New data shows fewer millennials are now dining out at McDonalds. The Wall St. Journal reports the percentage of people age 19 to 21 in the U.S. who visited McDonald's monthly has fallen by 12.9 percentage points since the beginning of 2011, according to Technomic, while the percentage of customers age 22 to 37 visiting monthly during that period has been flat.To be honest, the news doesn't shock me. As someone who was instructed to watch "Super Size Me" as part of her 8th grade health education, I thought everyone knew this kind of food was not only unhealthy, but to be avoided at all costs. When Stuart asked my co-workers Cristine, Kaitlynn and me to join him on set to explain our generation's preferences, I thought I would be echoing an opinion a growing majority of American hold: fast food is evil, and McDonalds is the main culprit.
Instead, we received numerous comments saying ‘we had no idea what we were talking about' and challenging many of the statements we made about wanting to be able to see our food being cooked as it was prepared. Don't get me wrong, I see where the viewers are coming from, and yes, to some degree, they do have a point that we would not rush into the kitchen when we dine out at traditional sit-down restaurants. However, I believe that putting McDonalds and a sit-down restaurant in the same category is comparing apples and oranges. So let me take the chance now to give you my side of the story in response to your criticism.
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When I go out to a traditional restaurant, you could say I have a bit more confidence in the chef preparing the meal and the ingredients he or she will be using. Meals at a restaurant often take 10-15 minutes to prepare; burgers at fast-casual places like Five Guys and Shake Shack here in New York often take about 5-6 minutes to complete. A meal at McDonalds: often one minute or less. I am sorry, but if it only takes a minute to make a burger, there is no way it can be good for me. I know it's cheap, and yes it is fast, but my health is more important to me than saving a minute or two of my time at a fast food counter. It also probably doesn't help that there are videos floating around YouTube showing how their hamburgers react to your stomach when they are being digested. But for all I know, that could just be one big anti-McDonalds propaganda.
Even though I may be down on the Golden Arches, I wouldn't say the decline is all McDonald's fault. In today's day and age, young people are more health conscious than in past generations. We want our frozen yogurt rather than our ice cream, and we want our kale over our juicy McDonald's hamburgers. All of the fast food chains are fighting an uphill battle when trying to market and make their money off of a group of people who are striving to look like the supermodels on the cover of the major fashion magazines. They may try to redo their menus and offer us "the healthier option" but if you take a closer look at the nutritional info on their salads, you might as well just eat a burger with the same amount of calories.
But who am I to judge? I am simply a 23-year-old millennial member of Varney & Company. I live at home with Mom & Dad, and I have made the decision to abstain from eating McDonald's. I realize that there are many other 23-year-olds who may call me crazy, and I respect their decision to consume what I consider to be "manufactured meat." I never wanted to make it seem like it was my way or the highway when it comes to opinions on McDonalds, but I will say that when I told my millennial friends I was talking about this topic on "Varney & Company", they all shared with me their own "McDonalds horror stories." The millennials have spoken; you be the judge.