We all love our apple pie. The thought of warm apple filling and a crisp tender crust gets the mouth watering. McDonald’s sure knows how to tap into that Pavlovian apple pie psyche. “Would you like an apple pie with that” sounds real tempting, but did you know there are secrets behind making this item so pielicious? Sit back and grab a slice while we go through 10 McDonald’s secrets that makes their apple pie much more interesting than it looks.
10. Variety is the spice for life
McDonald’s apple pie goes back to as early as 1968 and is a menu classic. It is the first ever dessert item to dot the menu of the fast food chain, way before hot fudge sundaes or McFlurrys. Over the years the pie has come in different sizes, shapes, appearances and even tastes. And it seems that no matter the changes, people continue to order the delicious apple pie at Mickey D’s. So what makes the McDonald’s apple pie different from the rest? I mean all you gotta do is throw a bunch of apples together and then put them in a pie crust and go from there. Easy right? Well the fast food chain would disagree with that, as it makes their pie with its own style and motif. It’s no big secret, but the McDonalds apple pie is comprised of six different types of apples to make it look and taste so good. Rome, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Gala, Ida Red and Fuji are part of the ingredients that make up the pie. This is the secret to getting the right taste: the blend and varieties of apples used. So if you do plan to make a pie at home trying to replicate that distinct McDonald’s flavor, just keep in mind that no one kind of apple is going to give you the results you’re looking for. You would probably have to have your very own orchard or a heap of different apples to replicate what the chain does.
9. Changes for better, or worse?
In order to keep on top of their game, popular chains make changes to keep relevant and stay ahead of the competition. This often involves changing or updating their menu options. So as consumers started to look for healthier options when it came to fast food, restaurants had to adapt. Not wanting to fall behind, McDonalds jumped on the bandwagon. One classic item to get a makeover was the apple pie. Back in the day, some people might remember the pie used to be fried with a crispy, flaky crust. But that changed in the 90s, as people became more health conscious. As a result, instead of frying, the chain started baking the pie instead. Recently in 2018, it again decided to revamp its menu and its apple pie as well. The new pie is now made using fewer ingredients. A pastry style crust and a sugar coating is part of the new appearance. Although this change is an attempt to endorse healthy eating, not everyone likes the new version. Some changes may go unnoticed, but in this case, it has not gone over well with Mickey D’s hardcore sweet tooths and who were familiar with the earlier iteration of the pie. The outcome? Lots of rage on social media, because isn’t that what the internet is for? The apple pie makeover has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, which makes one wonder, is the next makeover going to please the fans or will they bring out the torches and pitchforks? Whatever the case, it will be up to the chains’ PR department to extinguish the fire.
8. Why does Mickey D’s apple pie taste so good?
We all know that apples are a must when making apple pie. Pretty self-explanatory after all, I mean it is right there in the name. Besides the usual sugar and a touch of cinnamon, what else could be added to make the McD’s version so delicious? It’s said that McDonald’s uses dehydrated apple powder to keep the filling together. The apple powder soaks up the liquid discharged when the apples are cooked and what you end up with is an extra apple flavor punch when you sink your teeth in. Other food chains use more common thickening agents to hold everything together within the pie, but McDonald’s does its own thing to make the pie as delicious as possible. Getting more apple essence with every bite, only makes those rectangular treats taste all the better.
7. Mom’s original recipe and the rise of the fried apple pie
In the 1960s Ray Kroc, who was an integral part of McDonald’s rapid expansion and franchising process, was busy scratching his head trying to come up with a dessert idea that would be a guaranteed success story. After all, his cheeseburgers and fries were roping in the customers. After many short lived experiments in the dessert department and looking for inspiration, Kroc asked for ideas from other McDonald’s franchise owners. Desperate times called for desperate measures after all, and one of the owners from Tennessee asked his mother about the apple pie she used to make for him, when he was a kid. Litton Cochran loved his mom’s apple pie so much, that he hired his mother and his sister to handle the dessert selections of his Knoxville McDonald’s. Like Cochran, customers quickly became fans of the apple pie recipe and eventually, Kroc had a classic dessert item to roll out nationwide. It was officially added to the menu of select McDonald’s in 1968 and from there it spread across the whole United States by the early 70s. If it wasn’t for one franchise owner’s mom, who knows if the McD apple pie would even exist as does today. If things didn’t work out the way they did, we could’ve been talking about the famous McDonald’s oatmeal cookie instead. We’re glad that pie thing worked out.
6. Floating in the black market
Who would have thought something as delectable and harmless as an apple pie would become a hot commodity on the black market. It’s common practice for certain items to pop up from behind closed doors once they have been shelved for good or have become extremely valuable in nature. Alcohol, toys, artifacts, comic books and so on, are part of a never ending list of things you can buy via non traditional means. One thing that you would not expect to buy anywhere else other than McDonald’s would be their apple pie. So imagine the surprise of Eric Greenspan, a chef who came across the famous pie for sale at a food convention. He had stumbled upon a salesman that apparently had contact with a vendor who was providing the pies to McDonald’s before the recipe change. Greenspan saw an opportunity and couldn’t miss out. A deal was done, he had the pies shipped to L.A. With the golden crispy pies in his possession, he sold them as “Throwback apple pie” for 3 bucks. I wonder how many were sold – and how many were eaten by Greenspan. This sounds like a great find, but for most of us, all we can do is hope to find another food convention in a shady place and wait for the right person to come out of the shadows and say “pssst, wanna buy some pies?”. If something as normal and unassuming as a pie can be found on the black market, who knows what could turn up next. Big Macs?
5. The apple pie and its siblings
The dessert menu is not just limited to a single apple pie at McDonald’s. The fast food giant has dabbled with other types of pies as well, experimenting and keeping the menu interesting. For instance, after the release of the apple pie, the cherry pie also became part of the menu and is still served in select locations. Like its cousin, this pie was also fried rather than baked. Then there’s the pumpkin pie which has seen a few different variations and has been served as a limited edition item. During the holiday season, McDonald’s comes up with holiday pies and there are even some which come with a vanilla custard filling with sprinkles on top. To complement the holiday vibe, the crust is like a sugar cookie. Some other pie flavors that have made appearances include pineapple, blueberry, and strawberry. All of them have come and gone, changing with the seasons and special offers. But the one pie that has stood the test of time and has been a permanent resident of the Mickey D’s pie family is the one and only, apple pie. Due to its success as a staple dessert, doppelgangers have hit other chains like Burger King, Taco Bell and Arby’s. Dutch apple pies, caramel apple empanadas and apple turnovers are some of the competitions’ attempts at trying to capitalize on McDonald’s prized possession. This was bound to happen as the cutthroat fast food business has no mercy, not even for apple pies. While the copycats keep trying, Mickey D’s famous pie remains the king of the hill, at least for now.
4. Its vegan and we like it
Vegan friendly is not usually the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about McDonald’s. But recently, the chain has managed to make some changes in that department to attract vegan customers. The apple pie is one those items. As part of a vegan menu, it doesn’t get any tastier than that. While the salads and drinks are considered vegan friendly, neither can compare with the deliciousness of the classic apple pie. The ingredients used in making the pie are animal product free and comprise of cinnamon, sugar, palm oil, flour, salt and apples off course. But the same thing cannot be said for the pies being sold by the competition as they are not animal by-product free. Most of them contain milk and butter and that is a red flag for any vegan customer. This also makes the pie perfect for someone with dairy intolerances, and a great dessert option for those who are allergic to eggs -no eggs here! Even though options are still limited for vegans, as time passes by, hopefully more items will get added. But for now, we should be glad that the apple pie is here to save the day and our taste buds.
3. The touch of globalization
The international market for popular US brands is massive and chains like KFC, Burger King, and so on have established themselves in many different countries, other than the USA. When we look at McDonald’s, they have roots in more than 100 countries. This fast food chain, like many others, has tailored their international menu according to the local tastes and culture of these countries. Because of these differences, paying a visit to one of these locations becomes a lot more interesting than a typical trip to your local McDonald’s in the United States. Like many other items on the international menu, the pies also get a makeover from region to region. For instance in Malaysia and South Korea, there is the corn pie, which is a mix of corn and custard. If that doesn’t raise your eyebrows, then how about the fried taro pie available in China with its main ingredient being the taro plant. Word is, that this pie flavor is also available at locations in Hawaii. And at a McDonald’s in the Ukraine, they have a ginger plum pie in store for you, while Japan Mickey D’s serves up a bacon potato pie, which is a combination of bacon, potato and onions. For all those who love their bananas, locations in Brazil offer the banana pie. Thai McDonald’s serves both the pineapple and corn pies. If you like to improvise and want to be adventurous with your food by adding toppings, never fear. Hong Kong locations give you the option of adding chocolate or strawberry toppings to your apple pie. When visiting a McDonald’s restaurant abroad, an exotic touch will be found in the variety of pies served. If you’re tired of the traditional baked apple pie and want to taste something new, a trip overseas is all you need to get the taste of these exotic pie flavors. For a true pie connoisseur, what’s the cost of airfare when it comes to satisfying your tastebuds.
2. The nightmare of McDonald Land
Back in the 1970s, there was McDonald Land. A fictional place where Ronald McDonald and his cast of mascot friends could eat hamburgers and fries. Today the restaurant has the happy meal to attract kids, but back then, McDonald’s marketing campaigns centred around the fictional setting of McDonald Land. The advertisements featured characters like Officer Big Mac, Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar to name a few. Then there were the apple pie trees featured in the commercials. With giant bulging eyes and a creepy smile, these anthropomorphic trees were not the friendliest looking characters. As the commercials popularized the McDonald Land characters, it was only a matter of time before they would get turned into toys and other marketing items. The apple pie trees became the star attraction of McDonald’s PlayPlaces everywhere as the giant trees stood, happily giving shade to the seating areas. With time, they too withered away, along with that disturbing grin. Although if you are unlucky enough, you might still find one in one of the old restaurants staring back at you, while you devour your apple pie into nonexistence. Whoever came up with the design for these pie trees must have had a love for all things horror. After all, these trees seem more like something that belong in the Warren’s Occult Museum. Not a restaurant.
1. The so called “healthy” revamped pie
In a move to market itself as a brand shifting towards healthier items, McDonald’s has made many attempts to redeem itself when it comes to revamping everyone’s favorite pie. The company has come under fire by those who grew up with the original fried incarnation and dislike the changes made to the pie over the years. But all of the experimentation and changes have been done because McDonald’s wants to sell the ‘healthiest’ apple pie on the market. They put their money where their mouths were by abandoning certain ingredients and baking the pies instead of frying them, with the goal of reducing calories. But the question is, was it worth it? Is the pie healthy at all? Even in its baked format and with the implementation of apple juice concentrate and invert syrup, instead of corn syrup and brown sugar? According to the company’s nutritional summary, the new pie has 240 calories. The old version of the apple pie had 248 calories. Top that with near identical carbohydrate figures and the health benefits are not that big. Well I guess the fact that it’s baked now instead of deep fried will help ease your conscience. Although let’s be honest, when you want a delicious Mickey D’s apple pie, are you going to let anything stand in your way? Probably not.