Salad Days

Karyn Mccormack

Though it hasn't resorted to putting a person as famous as Paris Hilton in a skimpy bathing suit, McDonald's is pulling all the stops to push its new Fruit & Walnut Salad. The mecca of fatty burgers and fries launched the salad on May 4 with a special event with music stars Destiny's Child and is advertising it like crazy.

And check out this special: From May 9 to May 28, its New York tri-state area restaurants are offering a free one-week pass to any of the 95 New York Sports Clubs (NYSC) in the region. And New York Sports Clubs are giving $1 off coupons for a Fruit & Walnut Salad and a drink. Says McDonald's press release: "The best part ... during the three-week period, customers can receive up to three free passes (with the purchase of a salad) with which to work out -- just in time for bathing suit season!"

It's strange that Mickey D's is attempting to get us ready for "bathing suit season." Will I actually look better in a bathing suit if I eat the Fruit & Walnut Salad and work out for three weeks? Will I return to my flabby old self when the free workouts end?

I couldn't resist this marketing ploy. My first stop was the nearby New York Sports Club to find the coupon. "It's a great marriage: fitness and McDonald's," jokes a NYSC manager. "Get fat, come work out." He says no one has come looking for the McDonald's coupon at his location, except for me, and nobody has cashed in their free week at the gym.

With coupon in hand, I went to McDonald's. The Fruit & Walnut Salad plus a Dasani bottled water minus the $1 coupon cost $4.30 (including tax). The salad is sliced apples and grapes with yogurt topping or dip on the side. The sweetened walnuts were hidden in a bag with a fork.

Well, at least I'll get a free week at the NYSC, which runs $89 to $95 a month depending on the contract you sign. As Paris Hilton has shown, bathing suit season is well underway.

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