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How to get a McDonald's MacCoin, free Big Mac in honor of iconic burger's 50th anniversary

McDonald's is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic Big Mac in a big way.

Starting at lunchtime Thursday, customers at 14,000 participating restaurants across the country will receive a MacCoin with the purchase of a Big Mac while supplies last, the company announced in a news release.

>> Read more trending news 

From Friday through the end of the year, customers can redeem a MacCoin for a free Big Mac at participating restaurants.

The coins have the following five designs, each paying tribute to a different decade:

  • The '70s MacCoin's theme is flower power.
  • The '80s MacCoin pays tribute to pop art. 
  • The '90s MacCoin has bold, abstract shapes.
  • The '00s MacCoin focuses on technology.
  • The '10s MacCoin honors "the evolution of communication." 

According to WPXI, the iconic burger was created in the Pittsburgh area by franchisee Jim Delligatti.

“When my great-grandfather Jim Delligatti invented the Big Mac at his grill in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, he just wanted to make his local customers happy,” said Nick Delligatti, fourth-generation McDonald’s owner-operator and great-grandson of Delligatti. “August 2 would have been my great-grandfather’s 100th birthday, and I believe he would be very proud knowing his humble sandwich has made such a lasting impression that people all around the world can enjoy it wherever they find a McDonald’s.” 

Read more here.

Sonic introduces Pickle Juice, Tiger’s Blood slush plus other new flavors

With summer well underway, Sonic has a new tart and sweet slush on its menu.

Starting Monday, the Pickle Juice slush is available for customers as part of four new flavors for the season.

>> Read more trending news 

Tiger’s Blood, Blue Hawaiian and Bahama Mama are also joining the lineup for a limited time.

“Sonic’s guests are game to try adventurous and fun flavors, so we’ve made it our mission to deliver the best of both worlds when it comes to innovation and variety,” Sonic executive Scott Uehlein said in a news release. “The entire Snow Cone Slush lineup – including Pickle Juice, Bahama Mama, Blue Hawaiian and Tiger’s Blood – has a distinctly summertime vibe, allowing our guests to create new summer memories.”

Related: Sonic will have pickle slushes on the menu this summer

Initially reported in March, the syrup that makes the bright green Pickle Juice slush can be added to anything on the menu. Individual franchises will decide whether to charge for creative food mixes.

National Nurses Week 2018: 5 freebies and deals

Businesses across the country are honoring nurses this week with freebies and deals for health care workers.

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National Nurses Week, which kicked off with National Nurses Day on May 6, runs through May 12, the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale.

Check out some of the offers below, and just to be on the safe side, contact your local stores and franchises to make sure they are participating:

>> Teacher Appreciation Day 2018: Here’s a list of freebies for the nation’s educators

1. Cinnabon: Sweet! Nurses can get a free Cinnabon Classic Roll, MiniBon Roll or four-count order of BonBites by presenting their medical ID from May 6-12. Read more here.

2. Easy Spirit: Get 30 percent off your purchase at the shoe brand's website, EasySpirit.com, all month long with the coupon code NURSESWEEK30. Nurses also can enter the #MoveFor Healing Sweepstakes to win shoes for their team. Read more here.

3. PDQ: Nurses and teachers can get 50 percent off their order Tuesday, May 8, by showing their work ID. Read more here.

4. Potbelly Sandwich Shop: According to Newsweek, nurses "who show their medical ID or wear their scrubs" can get "a free fountain drink or cookie with their purchase of a sandwich." Read more here.

5. Chipotle Mexican Grill: Although the restaurant chain isn't running a promotion for nurses this week, USA Today reports that participating locations will offer nurses a buy one, get one free burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos on June 5. Nurses must present a work ID to claim their freebie. Read more here.

How to get free Chipotle on Teacher Appreciation Day

Chipotle will celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day on May 8 with a tasty deal: buy one, get one free burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos at participating stores.

According to the restaurant chain's website, educators can claim their freebie from 3 p.m. to close Tuesday, May 8, by presenting their faculty ID.

>> Read more trending news 

The promotion is limited to "one free entree item per customer," available "for in-restaurant orders only" and "not valid for online, mobile, fax or catering orders," the website says

To be on the safe side, contact your local Chipotle to make sure it is participating in the offer.

Read more here.

Dunkin' Donuts introducing Girl Scout Cookie-flavored coffees

If you like flavored coffee and Girl Scout Cookies, you might be in luck.

Dunkin’ Donuts has announced that by Monday, Feb. 26, it will be selling three new flavored coffees inspired by Girl Scout Cookies.

>> Read more trending news 

Those flavors include Thin Mints, Coconut Caramel and Peanut Butter Cookie. These flavors will not just be limited to standard coffees.

Dunkin’ Donuts said in a Friday press release that iced and hot coffee, lattes, macchiatos, frozen coffee and frozen chocolate can all have Girl Scout Cookie flavors.

People on social media seem pretty excited about the news.

You’ll have to see for yourself if a Dunkin’ Donuts near you will be participating. If so, the coffees will be around through May.

Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

From flowers to a gift to dinner out, Valentine's Day can be an expensive holiday.

>> White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again

To help you save some money, these restaurants are offering some cheap or free Valentine's Day meals.

Hooters

If you're without a significant other this Valentine's Day – or even if you've found a new sweetie and want to score some free wings – participating Hooters locations will help you shred your ex. Shred online and print a coupon to take to the restaurant or bring in a photo of your former love and let Hooters shred it. In return, you can buy 10 boneless wings and get 10 free – and maybe a bit of catharsis. Learn more at www.hooters.com.

Fogo de Chão

If you make a reservation and dine at a participating Fogo's location anytime from Feb. 10 through Feb. 17, you'll be able to save on a return visit. You'll receive a complimentary churrasco dining card that you can use next time you're in the restaurant. (As is usually the case, "certain restrictions apply.") Learn more at http://fogodechao.com. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Take advantage of the restaurant's "Qdoba for a Kiss" promotion, and you'll be able to buy one entrée and get one free at participating restaurants on Feb. 14. Bring your significant other to kiss, smooch a photo of your favorite celebrity on your cellphone or even pucker up to a burrito – anything goes! 

On top of that sweet deal, from Feb. 6-28, if you share a kissing photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss, Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid HungryFor more information, visit www.qdoba.com.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse offers a Valentine's Day meal for two at participating restaurants from Feb. 12-16. For a special price (which varies by location), a couple can share a Bloomin' Onion, choose two entrees (center cut sirloin, grilled salmon or Alice Springs chicken), two sides, two salads and cheesecake for dessert. Learn more at www.outback.com.

California Pizza Kitchen

Enjoy a "Sweet Deal for Two" at participating California Pizza Kitchen locations from Feb. 14 to 18, and you'll get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from their special menu for $35. Choose from among three appetizers, 10 entrees or four desserts. As a further incentive, if you tag your sweetie or best friend in California Pizza Kitchen's Facebook post with the hashtag #CPKgiveaway, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.cpk.com.

Waffle House 

Waffle House probably isn't the restaurant you think of when you're picturing a candlelit dinner with cloth napkins and tablecloths, but that's just what they're doing on Valentine's Day. You can enjoy alcohol-free champagne as the lights are dimmed, and choose from breakfast favorites or special offerings like ribeye and eggs. Many locations are participating, so check for your location's phone number and contact person for reservationsLearn more at ww.wafflehouse.com.

>> Read more trending news 

>> Table for two: Waffle House offers romantic dinner for Valentine's Day

Panera Bread recalls cream cheese products over listeria fears

Panera Bread has issued a recall of all cream cheese products from its U.S. bakery cafes over fears of listeria contamination.

The chain said the recall was out of "an abundance of caution" after samples of one product from a single production day showed positive for listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Exposure to the bacteria can cause fever and diarrhea, with particularly dangerous symptoms for pregnant women and unborn children. 

>> Read more trending news 

Products recalled have an expiration date on or before April 2, 2018. 

The recall includes all 2 oz. and 8 oz. cream cheese products

The associated facility stopped production, as well. 

According to the CDC, about 1,600 people become infected with listeria each year, killing about 260. 

If you have these products, discard them immediately and contact Panera Bread Customer Service at 1-855-6-PANERA from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST Monday through Sunday or visit panera.custhelp.com for a full refund.

Cheesecake Factory's famous brown bread is headed to grocery stores

Cheesecake Factory fans rejoice! Starting this week, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the restaurant’s staples in the comfort of your own home.

The chain has announced that it’s rolling out its popular brown bread to grocery stores nationwide. The bread will be available to customers for purchase in three different forms: an eight-pack of heat-and-serve dinner rolls, a two-pack with mini baguettes or pre-sliced sandwich loaves. 

>> Read more trending news 

The rolls and baguettes have a suggested price of $3.49, while the sandwich loaves are listed for $4.49.

The bread made from whole wheat flour is similar in calorie count to bread from other brands, coming in at just 110 calories per dinner roll and 80 calories per loaf slice.

People who have tried it reportedly have confirmed that it’s just as soft, chewy and slightly sweet as it is when you visit the Cheesecake Factory – just heat up the rolls or baguettes in the oven for five minutes at 350 degrees. Once they’re done, top them with butter or your favorite spread to add flavor.

The brown bread is part of the restaurant’s Cheesecake Factory at Home line, which includes several other products — cheesecake mix, coffee creamer and chocolates — that are available at grocery stores.

Subway's $5 footlong could bankrupt franchises, some owners warn

While the $5 footlong from Subway is one of the best bites for your buck in the fast food industry, business owners aren’t always fond of the deal. Some of them say it could even threaten their business.

Keith Miller, who owns three Subways in North Carolina, told The Washington Post that the ingredients in the sandwich cost him about $2, but after paying his employees and adding up all the overhead — electric, gas, rent and supplies — his store brings in a measly profit on the hoagies. When the company decided to drop the prices of its famous subs to $4.99, Miller and a number of other franchise owners sent a letter telling the higher-ups that such a move would have them staring down bankruptcy.

>> Read more trending news 

Subway isn’t the only company to keep prices low with the hopes of enticing hungry customers; Taco Bell, Wendy’s and McDonald’s both boast dollar menus. You’d probably have a tough time finding a franchise owner happy with the low-priced items, but Subway owners have been the most vocal about their complaints. They recently wrote a petition to the big wigs at the company, asking them to reconsider. Owners admitted that the cheap options bring in more customers but that even the increase in traffic “insufficient to make up for the lost margins.” The petition was signed by almost 900 people in 39 states.

Subway says the promotions are optional and that the majority of franchise owners don’t share Miller’s views. In a statement given to the Post, Subway claimed “we are in constant communication with our Franchisees and Development Agents … they are actively involved in many aspects of our decision-making process, and we welcome and encourage their feedback.”

As the minimum wage continues to rise, the prices of some products (like Subway’s sandwiches) haven’t risen to the level necessary for owners to make a profit. Miller says that when he bought his first franchise, he was bringing in profit margins as high as 18 percent. But that number has drastically dropped in recent years.

There are also a number of other problems facing franchise owners. The fast food restaurant industry has become more crowded and, on top of that, people are shopping less and less at fast food stops. And for most owners, the problems show no sign of letting up.

Melania Trump, Karen Pence stop at Whataburger, treat press to french fries

First lady Melania Trump, along with second lady Karen Pence, traveled to Texas on Wednesday to visit with first responders and check on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And if there’s anything politicians (or in this case, politicians’ spouses) love to do when they’re on a visit, it’s make a stop at a purveyor of local cuisine. Trump and Pence flew through Corpus Christi, which means Whataburger.

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According to social media reports (including tweets from reporters along for the trip, as well as a White House official), the first and second lady stopped by the venerable Texas burger chain and walked out with at least some of those famous fries. The rest of their order is unknown (so far), but the tweets about the pit stop are quite a journey.

Reporters in the press pool said the first and second lady treated them to fries.

Officials in Texas approved. The orange and the white, as ever, proved to be a unifying force.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Trump and Pence stopped at the Whataburger at 602 Padre Island Drive. 

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