McDonald's Is Phasing Out Their Self-Serve Soda Machines

The company is tapping out on the beverage stations.

McDonald's is doing away with soda fountains.
McDonald's is doing away with soda fountains. / thad/iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

Beyond Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, and the McFlurry (if the machine is actually working), one of the biggest attractors to McDonald’s is their soda. Shipped in stainless steel canisters (instead of plastic) from Coca-Cola, it’s fresh, cold, and easily refilled at self-serve taps.

But not for much longer. According to CNN, McDonald’s plans to eliminate all of their dining room soda dispensers by 2032. The reason? Changing appetites in the fast food industry.

McDonald’s and other companies have seen a shift in consumer behavior patterns following the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic. Customers, many of whom are eager to avoid indoor crowds, have increasingly taken to using online ordering apps, delivery services like DoorDash, or drive-thru options rather than sitting in dining areas. Online ordering now accounts for 40 percent of the total sales at the Golden Arches. With fewer people topping off drinks, the company sees little reason to keep the machines that serve that need.

That won’t be the only change to come out of seeing reduced foot traffic. McDonald’s is also pursuing small-scale locations dubbed CosMc’s with smaller seating areas.

It is not yet known how the change might affect a customer’s ability to grab a refill. At present, refill policies are usually left up to franchisees. Some customers have voiced concern about the time it takes to get a new drink at the counter as well as an inability to mix their own beverage.

If you’re partial to a Coke-Sprite mix, the clock is ticking. Some locations, including those in Illinois, have already started removing the fountains.