Bad News For Lovers of the Iconic McDonald's Coke

Empty cups and empty hearts are all that's left for the lovers of McDonald's iconic fountain Coke. Fans are now mourning the loss of free refills, a staple at McDonald's, which has recently started to charge for the extra pour.

A Pittsburgh customer revealed to that their local McDonald's began charging for drink refills, deviating from the long-standing norm of free refills in fast-food chains. "What is the world coming to?" a dismayed customer exclaimed on social media platform X.

@stephen.patula We all know McDonald’s coke is superior... ???? #mcdonalds #coke #foryou #fyp ♬ Good Day - Nappy Roots

McDonald's announced last year their plans to phase out self-serve soda fountains by 2032. Despite this, a company representative mentioned to Business Insider that refill charges would depend on the decision of individual franchise owners.

The trend in fast food seems clear: customers should not expect free refills and should be prepared to pay for additional drinks. Darren Tristano, CEO of FoodserviceResults, noted, "McDonald’s tends to be a leader in the industry. When they make big changes, other restaurants often follow. They are very smart about their costs."

Self-serve soda machines are disappearing beyond McDonald's. Marketplace reports that even Panera Bread and Wegmans grocery store customers have noticed the change. Alex Susskind, a professor at Cornell University, confirmed that food courts in New York and Pennsylvania are increasingly securing their soda machines behind counters.

Originally installed in 2004, the self-serve fountains at McDonald's were once celebrated. However, Susskind now believes they are more trouble than they're worth, requiring significant maintenance and cleaning.

Former McDonald's corporate chef and TikTok personality Mike Haracz addressed the issue, suggesting that preventing drink theft was one rationale behind the decision. He mentioned that McDonald's prefers customers use the drive-thru for faster service, highlighting that in-restaurant service costs the company more.

@chefmikeharacz Former #mcdonalds corporate chef talks about them removing free refills! #McdonaldsLife #McDonaldsTikTok #mcdonaldssecrets #McDonaldsSecret #food #tiktokfood #foodfestontiktok #foodtiktok #mcdonaldsccsing #fastfood #FastFoodSecrets #fastfoodlife #FastFoodTikTok ♬ original sound - Chef Mike Haracz

"Most of McDonald’s business is through the drive-thru. And it does cost McDonald’s more money to deal with people who come into the restaurant than it does drive-thru," Haracz explained in a viral video.

David Henkes from Technomic added that dine-in volume has significantly dropped, but suggested that economic reasons might also influence the decision to eliminate refills. "It’s essentially pennies per drink for the cost of the syrup," Henkes said to Marketplace. "It’s a good business, and that’s why a lot of times, you see companies doing any size for $1."