Is McDonald's trying to bribe bloggers? The fast food mega-chain is assembling a group of 400-some bloggers who will reportedly receive free gifts and all-expenses-paid parties in exchange for positive posts about the company.

McDonald's has been the target of numerous critics in past years, including most recently those who take issue with the company's top tier sponsorship of the Olympics. Such opponents argue that a company whose products have been linked to obesity in adults and children should not be the face of one of the world's most high-profile athletic events.

McDonald's plans to build its largest location ever for the games, and operate it for six weeks during its duration.

The blogger initiative, which will likely be rolled out in the UK over the next year, is being painted by McDonald's PR consultant Josh Ainsfeld as a way to "teach" ordinary people how to become advocates through social networking sites like Facebook.

This isn't the first time McDonald's has made an appeal to bloggers. Last year, the company courted mommy bloggers when it overhauled its Happy Meal offerings. Bloggers were compensated for participating in its "Wholesome Choices" program, though the company reportedly did not tell them what to purchase or what to write.

Many who did take part, however, wrote positive things. One participant, Lauren, the first-name-only blogger behind Happily Mother After wrote about her decision to blog for McDonald's.

"Seeming to be a bit of an oxymoron ... McDonald's and Wholesome Choices ... I was curious. But after doing some research and finding out more about the program, I decided to jump on board."

Earlier this month, The New York Times published a story that gave interesting insight into McDonald's other appeals to bloggers. In 2010, the company flew 15 bloggers to Chicago, put them up in a grand hotel and game them a tour of the company's headquarters in Oak Brook. The trip included a McFlurry-making workshop in a test kitchen, a visit to a nearby Ronald McDonald House and a photo session with McDonald's clown-ed out mascot, Ronald.

McDonald's U.S.A's director of social media, Rick Wion, explained the appeal of bloggers to the company.

“Bloggers, and specifically mom bloggers, talk a lot about McDonald’s,” he says. “They’re customers. They’re going to restaurants.” And even more important, these women have loyal followings. Why not let them behind the curtain, hope they like what they see and let them tell readers about it? “We identified them and said: ‘These are our key customers. These are key influencers for our brand,’ ” Wion says. “We need to make sure we’re working with them.”

The blogging push joins other McDonald's ventures into the spheres of social media. The same Times article also detailed a Twitter-boosted campaign "highlighting some of the real-life farmers and ranchers who supply McDonald’s with its ingredients."

McDonald's paid to appear at the top of the trends list on Twitter's homepage, which drove significant traffic to commercials stressing the natural aspects of ingredients and the farmers that grow them.

Also on HuffPost:

The worst fast food creations of 2011

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  • Domino's Stuffed Cheesy Bread

    Plain old stuffed crust? That's so last decade -- at least according to <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/dominos-ipad-app-makes-you-pizza-hero?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Domino's Pizza</strong></a>. Earlier this year, the chain rolled out a line of "Stuffed Cheesy Bread" that's full of "cheese, cheese, and more cheese." In fact, the breads -- which come in Spinach and Feta, Bacon and Jalapeño, and plain Cheese -- contain as much cheese as an entire medium pizza. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/most-bizarre-pizza-toppings-slideshow-0?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Most Bizarre Pizza Toppings</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © Jeff Padrick/Klug Studio

  • KFC Cheesy Bacon Bowl

    A bowl can hardly contain "layers of your favorites" without including bacon. Or so was the logic at KFC, which added bacon as a limited-time topping to <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/kfc-debuts-cheesy-bacon-bowls?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>the chain's line of "Famous Bowls."</strong></a> How did they do it? Well, they took a 680-calorie combo of mashed potatoes, corn, Popcorn Chicken, gravy, and cheese -- then added bacon. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/fast-food-you-cant-find-america-slideshow-0?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Fast Food You Can't Find in America</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © brandeating

  • Starbucks' Trenta Drinks

    Fast-food excess is hardly reserved for food alone. Take Starbucks' Trenta-sized cups, the veritable Big Gulps of coffee consumption, which each contain 31 ounces of caffeinated brew to pour down your gullet. And if caffeine-induced twitching <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/how-healthy-are-your-kids-healthy-snacks-slideshow?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>isn't enough of a health risk</strong></a>, consumers should be advised to pace themselves: The cups are actually larger than the typical human stomach. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/how-eat-well-while-training-marathon-slideshow?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>How to Eat Well While Marathon Training</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scelera/" target="_hplink"><strong>Flickr/samantha celera</strong></a>

  • Denny's Maple Bacon Sundae

    What's more horrifying than an ice cream sundae that features vanilla soft serve, maple syrup, and bacon bits? An entire menu of creations based on the same bacon-centric principle. Denny's, however, has gone there: <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/20-food-topics-just-wont-die-slideshow#7?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>The chain's "Baconalia!" menu</strong></a> included that cringeworthy sundae, along with a triple-decker BLT, Bacon Meatloaf, and Bacon Flapjacks. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/20-food-topics-just-wont-die-slideshow?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>20 Food Topics That Just Won't Die</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aloha75/" target="_hplink"><strong>Flickr/Sam Howzit</strong></a>

  • Burger King Stuffed Steakhouse Burger

    If fast food has taught us one thing, it is this: Any food item can be stuffed inside any other. <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/burger-king-rolls-out-premium-hamburger?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Burger King's Stuffed Steakhouse Burger</strong></a>, introduced earlier this year, is a prime example. Not content to simply put cheese atop a burger patty, the chain stuffed bits of Cheddar and jalapeño inside the beef, for "an experience you can see and taste in every bite." <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/burger-king-debut-new-fries?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Burger King to Debut New Fries</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/theimpulsivebuy/" target="_hplink"><strong>Flickr/theimpulsivebuy</strong></a>

  • Pizza Hut's Big Dinner Box

    Pizza Hut's "epic-size" repast offers up two medium pizzas, <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/americas-best-buffalo-wings-slideshow?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>eight wings</strong></a>, and five breadsticks -- in one convenient box! For the low prize of $20, ravenous diners might be tempted to scarf down the entire thing themselves, but please, make this one a family affair: The items in a single box are estimated to contain around 5,000 calories. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/10-fast-food-favorites-made-healthy-slideshow-0?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>10 Fast Food Favorites Made "Healthy"</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aloha75/" target="_hplink"><strong>Flickr/Sam Howzit</strong></a>

  • Dunkin' Donuts Sausage Pancake Bites

    If you're craving a pancake and sausage breakfast, but just can't find the time, <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/dunkin-debuts-new-holiday-items-45?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Dunkin' Donuts</strong></a> discovered a solution in 2011. An order of the chain's Sausage Pancake Bites offered diners three nuggets of flapjack dough that each enclosed a sausage link. A trio of nuggets also managed to enclose 20 grams of fat, more than most doughnuts. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/mcdonalds-magic-window-menu-slideshow?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>McDonald's Menu Mash-Up</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/theimpulsivebuy/" target="_hplink"><strong>Flickr/theimpulsivebuy</strong></a>

  • Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos

    Think outside the bun -- and the conventional taco shell. In an apparent bid to include as much junk as possible in a single meal, <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/taco-bell-looks-reinvent-taco?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Taco Bell</strong></a> used California and Ohio residents as guinea pigs to test shells made entirely of Doritos' nacho-flavored chips. The cheesy delicacy might be introduced nationwide next year, when, presumably, the chain will also swaps burrito wraps for potato chips. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/chicos-tacos-love-story?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>Chico's Tacos: A Love Story</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © thatsnerdalicious

  • Friendly's Ultimate Grilled-Cheese BurgerMelt

    Why eat one sandwich, when you can eat three? The KFC Double Down may have replaced a burger bun with fried chicken, but this year, Friendly's managed to outdo even that monstrosity. They swapped out a cheeseburger's bread with two entire grilled cheese sandwiches. This gastronomical innovation, not surprisingly, is also a caloric nightmare: 1,500 per sandwich(es). Even that <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/no-happy-ending-friendlys?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>doesn't seem to be helping the company</strong></a> -- the 76-year-old family-dining brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 5, and is scheduled to be auctioned Dec. 22. <em>Related:</em> <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/no-happy-ending-friendlys?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>No Happy Ending for Friendly's</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit:</em> © <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zombieite/" target="_hplink"><strong>Flickr/zombieite</strong></a>

  • Denny's Mac 'N Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt

    Leave it to Denny's to create a sandwich that has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/dennys-mac-n-cheese-patty-melt_n_945390.html" target="_hplink"><strong>both mac 'n cheese and hamburger meat</strong></a> as ingredients...and sauce and more cheese. This gutbomb was part of Denny's "Let's Get Cheesy" menu, and cheesy it is indeed. We fear what the chain will come up with next, given that this calorie-laden meal has twice the calories as a stick of butter. <em>Related</em>: <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/americas-best-buffalo-wings-slideshow?utm_source=huffington%2Bpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=years%2Bmost%2Bover%2Btop%2Bfast%2Bfood%2Bdishes" target="_hplink"><strong>America's Best Buffalo Wings</strong></a> <em>Photo Credit</em>: Denny's