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Video reveals the 'sneaky' ways fast food restaurants trick you into spending more money

It all starts with the menu.

big mac, inflation, fast food prices

What does a Big Mac combo cost these days?

Even though inflation levels have slowed in the U.S. over the past few months, fast food is one industry where prices keep going up. It seems like there’s nowhere to turn when the places where we used to go to for a deal keep getting pricier and pricier.

According to CBS News, prices at “limited service” restaurants were up 6.2% last year, with America’s most popular fast-food joint, McDonald's, up 10%.

"Our average pricing level in the U.S. business for the full year will be just over 10%," Ian Borden, the company's CFO, stated in an October 2023 earnings call.


If you're still hoping to find a deal on fast food, Business Insider created a video that shows all the “sneaky” tricks fast-food chains use to get you to spend more than you intended.

Sneaky Ways Fast Food Restaurants Get You To Spend Money

One way they get you to spend more money is by having menus that are a "noisy mess of options and categories” that only highlight a portion of what's available. Looking for the value menu? That will be pushed to the corner of the menu so your focus stays on the pricier items on its left side.

You'll also notice that the photos of the items are large, but the price next to them is comparatively small.

"Food pictures, they light up the brain. Particularly when you're hungry. Large food pictures, for a food company, are key," Hans Taparia, a professor of business and society at NYU, told Business Insider.

The video also reveals that if you do the math, value meals really aren't a significant savings.

"If you buy multiple items on the value menu, it won't necessarily be cheaper than a Happy Meal," Taparia adds. In the example provided in the video, a McDonald’s Double-Quarter Pounder value meal is only 9 cents cheaper than if you purchased the items separately.

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