Mariah Carey is feeling extra merry for the holidays with a new McDonald’s partnership that offers up free items from the fast-food chain’s so-called “Mariah Menu.” The promotion launched this week and runs until December 25, with McDonald’s serving up “12 days of deals” for the 12 days of Christmas. As part of the promotion, the Mariah Menu will offer a different free item each day with a minimum purchase of $1 on the McDonald’s app (so you can say, buy a soft drink and get a Big Mac or McChicken for free).
While artists like BTS and Saweetie collaborated with McDonald’s on specially-branded meals this year, Carey says she wanted to give fans options from the entire menu — and to give it to them for free.
“What makes me happy is that people are going to get stuff for free and that’s the thing that makes it great,” she tells Rolling Stone. “I wish that I could have had that when I was growing up, when I didn’t have a lot of money, so I wanted to do something that wouldn’t be that [feeling], you know?”
As part of the partnership, Mariah Menu items will be served in custom packaging inspired by Carey’s well-documented love for the holidays. The singer will also drop limited-edition Mariah x McDonald’s merch, including an MC-branded beanie and a throwback T-shirt (more on that later).
Carey’s McDonald’s collaboration follows the launch of her Black Irish liqueur brand in August, and a crypto-currency campaign in October, which was aimed at increasing female entrepreneurship and investment in Bitcoin.
Rolling Stone caught up with Carey over the phone to chat about the McDonald’s partnership, how she’s been spending her time at home and why she has a lot of new projects in the works — but touring won’t be one of them.
Hi Mariah, where are you dialing in from?
I just got my booster, so I’m hiding in my freakin’ bed (laughs). I got my third shot last night and it didn’t hurt when I got it, but now it’s just killing me.
Well hopefully we can talk about more festive things, like your Mariah Menu at McDonald’s. What made you decide to partner with them?
Well these days, everyone has like these 360 deals or whatever, and everybody’s taking everybody’s money and they all want to grab your publishing and I’m tired of that, but this was about food and apple pies and all that good stuff.
I’ve had such amazing memories with McDonald’s over the years and some of my favorite memories with my kids are our family trips to McDonald’s. My daughter Monroe and I will take a night and be like, ‘Okay, tonight is a special night,’ and we’ll both order the same thing, which is a cheeseburger with extra pickles.
You get pitched so many things — was there ever a food or beverage partnership that you turned down?
It was a beverage, and it was a very, very, very big beverage and they wanted me to be like (sings whistle note) and break the glass. I was on my first album and trust me, I was broke before that, and it was like over a million dollars, which for me at that point, was freaking huge. But I thought integrity-wise, it wasn’t the right thing to do. Also back then, the stars that I admired weren’t doing that. We won’t get into names, but I would think, ‘Is so-and-so doing this?’ and the answer would be, ‘I don’t think so.’
What brand was this commercial for?
Well I don’t want to name the name of the company, because if they come back to me, it may no longer be a ‘No,’ right? (laughs)
You write about Da Brat taking you out for fast food in your memoir (“The Meaning of Mariah Carey“); did she ever take you to McDonald’s?
I was on tour and it wasn’t a Vegas residency, but we were on tour in Vegas, and I was with Da Brat, who is one of the greatest rappers of all time. And she’s like, ‘Come on!’ She’s always the one taking me somewhere, right? And we go there [to McDonald’s], but the press followed us and they sat with me as I was eating and were like asking me stuff. And I saw the photos and the clip afterwards and I’m like, ‘Ughh, I was eating? On camera? Oh my god.’
But that photo of you eating is now on a T-shirt as part of your McDonald’s merch…
Yes, yes, so now I’m fine with it.
Aside from working on this partnership, what have you been up to at home over the last few months?
Did you watch Spencer, with Kristen Stewart?
Yeah, I watched that. She was amazing.
How about the new Sex and the City reboot?
No, I was never a big Sex and the City fan, no offense to them. I think they’re all incredibly talented and beautiful and everything else and [hairstylist] Serge Normant does their hair in lieu of doing mine (laughs). But no, he’s amazing. We live for him, and he did the hair for [the] ‘Honey’ [music video] which we loved. I need him back. And he’s like doing their show now and I’m like, ‘Dude, hi!’
What are your plans for the holidays?
We are heading to Aspen tomorrow.
Are you driving there in a bus again, like last year?
Listen, I took that and we made it look fine, but let me tell you, it was not festive. But we were trying to be safe. We hadn’t gone anywhere last year except to tape the Apple special and doing the bus was better [than flying] y’know? I just didn’t want to worry about other people’s stuff, and we didn’t have the vaccines and everything yet so that’s what we did.
So you’re flying to Aspen this year.
Yes, at 8 in the morning, which to me, is like ‘go to bed’ time.
What are your plans for 2022? Can we expect a new album or tour?
I’m so not going on tour ever again in my life.
I miss my fans and being with them, and that’s the only thing that’s great. But with Covid — and I’m not saying I had it because I’ve never tested positive for it — but I’m just saying it’s a little bit weird right now being around a whole bunch of people or whatever. Sorry. This is controversial.
Aren’t you at least curious to see how live shows will evolve?
I don’t care because I’m not going (laughs). I mean, I want to do my own stuff. I’m working on this thing called the ‘Butterfly Lounge,’ and it’s basically me creating music. So you’re watching me talk to the guitar player, talk to the bass player and tell them, like, ‘Here are the notes I want to hear, blah blah blah.’ We’re writing, and you’re watching the process of me writing. So I think we’ll find whatever streaming service is the best for this. We’re also working on the adaptation of the memoir. But that’s something else.
I like the ‘Butterfly Lounge’ idea.
We’ve been doing this for the whole year because I got my voice back. And we were at home and we didn’t have to run around and do all this nonsense, y’know?
Okay, I’m getting wrapped. Anything else you want to mention?
I hope the fans love this McDonald’s menu; I hope that they feel festive; And I hope that people get a lot of free stuff, as they should.
Get a free Big Mac.
And the apple pie.