Why Does Fountain Diet Coke Taste Better at Mcdonald's?

Why McDonald's Coca-Cola tastes better than Coke from anywhere else.
Why McDonald's Coca-Cola tastes better than Coke from anywhere else.

Have you ever sipped on a half-empty bottle of Diet Coke in your car, then grabbed lunch at a McDonald's drive-through? If so, you've likely noticed the huge difference between the soda you were drinking and the one you just bought from McDonald's.

For years, I would swear to my friends that McDonald's sodas taste better. There are many theories out there as to why, including:

  • "They put more syrup into the mixture."
  • "McDonald's salty food makes you thirsty, and when you're thirsty, sodas taste better."
  • "McDonald's has a secret contract with Coke!" (This one is my favorite.)

Well, after all this time, I finally decided to do some research and find out if McDonald's Coca-Cola does in fact taste better and, if so, why? What I found might surprise you.

The Three Factors That Set McDonald's Coca-Cola Apart

There are three main things that make McDonald's Coca-Cola taste fresher.
There are three main things that make McDonald's Coca-Cola taste fresher.

Only the Best

1: McDonald's Uses Quality Water

First of all, McDonald's invests a fair amount of money—more than most (if not all) of the competition—to ensure that each of its restaurants has a high-end water filtration system. They use the best equipment money can buy and have routine maintenance programs in place to maintain the entire system, front to back.

In essence, water is filtered twice through a very high-end filtration system.

2: Cold Water Holds More Carbonation

Second, insulated tubing is run from the back refrigeration unit all the way to the front and drive through units. The soda water is constantly recirculated though this frigid tubing system so that it can remain between 33-38 degrees at all times.

Keeping this water chilled is necessary to maintain superior CO2 levels.

Cold water can hold more CO2, which means that it can become more carbonated. Better soda water ultimately makes a crisper soda.

The CO2 carbonators themselves are actually submerged in ice water. The average temperature of the soda coming out of the fountain at McDonald's is 36 degrees. Management is also trained to check temperatures and calibration settings. Even the syrup lines are bundled with the soda lines to chill the syrup!

3: More Soda Sold Means a Fresher Product

Third, McDonald's sells a very high volume of soda. This means that the syrup does not sit around for very long, unlike at other restaurants.

Most McDonald's sell so much in fact, that their syrup does not come in boxes like most franchises.

Coca-Cola actually ships McDonald's syrup in stainless steel tanks.

These syrup tanks keep the product cooler and a bit fresher.

The Noticeably Better Taste Is Not by Chance

The bottom line as to why McDonald's Diet Coke—and, for that matter, the rest of their sodas, their coffee, and even their tap water—tastes better is because of the extra attention paid to the beverage systems. Better equipment gives them a huge advantage over the competition, especially when it comes to water quality and temperature. They literally ultra-filter their water twice before mixing it with anything.

Now think about this: Why would you pay for a bottled water when you now know that there is a good chance the water coming from the soda fountain may be as good if not better? (Not to mention you get a cup with ice when you ask for a free water.)

More Coca-Cola and McDonald's Facts

Coca-Cola has been working with McDonald's since 1955.
Coca-Cola has been working with McDonald's since 1955.

Did You Know?

  • That Coca-Cola has been sold in McDonald's since the beginning? Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald's a global franchise, called up Coca-Cola and began the two companies' business relationship when he opened his first McDonald's in 1955.
  • In turn, Coca-Cola has given McDonald's some of its trademark ideas. For example, in 1993, Coca-Cola came up with the idea of McDonald's bundling its soda with a burger and fries, creating the Extra Value Meal. Later on, Coca-Cola also helped McDonald's develop its smoothies.
  • Coca-Cola does not allow its sales teams to sell its syrup to any other restaurant for less than the price McDonald's pays.

Comments 169 comments

Window Pain profile image

Window Pain 4 years ago

When you talk about the refresingness (?) of the beverage I get thisty. But when you talk about the syrup I get squeamish. Diet Coke is the only pop I drink, and rarely at that. (In Canada we say 'pop' where you Yanks say 'soda' - it's kinda weird. No! We're not weird - you're weird)

In a related topic, why is the water always colder from the bathroom tap than the kitchen?

Karre profile image

Karre 4 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

Window Pain -- In Kansas, its soda-pop, or "coke" -- no matter what flavor you drink. lol.

Howlemunkey: So glad you wrote this article because I've always marveled at McDonald's Coke and insist on drinking it there whenever I get the chance. It does taste different than at the Quik Shop! :-)

ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

LOL funny topic for a hub :)

Sally 3 years ago

"A lot" is two words. :)

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 3 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Thanks Sally :), I always mistype that word! Thanks a lot for stopping by!

Jmillis2006 profile image

Jmillis2006 3 years ago from North Carolina

I always wondered why this was. I think fountain drinks are way better than soda from a can or bottle period, but McDonalds does have the best.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 3 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Jmillis2006 :) , I always wondered myself. Growing up, my friends and I figured McDonalds had a secret contract with the Coca~Cola company.... (I think that theory is still floating around the internet :) ),

Thanks for stopping by

Ardot profile image

Ardot 3 years ago from Canada

We should just use "a lot" instead of "a lot"... no? When I see "a lot" I think of a parking lot, or a car dealership lot, but when I write "a lot" I think of many things.

Anyway, I really liked your hub a lot, and I thought it was really informative. I will look at McD's drinks a lot differently from now on.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 3 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Heya Ardot :), agreed. I see the same thing, a "lot" , like a Real Estate "lot".

And thanks for the compliments on the hub. For years I had always thought their soft drinks were better, just couldn't explain why.

Very smart if you ask me, since soda by far is their biggest profit point, and it's the attention to detail that sets this MNC apart.

PS - I just created ""...... (and if its on the internet, it must be true).

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA

Years ago, McDonald's had you take a survey. One thing I put on the survey was that their Sprite tasted awful. It wasn't long and they had the best Sprite of anyplace else. They actually listened.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Barbara :)

That's a very good point. McDonalds is very proactive when it comes to customer satisfaction. They really do pay attention to the details, and do listen to customers. They have their business model down to a science. Thanks for stopping by!

paranormal barber 2 years ago

Sodas at the 2 McDonalds where I live are not good at all ... watered down with very little carbonation. The fast food restaurant that has the best Diet Coke is Portillo's in Sycamore, IL

Jeremy 2 years ago

This is like a debate on who has the best tasting poison. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how it tastes, it's still terrible for you.

shon c 2 years ago

I have ALWAYS said McDonalds Coca-Cola was the best soda ever and my friends just mocked me. Now I have proof. Thank you

Cam 2 years ago

This isn't all true. McDonald's has their own blend of Coke and Diet Coke.

Sara 2 years ago

Paranormal barber , I have to agree , Portillo's Diet Coke is a very close second to McDonalds! And I don't like Diet Coke, but I will actually crave one from either of these places!

Patrick 2 years ago

All these years I thought they were just adding coke in the coke!

Ken Adams 2 years ago

My company does the co2 for thousands of McDonald's in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin and I can say as a customer too, their soda systems are the best of the best! I service plenty of other restaurants and bars and no one anywhere comes close to McDonalds! If I'm on the road and feel like a soda, its McDonalds or nothing! They are also the cleanest of anyone!

timesclicking 2 years ago

Actually only origional coke comes in tankers. All other pop including diet still comes in boxes.

Tim 2 years ago

Now if McDonalds would only put as much effort into their "food" .

Cecedawn 2 years ago

Your article is interesting but I can't stand fountain soda and usually drink water when eating out. Btw, the word sodas does not have an apostrophe. My huge pet peeve! Apostrophe s makes a word possessive.

Tc 2 years ago

When you are pluraluzing a word, like sodas, it is not spelled with an apostrophe.

Tv 2 years ago

* Pluralizing

Debra Boland 2 years ago

The fountain soda in the store is great, through the drive through it has gone downhill since they got the soda machines that all the sodas go through a central spigot. My diet coke now tastes like a combination of all other sodas and tastes gross. I refuse to get any soda from McD's through the drive through.

Rhiannon 2 years ago

I like McDonalds diet coke a lot!! :-)

konnie 2 years ago

I'm old enough to remember 6 oz Coca-Cola in thick green glass bottles. today's concoction doesn't even come close to that intensity of flavor.

Tim 2 years ago

I worked at the distribution center that serviced all of the illinois and indiana mcdonalds....the syrup comes in boxes.

Paula 2 years ago

And maybe we should start writing abunch and agroup... It's a lot. Two words!!!!!

Erin 2 years ago

Years ago I worked in a little deli my customers complained that the fountain drinks didn't taste right. The 'Coke' maintenance guy told me that fountain drinks will never taste like bottled drinks because aspartame can't be used in the fountains, they use saccharin instead. I always figured that's why fountain drinks tasted better to me. I wonder if it's true.......

ely guz 2 years ago

Ur wrong only regular Coke comes on tanks n diet on boxes. I know cuz i used 2 work at McDonald's.

Amanda 2 years ago

See this post: Fountain drinks actually have different ingredients than their canned/bottled counterparts. I'm sure everything you mentioned here makes a difference too, but it is actually a different product.

Emily 2 years ago

The reason why it's the best is because one word. Everpure their filtration system they purchase. Makes the best water when used in filtration for homes and the best pop for McDonalds :)

Lost in Lodi 2 years ago

The McDonald's here (I71 & I76 in Ohio) charges a $1.00 for ice (tap) water. Their reason? Customers would ask for water cup and fill it with soda (pop).

Angie 2 years ago

Your personality really shines through, and I love your responses regarding " a lot". I'm telling you that soda in this article is plural, not possessive, so it doesn't need an apostrophe. I'm not being a grammar nazi, I simply look forward to your response. I too, love Diet Coke from McDonald's. I had one today, in fact!

sylvia ricica 2 years ago

MacDonald s pop is the best,they do it right,you go MacDonald s!!!!!!!

Jeff 2 years ago

Not to throw this off a bit, but every restaurant is FDA mandated to filter their water twice.

On the soda/pop thing...pop is a noise, your father, or something buttered kernels of corn do...soda is a beverage, soda pop is acceptable because the word soda is included

Mitchell 2 years ago

Thank you for doing this research and letting us all know. Glad to know it's not because there's more syrup or something worse for us than drinking soda in the first place. I would like to say that you shouldn't use apostrophes in the word "sodas". Probably just an oversight, but it's one of those mistakes in writing that makes me nuts. Thanks.

John 2 years ago

I worked as a manager at a McDonald's in Chicago for several years in the 1990s. The syrup for Diet Coke, Sprite, Orange, etc came in pressurized tanks that were about 30 inches tall and 8 inches in diameter. The regular Coke syrup, however, was held in a permanently mounted tank about 5 feet tall and two feet in diameter that was filled by hose from a delivery truck outside. We used A LOT of Coke syrup.

Dc lover 2 years ago

Okay, but seriously...where are you guys drinking your diet cokes? Our McDonalds has THE WORST diet coke in town. I will order food at McD's and drive across the street to Burger King for a diet coke there. It's that bad. I'm pretty sure almost everywhere I've ever tried it, it's awful! Maybe that's a Utah/Arizona thing...I don't know...

Kat Abbot 2 years ago

I never drink diet soft drinks, but McDonalds has the best Coke! Fountain drinks and Coke in the green glass bottle are the best!!!

Shana 2 years ago

Thanks for your research... Now, if only mcdonalds would start carrying Pepsi, the superior cola!

amazingandweird 2 years ago

Hi, I love reading your blogs ,you have such an amazing blog ,Keep up the good work.


mickey d manager 2 years ago

I was a manager at McDonald's for 7 years. They use a method called reverse osmosis to filter the water, after it is filtered through 3 separate water filters. It is soaked in a water bath between 34-38 degrees, the syrup however is NOT chilled. They syrup lines are ran with the water lines, but that is simply done to save space. If they were to chill the syrup it would become too thick. The only products that are delivered in tanks are the CO2 and Coke Classic, all other sodas are bag in the box just like everywhere else. There is also a chance that the Classic may be bag in the box as well, every system is equipped to change over from the bulk tank to bag in box in case of emergency

Karim 2 years ago

I have to admit I'm impressed - I never thought that last comment would be approved! Respect...

Joe 2 years ago

What about Burger King? What kinda crazy stuff do they do to their soda?

brenda 2 years ago

They have the best iced tea

Fred 2 years ago

Someone I knew worked for Coca Cola in Atlanta and she said that McDs gets so much product that their price break is different allowing them to use the best mix of syrup and CO2.

Alan 2 years ago

If you are going to be a writer...

It's "a lot"



Dathon 2 years ago

Hmm. Alright I'll believe your water filter theory. It might be a mere fraction of the puzzle. But there is more. I hit golf balls across the street from a Mcd's. The owner is about 80 yrs. old and loves Mcd's Coke. AND she has her own fountain machine!!! Yet goes across everyday to get a Coke. She said she told her Coke maintenance man she wanted a fountain machine just like Mcd's. He said it would never happen. So like I said, you may have a piece to the puzzle. But you didn't solve it.

Chicago 2 years ago

I also think the effect of the caffeine is stronger in McDonald's Diet Coke. I can drink a bottle for dinner and still get to sleep, but heaven forbid I have an evening McD Diet Coke...I'm up all night.

MB 2 years ago

I always heard its because there is aspartane in fountain diet coke, not cans?

luvtoowrite profile image

luvtoowrite 2 years ago from Chicago, IL

Wow, good to know. Wouldn't have thought that much went into making fountain drinks better.

cokeman1953 2 years ago

ok 12oz of coca-cola is 40z of syrup 80z of c02 at mix ate 32% if u use more syrup it taste better now it taste it is in bag in box

always the cokeman1953

Matt 2 years ago

Interesting article…not a fan of coke but love Dr Pepper (Mr Pibb) and I find the opposite for those. Never seem to enjoy the sodas at McDonalds but like I said, I don't like Coke so I never drink it.

Chris 2 years ago

McDonald's still puts trace amounts of cocaine in their Coca-Cola. LOL

MJ 2 years ago

As I'm reading my Diet Coke from McD's is right next to me. It is SO good. I've always said they have the best fountain pop & now I know why!!

jeff 2 years ago

hmm idk, i worked at mcdonalds for 3 years and our soda came in boxes that in sat in the back for weeks...and we never monitored their CO2 levels or anything else for that matter.

Katy E 2 years ago

Sonic has waaaaay better fountain drinks than McDonalds.

Joel 2 years ago

at Window Pain

The reason why a bathroom faucet is colder is because it is used less often and water in those pipes consequently stay chilled longer.

Topher 2 years ago

Window pain, we Yanks here in Ohio say pop. Please keep in mind the US is a large nation with a variety of dialects and slang

Will 2 years ago

This article brought to you by McDonalds. Im Lovin It

Nate 2 years ago

Nice article I actually work for 10 McDonald's where I fix all of the equipment in each store. The multiplex system is what you're talking about where it carbonates and circulates the water and a constant 36° There is also a refrigeration system that keeps a large bath of water at that 36° That is where all the carbonated water, water lines and syrup lines run though. I service every aspect of this machine and you are right that is why the drinks taste so dang good. If the carbonated water isn't circulated and held at approximately 36° then the drink will taste flat just as you said. I constantly replace the pumps and motors that Carbonate and circulate the yummy soda you so love. These multiplex beverage systems are extremely expensive ranging from $30,000 to $40,000 depending on the model. McDonald's has amazing food standers. And only coke comes in the bulk tanks nothing else. But each store sells so much soda that there is never a box sitting on the shelf for more than a day or two.

cokeman1953 2 years ago

Mcdonalds coke is it's own type of coke and it's stored in stainless steel containers

no ther all use bag in the box no more stainless steel containers

Kathy 2 years ago

sodas. sodas. sodas. NOT SODA'S

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@Nate -- Great to hear feedback from someone who has experience with this equipment! Thanks for the heads up on the Multiplex system. Also good to know about the coke in bulk tanks vs. diet coke. Thanks again! - howlermunkey

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Katy E - Sonic does have delicious flavored sodas no doubt

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi John

Thanks for chiming in. Wondering if some of the McDonalds that have a higher volume may use more tanks than mcD's that don't? Thanks again

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Angie :)

thanks for the kind comments and thanks for stopping by!

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Emily :)

Agreed. Thanks for stopping by!

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

heya luvtoowrite :)

Attention to detail sets them apart me thinks. Thanks for stopping by!

Chuck 2 years ago

This sounds more like a paid advertisement than a blog entry.

sue 2 years ago

mcdonalds diet coke use to be the best but I have talked to many lovers and we all say the same thing.... summer of 2013 something changed!!!!

It is not the same anymore!!

Lynn 2 years ago

OK, folks . . . if we're going to promote good English usage, then I have to let Dathon know that it isn't "alright." It's actually two words "all right." Just because you see certain spellings frequently doesn't mean they're right. Others may be able to understand what you write, but let's all give some extra time to using our great language with accuracy and precision. Burger King does, indeed, have better iced tea. It actually carries the taste of tea, not sugared water.

Missy 2 years ago

While I have to agree the soda does taste crisp, even superior to other food chains, the unsweetened tea is terrible depending on the location. The way it tastes to me suggests they are not properly cleaning the tea dispensers. The majority of locations I've tried, it taste dirty or severely watered down. Such a shame to spend all of that money on filtrating water to not maintain the tea machines thoroughly and daily!

jenny 2 years ago

much better for sure!

Bringus landing 2 years ago

I've always thought the slightly larger-than-average straw used by McDonald's contributed to their drinks tasting better.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@Missy -- good point, if you don't love ultra sweet tea can be a bit much

@jenny -- agreed. Thanks for chiming in :)

@ Bringus landing -- excellent point. They do have a larger straw....hmmmmm...must thinks about that one for a while. Thanks for the feedback :)

2Badd 2 years ago

Why in the world do so many people repeat each other? The soda with an apostrophe, "a lot" opposed to "a lot". Do some research and read other comments first.

ana 2 years ago

Couple things yes it's a lot and even if you didn't catch it spell check should have.

two it's 'pop' in quite a bit of the states as well as canada.

three, I worked at a brand spanking new McDonald's for 6 years and we didn't have any of that.

fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 2 years ago from Southern California

What a well researched and written article. Makes me want to go to McDonalds right now and get a coke, only I don't drink cola. However after reading this hub I'm going to at least give it a try. Voted up, Liked Pinned, useful, interesting.

Joyzie 2 years ago

My family thinks I'm crazy. But I will ONLY drink Coke from the Enon, Park Layne and Sidney, Ohio McDonalds. Now those Cokes ARE the best. My family has tried to pull one over on me by bringing one home from a different location, and I can tell the difference.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Very interesting! I love that you researched that. I remember the tanks from when I worked at McD's years ago. I worked there 6 years--through high school and part of college. This makes me want one of their Diet Cokes! And ya gotta love a place that still gives free water! :-)

melbel profile image

melbel 2 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

Wow! Pretty interesting! I've never really thought about pop tasting better at McDonald's. Pretty awesome idea for an article! :P

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@fastfreta , thanks for the awesome comments and for stopping by!

@Joyzie, willing to bet that your favorite McDonalds have superior drink systems in place ....(your not crazy :) , I can def tell the difference too :) , thanks for stopping by

@Victoria Lynn, awesome, so you remember the tanks as well? cool, glad to hear validation that they exist. Thanks for the awesome comments and for stopping by!

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@melbel, heya melbel :)) , yep, I drink a LOT of coke. Can tell the difference, and, these are the deep, important things I think about all day. If howlermunkey were a Simpson character he'd be Homer for sure...."MMMMMM, French Fries... MMMMM Diet Coke", "HMMM, why is Coke so much Better at McD's...should write about it.....MMMMM French Fries.woohoo", Thanks for stopping by!

moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

Love McDonld's diet coke and my husband loves their coffee. Vote up.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hey moonlake :), their coffee rocks the casbah. I can smell the breakfast menu right now...thanks for stopping by!

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

lol. I live off the grid a million miles from any McD store (or at least it feels that far).

I want to know if you took a job in a store to conduct your research. If so, your boss should give you a pay rise and promote you to marketing. :)

makario profile image

makario 2 years ago from United States

This is quite an interesting read. Good thinking on your part.

I don't drink soda often, and have never thought of a comparison before. I will definitely pay attention the next time I buy fast food.


howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@LongTimeMother, where do you live? We need to place a store out there (kidding), I don't work for McDonalds (yet) lol, but who knows, I'm just a fan of their Diet Coke, ........Big Mac, mmmmmm...French Fries, Chicken Nuggets (with the mustard sauce), oooh, BIG Breakfast, hash browns, of course Egg McMuffin, quarter pounder with cheese (Royal with Cheese if you're into Pulp Fiction), ......Steak Egg and Cheese bagel....Filet of Fish ROCKS.....did anyone try the Mighty Wings? Those things rocked the casbah,...the McRib....mmmmm.....then there,s the dessert menu....Hot Fudge Sundae......McFlurry........

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

Great idea, howlermunkey. I'll buy the franchise and we'll sell organic fries cooked in big solar ovens (without deep frying), free-range chicken nuggets and cow-fresh milk shakes!!

It might catch on internationally - especially if you do the marketing! :)

Meanwhile though, if you are a regular fan of all those foods I think you'd better read up on Type 2 Diabetes.. They sound great ... as a birthday treat but I'm not sure how your body would react to them too often.

makario profile image

makario 2 years ago from United States


You really need to get a job as Marketing manager for A McDonald.

Don't get me wrong, I live in Mobile, AL and we have a McDonald on every cornern or so it seems. However, I am not a regular, because I try to stay on the healthy side.

A fantastic of sorts.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@makario, I totally agree. I try to balance my diet out. I don't eat a Big Mac every day :) ...They do have salads and wraps too, you have to admit McDonalds has made strides in making the menu healthier for all. But I'll be the first to admit, once I pass through the doors at the golden arches and I smell the wonderous bouquet of the deliciousness being served up on two or three sesame seed buns...I'm not thinkin wrap or salad at that point....

makario profile image

makario 2 years ago from United States

Thanks for your honesty. Yes I agree, to stay competitive, they have to.

torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 2 years ago

I would have never thought this due to main fact that i don't drink soda. I find it interesting information, indeed. Thanks for keeping me engaged.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@torrilynn , I actually picked up on this as a kid, and my friends swore up and down that McDonalds and the Coca-Cola company had a secret contract going... thanks for stopping by!

Daddy Paul profile image

Daddy Paul 2 years ago from Michigan

Yea their pop is good. Thanks for sharing.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Daddy Paul , Always good to hear from another McDonalds fan :), Hive Five Bro

Thanks for stopping by :)

tutta profile image

tutta 2 years ago from Florida

It totally does!! I've ordered Diet Coke from Chick-fil-a, and it was terrible, but McD's tastes nearly like regular! Cool to know why too!

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@tutta, awesome!! yep, I thought so too. I used to wonder when I would go through a drive through and compare the stale diet coke to the fresh diet coke I just got from McDonalds...My friends swore up and down when we were kids that there was a secret contract involved...Thanks for stopping by!

Gap4 profile image

Gap4 2 years ago from Charleston, WV

Do the cups and straws have anything to do with it?

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hey Gap4 , that's a very good question. I know some of the franchises use Styrofoam to keep the beverage colder for a longer period of time, but, the coke doesn't get poured as well to begin with. I think as far as the cups go their the standard, nothing special, grade that one right down the middle. (they don't hurt), and as much soda as they sell, would be cost ineffective to use anything other than. Good idea though, they should start selling reusable cups maybe? The straws, however, are larger than the average in most chains. Some say (conspiracy theorists) claim that's to make you drink more soda faster, I don't know, but very good question. Thanks for stopping by!

Gap4 profile image

Gap4 2 years ago from Charleston, WV

Aww. Interesting, thanks for the reply, and for the good read.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Wow, just read my comment above......yeah, um, that's what I sound like before Ive had my first cup of coffee hahaha (never said I was a morning person)....(note to self - no comments before noon)....when I mentioned franchises, i meant other franchises such as a certain Chicken Sandwich chain (which I love don't get me wrong, sodas just arent as good)....I think all McDonalds franchises use the basic wax cups, which are acceptable, would be kewl if they sold reusable maybe? Then again, no way to track, too easy to come inside and filler up....oh, and my misspelling of their, supposed to be they're of course, no coffee equals bad spellings from the munkey. Thanks again Gap4

Steve O 2 years ago

A lot of good info in this blog. I think the main key is that McDonald's invests more than their competitors in maintaining their systems. I spent 10 years as a technician who would make regularly scheduled preventative visits to calibrate the machines and evaluate and repair potential problems as needed. Most places aren't going to pay money to fix equipment that isn't "broken", and even the places that do have similar preventative maintenance programs in place do not take it to the extent of McDonald's, and it definitely makes a difference.

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Steve O, thanks for chiming in, glad to hear info directly from a tech who has worked on this equipment. Very good point on the maintenance of the equipment. very smart if you think about it, they make more profit on soda than any other menu item, and by making sure the soda tastes better, they ensure that the overall experience is better, consistently. The food consistency (temp, etc),can vary, (vary less as much at McD's than other places though -- superior companies preach consistency)..depending on time of day, etc., but the soda will almost always, every time, be freakin awesome :) Thanks for stopping by!

Ellie Shay profile image

Ellie Shay 2 years ago

Wow very interesting! I have always thought that a fountain soda is WAY better than a can soda, but I hadn't notice anything specific about McDonald's soda. I will pay better attention, thanks! Voted interesting!

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Ellie Shay :), yep, I probably drink WAY too much soda, always have lol, so I picked up on McDonalds sodas at an early age. Thanks for stopping by!

Chris 2 years ago

Tanks or boxes depends on how busy the restaurant is as well. We had everything in tanks with coke itself pumped into three huge permanent tanks in the basement. They must have held close to 75 gal each.

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pmarinov 2 years ago from Detroit MI

Great hub, very interesting comments as well. Keep up the good work!

Ps- I love normal coke, not the diet :)

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

@Chris, I had heard about the tanks but was unsure of the size. 75 gallons ey? good to know, thanks for stopping by!

@pmarinov, thanks for the awesome comments and for stopping by!

PS - I do like regular coke as well (on occasion), think Ill go have a Coke right now :)

slmd72 2 years ago

Window Pain, I'm from Aurora, IL and those of us from that area call it "pop" it's not just Canadians...and it depends on where you are in the states as to what they call it, each region has a different name for it!!!

MacDonalds does have their own special Heinz ketchup...I've always thought that most MacDonalds have the best tasting Diet Coke and now it makes sense!!!

jess 2 years ago

i used to work at a McDonald's. and I will tell you the syrup for everything other than coke/diet coke came in boxes. the coke was in a tank the size of a water heater.

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Melissa Tulk 2 years ago

every time i get McDs around here...its so watered down ! i bring my own soda.

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Where you from Melissa? we're gonna have to send them a letter :)

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barbat79 2 years ago from Connnecticut

Interesting hub! While I don't frequent Mc D's, I do find in general a fountain soda from a well used and clean appearing machine does taste better! Informative! Thanks for the good read!

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi barbat79 :), soda does definitely vary from place to place, agree with you there. So far I think McDonald's has the best, but who knows, maybe other franchises will catch on. (Sonic has awesome flavored soda's). thanks for stopping by!

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barbat79 2 years ago from Connnecticut

Yes I think you are correct about McD's now that I recall...Good read! Best wishes to you!

Paul 2 years ago

The reason the straws have a larger diameter is because of their shakes and smoothies.

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Paul, aha! I always wondered about the straws. Conspiracy theorists have proclaimed that they were bigger so you would drink your soda faster, the shakes and smoothies answer makes more sense. Thanks for stopping by!

Trev 2 years ago

C'mon you're gonna hound the guy for using a possessive soda just once? You're too critical.

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Ha! Thank's Trev :)

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tebo 2 years ago from New Zealand

This is cool because I googled what's the difference between McDonalds coke and bottled coke and a hub came up. Good stuff! Thanks for that information. My son tends to react to coke somewhat but I didn't think he was so bad on McDonalds coke. That's why I searched the topic.

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carrie Lee Night 2 years ago from Northeast United States

Interesting explanation that makes perfect sense :). Unfortunely I don't drink much soda anymore. Thanks for sharing :)

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Sami Hanson 2 years ago from Kansas

Wow you really took the time to research this topic, and I find this hub very useful. I always wonder that, myself. It has the perfect amount of carbonation and sweetness all at once. Very interesting hub!

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Carrie, I cut down on soda myself, but I'll still grab a #1 with a diet coke from time to time :), thanks for stopping by!

Hi Sami, This questions had plagued me for years growing up(seriously) The McDonald's around the corner from my neighborhood had the best freakin sodas. We all swore as kids that McDonald's and Coke had some sort of secret contract going day (30 years later) I just had to find out for myself. Thanks for stopping by!

Chyann Candeloro 2 years ago

It's got "Wow this is incredibly aweosme, I gotta have it" in it.... Duh.

Holly 2 years ago

It's is their straws

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howlermunkey 2 years ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hey Holly :)) , TOTALLY agree, their straws ROCK

AB 23 months ago

LOL, I was just going to mention the straws. They are bigger than other places. I think it adds to the product overall.

Like you said, its the little things.

Steve 23 months ago

Too bad they don't sell diet caffeine free anymore those of us that are diabetic and caffeine intolerant lose out. A simple fix could make a difference.

tommy 23 months ago

If only they put as much quality into their food as they do their drinks. McDonalds serves better food in every other country then the United States. How disgraceful

23 months ago

Doesn't filter out the chlorine in cities where it is really strong.

April 23 months ago

An ice water cup costs $.27 at McDonald's!

JB 23 months ago

The bigger straw is from when a McDonald's executive spent a day working in a restaurant. Employees and customers complained about how hard it was to drink the shakes, and when he saw it first-hand, he proposed the wider straw. I read it in an article years ago.

Amy 23 months ago

A lot is already a word. It is similar to allocate.

Coca Cola Man123 23 months ago

McDonalds uses a Multiplex cooling system for fountain drinks, it circulates the soda water and keeps it at 34 degrees at all times. The syrup is also chilled. McDonalds goes thru so much fountain syrup the Coke syrup is in 3 large 75 gallon vessels in the backroom. Sometimes you will see a large truck delivering the product to the tanks. Now that's 75 gallons of syrup. With a mixture of 4.75 to 1 they sell tons of Coke. All syrup is fresh, not like at your gas station or other places. The water is also filtered with a 5 in one water filter, sometimes bigger. Two large EC210's, with 4 microfilters. It removes any odd taste, rusts or smells from the water. Remember it all works together: Cold, Cold and Fresh, with filtered water. Also, the water is not filtered better than at the Coca Cola Plant. Do your homework, I have. 10 years at Coke.

virginia p woolf 23 months ago

They clean their spouts each and every day and change out the tubing that stays cold. They care about your health and do not let the black sludge in the tubes and their spouts.

Coke man 23 months ago

All you would have had to do was to ask any coca cola service man and he would have told you about how and why McDonalds cokes are the best. I had 25 years at coke .

heather 23 months ago

Starbucks triple filters their water. Just saying...

Terrie 23 months ago

I believe the information about the water, but yes, they do have their own blend specific to McDs. The Coke (not sure about diet) actually has a touch of cinnamon in it. (I got this from someone on the inside.) So there is a combination of reasons for the awesome taste.

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howlermunkey 23 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi AB,

Agreed, the straws ROCK. It is the little things isn't it?

Hi Steve,

Yeah what's up with that? They should definitely have caffeine free items at the fountain. Have you contacted your McDonalds store manager about this?

Hi Tommy,

I don't know man, I LOVE the Big Mac..., KUH-Lassic, and they have some Crazy menu items overseas. Are you talking about burgers?

Hi J,

Hmmm. Can you still taste it in the sodas then?

Hi April,

Seriously? Thanks for the info, may have to update this article then.

Hi JB, I've heard about that. That guy deserves a Heisman trophy. Freakin Genius. Hopefully he's retired on his "giant straw" yacht somewhere in the Bahamas.

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howlermunkey 23 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Amy,

Thanks a lot for the heads up, it IS a word already isn't it? Thanks a lot!

Hi D,

We're talking about fountain drinks first of all. Can't compare to a can or 2 liter, and its all about the extra effort that McDonald's puts into their fountain sodas. Go Grab a bottle of diet coke, and then go to a McDonald's and compare the two... I Double Dog Dare you.... McDonald's Diet Coke will taste WAY better........

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howlermunkey 23 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Coca Cola Man123,

Thanks so much for chiming in! Great to hear feedback from someone who knows these systems. "Also the water is not filtered better at the Coca Cola Plant"...awesome. Validation people :) Thanks again Coca Cola Man123

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howlermunkey 23 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Virginia :), yes agreed, they maintain their systems more often than most. thanks for stopping by.

Hi Coke Man,

Thanks so much for the feedback, nice to hear from a 25 year veteran!Awesome.Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Heather,

I freakin LOVE Starbucks. I'm not surprised that they triple filter their water. On my way to get a Venti Mocha Roight now.........literally, right n.......

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howlermunkey 23 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Terrie :),

Ooooooh, very interesting. Does anyone else know if this is true, McDonald's having their own blend? I would very much like to talk to your source :) (seriously) . So far none of our Coke experts have mentioned a special blend, but have confirmed the equipment and filtration systems. I've chalked it up as Urban Legend but I do try to keep an open mind. If its true I'll have to rewrite this article! Thanks for stopping by!

Nesha 21 months ago

Check out the sweetening system in each. Generally, fast food syrup is sweetened with saccharine, the stuff in the bottle is made with aspartame. Coke's water filtration systems are superior to anything you could find at a McDonald's and it's probably Coke's filtration specifictions that dictate what McDonalds has in place.

Brittany 21 months ago

Im a manager at McDonald's, we found out recently that another reason our coke taste so much better is because we get the freshest syrup. When coke produces syrup, it can be almost two months old before it's mixed to become the bottled stuff you buy in the store. But McDonalds supply is Less then two weeks old when. We get it. Fresh is always better!

Dude 21 months ago

The plural of soda is sodas.

JC 21 months ago

But, its only a dolla!!

Its so cheap, all that attentipn to detail and its a dolla!!

mandination profile image

mandination 21 months ago from Pittsburgh

I never would have thought to ask this question before, but once I saw the title of your hub, I absolutely had to know the answer. You made some great points that add up to make a lot of sense.

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howlermunkey 21 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Dude, are you "the dude" or "dude"?. Either way sage advice. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi JC, Exactly my friend :), dolla gets you the diet coke. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Mandination, I've literally held on to this question since I was a kid. me and my friends used to debate whether or not McDonalds had a secret contract with the Coca Cola company...(people still debate this). Thanks for stopping by, gonna read your starbucks articles today :)

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 17 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Interesting article and speculation on the reason the diet coke tastes different at McDonald's. I've heard that Starbuck's has a fantastic water filtration requirement in their stores, too. That would account for the consistency in taste from different areas. I'm old enough to remember fountain Cokes at the dime store and they were always tasty and definitely better than the canned drinks.

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howlermunkey 17 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi PegCole17!, Yes, I'm a HUGE Starbucks fan as well, and I have heard that they too have a superior water filtration system. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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bossin777 11 months ago from New England

Fountain soda is the best ...I rarely drink soda at all,but this explains my adversion to canned and bottled soda!

Budapesti 9 months ago

I never drink soda (pop, Coke, etc) nor do I ever visit McDonalds. Why put that garbage into my body when there are so many better options out there?

Cb207 9 months ago

I used to work for NutraSweet (maker of aspartame), and fountain Diet Coke contains a blend of saccharine and aspartame. That's why it tastes different than canned or bottled soda (that would have a 100% aspartame). Also, the high volume turn over at McDonald's lends to the freshness. Anyone who drinks diet soda has surely noticed the occasional 'bad' soda. This is from the aspartame breaking down. Once it is resolubulized, and hits carbonation, the shelf life is 90 days. This time line matches up with how long carbonation lasts in 2 L bottles, as after that time period, the CO2 has leached out through the plastic bottle. McD's doesn't have this problem with their high volume turn over.

Helen 9 months ago

I have always thought the Coke from McDonalds tastes the best around. When my kids were sick I would ALWAYS get them a Coke from M.D. To settle their stomachs plus French Fries. It always worked for them. My husband would always say we have Coke at home why do you always ask me to get a fountain Coke when we get take home, I tell him it taste better the can Coke, he always tells me I am crazy a Coke is a Coke. Now I can tell him why it taste better from the fountain. Thanks McDonalds!!!

Steph 9 months ago

The information you've shared here is exclusively about Coca-Cola. The Diet Coke at McDonald's is different mainly because it still contains saccharin (like Sweet'N Low) as the sweetener, whereas almost all other Diet Coke formulas switched to 100% aspartame (brand name NutraSweet) in the late 80s or early 90s. So if you like the flavor of the McDonald's Diet Coke, that means you like the flavor from the saccharin.

Holly 9 months ago

The McDonald's in the Detroit airport serves Pepsi products eeeeek

margie 9 months ago

McDonald's has, by far, the best diet coke out there. (When I'm at home though, I drink diet Pepsi.) I have noticed though that the McDonald's around Chicago suburbs are not filling them up all the way......looks like someone had a few sips first before handing it to me! That's not right!!!!!!! I need a full sized beverage by the time I hit that drive thru!

Andrea E. 9 months ago

I'd much rather have a Diet Pepsi!! Fountain IS better. And when I feel the crave for chocolate, I go to Sonic and get a Chocolate Diet Coke! Mmmmm!!! And it makes my day that the order taker asks, "Did you say CHOCOLATE Diet Coke!!!???" Don't judge. My quirk makes me happy!! Diet Pepsi is still my go to beverage, though! Coke drinkers.... you can keep your soda. More for you, right? LOL!

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howlermunkey 9 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Bill,


Thanks for stopping by!

Angela 9 months ago

I don't know about the rest of the article but the part about the syrup in plastic bags is WRONG! I worked at McDonald's for five years and I assure you that they DO get their syrup in plastic bags just like everyone else. I sure don't remember any water filters being changed either, and I was a shift manager for two years.

Jeff 9 months ago

I love their Coke. So good. I almost always drink diet coke when i go just to keep calories lower. I really done like any diet coke even in a can. And MD has an odd taste. Why dont they offer Coke Zero? Its the best.

Caroline 9 months ago

I work at McDonalds. Have for awhile. And you're WRONG. nice try? Stainless steel tanks? Really? Uhm. No.

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howlermunkey 9 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hi Caroline, Angela,

Yes it's true. Not all McDonald's use the steel tanks, only those with high enough volume to warrant the cost associated with using the tanks. So be it, the tanks play a smaller role when it comes to soda quality anyway. The main differentiator between McDonald's fountain drinks and the rest of the planet is the water quality. The second is then the chill factor.

Thanks for stopping by! -- howlermunkey

spanky 8 months ago

I agree that coca cola or diet coke taste better at McDonald's than any other

restaurant or fast food joints, I worked for Coca cola in the eighty's, saw a lot of changes in those years, transition form returnable bottles to plastic and cans, even the NEW coke that the nation just loved, but I just wanted to put it out there that the best tasting coca cola is a 38 degree 6 1/2 oz returnable bottled coca cola. thanks.

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howlermunkey 8 months ago from Tampa, FL Author

Hey Spanky!

Great to hear feedback from someone in the 'biz'! When you say 6 1/2 ounce returnable, you're referring to the classic glass (vintage) style bottle of coke? If so then I totally agree, seems I only drink those on rare occasions, and nothing tastes like that on a hot summer day. Thanks for stopping by!

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