumer.
“There’s also our straw — it’s slightly wider than a typical straw so all that Coke taste can hit your taste buds.”
McDonald’s longstanding relationship with Coca-Cola
For nearly eight decades, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have fostered a symbiotic business relationship. The companies’ relationship dates back to 1955, when Ray Kroc — the man credited with franchising McDonald’s — began searching for a beverage distributor, reports The New York Times. McDonald’s remains Coke’s largest restaurant distributor.
“Those two companies helped each other grow and expand around the globe,” Dick Starmann, a confidant of Kroc’s, told The New York Times. “Neither one would be what they are today without the other.”
“When you’d ask Coca-Cola in what countries it had the biggest sales, it would say something like the United States, Japan, Germany and McDonald’s — and in that order,” Starmann said. “It was kind of funny but it was true.”
Due to their longstanding relationship, McDonald’s receives Coke syrup in stainless steel tanks, ensuring the flavors stay fresh, as reported by The New York Times. Syrup is delivered to other restaurants in plastic bags, which do not maintain freshness as effectively. Many people credit the stainless steal tanks for McDonald’s “better” soda taste.
Is McDonald’s getting rid of self-serve soda?
Yes. The fast-food chain revealed in September it will gradually eliminate self-serve stations from its restaurants, per The Associated Press. Self-serve stations will be completely wiped from the chain by 2032.
According to a statement McDonald’s shared with AP, the goal is to create a consistent dining experience for drive-thru, delivery and dine-in customers.
Are sodas still $1 at McDonald’s?
No. McDonald’s began phasing out the any-drink-for-$1 deal in 2022 and quietly raised its drink prices amid growing inflation, reported The Wall Street Journal. Sodas from the restaurant currently cost roughly $1.98 and up.
“Customers can always count on McDonald’s for great value, which remains an important part of our marketing strategy,” McDonald’s told Business Insider in 2022. “Franchisees set prices and have the flexibility to create promotions that will drive demand locally.”