Deep Thoughts About the Golden Arches

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A recent New York Times article recounted how a group of elderly Korean men are getting grief from McDonald’s management at a store in Queens, New York because they spend too much time there socializing while spending hardly any money. They might shell out $1.39 for a small order of fries to split among them, but mainly they are there to gab and presumably get away from their spouses. Now that might be an stereotype, but there must be a reason these men are willing to risk having the police called on them to overstay their welcome at a Mickey D’s.

Old men — and women — socializing at a McDonald’s and taking advantage of the senior citizen discount on coffee is not limited to Queens, of course. One can find similar gatherings under the Golden Arches in towns all across America. This is especially true in smaller communities where the traditional downtown cafe has gone the way of the phone booth and the slide rule. It is tough to compete against a chain selling a slate of sandwiches for a buck, as McDonald’s does — a sausage biscuit, Southern Style chicken sandwich, and so forth.

Our astute daughter observed something the other day, while we were actually eating at a McDonald’s. That is a rare occurrence, but we were on the road and hungry. Nothing else in the small town where we stopped looked appealing. The one thing about McDonald’s is consistency — an Egg McMuffin in Des Moines is going to taste just like one purchased in Dallas. And I have a weakness for the fries, always have. But I have sworn off the burgers. I only accede to the Cheeseburger in Paradise temptation about a half-dozen times a year. When that occurs, I am going to make it a top-quality affair, not a fast-food burger with tasteless beef and bland buns.

Anyway, as we looked around at the rather hefty patrons gathered on a Sunday afternoon, she said, “You know, it costs less money to be obese than to eat healthy these days.” And she is right. The dollar menu features several burgers and chicken sandwiches, all fairly high in fat content and calories. A salad at McDonald’s, which is presumably healthier if one doesn’t drown it in ranch dressing, is pushing $5. So folks who are forced to really watch how they spend their money, or have  several mouths to feed, can get a lot more food off the fattening side of the menu for much less cash out of their pockets. That is one reason — there are many — we have an obesity epidemic in America.

I was sitting in the tire store the other day, waiting on the nice folks to check the pressure and make the warning light go away on my vehicle. The change in temperature is usually to blame, but it is always wise to make sure I haven’t picked up a nail. Fox News was blaring in the waiting room, and it was too cold to wait outside, so I was held hostage to the “Fair and Balanced” network. Neil Cavuto was interviewing a science teacher who claimed to have lost 37 pounds by eating only at McDonald’s. With the help of his students, he developed a 2,000-calorie plan. He ate healthy stuff like oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, a salad at lunch and then splurged on a value meal for dinner — Big Macs and fries, even ice cream for dessert. After three months, with 45 minutes of walking every day, he had dropped from 249 pounds to 170 pounds.

This is in stark contrast to the documentary “Super Size Me,” where Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. He claimed the food — and he consumed everything on the menu at least once and ate three full meals a day — was beginning to damage his liver by the end of a month. He gained nearly 25 pounds, watched his cholesterol shoot up, had chronic headaches and sustained liver damage.

The science teacher continues to eat at McDonald’s — the manager provided free food when he got wind of the experiment — and rightly says the food choices we make are what cause obesity. Personally, if I ate every meal at McDonald’s for a week, let alone a month, I would be not only chubbier but also even more irascible than I am now.

I don’t think I will turn into one of those fellows hanging out in Mickey D’s for the cheap coffee, though I am not above requesting the senior-citizen discount when in the drive-through line. A cup of decent Joe for 50 cents is a good deal, in anybody’s book. It goes well with a breakfast taco from the little place down the street.

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1 Comment

  • adam @unorthodoxepicure


    Unfortunately, the McDonald's fries that killed people 20 years ago aren't the same as the ones that kill people nowadays. Thank you, vegans.

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