NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: The McDonald's logo is displayed on a restaurant following the firing of their CEO, Steve Easterbrook on November 4, 2019 in New York City. Easterbrook stated "This was a mistake," after he engaged in a consensual relationship with an employee that violated company policy.

McDonald’s plans to phase out their self-serve soda fountains by the year 2032. They want to get rid of these fountains due to hygiene concerns, theft, and poor customer habits. Free refills will still be served, instead of grabbing it yourself, machines will be replaced by staff-operated systems. I ask myself why any of the fast food restaurants even have dining rooms at all. I never see anyone sitting inside the building. It’s probably 80/20 for drive-through to dine in nowadays anyway.

The most significant reason behind the soda machine move is hygiene.

As we all know, soda fountains can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. With so many people using the machine each day, it can be difficult to maintain the cleanliness of it. By eliminating this feature altogether, McDonald’s can ensure that their dining areas are safer and more hygienic for customers.

Another reason behind this decision is theft. Self-serve soda fountains are definitely difficult to control, and it’s not uncommon for customers to take advantage of the “unlimited refills” policy or when they just ask for a water cup and fill it with soda. This would lead to a loss¬† in profits for McDonald’s I would assume. By replacing self-serve machines with staff-operated ones, McDonald’s can better monitor their soda dispensing.

If someone wants another refill they may think twice if they have to get in line to ask for someone to do it for them.

McDonald’s decision to phase out self-serve soda fountains is a significant one that could have far-reaching implications for the future of fast-food service. While this move may disappoint some of the chain’s loyal customers, it is ultimately a necessary one to ensure the cleanliness and profitability of their restaurants.¬† I feel like this may not be the last difference fast food places make post-pandemic and with the world constantly changing with AI and robots.


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