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McDonald's New Chain CosMc's Serves 'Probiotic' Drinks With 108 Grams of Sugar

McDonald's beverage-focused spinoff chain offers a host of drinks with outrageous—and dangerous—levels of added sugar.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

McDonald's opened the first outpost of its new restaurant concept, CosMc's, in Bolingbrook, Illinois on December 7th. CosMc's has a beverage-focused menu designed to offer "afternoon pick-me-ups." The food and drink offerings read more like a Starbucks menu than McDonald's, with Slushes & Frappés, neon-colored "Galactic Boosts," and coffee-based Brews.

To appeal to new audiences and Gen Z tastes, CosMc's menu includes a Chai Frappé Burst with popping boba, a Churro Frappé, and a Turmeric Spiced Latte. On the food side, there are no fast-food burgers or chicken nuggets. Instead, you'll find Egg McMuffins, cookies, and McFlurrys "From the McDonald's Universe."

Notably, the menu includes several ingredients associated with health, such as turmeric and probiotics. This is likely CosMc's effort to meet the growing interest in functional beverages such as kombucha and adaptogenic teas.

The Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade, for example, is described as a "tart lemonade mixed with a sweet berry probiotic blend served with a dried lemon wheel over ice."

While this sounds like a gut-friendly, fruit-forward drink, a closer look at the nutrition information tells a different story.

CosMc's Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade contains 108 grams of sugar.

cosmcs-probiotic drink berry hibiscus sour ade
Photo: CosMc's. Design: Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition per large: 500 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 126 g carbs (1 g fiber, 108 g sugar), 0 g protein

A large Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade packs 500 calories and a whopping 108 grams of sugar. "The American Heart Association recommends people stick to 36 grams of sugar per day for men and 25 grams for females," says Lauren Manaker, RD, a registered dietitian on our Medical Expert Board.

So a single CosMc's Sour-Ade contains more than four days' worth of sugar for a woman adhering to these guidelines.

"Consuming too many added sugars can be linked to negative heart health concerns, and it does not support weight management goals," notes Manaker. Other effects of excess sugar consumption include high blood triglyceride levels, diabetes, and increased inflammation.

To put the amount of sugar in the Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade in context, here are a few equivalents to that 108 grams of sugar:

Are there any benefits to consuming probiotics in this drink?

CosMc's seems to be capitalizing on the growing awareness of health benefits associated with certain ingredients. But when these otherwise health-promoting compounds are paired with so much sugar, can we still reap the benefits?

According to Manaker, "While consuming foods with added probiotics may offer health benefits, such as gut health support, that doesn't mean that we should blindly consume anything made with probiotics without accounting for what else we're ingesting."

The "Kombucha Powder" used to make the Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade includes probiotics (specifically Bacillus Cagulans GBI-30, 6086). But, as Manaker points out, "You can also get a boost of probiotics by eating unsweetened kefir, fermented soy products, and fermented vegetables," which don't come with the negative effects of a blood sugar spike and crash.

 6 Superfoods for Better Digestion & a Healthier Gut

The Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade isn't the only drink on CosMc's menu with over 100 grams of added sugar.

cosmcs high sugar drinks
Photos: CosMc's. Design: Eat This, Not That!

Numerous other options on CosMc's menu contain the same and even more added sugar than the Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade.

Other large options over 100 grams of added sugar include:

 The 15 Unhealthiest Sodas—Ranked By Sugar Content

Lower-sugar options on the menu.

Drinks like the Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade are best saved for a "once in a while indulgence and not an everyday occurrence," advises Manaker.

If you make it to Bolingbrook to sample the new menu, she recommends CosMc's green or black teas, "which contain zero added sugars and are "natural sources of plant compounds that support many aspects of health."

Lizzy Briskin
Lizzy is a trained chef, food writer, and recipe developer for print and digital outlets including Insider, Real Simple, and the Chicago Tribune. Read more about Lizzy