Want Fries with That?

by Leighann on June 1, 2009

Okay, so I am a bit torn about McDonald’s.

Years and years ago when I first read Fast Food Nation and Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat, I swore off McDonald’s. This lasted for quite a while. That is until I had kids.

And don’t blame me for introducing them to it. Blame the grandparents. And blame them for ordering Happy Meals with a filet-o-fish on the side so that my kids could get the damn piece of crap, landfill-bound toys.

That’s right, there is no vegetarian or fish option in a Happy Meal, so they buy a kid’s meal, eat the burger themselves, and give the fish sandwich to my kiddo.

Happy Meal

Happy Meal*

Do I like McDonald’s? Well, the first time I had it again was when I was eight months pregnant with my first child and traveled to the state capitol for a protest against reduction in health care benefits for state employees. Seriously…I was weeks away from a c-section and wouldn’t be able to use the doctor I had developed a relationship with or the hospital where we had taken all of our prenatal classes. Luckily the protests and uproar actually helped.

The point of this post: There are pluses and minuses to dining at Mickey D’s.

1. The french fries are crack. Seriously. I think I read in Fast Food Nation (or was it Mad Cowboy?) that they select a variety of potato that is higher in sugar content.

2. Nutritional information is readily available. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out carb counts, serving sizes, and insulin dosages when a restaurant doesn’t have nutritional information available. Not only do they have pamphlets available at most stores, but a lot of the wrappers and boxes have the info printed right on them. And, flip over the paper tray liner sheet next time and you will see a chart.

So while a filet-o-fish and fries may not be the healthiest meal, at least I know how many carbs are in it.

3. I don’t think I’ve ever let my daughter play on the indoor playground before today. One of her dance classes is scheduled at such a time that we grab dinner on our way home. If I take her, we go to Panera. If my husband takes her, they often go to McDonald’s where they meet up with a slightly older girl who takes dance at the same studio.

We saw her friend as we were leaving the dance studio last week and the two made a dinner date. There was no talking her into having what I thought was a suitable dinner.

I just happened to have a book with me (Bitter is the New Blackicon) and I have to say that I was able to sit there and read 25 pages while my daughter played with the other child. When was the last time I read 25 pages uninterrupted? And was actually able to concentrate on it?

Maybe it was reading the final Harry Potter installment while nursing my little guy. But then again I was always afraid that the gynormous hardback tome would crush his little head!

I told her she could play for 10 minutes. But it was more like half an hour, maybe more, I didn’t look at the time. Who was I to interrupt her fun? (Trust me, this is so not like me to let her play at a fast food restaurant playground and so not like me to be buried in a book and not being a helicopter. There were only four kids and it wasn’t like she could go anywhere.)

4. The indoor playground was disgustingly filthy. There was not a single table that had been wiped clean. I am surprised that the plague is not breeding there. Really, why can’t someone come through every hour and wipe down the tables. Ew, gross.

So as you can see, I have mixed feeling about McDonald’s.

Oh, and to the dad at the table behind us: rookie mistake! You don’t give your child the option of playing or eating! No, no, no. You tell the kid that he can play after he eats, and only if he eats. Trust me on this one. It’s no wonder he ate one bite of his hamburger and you left carrying a full Happy Meal box.

*Image from the McDonald’s website.

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