McDonald’s has launched its own currency, the MacCoin – although it has no legal cash value.
The MacCoin has been minted in more than 50 countries to mark the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac sandwich (or burger, as it’s called outside North America). Those who have a MacCoin can exchange it for a free Big Mac at stores until the end of this year. Or perhaps hold on to it as a souvenir – who knows, it might be worth more than a Big Mac one day, such is the nature of memorabilia..!
From Thursday (August 2) 6.2 million MacCoins will go into circulation internationally. They can be earned by entering contests via social media channel Twitter and other means – they’re not being distributed from restaurants or as change in stores.
The coins feature five unique designs, each representing a decade of the Big Mac. While the front-side of the MacCoin celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac, the flip side design features elements from that time in history:
- The 1970s, showcasing the decade’s flower power.
- The 1980s alluding to pop art.
- The 1990s defined with bold, abstract shapes.
- The early 2000s specifically focusing on the technology that was at the forefront of the turn of the century.
- The 2010s MacCoin calling attention to the evolution of communication.
The seven languages featured on the front-side of the MacCoin – Arabic, English, Indonesian, Mandarin, Portuguese, French and Spanish – represent many of the countries participating.
Here’s a cool video about the launch of the MacCoin:
The MacCoin was inspired by The Economist’s Big Mac Index, which is the publishing house’s measure of global spending power (comparing, each year, the price of a Big Mac in many international markets, converting them to a common base currency).
“As one of the most well-known and iconic McDonald’s menu items – and business driver – around the globe, the Big Mac deserves the celebration that the coin evokes,” says Jeff McLean, CFO at McDonald’s Canada. “The fact that in 50 years, the Big Mac has become so universally recognised it’s used to measure the purchasing power of international currencies is pretty remarkable.”
Coin collectors are delighted: “The Big Mac is a cultural icon and what better way to celebrate its continuing status than to issue a commemorative coin,” says Henry Nienhuis, president of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (Numismatic is the fancy word for a coin collector, by the way). “The many designs of the MacCoin reflect the incredible international network that comprises the McDonald’s global system. We all know what the Big Mac is worth to us, but giving it its own limited mintage official celebratory coin, expands that worth giving us a collectible keepsake as well.”
We’ll leave the final words on this story to Nick Delligatti, fourth-generation McDonald’s owner-operator and great-grandson of Jim Delligatti, the inventor of the Big Mac: “When my great-grandfather Jim Delligatti invented the Big Mac at his grill in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, he just wanted to make his local customers happy. August 2 would have been my great-grandfather’s 100th birthday, and I believe he would be very proud knowing his humble sandwich has made such a lasting impression that people all around the world can enjoy it wherever they find a McDonald’s.”
Originally sold for just 45 cents, the Big Mac is now available in more than 100 countries.