Maps, Macs, and the McDistance proxy

29 September 2009 at 9:22 am 2 comments


Andy Stubbings writes:

There seems to be a flurry of interest of late in visualising data using heatmaps, and I was recently sent Stephen von Worley’s infographic of the US which is coloured by the distance to the nearest McDonald’s. What’s interesting about it is that it seems to be almost exactly correlated with population density in the States. And in case you’re wondering, the furthest you can get away from the fast food chain is about two hours, out in the Dakotas.
There are other Big Mac-based theories out there, such as the Economist’s famous Big Mac index, on purchasing power parity between countries, and the now disproved Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Resolution. So how about adding the McDistance Proxy? In any given area in the US (and possibly the UK), you should be able to guesstimate the population density by the distance to the nearest branch. Tell me how far you live from a Maccy D, and I’ll tell you how many people live in your city. It’s only a matter of time before there will be an app for it.

Entry filed under: insight, virtual.

The new face of luxury The last place to go

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachel Kelnar  |  30 September 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I wonder if there is also a correlation between the location of McDonald’s branches across the US and obesity levels? That would be interesting to map….

  • 2. Andy Stubbings  |  8 October 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Found one!
    There does seem to be some correlation (the West is not as obese as the Big Mac heavy East), although fat mainly gathers around the middle and the bottom.


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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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