1979: WRTV reporter investigates McDonald’s cherry pies

Posted at 5:30 AM, Aug 22, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Investigations are integral to WRTV. The station has conducted thousands of investigations since it began broadcasting seven decades ago.

Its sweetest investigation likely came in 1979 when it looked into an issue with cherry pies sold at McDonald’s.

Regulations from the Food and Drug Administration require a frozen cherry pie to be comprised of no less than 25 percent cherries by weight.

Former WRTV reporter Rick Sallinger ventured to a local McDonald’s restaurant to find out if McDonald’s complied with this regulation.

Sallinger purchased ten cherry pies and began cutting them open with help from former WRTV restaurant critic Reid Duffy.

The pair found that of the ten pies, the average number of cherries per pie was five. After weighing the fruit from the pies, they found the average amount of cherries per pie was about 16%, which fell below the required 25%.

Sallinger contacted McDonald’s home office in Illinois. Company officials told him McDonald’s was exempt from the FDA regulation.

The FDA revoked the standards of identity and quality for frozen cherry pies in April 2024. The agency deemed the regulations, " longer necessary to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers."