The 2020 bingo card just continues to go crazy. No idea who had Travis Scott and McDonalds ever working together on, well, anything. But whoever that person is should play the lottery immediately.
On Tuesday, McDonald’s unveiled their new “Cactus Jack” meal in collaboration with hip hop superstar Travis Scott.
Feel free to take a second and read that sentence twice for confirmation.
It’s all a part of a month long special McDonalds is running to boost their leeway with Millennial and Gen Z consumers, according to a report from Business Insider’s Kate Taylor.
As part of the promotion, McDonalds employees are all getting Travis Scott “Cactus Jack” t-shirts and hats. The “Cactus Jack” meal they’re selling is a $6 quarter-pounder meal with bacon, lettuce, barbecue sauce, fries and a Sprite.
Here’s the thing about the Travis Scott Meal, now at participating McDonaldses near you: It’s not just a Quarter Pounder combo with Sprite. Oh no. It’s an “unprecedented collaborative partnership across food, fashion, and community efforts, launching with [Scott’s] signature order on menus across the U.S.,” according to the press release. It just looks, smells, tastes, and costs the same as a Quarter Pounder combo with Sprite. That’s the genius behind the success of both McDonald’s and Travis Scott: They’re masters of branding.
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There’s something very ’90s-nostalgic about McDonald’s releasing a celebrity-themed tie-in meal; it’s the sort of can’t-miss fast-food event the company used to pull with Michael Jordan or Batman. The kind that would come with souvenir collectible glasses, expanding the Happy Meal strategy to target the kinds of adults who … enjoy things like souvenir collectible glasses. It’s the exact right vibe for Scott, who named Astroworld after a defunct Houston theme park, hitting the exact same sugar-crash ’90s-nostalgia dead-mall aesthetic pleasure center that eating McDonald’s does.
The ad for the Travis Scott Meal, which was released on Tuesday, features Scott as a Happy Meal toy of himself showing off the combo, which he touts as his “same order since back in Houston.” This gesture toward authenticity (eat the very same thing Travis Scott eats!) wrapped within so many layers of artifice (a Happy Meal toy, in itself a miniature of a regular-degular toy, representing a rap artist promoting food from a brand that has become synonymous with processed and fake) is a real chef’s kiss, a super-playful way to drum up excitement for what is essentially the following:
• A Quarter Pounder with lettuce, pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, cheese, and bacon
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• Medium fries with a side of BBQ dipping sauce
• A medium Sprite
“I couldn’t be more excited to bring the Cactus Jack x McDonald’s collaboration to life,” Scott said earlier this month when making a joint announcement with the fast food giants about the collab, which will also see both entities exploring charity opportunities together. “We are bringing together two iconic worlds. Including a charitable component was key for me, and I can’t wait for people to see what we have in store.”
In addition to standing as the latest (and arguably most) high-profile collab for Scott, the McDonald’s link-up marks the first time since 1992 that the restaurant has featured a public figure’s name on the menu in any capacity.
VULTURE says “the best way to enjoy a Travis Scott Meal is to eat it on your bedroom floor with Astroworld playing and the AC running. The Quarter Pounder was really kind of onion forward. They didn’t use those tiny, little chopped-up onions they put on Happy Meal burgers; these were big, oniony onions. The acid bite of the pickles paired with the smoky bacon atop a pleasantly spongy bun should have pulled off some sort of Houston-adjacent, Texas-BBQ effect. Unfortunately, fast-food bacon is usually a disappointment and rarely worth the upcharge, and here it was crispy, brittle, and tasted of all salt, no pig. In 2018, McDonald’s switched the patties in its Quarter Pounders to “100% fresh” beef, and honestly, I prefer the fakey flavor of the old kind of patty, which I believe is still being used in Big Macs. This was probably just a one-off, but the bubbles in that medium Sprite did not hit hard enough. I dare say, it was almost flat. I usually avoid McDonald’s Sprite because those bubbles are so sharp they teeter into spicy, but I think I just got a bad draft this time around. The fries were McDonald’s fries, which is to say platonically ideal, and totally elevated by Scott’s inclusion of BBQ sauce for dipping. TIL McDonald’s makes a great BBQ sauce! I didn’t need to open a single ketchup packet.”
Before you ask: The Travis Scott Meal does not come with a toy. I was disappointed to find this out because I could’ve sworn the first press release said something about a toy, and Scott really led us on with that action figure in the commercial, and remember all that stuff I said about collectible souvenir glasses? Something would’ve been nice. As it stands, I think this is good marketing for McDonald’s and great marketing for Scott, because what’s more “trying to be God” than developing a McDonald’s combo in your likeness? It was a fun diversion, but it’s really just a pretty normal Quarter Pounder combo, so I think I’ll go back to ordering the Rebecca Alter Meal: a large Diet Coke, a strawberry sundae, and a Happy Meal toy.