So, what is it, exactly, that makes for the major price deviation of a Big Mac throughout the United States? It’s not a difference in its make or even the quality of its ingredients, but rather, the amount of money being paid to the McDonald’s employees making it.
Per Restaurant Business, menu pricing within fast-food chains, including Mickey D’s, directly correlates to the city and state’s official minimum wage or lack thereof. For example, the state of Alabama adheres to the federal minimum wage of $7.25, per the Department of Labor. Meanwhile, Washington is set at $13.69, with the city of Seattle itself offering a minimum wage of $16.69 an hour (via Working Washington). As Juan Martinez, founder and principal of the consultant firm Profitality, told Restaurant Business, a higher minimum wage “has to be covered,” and it can’t be done “completely internally,” hence, higher prices for menu staples such as the Big Mac.
And while paying close to $6.50 at the drive-thru window might be a turnoff, that still doesn’t mark the most expensive Big Mac within the McDonald’s chain. As of January 2021, that title went to restaurants in Switzerland, where Statista noted that the sandwich goes for $7.29 a pop.