McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal First Taste Event

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Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending McDonald’s First Taste event at one of their redesigned European inspired locations in the Upper East Side. What was on the menu? McDonald’s will be releasing a Fruit and Maple Oatmeal along with a new addition to their McCafe beverage, the Caramel Mocha, available hot or iced. The Caramel Mocha is currently available at locations nationwide. The Fruit and Maple Oatmeal will be available in January, 2011.

The second floor of the restaurant was closed off for the event. Models dressed up in the latest fashionable H&M outfits walked around the floor providing samples of the oatmeal, and hot/iced caramel mocha. Cindy Goody, the Senior Director of Nutrition of McDonald’s USA was there to answer questions about the new menu items and talk about why/how McDonald’s developed them. In addition, event hosts Jeannie Mai (host of the Style Network’s “How Do I Look”), Laura Posada (author of Fit Home Team), and Bevy Smith (style and fashion maven) shared lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and health tips.

The new Fruit and Maple Oatmeal is prepared with cream and topped with 1/2 cup of a variety of fresh and dried fruit. These toppings include diced red and green apples, tangy dried cranberries, and two types of sweet raisins. Upon request, it is available with or without brown sugar. The oatmeal is made fresh and will be available any time of the day.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Cindy Goody about the new menu items and McDonald’s vision in developing the items. Cindy said that in addition to their signature burgers and fries, McDonald’s wants to continue to innovate and evolve the food items that are being offered. In developing an enjoyable and nutritious breakfast item, it was important that the oatmeal provides desirable servings of fruits, whole grain, and dietary fiber, so that it can be part of a balanced diet. They wanted the oatmeal to be something that the consumer can feel good about eating regularly.

McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal has 2/3 of a day’s worth of 10% natural whole grain oats. The oatmeal is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C, providing an excellent source of these nutrients or at least 20 percent of the recommended daily value.

Cindy placed a strong emphasis on the importance of portion control, food choices, and moderation. Tip sheets are available at the McDonald’s website on how to enjoy the menu items, while watching caloric intake and maintaining health/diet goals. Nutritional profiles of all food items are also available online.

She mentions the “made for you” platform. The idea is that McDonald’s offers a variety of options and the menu items can be asked to be prepared a certain way to fit a person’s dietary needs. She presented a few examples…

  • Meal under 600 calories? Order a Big Mac and instead of the french fries, enjoy the apple dippers. This combination adds up to 575 calories.
  • Vegetarian?** McDonald’s premium salads can be ordered without meat
  • Want to cut back on calories? Order grilled instead of crispy, ask for no cheese, or ask for mayo on the side
  • In the mood for the Angus burger? Try the Angus snack wrap. It uses the same ingredients, but is served in a tortilla instead of bun. It has the same great taste, but much less calories.

She raises a number of very good points – the importance of being aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Although she mentions the “made for you” platform, I wonder if most customers are actually aware of it and how often it is used. I get the impression that she puts the responsibility solely on the consumer for making the smart food choices – McDonald’s offer the options and the variety, which includes both healthy and the less healthy items, but it’s the customer’s responsibility to ask for substitutes and the swaps. At the end, I guess it is true. McDonald’s is known for their Big Mac’s, crispy chicken nuggets, french fries, etc. It’s probably what most people come in for. McDonald’s will continue to work on developing and evolving the food items on the menu, but I do wonder how much variety they will try to offer and what type of foods they would try to include.

Cindy Goody is also a big fan of bakery goods like pecan pie, brownies made with dark chocolate, croissants, and cupcakes. Her opinion on miniature cupcakes? “Portion control all the way… you can have like maybe three, have the same number of calories but have different flavors.” She is “all about variety.”

The tasting event was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed speaking with Cindy Goody as well as the event hosts. I’m a huge fan of oatmeal and I eat it frequently for breakfast. The Fruit and Maple oatmeal was delicious and the toppings add a nice crunch and sweetness. It’s very satisfying and I believe it’s going to be priced at $1.99. In my opinion though, I would have preferred steel cut oats instead of rolled oats. As a personal preference, I’m more willing to pay for steel cut oats rather than rolled oats, since steel cut oats require more time and effort. I was a bit bummed that it is cooked in cream since I’m sensitive to dairy products. Although oatmeal achieves great texture and tastes extra creamy and delicious when cooked in milk, the oatmeal is not lactose-intolerant friendly and may not be acceptable for some vegetarians.

Chatting with Jeannie Mai, makeup artist, fashion expert, TV personality, and host of Style Network’s “How Do I Look”, and Laura Posada, author of “Fit Home Team”, model, actress, attorney, and wife of Yankee’s Jorge Posada, and more…

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