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Premium Salads
The Salad That Failed

Not everything green has been gold for McDonald's. The McSalad Shaker, introduced by the company in 2000, was served in a tall, clear cup with a domed lid. It was hailed as "innovative" and "convenient," allowing customers to pour on their choice of dressing and shake it up to spread the dressing evenly throughout. But customers didn't respond, and the item was removed from the menu.

OK, before you fall over laughing -- salads on a McDonald's most-popular list? -- consider the history of the company's premium salad menu, which includes a Southwest salad, a bacon ranch salad and a Caesar salad. First, McDonald's decided to up the ante on quality. Instead of starting with iceberg lettuce, meal planners and developers decided on a blend of 16 lettuces. When these higher-quality salads hit the market in 2003, consumers interested in healthier fare responded enthusiastically. The fast-food chain has moved more than 500 million premium salads since 2003, equating to more than 900 million servings of fruits and vegetables [source: Greenspan].

Perhaps more important, McDonald's sells its salads at a premium. A typical salad retails for $4.20 on average. Compare that to a Big Mac, which sells for $2.89. Since the company added salads to the menu, average check totals have increased by 5 percent. On a $10 order, that's only 50 cents. But when you multiply that by 31,000 restaurants and millions of customers around the world, even a tiny margin adds up. Such scale also explains why McDonald's has become the world's single biggest seller of salads in just a couple of years [source: Wallop].

Up next: What kind of sauce would you like with those?

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