Very Unhappy Meals: The 10 Fast Food Chains Where Prices Have Skyrocketed

McDonald’s, Burger King, and other chains are fast but no longer cheap.
That'll be $85. Please pull up.
That'll be $85. Please pull up. / Cate Gillon/GettyImages

Consumers have long had an easily understood relationship with fast food. For a few dollars, franchises like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and others would provide tasty (albeit nutritionally suspect) meals quickly. But thanks to a combination of inflation, employee shortages, and possibly some corporate greed, that equation is now out the window. That sack of grease on your passenger seat will likely run you $20 or more.

Recently, financial advice site FinanceBuzz compiled data from 2014 to examine just how much prices have increased at fast food hubs in the past decade. At some chains, you’re now paying double the price for the same amount of food.


Fast Food Chain

Price Increase



100 percent



86 Percent


Taco Bell

81 Percent



75 Percent


Jimmy John’s

62 Percent



55 Percent


Burger King

55 Percent



55 Percent



55 Percent



54 Percent

The Golden Arches posted the highest increase over the decade, with prices for its menu items going up by an average of 100 percent, or three times the national rate of inflation over the same time period. An order of medium fries, once $1.59, is now $3.79. A 10-piece order of Chicken McNuggets soared from $5.99 to $10.99. Only a medium soft drink beat inflation, going from $1.29 to $1.61.

Taco Bell, long home to tacos you might be able to acquire using loose change from your center console, also fared poorly, going up 81 percent. Their Cheesy Gordita Crunch doubled in price, from $2.49 to $4.99.

FinanceBuzz also found that Starbucks and Subway stayed relatively on pace with inflation, going up 39 percent each. But depending on the menu item, customers can still have sticker shock: A footlong Subway club is now $9.99, up from $7 in 2014.

If you’re seeing different prices at your local food spots, keep in mind that fast food franchises are often locally owned and operated by franchisees who can set their own prices.

How these radical price increases will influence consumer loyalty remains to be seen, but the short-term outlook isn’t good. Many have expressed disappointment on social media about paying exorbitant prices for what’s intended to be a money-saving option. Or, as consumer Kevin Roberts told CBS News, “The whole conceit was that you were getting some OK-level of food for a low price and you could get it quick. Now I can’t justify the expense. If I’m paying $15 for a burger and [fries] and drink and it’s McDonald’s quality, forget about it—I’m going home.”

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