Like alcohol, pawnshops, and repo men, McDonald's spent most of the recession raking in cash. But last month, the chain saw profits dip for the first time since 2003. What will it take for us to keep shoveling empty calories down our jaundiced gullets? Red onion, apparently. NRN reports that McDonald's is unleashing three new types of Quarter Pounders, one with habanero ranch sauce, white cheddar, and bacon, and two others that are cheeseburgers with red onion.

How could tweaking the color of the onion in a burger raise sales? Are we really that stupid? Tim Nelson, the president of the ad agency Tris3ct and apparent master of the dark art of tricking people into slowly killing themselves, explains that we most certainly are.

“Anything that brings the focus back to core products brings the focus back to bundled meals,” Nelson said. “If you innovate around your signature equities and do things that, while they bring new news to those products, can sell Extra Value Meals, you can work back to … getting customers in the habit of buying core products as part of a meal bundle, as opposed to a la carte….McDonald’s is lucky in that they’ve never played this card, and they’ve had the Quarter Pounder for how long? It’s fortunate that they have something that could be so substantially incremental to their offering and value perception.”

So, McDonald's is lucky that they are able to do something so "substantially" pointless in order to alter our "value perception." Who's the cattle now?

McDonald's is currently testing the sandwiches. The company also replaced their U.S. president after the news of the profit shrinkage, and is planning on rolling out a 260-calorie McMuffin made with of egg whites in January, which will taste fantastic with their 460-calorie Cinnamon Melts and a 270-calorie McCafe Caramel Hot Chocolate.