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McDonald's 'Monopoly' game trades on high-stakes carbs

 by Tim Agne
 published on Tuesday, October 14, 2003



In the world of value-priced, super-sized, diabetes- and/or heart-attack-causing fast food combos, major change is cooking.

Fast food companies have begun to amend their menus to accommodate health-conscious people, specifically those on the low-carb Atkins diet.

At the same time, however, McDonald's is launching a promotion that will have people chowing down on more carbs than ever.

Though a few class action lawsuits against fast food corporations for making people fat failed in court, the companies are approaching the obesity problem with their own solutions.

The fast food industry realized it could make more money by catering to calorie-counting yuppies, as well as the usual slobs.

Subway started making commercials with Jared, a fat man who lost a ridiculous amount of weight while frequenting the sandwich chain. Wendy's and McDonald's launched lines of deluxe salads that are healthy and, at the same time, substantial enough to count as a complete meal for the average woman.

While those were big triumphs for wannabe healthy folks, the biggest overhauls are just beginning. This month, companies are beginning to cater to the Atkins crowd.

The Atkins diet, as I understand it, means you can eat as much fat, cholesterol and protein as you want - as long as you live in fear of carbohydrates, which formerly were the main source of calories in the standard American diet.

Atkins means switching from Jolt Cola to Diet Coke. It means drinking Michelob Ultra instead of Guinness. It means you order the Jack in the Box

Ultimate Cheeseburger with no bun, no matter what Jack says about it. Atkins means no more snacks of Pixie Sticks and sugar cubes.

And, for a handful of test market Blimpie restaurants in New York, it means menu options like roast beef with cheddar and wasabi on a multigrain roll, SoBe Lean, and Atkins brand low-carb chips, Reuters reported. Astonishingly, that doesn't sound too bad, assuming the chips don't suck.

Here comes the really amazing news: After overhauling its lovably classic ad style by setting new commercials to Justin Timberlake songs, McDonald's began test marketing new diet menu options this week in New York, too. The menu offers low-calorie, low-carb and low-fat options.

Ronald McDonald, a company spokesclown, said the menu will change the face of fast food.

"I guarantee that within a short time, the Grimace will lose way more weight than that Jared guy," McDonald said. When the Grimace complained he wanted to stick to his diet of milk shakes and McGriddles, Ronald replied, "Cry me a river, fatty." He has since traded in his big red shoes for all-white Air Force Ones la Timberlake.

For those of us who don't live in New York, McDonald's still has some exciting news. Monopoly is back, and it's better than ever.

As of today, you can get two Monopoly game pieces on hash browns, medium, large and super-sized fries, and large and super-sized drinks. Like always, you can win instantly or by collecting all the properties of one color to form a monopoly. Last time, I was just one piece away from one million bucks.

In the true spirit of the classic board game, McDonald's has introduced a "Chance" game piece that comes only on large and super-sized fries. The "Chance" guarantees Best Buy cash of $1, $5 or $10. You could win up to $5,000 in Best Buy gift certificates.

I live for Best Buy. Unfortunately, I have spent more money on DVDs than on books in college, and my parents are ready to disown me.

The newest version of the Monopoly game at McDonald's is the perfect loophole. I will not hesitate to eat 15 large boxes of fries so I can buy "The Matrix: Reloaded" on DVD.

But this is a problem. I can get Monopoly game pieces only on the highest-carb food available. Sodas are pure, carbonated carbs. Fries and hash browns are carbs dipped in hot fat.

Suddenly, the new healthier choice is not an option - it's a luxury for those who can afford new DVDs.

McDonald's and other restaurants may be making some progress toward healthiness, but they always will be pimping the junk food.

Tim Agne is a journalism senior. Reach him at McDonald's or at

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