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Unfortunately, the Food Brands Have Discovered Astrology

The planets have nothing to do with your fries, but McDonald’s and Del Taco are offering deals tied to Mercury retrograde anyway

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Six McDonald’s chicken sandwiches in space next to the planet Mercury. Shutterstock; McDonald’s
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

Since humans could contemplate their existence, they have looked to the stars for guidance. We have assigned meaning to planets and stars and celestial movements, grasping for answers. Am I alone in this universe? Do my ancestors speak through you? Can your placements help me know myself? And now, finally, What kind of salad should I eat if I’m a Virgo?

The mystical pseudoscience has gained massive mainstream popularity in the past few years, prompting otherwise secular people to wonder whether Mercury is to blame for their problems, to ask tarot cards for dating advice, or to avoid Capricorn roommates. So of course it was only a matter of time before the food brands found astrology and other witchy arts. McDonald’s, Dole, and Del Taco have all recently announced enchanting, planet-based deals. Which means the cosmos are officially over. Sorry, moon.

Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion during which it appears that Mercury is moving backwards in its orbit from Earth’s vantage point, which some astrologers say causes disruptions in communication and technology. To “celebrate,” McDonald’s is offering a McChicken or McDouble with the purchase of a medium fries exclusively in the McDonald’s App on May 10 and 11, and is partnering with TikTok tarot reader Madam Adam for a “McDonald’s-inspired tarot reading,” which I can only hope means the Ten of Hamburglars tells me it’s time to release my burdens (hamburgers) to him. A live reading starts at 6 p.m. ET on May 10.

Del Taco has also been running a Mercury retrograde special since January, a different one for each of the four occurrences this year; this time it’s offering a free chicken cheddar roller with any $3 purchase on its app. “Recognizing the positive and satisfying value of a good meal and deal no matter the circumstances, Del Taco is turning a perceived negative time frame into a win/win,” the company writes on its blog.

Dole is also getting into the cosmic arts, celebrating May’s National Salad Month (sure) by publishing 12 salad recipes, one each for the 12 signs of the zodiac. For instance, “​​Aquarians are clever, unique, glass-is-half-full individuals who add a breath of fresh air to any situation,” which is why they’ve been assigned the watermelon and shaved ricotta salata with mint salad. And a chopped tahini-Caesar salad with grilled chicken appeals to “harmony and balance-seeking Librans.” Dole does not say what will happen if you attempt to eat a salad not assigned by a marketing department to your sun sign. Terrible things, we assume.

These stunts follow food brands getting into metaphysical practices in other ways, from a new tequila that is “nourished by the good energy that seeps from the sun and stars to infuse cocktails with bright bursts of citrus,” to water bottles that infuse your drinks with crystals, to a cookbook that uses the tarot to help you figure out dinner.

And while some of these creators are sincere, there’s no doubt that McDonald’s does not actually care about the planets or the belief systems that follow them. It’s cynical and obvious, a way for an exploitative, destructive corporation to align themselves with what some people think is cool, and use a TikTok star to launder their image, and that’s it. Sorry to be a bitch about it, but I am a Scorpio.