Britney and I Like McDonalds

I completely just stole this picture so if someone feels robbed let me know and I’ll take it down:


For the record, it’s stolen from here found by visiting here.

Anyway, this post isn’t about that picture. It’s about McDonalds.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Julia Child was a fan of McDonald’s french fries. She and Jacques Pepin said McDonalds fries (back when they fried them in beef fat) were comparable to some of the best in gay Paree. Even now, I must admit, the fries are pretty tasty.

Last week I broke a several year long McDonalds hiatus (with the exception of a lunch in an airport) since there’s a McDonalds across from my school and I was hungry and in a rush. I got the McChicken sandwich extra value meal. It came with fries and a Coke. It tasted good.

Let’s not be snobs here, people. “Super Size Me” (which I haven’t seen yet) apparently argues that McDonalds isn’t healthy. Well, duh. I know it’s not healthy. Neither is half the stuff I bake with 8 sticks of butter. Neither is the saucy venison the rich folks are eating at Daniel. Rich unhealthy food is a luxury. And McDonalds is the working man’s luxury food.

And as luxury food, I think it’s enjoyable. The fries are enjoyable. (They were better before the veggies revolted.) The sandwich was crisp and flavorful. The Coke went down smooth.

Folks I know who hate McDonalds hate it because it’s a big corporation, the same way Starbucks is a big corporation–and they avoid it for political reasons. I think that’s a very slippery slope. Your grocery store is a corporation. The computer you’re reading this on comes from a corporation. Your significant other is a corporation.

I haven’t researched this at all (I’m not that kind of blogger) but I would argue that McDonalds probably does more for the world on a humanitarian level than the fanciest and most-acclaimed restaurants. Check out this article linked on kottke today. It argues that big famous celebrity chef owned restaurants are big frauds:

So who does the cooking? Mostly guys like Ernesto. Hardworking faceless guys from places like Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico. You were expecting a bunch of Italians singing opera flinging pasta? Wrong. You hear mariachi music and guys cursing in Spanish.

But this doesn’t jibe with most people’s fantasy of how a restaurant kitchen works. They imagine someone like Emeril or Mario Battalia waxing ecstatically about herbs and oils, engaging in something close to foreplay as they lovingly prepare your entree.

So sorry. It’s a Mexican guy earning a paycheck, watching the clock praying for his shift to end as he sweats in front of a blast furnace cooking your food. In every restaurant in this great land of ours, whether it’s French, Thai, Chinese, or even Indian, it’s Se Habla Espanol.

I have a hunch this is probably true. Anthony Bourdain makes the same point in an interview about why he doesn’t go to the James Beard awards:

“The reason I don’t go to the [Beard] awards–and haven’t gone for some time–is this entire business is built on the backs of Mexican and Central American labor. The Beard House has done nothing, that I can see, for them. So I don’t mind seeing them fall on their face. In fact, I’m enjoying it.”

Because it’s a big corporation, McDonalds sponsors many a program and a charity to keep its good name. We’re all familiar with Ronald McDonald Homes—I volunteered at one once in college. I remember a bunch of well-cared for kids dressed in Hamburglar costumes and forced to memorize that old McDonald’s jingle—do you remember it? “Big Mac McDLT A quarter pounder with some cheese filet of fish a happy meal…”

Ok, just kidding about the kids–not the volunteering. But now I’m stuck on remembering that song. I remember our elementary school had a contest–whichever class memorized that song the best won a free class trip to McDonalds. How creepy that McDonalds had its hands in my elementary school’s pockets!

That’s really messed up!

You people should really stop eating there!

Now who remembers the song? “Big Mac McDLT a quarter pounder with some cheese filet o’fish a cheeseburger a happy meal…….”

25 thoughts on “Britney and I Like McDonalds”

  1. Wooooahhhh….

    Adam: check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.

    Although it’s true that doing the “anti-mass-corporation” thing is a messy bit, well, so is life. That’s kind of like saying that we shouldn’t punish shady big-time white collar crime because then we’d have to paranoically monitor all business dealings… There’s a lot of grey area when morality and logistics get enmeshed, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your morals completely.

    You should read the book Fast Food Nation (I cant recall the author this second), although you might want to make your final farewell visit to McDonalds before doing so. Although

    almost all large corporations pose a threat to the underlings that supply it (except for IKEA, i just could never picture them being evil, maybe its their clean all-Swedish image that i love) McDonalds has an iron-fist of an oppressive “bargaining” power that is completely unheard of. To the agriculture industry, McDonalds has the capacity of evil-wreaking roughly equivalent to ten Wal-Marts in their own evil-wreaking departments (roughly speaking).

    So, Mr. Non-researcher, as I conclude: Chances are that the mexican workers in your best restaurants are getting paid as well as, if not much better than, those who work in mcdonalds. Additionally, by eating there, you are actually consuming intellectually and desgustatorially pleasing food… rather than hormone-sugar-fat laden trash.

    Thank you, and i will now disembark from my soap box. Please do read that book!

  2. If you enjoy mcdonalds, there is no reason you should not eat it. For me, after seeing supersize me and reading fast food nation, I will probably never eat fast food again!

    As for mcdonalds being a good, kind company, I urge you to check out mcspotlight. Mcdonalds is one of the most offensive “big guys” on the block!

  3. Oy Adam! McDonald’s is the devil! And even though I’ve had the odd, on the run, drive-thru Egg McMuffin/Hash Brown in the past (salty and greasy yet tasty) it boggles the mind why would anyone still *want* to eat there after reading Fast Food Nation and watching Super Size Me. Surely you jest, no? ;-D

  4. It’s true that there’s a slippery slope involved whenever you talk about boycotting something. But we’re all drawing the line somewhere. Everyone has something that is beyond the pale for them in terms of where they will or will not spend their money. For example, I think it’s safe to say that you and all your readers would not patronize a brothel in Thailand where women are held prisoner. Well, that’s on one end of the spectrum, and there’s a long way before you start debating whether it’s OK to buy clothes that are made under fair labor conditions but by workers that aren’t unionized. Personally, I can only make principled consumerism so much of a priority. It can take up a lot of time and effort, and when it comes down to it I don’t think that consumerism of any sort is what is going to create more good in the world. But I still have certain rules I’ve decided on for myself that I live by. I don’t eat at McDonald’s, except for breaking down and getting fries about once every two years. I won’t buy anything from the Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy (same horrible company). I don’t eat meat or use leather. I make an effort to buy stuff that was made in countries with reasonable labor laws and patronize fair-trade businesses as much as possible. And (speaking to your grocery store point) I try to buy local produce (and honey and other stuff) as much as possible. Of all the things I do I think the last one might be the most important.

    Anyway, whether they want to admit it or not, everyone has rules about what they will and will not support with their money. You can try not to think about it, you can avoid information that you think will ruin your enjoyment of things you think might be produced unethically, but in my experience that doesn’t feel very good. Better to open yourself up to the information that available. You can decide how you want to respond to it, and you don’t have to start boycotting everything that’s remotely sketchy, and you can always change your mind or make exceptions.

  5. One of the things I like best about Fast Food Nation is that the author acknowledges at the top that he thinks fast food tastes good. Sure, he says, McDonalds has delicious French fries. I agree.

    The author is not making an elitist argument: a.k.a. fast food is bad because people never learn to appreciate fine dining. He is pointing to specific business, labor and health practices that have these incredible real world effects on people’s lives. People who are often the least powerful and most invisible folks in our society, which is how the fast food industry can get away with it.

    And yup, our lives are ruled by corporations. But to me, choosing not to eat fast food is a pretty ludicrously simple way to avoid contributing to something immoral. Especially if you ahem, cook and ahem, have plenty of other options.

    Gotta get off that high horse now…

  6. You’re right Adam. McDonald’s French Fries rock, and even a close friend of mine digs the Big Mac. If a gun was pointed to my head, I probably would admit that the quarter pounder isn’t horrible. On the other side of the coin, the reputation of restaurant world *is* built off the backs of the lower to lower middle class, often Mexican and Central Americans. One only needs to take a peek into the kitchen of these places to understand that. Adam is right…

    …but these aren’t the point of the anti-McDonald’s meme that has been propagating over the past 10-15 years.

    The issue is more than the fact that McDonald’s (or any fast food restaurant) is a corporation, and thus deserves our contempt. It’s more of the fact that these businesses are such horrible corporate citizens. They get this reputation in large part because they:

    1. Market their unhealthy food (primarily to children) to a tune of nearly 2 billion dollars a year.

    2. They continually underpay their employees, and fight against any regualtions that may require them to provide items such as health care

    3. The clearing of rain forest lands in order to have cattle ranching

    4. They annually produce over a million tons of packaging, used for just a few minutes before being discarded.

    5. Their lack of interest in the charges of cruelty to animals in regard to their killing practices

    6. Their lack of interest in health concerns surrounding how the cattle is processed, opening itself up to things like.. well…Mad Cow Disease

    The argument most people have against fast food restaurants is not the quality of food (which is nominal at best), but that it also goes hand in hand with greed and lack of responsibility.

    Seriously, read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. You’ll get a decent perspective.

  7. I’ve never read Fast Food Nation, but as a Sociology student I’ve had to read and research the ideas in a similar book by George Ritzer called The McDonaldization of Society. It’s a pretty good book that explains how the dominant themes of McDonaldization (predictability, calculability, efficiency and control) have invaded almost every aspect of our Western culture including health care and education. It’s pretty interesting and it also gives tips on how to shake up the system. However, about 5 times a year I usually cave in…damn fries

  8. Working man’s luxury food? I doubt it. All people eat at McDonald’s for the same reasons: it is cheap and fills you up fast. Poor people may not go to other restaurants as often, but McDonald’s is not luxury food. They’re poor; they’re not stupid. I teach in the inner city and when I ask my students to describe their ideal meal the foods they usually mention are steak (a big number one) and also crab legs. Soul food sides figure prominently, but one thing I always reading about is the people they want with them – their families – at the perfect meal. And the restaurant of choice is usually Red Lobster.

  9. That should be always ENJOY reading about…And in the interests of full disclosure I eat the McD fries once in awhile myself (but what I really miss are the fried apple pies – sweet lava) and love those Red Lobster cheese biscuits.

  10. I daresay you didn’t know what you were in for, Adam. It’s McDonald’s Bashing Day!

    Ok, I would disparage them too, if it would do any good. But convienence seems to matter more in this world than doing the right thing. You have to be so intentional about your actions these days, and idealism demands effort.

    I would be taking this so personally right now. Have a good day, Adam.

  11. OMIGAW! Y’all need to get a frigging grip … go grab a tree hug it …then bend over and get the sticks out your asses! Can’t believe all of this over a stupid McDonald’s post. Show me one capitalist corporation that isn’t making loot hand over fist off of the labor of others. YUCK!

  12. Just to clarify, McDonalds cooks their fries in a seperate vat from the chicken nuggets etc. This vat is a tasty o’ fat/ lard/ tallow and is only used for the fries.

    If you want “vegetarian fries,” you have to ask, and they cook them in a different vat, and they taste different. Not nearly as tasty. Go ahead, ask. I’d be interested to know if this is the case all over.

    At least that’s the way it’s been for the last several years in Vancouver/ BC…

    I had this discussion w/ a friend a few years ago in the restaurant. She was so upset when the McDonald’s manager confirmed that was indeed the case. He actually gave her a free sandwich coupon just to ease the shock. I have never seen those coupons before or after. And I haven’t had to say “I told you so” to her since! ;-)

    Maybe the fries of your youth tasted better b/c that’s the everything-tastes-better-when-you’re-young thang. Just curious, did it bring back any Proust/Madeleine memories?? heehee!

  13. I memorized this in elementary school – never thought it would come in handy someday, but here goes:

    Big Mac McDLT a quarter pounder with some cheese Filet-O-Fish a hamburger a cheeseburger a Happy Meal McNuggets tasty golden french fries in regular and larger sizes and salads chef or garden or a chicken salad oriental big big breakfasts egg McMuffins hot hot cakes and sausage maybe biscuits bacon egg and cheese or sausage danish hash browns too and for dessert hot apple pie or sundaes three varieties a soft serve cone three kinds of shake or chocolately chip cookies and to drink a Coca-Cola Diet Coke or orange sprite and coffee decaf too and also orange juice I love McDonald’s good time great taste and I get this all at one place

    (passes out)

  14. DUDE, I forgot about the low-fat milk!

    “decaf too low-fat milk and also orange juice”

    Man, the one f-ing time I get to use this, I screw it up. My bad.

  15. I believe it’s “orange drink and sprite”…however, I would have messed up the part about shakes, so I am certainly not criticizing. I am glad someone else is so lame as me to know this song by heart.

  16. you can be proud of working at a real restaurant but nobody’s proud of working at mcdonalds. no decent person would be embarrassed to say their child is a waiter or a cook but they might feel a little sad about admitting their child is slogging it at mcdonalds. it’s just about the place not having much of a soul. that’s important i think. some degree of originality of product, people being proud of their work. all that’s important.

  17. Ricky, you certainly have my respect and admiration. And I thought I was the only one!

    When that McDonald’s song came out, it was the mid 80’s and I was in elementary school. My Grandpa, who would go to Japan for business trips for weeks at a time, was again overseas during the hype, and my Grandma said she’d give me 5.00 if I would memorize the song and recite it for Grandpa when he got back from Tokyo. So, being the greedy lil’ bastard I was and still am, I learned that puppy in a day, recited it for my Grandpa, and bought a bottle of Love’s Baby Soft with my winnings.

    P.S. You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT on the orange drink thing. My bad, again!

  18. Aaaaah! K, Love’s Baby Soft! The minute I read those words I could smell it! I think it was a “must buy” for all of us in the mid 80s. I even had the T-shirt!

    And thanks Adam for eating the McD’s so I don’t have to. ;)

  19. Someone named ‘hello’, back in November, noted: “you can be proud of working at a real restaurant but nobody’s proud of working at mcdonalds. …… some degree of originality of product, people being proud of their work. all that’s important.”

    Perhaps you’ve not travelled, or are one of the folks here that refuse to go to McDonalds. One of the things that has struck me as I’ve moved around with my military family, is the LOCAL VARIETY at McDonalds. In Seattle, you can get a latte. In Hawaii, you can get spam for breakfast and a taro pie for dessert. Each restaurant has it’s own uniform. These may seem like small things, but they completely blow away your claim that there is no pride or originality at McDonalds. And, somewhere, there’s floating around some statistic that something like 65% of all managers in US businesses were once McDonald’s employees. I guess they rose above this embarrassing job pretty well.

  20. This is the canadian version

    I would like a big mac, mc dlt, a quarter pounder with cheese, fillet o fish, a hamburger, a cheeseburger, mc chicken and mc nuggets, tasty golden french fries regular or larger size, a salad chef or garden or a chicken salad oriental. And for breakfast egg mc muffin, hot hotcakes and sausage, maybe omelette mc muffin, danish, hash brown too. And for desert hot apple pie and sundaes three varieties, a soft served cone, three kind of shakes and chocalatey chip cookies. And to drink a coca cola, diet coke and orange drink, a sprit and cofee and hot chocolate also apple, orange and grapefruit juice, i love mcdonalds good time great taste and I get this all at one place.

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