Mom sneaks kids to Mickey D’s amid fast-food backlash, won’t tell Dad

Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:01pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Carolin Wood, an artist and graduate student from Brooklyn's trendy Greenpoint neighborhood, has a secret that she keeps from her husband and some foodie friends. Once a month, she takes her two young children to McDonald's for inexpensive breakfasts or ice cream.

"We call it our 'sneaky meal' because my husband thinks it's absolutely disgusting," said Wood, 35. "He doesn't want to know anything about it."

Even though Wood has fond memories of her own childhood visits to McDonald's, that doesn't mean she thinks the food is healthy. At home, she buys organic milk and meat as often as a tight family budget allows.

The fact that young mothers like Wood are teaching their children not to tell their dads that they've been to McDonald's may underscore how hard it may be for the world's largest restaurant chain to remake its image and revive U.S. sales. To lure back consumers, McDonald's Corp's new Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook recently pledged to eliminate chickens fed human antibiotics at its U.S. restaurants.

That won't make a difference for Wood, who said she's never eaten a Chicken McNugget and has no plans to try one, even after the antibiotic change.

McDonald's didn't comment for this story. The company doesn't break out what percentage of its customers are young adults and/or mothers.

"There is still a negative health connotation," said Morningstar restaurant analyst R.J. Hottovy. "It can be fixed, but it isn't an easy fix."

Hottovy said he expects McDonald's to eventually turn around its business, but not within the next couple years. McDonald's shares fell 30 cents to $96.55 on Thursday. The shares are down 1.8 percent from a year ago, compared with a 11.7 percent gain by the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index in the same period.   Continued...

A McDonald's 10 piece chicken McNuggets box is photographed at the Times Square location in New York March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton