Bring Back My Micky D's
CORVALLIS, OREGON -- McDonald's is undergoing hard times these days. Not so much financially, but idealistically. Their corporate structure is playing some sort of ping-pong, yin-yan game that nobody seems to be able to figure out. They are toying with our affections and our heritage and I, for one, would like them to get a grip.Even the most food snobby of us have to admit to growing up with McDonald's and at least having an occasional fling with their cuisine -- maybe not an affair, nothing quantifiably unholy, but we sometimes lusteth in our stomachs for their brand of burger. Even those who have gone to vegetarian exile and back have to admit to lusting after a few of the salt laden, beef tallow sticks that were their original French fries before they went all PC with vegetable oil.McDonald's is middle-aged and a microcosm of our nation. It is stuck between the allure of youth and the stability of adulthood. One year they try to foist off the Arche Deluxe in some comical, but costly botched attempt at fishing for adults that was less effective than a midnight infomercial bass lure. There are only so many ways to skin a cow and trying to attach an adult image to something so steeped in childhood memories took the fun out of it for everyone. Then, just in time, McDonald's makes an skidding 180 degree turn before the company goes crashing into the bottomless abyss of eight-track tapes and AMC Gremlins. They ditch the boomer burger and rush through the country erecting "Playlands" that look like some sort of dwarf spawn of Disneyland and the Biosphere. These are a hit with the kids, but they anger parents who's minivans can no longer pass a McDonald's without their children going into a frenzied Hari Krishna frenzy chanting for a Happy Meal. Still another day, you go in to McDonald's and are greeted by teenage sales droids sporting their love tattoos from the previous night's hicky-fest. The next day they have geezerhood counter help that remind you of your grandparents and make you too ashamed to buy your usual strawberry malt and French fry breakfast. So out of guilt you get one of those faux salads in a box because for some reason the words "eat your vegetables" keep pulsing through your head. Next, you find yourself saying "yes mam" and the escapee from the elder hostel working the counter tells you to "have a nice McDay" and not to forget to take a napkin "sonny." Your brain screams for solemnity. The New York Times Magazine described the reason for McDonald's lasting popularity as "it's not the best hamburger, but it is the same hamburger." Bingo.Sometimes that is enough. You go to McDonald's not to have your taste buds surprised or your senses tickled with the wafting fragrances of rare roasted peppers and imported spices. You go to McDonald's to find comfort and sameness in a world with the continuous loop mantra "more choice is better, more choice is better."It's not and I think 12 gazillion served can testify. Can I get a witness? And, a large order of fries?