Putting fast food restaurants to a soda test

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX - 3 On Your Side is putting fast food restaurants to the test to see if you're being served straight soda or just a watered-down waste of money.

Are you really getting what you pay for when it comes to drinks at drive-thrus?

Spreading the love may have been the message of McDonald's commercials back in the 70's, but these days, love just isn't enough, it's about getting more for your money.

3 On Your Side wanted to know what you're really getting when you go to a drive-thru.

Our unscientific soda test began in Northwest Phoenix.?

A 3 On Your Side producer ordered 32-ounce soft drinks from four popular fast food chains:

McDonalds, ?Jack In the Box, Sonic and Taco Bell.

Right away we separated the soda from the ice. Then we popped over to South Scottsdale for our second round of cup-by-cup-comparisons, then split to Central Phoenix for our third and final tray.

Steve Roussas who is an expert in the field of hospitality says while you may think restaurants are ripping you off, there's a reason for the ice to soda ratio.

"Coca cola, Pepsi-cola, they've done a lot of studies and they have found out that the more ice you put in the drink, the better it tastes, the better it looks," Roussas said.

He explained Coke and Pepsi both recommend soda should be served with the cup three-quarters of the way full of ice.

"It looks good, the bubbles come up, it looks refreshing, especially in the hot weather, it makes you want to drink it," he said.

But fast food customers we talked to found that hard to swallow, especially after we told them how much it actually costs to make each drink.

In our 32-ounce consumer test McDonald's and Sonic both gave us an average of 21 ounces of coke and each had dollar drink deals.

Jack in the Box, where we paid the most for the drink, gave an average of 22 ounces of coke, so that's where we got the most bang for our buck.

Taco Bell served an average of 18 ounces of Pepsi, the least amount, leaving us with much more ice than soda.

Our expert said when you hear this question at a drive thru:

"Hi can I help you?" cashiers should also ask "How much ice would you like?"

Because after all the best way to keep customers coming back for more, is to give them exactly what they paid for.

"Doesn't take much effort for someone to say how much ice would you like in your drink," Roussas said.

We contacted representatives from McDonald's, Sonic, Jack in the Box and Taco Bell for comment.

"Our drive thru customers can order beverages with less or even no ice at no extra cost.? We also offer free drink refills for customers who order in our dining rooms." - Rob Poetsch, Taco Bell Corp.

"At McDonald's we strive to provide our customers with the best tasting product and the best value. ?This is another example of how we deliver value for the money every day." - David Martinelli, McDonald's USA, LLC