CHICAGO: Big Mac customers, loosen your belts and move up to the next size in trousers. McDonald's plans to slash its flagship hamburger's price to a mere 55 cents with the purchase of fries and a drink in a bid to keep competitors at bay and customers happily chomping away. The new Big Mac, currently priced at around $2, could appear in stores "within months," according to the fast food empire. That deadline might be moved back, though, if, as expected, franchisee owners give the plan the nod this Friday. Whenever it comes, analysts predict that the 55 cents Big Mac will spark a fierce price war with competitors Wendy's and Burger King, who so far have been adept at luring customers away from the Golden Arches with cheaper offerings. Over the next year, the 55-cent deal will rotate from the Big Mac to the Quarter Pounder to the McRib to the Arch Deluxe hamburger, placing the price of a McDonald's value meal at about $2.50 — a considerable drop from the current price of around $4. But the grin might be on Ronald McDonald's face alone. Some franchisees turn up their nose at the "Campaign 55" plan, named in honor of McDonald's founding year, saying that constant food discounting could run them out of business. The lack of imagination at the $30 billion company also comes under fire — no other plan is being offered to the company's 2,700 franchisees for consideration. "McDonald's is getting like a department store and having sales every other week," fumed San Francisco franchisee Chuck Gonzales.