Tuesday, June 8, 2010

McDonald's Steps Up Their Style: New Product Preview Day! [New York]

By: Anne M. Raso

When I heard that the press was being offered the exclusive opportunity to enjoy some of the newest "tastes" of McDonald’s at an private premiere on Wednesday at 1188 Avenue of the Americas (McD's state-of-the-art three story store in the Diamond District), I could not resist. On hand at the event were Danielle Paris (McDonald's Director Of Menu Innovation) and Chef Dan Coudreaut (McDonald's Executive Chef), two food talents who have been helping the brand "step up" in the foodie community by making finer and trendier fare available on the fast food level. The Mickey D's marketing and PR folks have sure been working overtime to make their "food forward" dreams come true - as you may recall, they sponsored a McCafé booth at the September 2009 New York Fashion Week!

At the June 2nd event, The McD-ers wanted to make press aware of their soon-to-be released national products - and they even threw in some non-food temptations for us workday-weary media folks. The Mickey D's team provided complementary 10-minutes massage and had manicure stations while the inventors of the two new taste sensations took interviews. Attendees were also gifted with yoga mats, McArch gift cards, and ceramic McDonald's logo-ed hot and cold cups to continue the relaxation at home.
Passed around on trays were Mickey D's two newest offerings: the McCafé Real Fruit Smoothies & Frappés and Angus Snack Wraps. The Frappés, in Mocha and Caramel, are the two newest items in the McCafé espresso-based beverage line, and the Smoothies are a totally new line (the two flavors are Strawberry Banana and Wild Berry - a puree of blueberries, strawberries and blackberries). The Angus Snack wraps are available three ways: Deluxe (lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, American cheese, mayo, mustard); Bacon & Cheese (onions, pickles, American cheese, ketchup, mustard, a strip of bacon); and Mushroom & Swiss (sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, mayo).
I slurpped down small portions of all the flavors of the fruit smoothies and frappes - and my honest opinion? My top honors go to the Wild Berry Smoothie and the Caramel Frappe.
Both the Frappés and Smoothies are worthy rivals to competitors (I'm looking at you Starbucks) who charge twice as much for the same portion (yes, I am being totally honest here)! As for the Angus snack wrap, it's a good deal for two bucks, but it is basically the Angus burger cut in two and put in a wrap instead of a bun. Therefore, I recommend it mainly to someone who wants a cheaper alternative to the Angus on the regular menu and/or a smaller portion to keep the calories in check. Also, the Angus meat is McD's best, but I wish there was a  choice other than well-done.
My overall rating on the taste and price of the Smoothies and Frappés is an A due to the fact that they taste like you just whipped them up in your blender at home. I give a B to B- to the Angus wrap just because it didn't taste much different from the standard burger fare on McD's usual menu. One day, I'd hope to see a fancier version the Angus Wrap with say - a few slices of avocado, salsa, olives, and more luxurious cheeses (even if I have to pay a buck or two more)!

[Photos: spa - Anne M. Raso, all others - McDonald's Corp.]

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