I am getting sick of everyone hating on Ronald. It is bad enough that my NetFlix subscription is now overloaded with food documentaries, some good but most bad and almost every one of them, without fail, has mentioned the Golden Arches and their contribution to the decline in health among Americans, specifically in children.
Look, it is obvious that McDonald’s is not, nor never has, marketed itself as a health store, nor, as Jim Gaffigan put it in his Mr. Universe stand up comic sketch, as a Farmer’s Market!
To my knowledge, and lest we forget that I grew up in the 80’s (I actually went to several birthdays in the McDonald’s birthday caboose at the Spokane Hillyard McDonald’s, and you know what? It was AWESOME!), McDonald’s has had a clear cut message.
We make below-average hamburgers and above-average french fries, and we sell it all real cheap. Oh yeah, we are going to market heavily to your children so they can fuss in their car seats when you drive by each time they see our signs. On top of that, lets place cool toys that are part of a multi-million dollar marketing collaboration with the latest blockbuster super hero or Disney movie! Want more? We are going to build play structures for your kids to run around in, which will keep you here longer, in between bites of burger or chicken nuggets.
McDonald’s has been clear about their intentions (whereas possibly Applebee’s, Chili’s and Olive Garden, I feel, have not). If we use our common sense, we know that eating McDonald’s every day, three meals a day for 30 days like the Super Size Me guy did is totally unhealthy, but you know what, so is smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating bags of Oreos and Doritos. Heck, there is a lot of research out there now that says strict vegetarian eaters are going against thousands of years of evolutionary/creationist hard wiring and themselves are becoming less healthy and at greater risk of health problems. TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS BAD! Use your heads people!
But c’mon, seriously, is McDonald’s really that bad? Is having a Happy Meal once in awhile really going to send your child on a never-able-to-return path towards Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or even cancer (remember the styrofoam containers the burgers used to come in and the public outcry that followed??) Could your kid catch a cold or flu bug by running around the play area? Of course, but no worse than the germ-infested public school system! Plus, isn’t the cool thing to be “pro germ” anyway so our kids can grow up allowing their bodies to learn to fight off the bad bugs? Wow, more and more conflicting data for both sides of the argument! How on earth will we emerge from this debate and where do we go from here?
If you don’t want your kid to go to Mickey D’s then fine, that is totally your choice. But DO NOT pretend that you are better than the rest of us! Quick looking down on us or forwarding worthless blogs to your friends or posting them on various social media outlets in hopes of “converting” them towards your beliefs! To me it is the same principle as the JW’s knocking on your door trying to get us to read the Watchtower. It is annoying, and a total invasion of our privacy. Wait, no, the JW’s actually respect our beliefs and offer their information to us…you all JAM IT DOWN our throats! You somehow think its OK and it makes me sick. There is more vitriol, and holier-than-thou attitudes being spewed out of fast food haters, than any religious group that has ever run a missionary campaign. More zeal, more passion, and frankly WAY MORE attitude.
With all that in mind, lets remember that McDonald’s has been one of the most consistent places to hire teen-agers, the elderly, people with disabilities, and immigrants. They pay a living wage (especially here in WA state, the highest minimum wage in the country!), typically provide benefits, and have a great management training program. Many of our current business owners and Fortune 500 company leaders have put in time at the arches. You could say that Starbucks today, is the McDonald’s of yesterday, providing a clean and stable work environment and opportunity for people that may struggle to find work elsewhere (depending on the season of their life) to provide for themselves, maybe their families, and certainly some work experience and work habits that they can take with them the rest of their lives.
Most of you know that I am a HUGE FAN of Anthony Bourdain. I have his books, I watch his shows, and I love his wit, sarcasm, and how he pushes the envelope of TV and food conversation. His post (not recent, it is actually an excerpt from a Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.) a couple years ago) about keeping Ronald McDonald away from his then 5-year old daughter got me fired up. He has decided to take a different tactic to keep his daughter from eating at the Golden Arches. Lies, partial lies, and flat out manipulation is his method of choice. The article itself is really great. I actually love it. Fun, well written, funny, and could very well become doctrine for Instagram-shooting mom’s everywhere. If he wants to keep his daughter from Mickey D’s, thats fine, it is fine for ANY parent to raise their kids to be food elitists and snobs…our country is full of such people.
Mr. Bourdain, and the rest of you haters, lets not take this too seriously. Lets not continually accuse Ronald McDonald of being a pedophile. Lets not get caught up in the meat and potato operations, or even the decline of the health standards of Americans. Lets see McDonald’s for what it is, the below-average quality, some-times-fun-for-the-kids, guilty pleasure for a lot of Americans. The rest is simply taking it all too seriously oh and…I too am loving it.
If you like this post, you may also like:
Michael Ruhlman’s post on common sense eating
A related post by Michael Ruhlman on America’s Eating Disorder