Is McDonald's Dollar Menu disappearing? Why prices are creeping back up

The chain is basically just offering soft drinks for $1 at most locations.
McDonald's
Mike Blake / Reuters

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/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

Fast food value menus are constantly evolving, but at the largest chain in the country, getting an actual item of food for just $1 is becoming a thing of the past.

The McDonald’s Dollar Menu, which originally rolled out in 2002, has gone through many changes over the years before being reintroduced as the $1 $2 $3 Menu in 2017. When that menu initially rolled out, customers were able to get items like a breakfast sausage burrito, a McChicken sandwich or even a cheeseburger for just a buck.

Now, few locations are offering any food at all for just $1 and a quick visit to McDonald’s website reveals that the chain is only advertising soft drinks (of any size!) for just $1 these days.

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So what’s really going on?

The menu update, according to a representative for the chain, was implemented this year to allow store owners and operators "greater flexibility" to cater to regional needs.

"We created the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu with the intention of occasionally rotating popular menu items to provide customers the variety and value they expect from McDonald’s," the rep told TODAY Food via email. "The number of items will vary by market given a variety of menu items on the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu will be determined by local and tailored to meet the tastes and preferences of local customers."

The chain has also experimented with rolling out other discounted meal deals, including the "2 for $5 Mix & Match Deal," which allowed customers to combine main dishes like a Big Mac with an order of McNuggets for $5.

Since the majority of McDonald's locations in the U.S. are franchised, it's possible that select food items may pop up for just $1 in certain regions on occasion.

When contacted by TODAY, McDonald's locations in both South Carolina and Texas said they were currently offering cheeseburgers, as well as sweet tea, on store menus for just $1. Other locations, including one in Brooklyn, New York, is still currently offering a four-piece McNugget for $1, too.

But that low price isn't guaranteed at the more than 14,000 McDonald's locations across the U.S.

While the menu change has been rolling out steadily since January, many people are just now taking to social media to vent their frustration with the truncated value menu.

That said, some are pointing out that real dollar menus are still alive and well at other fast food places.

It's possible that, like Wendy's, McDonald's will listen to its fans and bring back what the people really want.