When fast food was a treat, not a staple

McDonald's Big Mac (Photo: Wikipedia)

McDonald’s Big Mac (Photo: Wikipedia)

Remember the days when a trip to McDonald’s was considered a treat, rather than a staple of our weekly food consumption?

A special event

When we were kids in the late sixties and early seventies, a McDonald’s meal (and to a much lesser extent, Burger King and later Wendy’s), was a bit of an event, even if our folks saw it as a matter of convenience. At times, it may have involved something as special as a birthday celebration.

If we were eating at home, there was a certain anticipation in waiting for the designated adult to return with bags full of goodies. And it was especially neat when we got to order shakes with our meals! (Yeah, admit it, some of you can relate!)

While it may sound bizarre to think of savoring fast food, as kids that’s what we did.

Nowadays…not so special

Today, we call it fast food because of the time it takes to serve it and the way in which we gulp it down.

With fast-food restaurants so ubiquitous in modern life, the idea of a burger, fries, and a drink isn’t much of a novelty, and in terms of public health, Americans consume way too much of this stuff.

Compare the lunch lines at the typical food court. I bet you’ll find the lines at McDonald’s among the longest, perhaps with (healthier) Subway possibly giving it a run for its money. The others usually aren’t even close in terms of numbers of customers.

The OMG extreme

I’m not sure when we reached the tipping point of fast food becoming a regular part of our diet, but I certainly was given, umm, food for thought when I saw this ABC News piece about a seemingly fit 64-year-old salesman and Vietnam vet who claims to have eaten 10 Big Macs a week over the past 30 years:

Dennis Rosenlof has special sauce coursing through his veins.

“My first meal of the day is always at about 10:30, when they open up the Big Macs,” Rosenlof, 64, told ABC News.

. . . “I enjoy what I eat,” he said. “It tastes good, so I order the same thing every day.”

. . . “Mondays I always eat a Big Mac, two on Tuesdays, one on Wednesdays, two on Thursdays, one or two on Fridays, and two every Saturday,” he explained.

I suppose if we want to rediscover how to savor a fast-food burger, we probably could find no better adult example than to follow Mr. Rosenlof to his local McDonald’s — assuming he isn’t too busy fielding requests to be the subject of medical journal articles.

6 responses

  1. What I’m pondering is how this reflects our current social mentality — that we deserve treats DAILY and not just on special occasions. Entitlement much?

    1. It’s an interesting angle, but I don’t think that many people regard fast food as a “treat” these days, more like a quick, tastier-than-salad lunch option, but hardly an indulgence. And prices are a big point for folks on a tight budget. Five dollars buys you lots of (not-so-healthy) calories at McDonald’s, but it probably won’t cover the price of a decent sandwich at a better deli-style lunch place.

  2. The standard burger size was 1.8 oz. The quarter pounder was considered huge when first introduced.

  3. It was a treat in our family. My siblings loved the Big Mac and I loved the Filet-o-fish sandwich but we all had chocolate shakes with it. Maybe we were strange but french fries were not our thing. I remember the structure of the buildings were with overarching arches… KFC was the same but i was introduced to that through my friends family.

    1. I remember when the Filet-o-fish sandwich was seen as sort of an exotic thing to have on a burger place menu!

  4. Dave, you are so right! I remember very clearly the excitement of us all climbing into our big old car and pulling into a “hamburger joint” as my Dad called it. He ordered burgers with “the works” and we couldn’t wait to get them home! That happened maybe once a year. Once in a while we had special “payday” lunches, which were really just donuts from the local bakery! We rarely had soda at home, maybe once or twice a year. When TV dinners came out, I loved having them on PTA night! Kernels of corn in their little square compartment were somehow more delicious than they were on a plain old plate. And don’t get me started on potpies with their cubes of chicken! Thanks for the memories, Dave!

    Sent from my iPad

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