Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Head for the Arches

I know you are probably in MEP withdrawal (I am). She’s been traveling to visit family over the holidays with “limited access to email” (a favorite line in the out of office responses I’ve received for work.) So, here I am as a temporarily fill-in until she has a chance to post again. I’ve decided to write about one of my favorite things: McDonalds.

I love it. Really I do. I will go ahead and give my disclaimer that yes, I know it’s bad for me. I know there are healthier fast food alternatives, but that doesn't keep me from choosing my cheeseburger with no pickle and onion, french fries, and diet coke time and time again. I do try to limit the fast food intake of my children, but as MEP herself has pointed out, she doesn’t want the bub to be denied such things as fast food or else he will be a nerd who overindulges to the point of looking ridiculous once he is exposed. Makes sense to me. (I look forward to the day that Apple Martin is photographed biting into a quarter pounder as Gwyneth has said she’d get her kids McDonalds “over my dead body.” Yes, Apple, there are snacks other than hummus.)

As far as citing specifically what I enjoy about McDonalds, I’ll list my top 3 things:

1. French fries: When the batch is made properly, they are hands down the best fries around. Consistency can sometimes be a problem, but the gamble is worth it.

2. Fountain soda: For some reason, the pop at McDonalds tastes better than it does anywhere else. I can’t explain it, but hopefully some of you know what I am talking about. A former coworker told me something about refrigerated trucks…I don’t know or care why it is (I lack intellectual curiosity in that way) but my diet coke just tastes better when it comes from the McDonalds tap.

3. Soft serve: Cones, sundaes, and (gasp) McFlurries. The first two are tasty and a great bang for your buck. The last is a lovely addition to the menu. I will say though that I’ve had to send mine back before (much to the embarrassment of my husband) because a half-full butterfinger McFlurry just doesn’t cut it when you wanted a whole one. (side note: I was nice about it and so were they)

Really, though, I believe my love for McDonalds runs much deeper than the offerings themselves. Many happy childhood memories include McDonalds. For instance, some families went to Bob Evans, Perkins, maybe even home for a nice post-church breakfast, but not us. You could find us in the back corner booth of McDonalds every Sunday. We lingered and chatted for a while after 9:30 mass, then moseyed over to McDonalds just before 11am. With this strategic timing, those wanting breakfast could still order it, but lunch (always my choice) was just minutes away. I knew we had been there a lot when “Grandma” (as her name tag read) once recited my order to me as soon as I stepped up to the counter. It was a simple little tradition to look forward to and, as my mom has since pointed out, it made Sunday morning more relaxing for my parents.

How many people can say that their first date was at McDonalds? Or, how many people would admit that? Ours was by accident (if it wasn’t an accident I don’t want to know that). My now husband and I were on our way to a sporting event and it started raining once we got off the exit. We ducked into McDonalds to have lunch and let it pass over. By the time we were done, the rain had stopped. (It should be noted that said date ended up lasting 11 hours and thus he was forced to purchase another meal plus some snacks for me.)

Even at ages 1 and 3, my daughters have their own McDonalds memories in the making. I was driving in the car with them last week (trying to get the younger one to sleep…don’t judge - it was a rough day) when J. asked if she could get a little cone from McDonalds, like the kind Papa gets her after dance class. I asked her to explain further and she said that after her weekly dance class that Grammy takes her to, Papa meets them at McDonalds and always gets she and N. a little cone after lunch. I can completely picture this scenario with my dad at the counter asking for "a couple of those little cones".

Were Oakbrook, IL not such a far commute from Cincinnati, OH, I’d be working at corporate right now. I’d love to analyze what part of the country eats the most Big Macs, learn the procurement process for the Happy Meal toys, find out just who out there actually enjoyed the McRib, and “not brag” to fellow employees that the owner of the McDonalds just a couple miles away from me invented the Filet O Fish. As I don’t plan on moving anytime (no worries, mom), I will just rely on the insider knowledge gained back in the 1st grade when our field trip involved taking a tour of the Fairfield, OH McDonalds on the VERY WEEK THAT I WAS LINE LEADER. I couldn’t have planned it any better.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy McDonalds and the memories it seems to provide until my waistline comes up with a new plan. For now though, I’m lovin’ it.


MEP said...

And I'm loving your post. I had a special McDonalds moment this morning. Heading from Terre Haute to Cincinnati, I needed a pit stop at the Indy Post Rd. exit. I was actually just planning to use the facilities (as a good customer, I don't feel guilty about that), but my hubby wanted a pop. On the exit ramp, I thought to myself, "I wish McDonalds still made those cherry pies and I wished they still fried their pies not baked them." Well, what do you know. They have cherry pies now! Sure, they weren't fries, but what a Christmas miracle. As with all things, I think fast food in moderation is okay . . . at least for me and my family.

T-Baby said...

LAP - Not to brag, but I have visited the corporate HQ of McDonald's. The floor I visited had its own soda fountain dispenser just like in the restaurants that the employees were free to access at anytime for no charge. The restaurant cups were even there to be used.

Anonymous said...

As one of Megan's friends, I agree with MEP blog withdrawal, but yours was a grand substitution.

FYI--months ago when I asked my high school class to each give thanks for something specific, Paul, age 16, said, "I'm thankful the McRib is back."

Sara G.

Anonymous said...

LAP- I have once discussed why McDonald's Coke's taste so much better with one Coca Cola salesman and he did admit that McDonald's adds a little more something (I can't remember which ingredient) into their Coca all of those out there that think it is a figment of their are wrong! McD's does add something a little special that other fast food restaraunts do not.
Happy Fountain Diet Coking! - ETF Molly's BFF

M said...

I think all the fond memories and those yet to be made keep drawing me back. If the fries are crispy, you just can't beat them. Fountain drinks, money. Now I also know my granddaughter ratted me out on the fast food.

Actchy said...

I have to say that nothing brings a tear to my eye the way that the vintage McD commercials do. And my sister and I can still do the handclap we learned in the school yard that went along with the menu: "Big-Mac-Filet-O-Fish-Quarter-Pounder-French-Fry..."

E... said...

One of my grandma's favorite stories is that her first trip to McDonald's was with me when I was three and my brother had just been born. I wanted a Filet O Fish, and she thought that couldn't be right. But indeed, I ate the whole thing. I try to branch out and order something new, but the Filet still gets me every time. (it's seriously the only "fish" I'll eat -- I wish I could just get the cheese and tartar sauce on the shiny bun, but then oh, I'd be missing the crunchy greasy crustiness of the fish square) I hope my children don't start ratting ME out on my french fry drive thru stops en route to any number of errands...

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