My Fast Food Nation: A Reluctant Ode to McDonalds

I grew up on McDonalds—we had a McDonalds in our town way back in the early 1970s and I would walk the 20 minutes up there, order a fish filet and a small fry with the money I earned on my paper route, and walk home. The thing to consider here is that I walked many, many miles a day, so that fish filet barely dinged my metabolism armor.

Chinese food was so yummy

1987. Is it possible I’m making the first duck face?

 I am the person the fast food and chain restaurants want. I am nostalgic about the smell and the taste and the memories. We collected the glasses. We played the Monopoly games. We ate the first Happy Meals.

We competitively sang the Big Mac song (two all beef patties, special sauce, pickles, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun) while playing in the yard. I remember my first Egg McMuffin (There’s more in the middle of an egg mcmuffin than a…what?)—who would have thought something could be so delicious??!

Every Sunday, my family would go to church before driving to Dunkin’ Donuts and we’d all sit in the sunroom at our house fighting over Boston cremes and chocolate glazeds while reading the news, the funnies, or Parade.

My first job was at a Friendly’s. In high school, my friends would sit in the booths and eat Big Beefs with Fribbles. We would meet at Kowloon for pupu platters, Pizza Hut for deep dish, and in the Ground Round parking lot at the Liberty Tree Mall before heading out to whatever movie, party, or nothingness we had planned for the night.

When McNuggets arrived, my boyfriend and I ordered a pack of 20 and sat at that rocky little wonderland, Devereux Beach, acting like we were some sort of fast food connoisseurs, “Hm…these are very interesting.” After that, I ate McNuggets with sweet and sour dipping sauce every single day driving home on Rte 128 from the job I took in a hospital after I decided I would not be attending Wheaton College in the fall of 1987.

Wendy’s (Where’s the Beef?) came along with burgers seemingly made to order and I lost my mind. Are you kidding me? In college, I would drive to the Bangor Mall and sit in that silly yellow restaurant dining away on those little square hockey pucks with lettuce and mustard. When my boyfriend at the time (now Groom) broke up with me and I stopped eating for days at a time, my roommate drove me to that Wendy’s to entice me to eat.

It didn’t work. My relationship with food is really touch and go.

These days, I avoid fast food restaurants, even though I crave it almost every time I drive by. Not for the food, necessarily, but for the emotional connection.

I can’t believe I’m writing an ode to McDonalds right now. I was outraged after reading Fast Food Nation. I was disgusted by Supersize Me and motived by Forks Over Knives. But that isn’t what stops me from swinging into Five Guys. I avoid these restaurants for two reasons.

I am convinced I will either get some sort of E.coli food poisoning or there will be a mass shooting on the day I stand in line pretending I’m going to order a salad but am planning to get a Big Mac with some fries.

While my demise likely would be considered tragic, even though I am in my late 40s and have lived a full life, the comments won’t be “Devlin got shot??” My friends will say, “Devlin got shot in a Burger King??”

I can’t live with that.

I may have found something else that will keep me away. Did you know McDonald’s has a secret menu? Gross.

And Yelp reviews??

Sarah Devlin

About Sarah Devlin

Sarah Devlin has been writing about the recreational industry since the late ’90s but ironically can’t run, swim, or bike a mile.