It’s amazing how productive some people are with their free time. About a week ago, Reddit user wise_genesis proved this by sharing a map they created to show differences in Big Mac prices across the United States.
“I made a site that tracks the price of a Big Mac in every US McDonald’s,” the user wrote. “Prices vary by up to 77%.”
The map, which is called McCheapest, pins Big Mac prices with dots, using a color gradient to visually depict prices on a spectrum. Green signals the cheapest burgers, while a deep shade of red so dark it looks black represents the most expensive.
According to the map, the cheapest Big Mac in the country can be found in Stigler, Ohio, at just $3.49. The most expensive is in Lee, Massachusetts, out by the western edge of the state, at $8.09—that’s more than double the cost of the burger in Stigler. The map is interactive, so you can zoom from region to region; as you do so, the notation in the top left corner about the most and least expensive Big Mac will adjust for the region you’re viewing.
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The map’s creator is Sacha Fournier, who said he was inspired by McBroken, a website that tracks whether the ice cream machine in a given McDonald’s location is broken (heroic). To populate the Big Mac map, Fournier wasn’t able to use data from the McDonald’s website, because it doesn’t show prices. Instead, he had to create a workaround that used the location-specific price information in the McDonald’s app.
“I built a custom scraper using the Appium framework,” Fournier wrote. “I have a script running on my machine 24/7 connected to a phone with the McDonald’s app ‘ordering’ Big Macs on loop. None are actually ordered, just added to cart. I self host a map server and the data updates from the scraper every few days.”
Why Big Macs? Because The Economist had already popularized it as a reference point via its so-called Big Mac Index, developed in 1986 to measure economic health (much like how FEMA uses the Waffle House Index to measure the scope of natural disasters). Fournier added that he wanted to look at the varying prices of other McDonald’s items, too, but the logistics soon got overwhelming. Another user suggested that the map function be applied to national egg prices, an idea that Fournier loves.
“Someone, somewhere, has already registered eggspensive.com (seriously?!?),” he wrote. “I’ll look into this as I think it could be pretty cool (providing I can get the data).”
As we await that new act of eggcellent internet investigation, I’ll be over here traveling the country by way of Big Mac prices. What a time to be alive.