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Here's How To Get Free Big Macs at McDonald's Right Now

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Fifty years ago is a long time, folks. That's half a century. That's 1968. That's pre-meme (hard to imagine, but true). And that's how long the Big Mac has been with us, always ready with a surplus of buns and a total lack of culinary restraint. 

It's understandable that McDonald's wants to mark the occasion, and it's highly fortunate that they're doing so by giving out free Big Macs. They're not just gonna roam the streets shooting sandwiches out of a cannon as you unhook your jaws like a python; there's more to it than that. But still, free Big Macs.

How to get free Big Macs

McDonald's is commemorating this anniversary with a limited-edition "currency" called MacCoin that will be available starting at lunchtime on August 2. Each of these coins will be redeemable for a Big Mac. So you can either collect them all; give them to someone else; or use it to make your Big Mac a buy-one-get-one. All you have to do is purchase a Big Mac and receive a coin from Thursday until supplies run out. And this won't be a Szechuan sauce situation: Over 6.2 million of these will be distributed to 50 countries worldwide.

Courtesy of McDonald's

What are MacCoins?

MacCoins aren't just coupons. They're also meant to function as limited-edition collector's items. If you're wondering why a coin (other than the fact that those old enough to have witnessed the birth of the Big Mac seem to love collecting coins), it's inspired by the Big Mac Index: an economic tool invented by The Economist that uses the price of the Big Mac to compare the purchasing power of different international currencies. And also, people really like collecting coins.

The coins will feature five different designs, one for each of the Big Mac's decades, with references to the art, music, and pop culture of the period, and they'll also feature seven languages -- Arabic, English, Indonesian, Mandarin, Portuguese, French, and Spanish -- along the rim of the coin as a tribute to the countries participating.

Here's a breakdown of the cultural references on the five coins, as described by McDonald's: the ‘70s, showcasing the decade’s flower power; the ‘80s alluding to pop art; the ‘90s defined with bold, abstract shapes; the early ‘00s specifically focusing on the technology that was at the forefront of the turn of the century; the ‘10s MacCoin calling attention to the evolution of communication.

Unfortunately, the "evolution of communication" does not feature any memes.

Where else to find MacCoins

While 6.2 million coins is a lot of coins, it's not so many that these will last forever. Eventually, we'll all go back to receiving a simple Big Mac with our Big Mac order, and when that time comes, we'll have to be resourceful. Right now, that means heading to eBay to search for MacCoins, as we've already received reports that some McDonald's locations are running out -- just hours after the promotion started. People are already listing individual MacCoins for sale on the site, and we're sure that soon there'll be complete sets for sale.

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James Chrisman is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @james_chrisman2.