10 Things You Didn’t Know About CosMc’s, McDonald’s New Spinoff Restaurant

Updated: Jun. 20, 2024

Prepare for more drinks, new food and a long-lost alien sighting at McDonald's space-themed spinoff chain

Have you heard the buzz surrounding McDonald’s new spinoff, CosMc’s? Leave it to the fast-food giant to use its massive brand influence to muscle into the coffee and drinks biz, currently dominated by the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin’. Last year, the company behind Big Macs and Happy Meals announced plans to “solve the 3 p.m. slump,” as the press release put it, by offering energy-boosting drinks teed up just in time for your afternoon drive.

I’m a casual McDonald’s fan, mainly stopping in on road trips and whenever I need a solid cup of coffee. But when I heard that one of the first CosMc’s was opening right in my city—Dallas—I had to try it out. Twice! Say what you will about McDonald’s, but it knows how to innovate. If you’re curious about what’s in store at the buzzy new chain, we have everything you need to know right here.

Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more food news, humor, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.

1. CosMc’s brings back a beloved alien mascot

Cosmcs Mcdonalds alien mascotCourtesy Ally Childress

OK, calling CosMc “beloved” may be a stretch, but this little alien is cute. A throwback McDonaldland character from the 1980s, CosMc was known for flying off with burgers he planned to take back to his home planet. As the company-crafted lore goes, the alien left Earth’s orbit 30 years ago carrying McDonald’s to the cosmos, only to land in the dustbin of history with Mayor McCheese and Captain Crook.

Today’s CosMc keeps the best parts of the character: his spaceship body and quirky antennae. The result? A fresh, modern extraterrestrial you’ll see hovering around CosMc’s lobby and patio, waiting to lock your CosMc’s treats in his tractor beam.

2. CosMc’s lands in Texas and Illinois (for now)

CosMc’s first location opened in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in late 2023. Why Bolingbrook? Well, why not? Cars stretched around the block for hours in the Chicago suburb, so the suits at Mickey D’s clearly had a plan. (To be fair, McDonald’s is headquartered in Chicago, so that probably had something to do with it.)

Texas was up next, with three CosMc’s currently open in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex and six more to come in the area and San Antonio by the end of 2024. I picked the CosMc’s in Far North Dallas, as we call it down here, but Watauga, a suburb of Fort Worth, and Arlington, a city smack-dab in the middle of Dallas–Fort Worth, also have CosMc’s.

No word on whether more CosMc’s are in store for the rest of the United States, but given the company’s plans to open 50,000 more McDonald’s restaurants around the world in the next few years, I bet the odds are pretty good.

3. The menu features old favorites, new drinks and treats

Cosmcs food and drinkCourtesy Ally Childress

No, you can’t get a Big Mac at CosMc’s, but Egg McMuffins made the cut, along with new offerings like pretzel bites and filled mini doughnut McPops. The main event at CosMc’s is the drink menu, which features a lot of options. Like, a whole lot: hot and iced coffee, lattes, lemonades, teas, slushes, frappés and CosMc’s signature energy drinks, Galactic Boosts. Need a little extra in your drink? Add dried fruit, pumps of syrup, vitamin C, popping boba and even caffeine shots.

In my two trips to CosMc’s, I ordered a Sour Tango Lemonade, a Blueberry Ginger Boost and a plain black coffee. The coffee was excellent (more on that later), and both cold drinks were refreshing and tasty.

For dessert, the McFlurry migrates over (but not the butterscotch Grandma McFlurry), and the new sea salt chocolate chip cookie is worth the calories. Bottom line: Sugar is definitely on the menu at CosMc’s.

4. CosMc’s banks on the drive-thru

I admit, I spent a minute trying to find the front counter at CosMc’s. There was a big sign that said “Go to the front counter,” which was … about 3 inches behind the sign. I had arrived at the only counter in the place, but it didn’t look like a standard McDonald’s. Walk-ins can order at kiosks (or in-app), but CosMc’s is clearly going for drive-thru customers.

To that end, the Illinois location has four lanes and a window assignment system (no walk-ins at all). Here in Dallas, CosMc’s was more of a hybrid, with some seating and one drive-thru lane.

Is the drive-thru concept working? All signs point to yes. If you didn’t know that data analysts track your credit card purchases, I’m sorry to break it to you here, but customers who go to CosMc’s are also likely to frequent Sonic Drive-In and Chick-fil-A, two chains with massive drive-up audiences. (Seriously, to reduce my stress at lunchtime, I avoid streets with a Chick-fil-A—the traffic jams are ridiculous.) CosMc’s customers are also less likely to go to inside-only restaurants, so CosMc’s drive-thru plan appears sound.

5. The experience is automated

Cosmcs ordering kioskCourtesy Ally Childress

McDonald’s has long been known for innovation in fast-food processes, from supply-chain management to interactive kiosks. CosMc’s follows that trend. Inside, you’ll walk up to the kiosks and tap in your order. Or you’ll download the app and order before you arrive.

I first ordered at the kiosk, and a worker brought my stuff out to me, although that might have been because it was Sunday morning and pretty slow. The drive-thru is manned, and on Monday afternoon when I returned, the drive-thru worker was helpful and chatty when I asked which McPops flavor I should try. (For the record: hazelnut.)

Depending on your perspective, automation at CosMc’s signals innovation or fewer jobs. But after announcing plans to incorporate generative AI into more of its processes, including the drive-thru, McDonald’s recently scrapped a test run of AI chatbot–assisted ordering after humorous Chicken McNugget mishaps went viral. My friendly CosMc’s drive-thru employee appears safe for now.

6. CosMc’s caters to customizers

Do you like things just the way you want them? Me too, but asking a busy fast-food worker to personalize a taco isn’t always feasible, especially with 10 people in line behind you. CosMc’s kiosks and in-app ordering make it super easy to remove things you don’t want or add extras that you do. Click “customize it,” and add or subtract away.

I ordered the creamy avocado tomatillo sandwich, minus bacon, and it came out exactly as requested. Want to add meat, boba or syrup shots? No problem! (Though I really hope that combo’s not on the same item.) My breakfast companion got extra bacon on her sandwich, ostensibly for our dog, and the CosMc’s crew delivered without a hitch.

7. The coffee is better than Starbucks coffee

Yeah, I said it. McDonald’s has great drip coffee, and so does CosMc’s. On Sunday morning, I ordered a medium black coffee. I’m no barista—unlike the more knowledgeable coffee experts who also (perhaps tepidly) praise the fast-food giant’s java—but the coffee was hot and fresh, and it tasted like regular ol’ McDonald’s coffee. For me, that’s a huge plus. If you’re more into mixed coffee drinks—hot, cold, blended, syruped, drizzled, filled with boba or topped with whipped cream—CosMc’s has you covered there too.

8. CosMc’s doesn’t have much seating

stools and seating at CosMcsCourtesy Ally Childress

Probably not a huge surprise given the drive-thru emphasis, but finding a place to sit down and eat at CosMc’s might be a challenge if the place is busy. Indoor seating is not a thing at CosMc’s, at least not in Dallas. There’s one mini high-top table and four stools inside (I assume mainly for waiting) and covered and uncovered patios with picnic-style tables and benches outside. In Dallas and other Texas locations, that’s probably not a huge deal-breaker—it’s sunny and warm for much of the year.

Since the place is designed for the afternoon drive-time crowd, CosMc’s is banking on your car being your dining establishment. Want to stop in and take a load off? Check the weather. If you’re not a fan of sitting outside in the pouring rain (my little corner of Texas gets pounded by thunderstorms in the spring) or 100-degree heat to drink your melting McFlurry, it’s something to ponder.

9. The decor is out of this world

Forgive the expression, but CosMc’s practically begs for a play on words. McDonald’s really leaned in to the cosmic theme with its latest venture.

Purple and yellow are the dominant colors, perfect for this Minnesota Vikings fan, and the small lobby was bright, clean and orderly. CosMc, the alien mascot, and his tractor beam were painted on the vivid yellow interior wall, facing a bank of windows that brought in tons of natural light. CosMc also made appearances outside on the patio. The stainless steel pickup counter had cubbies for orders ready to pick up, and the entire place looked easy to clean.

10. CosMc’s food is about what you’d expect

Cosmcs food and drinkCourtesy Ally Childress

CosMc’s isn’t winning any James Beard awards, but everything I tried was freshly made, hot or cold as intended, and served promptly. Of the new food I ordered, I rank the pretzel bites first. They were chewy and hot, and you could find similar at your local bar and grill. The spicy queso dipping sauce tasted good, but it was too thick to dip effectively. Next time: mustard.

The McPops were also pretty tasty, especially if you like doughnuts, which I normally don’t. Score that as a win, CosMc’s. The cookie was fresh, and the sea salt was a nice addition.

The drinks were clearly the stars, but the new food items will find an audience too. My breakfast sandwich was perfectly good, and it had a brioche bun, but I’d probably go with an Egg McMuffin (minus ham) next time. After all, who doesn’t like an Egg McMuffin?

Why trust us

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. We rely on reputable primary sources, including government and professional organizations and academic institutions, as well as our writers’ personal experiences where appropriate. We verify all facts and data, back them with credible sourcing and revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.

Sources:

  • CBS News: “McDonald’s Ends AI Drive-Thru Orders—for Now”
  • Earnest Analytics: “McDonald’s CosMc’s locations resonate with drive-thru customers, take business from Sonic, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-A”
  • McDonald’s: “McDonald’s Announces New Targets for Development, Loyalty Membership and Cloud Technology”
  • McDonald’s: “McDonald’s Welcomes CosMc’s to Its Universe”