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McDonald’s Supersize: Why It Disappeared and What It Means for Fast Food

McDonald’s made a risky move at the beginning of the 2000s by offering the “Supersize” option for their drinks and fries. Customers had the choice to upgrade their orders to a larger size for a nominal fee. To the dismay of some devoted consumers, the fast-food juggernaut announced in 2004 that it would phase out the Supersize option.

 Large Fried Chicken Hamburger

The decision to eliminate the Supersize option was not made on the spur of the moment.

McDonald’s was coming under more and more criticism for the nutritional content of the food on its menu, and the Supersize choice was considered as a key factor in the chain’s role in the obesity crisis that has gripped the United States.

McDonald’s opted to remove the choice from the menu in response to public criticism and health-related worries, despite maintaining that it was not the cause of obesity.

In spite of complaints from some customers who lamented the Supersize option’s demise, McDonald’s has continued to change its menu over time, adding new products and adapting to changing customer preferences.

The large fast-food chain now provides a variety of options, including vegetarian and vegan ones, to accommodate various dietary requirements.

But the mystery of what happened to the Supersize option still intrigues, and it provides insight into how American attitudes toward fast food and health have evolved.

History of Supersize

The Introduction of Supersize

In the summer of 1987, McDonald’s debuted the Supersize option in the US. It was originally intended to be a summer-only promotion, but due to its success, it was continued.

mcdonald's supersize

Customers had the opportunity to pay more to get their soft drinks and French fries sized up to extra-large with the Supersize option.

Even popular films like “Jurassic Park” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” were linked to the promotion.

Before it was removed from the menu in 2004, the Supersize option was available for almost 20 years. McDonald’s had already come under fire for fueling the obesity crisis in America.

People who claimed that the fast-food chain’s food had contributed to their weight gain and poor health filed several lawsuits against the company.

Controversies Surrounding Supersize

When the documentary “Super Size Me” was released in 2002, the debate about Supersize got under way.

McDonald's hamburgers began in the 1940s

The documentary followed director Morgan Spurlock for 30 days while he subsisted solely on McDonald’s fare.

He ate Supersize meals anytime they were presented to him at this time. In the documentary, the harmful effects of frequent fast food consumption—including weight gain, high blood pressure, and liver damage—were demonstrated.

A nationwide discussion regarding the place of fast food in the American diet was started by the film’s premiere.

Many people started to question the nutritional value of Supersize meals and the role that fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s play in encouraging unhealthful eating patterns.

McDonald’s introduced its “Eat Smart, Be Active” campaign in 2003 with the goal of making the company’s menu healthier and fostering physical activity.

In 2004 McDonald’s eliminated the Supersize option as part of this approach. The business also started serving salads and fruit cups, as well as healthier menu choices, and it started posting nutritional data on its menu boards.

In conclusion, McDonald’s promoted the Supersize option successfully for almost 20 years.

However, it was discontinued in 2004 as a result of debate over fast food’s nutritional value and the contribution of fast-food chains to the promotion of unhealthy eating patterns.

Reasons for Discontinuation

Customers who desired extra-large servings of fries and drinks frequently opted for McDonald’s Supersize option.

McDonald's restaurant, Big Mac, french fries, drink and sauce

However, the fast food restaurant chain made the decision to stop offering it in 2004, and it hasn’t been accessible since.

The Supersize option was eliminated for a variety of reasons.

Health Concerns

Health considerations were one of the main factors in the Supersize option’s removal.

Big Mac hamburger menu in McDonald's restaurant.

Health experts and lawmakers who claimed that McDonald’s was to blame for the obesity epidemic in the US criticized the fast food restaurant.

The Supersize option was viewed as a representation of the nation’s pervasive bad eating patterns.

McDonald’s chose to gradually remove the Supersize choice from its U.S. outlets in response to the criticism.

According to the business, the choice was taken because the option was unpopular with clients rather than because of health concerns.

The decision was made, nevertheless, at the same time as the documentary “Super Size Me,” which focused on the detrimental impacts of fast food, was released.

In order to satisfy customers who are seeking healthier options, McDonald’s has subsequently added salads and fruit smoothies to its menu.

To lower the calorie and fat level of its menu items, the company has also changed its cooking techniques and ingredients.

In general, the Supersize option was eliminated in response to shifting consumer choices and rising health concerns around fast food.

McDonald’s choice to add healthier options to its menu demonstrates the company’s willingness to change with the times and meet evolving consumer demands.

Impact on McDonald’s


The Supersize menu’s removal had a major effect on McDonald’s revenue.

Large Fried Chicken Hamburger Menu

Although the Supersize menu was discontinued in 2004, the term continued to be used to describe anything extra-large, especially when the Golden Arches are involved, according to an article from TipsFolder.

However, it didn’t appear that the Supersize menu’s removal had a significant effect on sales.

In fact, immediately after discontinuing the Supersize menu, McDonald’s reported a 5.7% gain in first-quarter 2004 revenue.


Although it appeared that the Supersize menu’s removal had little effect on sales, it did have an effect on revenue.

McDonald's is an American hamburger and fast food restaurant

A story from CBS News claims that McDonald’s removed the Supersize menu as part of a bigger initiative to encourage healthier eating practices.

This effort included the addition of fresh menu items like fruit cups and salads.

Although these new menu items might have assisted in luring customers who were health-conscious, they might not have been as successful as the Supersize menu.

McDonald’s reported a 42% increase in profits in 2004, but this was mostly the result of cost-cutting strategies rather than necessarily higher sales.

In addition, the business was the target of multiple lawsuits alleging that it had concealed the dangers of consuming Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets.

Despite the fact that these lawsuits were ultimately dismissed, they might have hurt the business’s reputation and revenue.

Overall, McDonald’s experienced a mixed response from the Supersize menu’s removal.

Although it did not appear to have a significant effect on sales, it might have had an impact on revenue and led to a poor opinion of the company.

Frequently Asked Questions

mcdonald's large fries and drinks

Why did McDonald’s get rid of the Supersize option?

McDonald’s removed the Supersize option from their menu in 2004 after the release of the documentary “Super Size Me.” The documentary highlighted the potential health risks of consuming fast food regularly and brought attention to the growing obesity epidemic. While McDonald’s has denied that the decision to remove the Supersize option was directly related to the documentary, it is widely believed that public pressure and health concerns played a role in the decision.

What was the Supersize option?

The Supersize option was a menu item that allowed customers to upgrade their fries and drinks to a larger size for an additional fee. The option was first introduced in 1993 and was popular among customers who wanted a larger portion size.

Can customers still get a large portion size?

Yes, customers can still order large fries and drinks, but the option to upgrade to an even larger size is no longer available. McDonald’s has also introduced healthier menu options, such as salads and grilled chicken sandwiches, in response to growing health concerns.

Did the Supersize option cause obesity?

While McDonald’s has stated that the option to Supersize fries and drinks had nothing to do with causing obesity, health experts have pointed out that consuming large portions of fast food regularly can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. It is important to maintain a balanced diet and to limit the consumption of fast food and other unhealthy foods.

Are there any other fast food restaurants that offer Supersize options?

No, McDonald’s was the only fast food restaurant that offered a Supersize option. Other fast food restaurants offer larger portion sizes, but they do not use the term “Supersize.”

Large Fried Chicken Hamburger Menu + French Fries and Coke Drinks


In conclusion, consumers who preferred to indulge in greater servings of fries and drinks frequently choose McDonald’s Supersize menu.

The fast food franchise, however, phased out this menu item in 2004, claiming poor demand and lengthier wait times for staff to create larger amounts.

McDonald’s has refuted the assertion that the decision to discontinue Supersize items was motivated by worries about the negative health impacts of eating huge servings of fast food.

The business contends that only commercial factors and client preferences were taken into account when making the choice.

McDonald’s continues to provide a wide range of menu items, including healthier options like salads and grilled chicken sandwiches, despite the withdrawal of the Supersize menu.

In recent years, the business has also worked to promote more ecologically friendly and sustainable methods while lowering the calorie and sodium level of its menu items.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.