Get Ready to Order Your Big Mac from a Virtual McDonald’s in the Metaverse

Mickey D’s, Panera, and more digital fast food restaurants could soon offer NFTs and actual food for delivery.

Oh man, get ready to explain this one to your parents. Earlier this week, trademark attorney Josh Gerben reported that McDonald’s had filed 10 new trademark applications indicating that it is planning to open a virtual restaurant in the online metaverse. 

According to documents shared by Gerben, the applications include trademark protections for “virtual food and beverage products;  downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio and video files and non-fungible tokens,” as well as for entertainment services that include “virtual concerts and other virtual events,” and for a virtual restaurant “featuring actual and virtual goods” with home-delivery for the real-life items. The McDonald’s McCafe brand was also included in the trademark paperwork. 

So how would that work, exactly? In a follow-up tweet, Gerben explained that the metaverse McD’s would allow hungry virtual reality gamers to walk in and place an order without “[putting] down your headset.” The virtual burgers would be prepared by a brick-and-mortar McDonald’s and then delivered to your front door. 

Earlier this month, Panera Bread also filed to register a trademark for its own restaurants in the metaverse, along with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that could be used to buy virtual food and drinks. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Panera also seeks to register the brand name “Paneraverse” for its virtual presence.

“Panera is always working to be at the forefront of tech advancement — as a brand we are consistently looking for new ways to better our guest experience, whether in our cafes or in the metaverse,” George Hanson, Panera’s chief digital officer, told the outlet. 

This isn’t McDonald’s first recent venture into the metaverse. In January, it partnered with Chinese-Peruvian fashion designer Humberto Leon to create an interactive virtual exhibit to celebrate Lunar New Year. 

The McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs launched on January 31 and the “immersive exhibition” can be experienced through Tuesday, February 15 on virtual reality platforms AltspaceVR and Spatial. (It can also be accessed on a desktop browser, without a VR headset.) The exhibit includes Leon’s interpretations of the 12 animals in the lunar cycle, and users can also get a personalized horoscope for 2022 based on their birth year and zodiac animal. 

“Kicking off Lunar New Year with McDonald’s in a way that underscores the creativity and innovation of the Asian-American community, makes me proud to offer a true expression of my identity and the influences that have shaped it, to which I know many will relate,” Leon said in a statement. 

Hopefully, walking around in an augmented reality art exhibit can still make you hungry — at least that’s what McDonald’s seems to be counting on. 

By Jelisa Castrodale

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