It’s no secret that Panera’s (NASDAQ:PNRA) ”Secret Menu” isn’t much of a secret anymore, but what is surprising is that McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) actually has one, too. Unlike Panera, there has been no mention of a physical menu that McDonald’s consumers can request to see when they go up to the cash register, but Secret Menu-holic still posted a slew of secret burgers, sandwiches, desserts, and breakfast items recently that customers can now order from cashiers, even if the items don’t appear on the chain’s marketed menu.
McDonald’s menu has definitely undergone many revisions as of late (RIP, Dollar Menu), but this is the first time the chain has worked to actually keep some of its menu offerings a secret. It’s hard to understand the exact logic behind such a secret menu that is not ever published or even confirmed, but a quick perusal of some of its offerings help elucidate why McDonald’s might be willing to make certain meals for a limited number of consumers, but (hopefully) not for everyone.
Take the “Poor Man’s Big Mac” for example. This burger tops Secret Menu-holic’s list of secret menu Items that it believes the chain’s employees will make if you ask them to. The Poor Man’s Big Mac is essentially a way to get your favorite Big Mac, but avoid its high price. To order the burger, a consumer should order a McDouble but remove the ketchup and pickles, asking instead for extra onions, lettuce, and a Big Mac Sauce. This puts a Big Mac lookalike in a hungry consumer’s hands but keeps his money in his pocket. Now do you see why this isn’t exactly the most lucrative sales strategy for McDonald’s? Many of the items on McDonald’s Secret Menus involve price shortcuts, and the company recognizes that these cuts can add up all too fast. McDonald’s is willing to make the exclusive items for the rare few who request them, but the chain’s employees might act differently if more and more consumers start requesting them.