Does ‘Free’ Taste Better?


Recently McDonald’s decided to celebrate National Breakfast Day, with zero regard to the fact that celebrating it in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific really made it international rather than national. They marked the day by giving out free McMuffins to the first set of people who showed up at their outlets. Like most human beings I have been conditioned to value the word ‘free’. However, this time I did not bother to go. No not because I vowed never to eat a McDonald’s breakfast again about 3 years ago when I could actually feel the fat building on my waistline with each bite. (I still ate it when my boss bought me breakfast for grudgingly coming in to work early. Hey it was free. Did I not just mention that I like free stuff?) The real reason I did not go to McDonald’s was because I valued 20 extra minutes of sleep.

So in case you were wondering about my priorities, here’s the right order:

  1. 20 minutes of sleep
  2. US$2 worth of free food
  3. My health

That being said, I did happen to be at the mall when Baskin Robbins was promoting National Some-Other-Marketing-Gimmick Day. It was weekday and during working hours so I thought things would be as simple as walking up to the counter and sheepishly asking for a free ice cream cone. Instead I saw a line with hundreds of people and it appeared that parents had actually pulled their children out of school for this momentous occasion. And then there was a poor frazzled Baskin Robbins employee who was tasked with giving out coupons to people in line. In the meanwhile mothers were telling children who had already received coupons to hide the first one and go back to ask for a second one. I don’t know if I was more surprised by the mothers or the frazzled employee who demanded that these obviously dishonest people become honest and return the extra coupons. Needless to say, my opinion on ‘free’ was forever changed. Paying twice as much at another store seemed like better value than standing in that line.

Update of priorities:

  1. My sanity
  2. 20 minutes of sleep
  3. US$2 worth of free food
  4. My health