“McFlation”: McDonald’s $25 Chicken Nugget Combo Fuels Anger Over California’s $20 Minimum Wage

Sharing is caring!

In California, the implementation of a $20 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers has initiated significant economic repercussions. The adjustment has arguably led to a notable increase in prices, exemplified by a McDonald’s chicken nugget combo now costing $25, which sparked widespread discussion and the term “McFlation” on social media platforms like TikTok. 

Customer Shock at McDonald’s Price


A viral TikTok video capturing a customer’s dismay over a $25 meal at a McDonald’s in California has ignited discussions surrounding the state’s recent minimum wage increase for fast food workers. 

Wage Hike Impact on Fast Food


The law, which took effect on April 1, mandates that fast food chains with over 60 locations nationwide raise their starting wage from $16 to $20 per hour.

Although the wage increase is designed to support workers financially, it also raises concerns about potential layoffs, increased automation, and elevated meal costs.

Is Fast Food Getting Too Expensive?

Image by gilmanshin/Depositphotos

The video (unavailable at the time of publication) showcases a customer at a Southern California drive-thru reacting to the cost of a “40-piece chicken McNuggets bundle.” The deal, consisting of four sets of 10-piece nuggets and two large fries, totals $25.39 plus sales tax. 



The customer, who posts TikTok videos under the username @shannon_montipaya, labeled the high pricing as “McFlation,” expressing disappointment over not receiving a medium Sprite with the order, further highlighting consumer discontent with rising fast food prices amid wage adjustments.

Designed to serve four, this meal exemplifies the general trend of rising prices within the fast food industry. 

California’s Wage Experiment


As the pioneer in establishing a higher minimum wage for this sector, California serves as a critical case study for the nation. 

The response from fast food chains has included modifying prices and reducing staff numbers in an effort to balance the rise in labor costs with operational sustainability. 

Balancing Profit and Fair Pay

Illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

While the legislative intent is to aid low-income workers, it poses challenges for restaurants striving to remain profitable and retain employees amid these new financial pressures.

Are Local Franchisees to Blame?


The TikTok video has become a focal point for discussions about the state’s new minimum wage law for fast food workers. While many commenters attribute the price hike to this legislation, McDonald’s has clarified that the price shown in the video exceeds the average cost of the same “40-piece chicken McNuggets bundle” across Southern California locations. 

The company emphasizes that prices can differ significantly between restaurants, reflecting decisions made by local franchisees.

Nostalgia for Cheaper Fast Food

Photo by radub85/ Depositphotos

The video has since gone viral, amassing millions of views and sparking a wave of nostalgia in the comments section for lower prices once offered by McDonald’s. 

Many users reminisced about drastically cheaper deals from the past, such as a 40-piece nugget for $5 and a large drink for $1, contrasting sharply with current pricing.

Prices Stun Consumers

Illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

The strong reactions in the comments also reflect broader customer experiences, with one user sharing their shock at spending $48 in a single visit. 

This shared sense of astonishment underscores the broader impact of price increases on consumer expectations and brand loyalty in the fast food sector.

Fair Price?

Photo by truthfunctional/Depositphotos

In the discussion, a segment of viewers defended the pricing. One user calculated the cost per person, suggesting that the price was reasonable when divided among multiple people. 

Another comment emphasized the value offered, stating that the customer is getting a good deal yet is complaining.

Menu Price Surge Since 2014


A report by Finance Buzz highlights that McDonald’s menu prices have surged significantly since 2014, more so than other analyzed fast food chains like Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. 

Over a decade, these chains increased their prices by about 60%, nearly double the national inflation rate. 

McDonald’s Disputes Price Report


The report suggests McDonald’s raised its average menu prices by more than three times the national rate. However, McDonald’s disputes this analysis, stating that the report overstates the average prices for 2024 and does not accurately reflect the pricing at its restaurants.

California’s $20 Minimum Wage Dilemma

Image by teamtime/Depositphotos

California’s recent move to implement a $20 minimum wage for fast food workers is a bold step aimed at providing these employees with a sustainable income. However, this increase has stirred concerns about its potential unintended consequences.

As labor costs mount, many restaurants face the pressing challenge of maintaining profitability while ensuring they have sufficient staff.

The Price of Higher Wages


Restaurants are now grappling with these higher expenses, which take a considerable share of their budgets. To manage these costs, some have found it necessary to reduce staff hours or even eliminate positions entirely. 

Is Automation a Good Solution?

Photo by teamtime/ Depositphotos

The push towards automation is also becoming more evident, with establishments like McDonald’s introducing automated order terminals in various locations. 

This move allows customers to place orders without direct interaction with staff, potentially reducing labor needs further.

Economic Ripple Effects

Illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

While the goal of the $20 minimum wage is to lift many out of poverty, the broader economic impacts are complex and still unfolding. 

Industry experts warn that the cumulative effect of increased operating expenses might force more restaurants to cut jobs, scale back on hours, accelerate the adoption of automation, and increase menu prices to remain financially viable.

Top 3 U.S. States That Almost No One Leaves (And for Good Reason)


Top 3 U.S. States That Almost No One Leaves (And for Good Reason)

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.