by Marion Nestle
Jun 21 2007

McDonald’s Hugo Drinks

A colleague in Berkeley just sent me some photographs of McDonald’s advertisements for its new Hugo drinks. The drinks contain 42 ounces–the same size as the SuperSize servings McDonald’s promised to discontinue after Morgan Spurlock’s movie, SuperSize Me! appeared. They are supposed to sell for 89 cents but the downtown Berkeley outlet sells them for 69 cents, an excellent illustration of what we nutritionists mean when we talk about “cheap calories.” In Berkeley, McDonald is advertising Hugo drinks on the sides of city buses. These are written in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish, clearly directed to minority groups.

Large portion sizes strongly encourage people to eat more calories. So do absurdly cheap prices. If McDonald’s wants to be part of the solution to America’s obesity problem, it needs to make it easier for people to eat smaller portions, not Hugo ones.   And if McDonald’s really wants to increase sales, it might pay attention to the happy effects of smaller portions on TGI Friday’s bottom line.

Interested in how portion sizes have gotten larger and how they get people to eat too much? Take a look at Lisa Young’s Portion Teller by Lisa Young and Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating.

  • rick

    I LOVE the McD Hugo for 75 cents incl tax I get a 42 oz ICED TEA with real lemon.

  • Michael Galano

    McDonald’s is NOT a solution to the obesity problem here. They are not the answer to it either. If Mcdonald’s ceased to exist, there would still be an obesity problem here. The do offer beverages for the hugo that does contain less than 40 calories such as diet coke, iced tea without sugar and minute maid light(which contains 40 calories when using the Hugo cup).


  • Eric

    He in Southern California they are not calling it the Hugo or anything else. They just have big banners in the window that say “42 ounce drink — Just 69 cents!”

  • Jissoji

    Of course, a 42 ounce cup of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi has ZERO calories.

  • TCaster

    And sodium benzoate and more artificial sweetner than you can shake a stick at. Go for it; it’s your body.

  • jwing19

    Thirsty? It’s called water.