Friday, March 13, 2015

Rankings: McDonald's Burgers, etc.: I am an incomplete glutton.

The other day, after we walked down to the McDonald's a mile away, I did something I rarely do at McDonald's: I ordered a burger other than the McDonald's Cheeseburger.  I mean, I also ordered a Cheeseburger, too, but I two cheeseburgers meal.
ordered another burger to go with it, mixing up a bit the classic two-burgers meal McDonald's has made the standard.

Thinking about that, and slightly regretting the not-a-cheeseburger I paired my Cheeseburger with over lunch, I decided to rank the McDonald's Burgers, Etc. (Not the breakfasts. That'll be for another time.)  These are (mostly) just the sandwiches I have tried.  SPOILER ALERT! You can probably guess what's number one.  

13. Filet "O" Fish: I told Sweetie I was going to do this ranking and said "You can probably guess what's at the bottom of the list," and she preceded to guess hamburger, McRib, Egg McMuffin, and Quarter Pounder while I grew more and more amazed at how little she apparently knew about me, and McDonald's sandwiches. Finally I just told her which one.

This is the only sandwich on this list that I've never eaten, but I'm including it to emphasize just how terrible the idea of this sandwich is.  EVERYTHING about fish grosses me out, period, and the thought of fish masquerading as fast-food sandwiches, fish with tartar sauce on them, makes me hate America.  (Don't try telling me, either, that 'tartar sauce' is just mayo and relish, which people claim frequently.  It doesn't matter.  Have you ever seen anyone put tartar sauce on anything but fish? You haven't, have you. EXPLAIN THAT.  There's something weird about tartar sauce.)  

Plus, they put cheese on the Filet "O" Fish.  I'm not sure why that makes it worse but it does.  Breading and deep-frying things is a wonderful idea well worth giving up an extra 10 years of life for.  Doing it to fish is a sin.

12. Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich: We had some coupons for these once and so I got one free and it was okay.  I've never ordered it again, so I guess that's your review, there, although if it were available someplace besides McDonald's I might get it, if I ever ate at fast food restaurants that weren't McDonald's, which I increasingly don't, and the reason is that you never know what you're getting into.  Could be great, could be awful, could be confusing.  Here's a true story: last year I had to go to Rockford, Illinois, for a deposition. We finished up around 5:30 and it's like a two hour drive back home, so I decided to get something to eat on the way.  My go-to restaurant is always McDonald's, but I thought Why not try something different? So I went to a KFC, thinking I'd get some popcorn chicken, which I always like.

ONLY THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT. It wasn't on the menu, in some kind of weird warp-space where KFC doesn't sell one of the greatest things they ever invented, a bucket of pure chicken skin.  So I had to get some sort of "strips," and potato wedges, and a soda, because KFC doesn't have much food that can be eaten while you drive and because I thought it would be too much to say Oh, well, I don't need you then and go to McDonald's, where I should've gone in the first place. Then, to top it off, the potato wedges were gross and the chicken strips sort of rubbery.

Even my all-time favorite restaurant, Kopp's, in Milwaukee, once messed up our burgers so bad that Sweetie and I still talk about it.  I don't go to fast-food restaurants for gourmet food. I know fast food isn't necessaily haute cuisine. I go to fast food restauants because I want to get the thing I order and I want it to taste like it should.  Fast food should be uniform. The quality should not be up and down, as though there is a chef experimenting in the back room.  "Today, we'll try making everything soggy!"  I know you've got 16 year olds cooking it, fast food restaurants. That's why you've got to have the entire process automated and reduce the amount of discretion you give that 16 year old: so I am never surprised by what I pull out of that paper bag.

When other restaurants can get their act together and have their stuff be the same -- and good!-- every single time, I'll trust them more.  McDonald's has done this.  I respect that.

11. Ranch Snack Wrap: I tried one of these out of curiosity once. It wasn't too bad.  I suppose I've never gotten it again mainly for the same reason I almost never get anything other than the Cheeseburgers at McDonald's: because mostly when I get something else, I end up regretting not getting the Cheeseburgers.

Wrap sandwiches kind of feel like a hangover from that brief era when people worried about carbs.  They're sort of embarrassing, like having a Spin Doctors' CD in your office.

10. Double Cheeseburger This is a surprising place to find this on the list, given the fact that I love McDonald's Cheeseburgers so much that I actually started writing an epic poem about them. (I almost said that I am writing an epic poem about them but I am trying to pare down my goals and not have too many projects going on at once and so if I am being honest with myself I will admit that I will never finish that epic poem. Which only puts me 1 poem behind Homer, so I'm pretty close.)  

You'd think if I like the Cheeseburgers so much, I'd doublelike the Double Cheeseburger, but it doesn't work that way, in part because you know that feeling you get on December 25th after the presents are opened and you go to the 'fridge and you see egg nog there and there's Xmas cookies on the table and the kids are watching Rudolph AGAIN and you're like OK, Xmas, we're all done here? There can be too much of a good thing:

AND, an important part of the McDonald's Cheeseburger is that, as I mentioned early on in this post, we as a society have decided that two of them = 1 meal, which means that after you finish the first one, you get to have a second one immediately after.  How often do you get that, in life? How often do you get to say that awesome thing that just happened to me? I'm going to do it again immediately. Not very often.  Once, we rode a roller-coaster and because there was nobody else in line behind us we got to go right back around a second time.  EVERY McDonald's 2-Cheeseburger lunch is exactly like that, only they have cheese, too.

9. Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger: This is the other burger I got today, part of my 2-burgers=1 meal meal.  I'm not a complete glutton; I didn't get the fries, and I had a Coke Zero, so as McDonald's lunches go, it was fairly healthy.

I tried this one because it was also only a dollar, like the Cheeseburgers, and so if I'm going 'off the board' to order a la carte rather than just blurting out a number for a meal, I might as well jazz it up a bit.

Here's the actual exchange Sweetie and I had about this burger, which I ate first so that I could look forward to my Cheeseburger second:

Sweetie: How was it?
Me: OK. A little salty, I suppose.
Sweetie: Oh, sorry.
Me: I didn't say that was a bad thing.

Sometimes I find myself really craving salty foods.  This article says that people (well, women, who are people too I guess) who crave salty foods might be doing so because they're low on calcium, but the article also says that food craving say a lot about your personality, and so also such women

go with the flow. Hirsch's research describes salt lovers as having an "external locus of control," meaning they believe that outside forces, not their own actions, determine their fate.
The Hirsch in that sentence is

Alan R. Hirsch, M. D., head of the Smell &Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago and the author of What Flavor Is Your Personality? Hirsch should know: He's studied the cravings, food choices, and personalities of more than 18,000 people for over 25 years.
You may know Hirsch as the man who was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to stop claiming that sprinkling "tastant" crystals on your food could help you lose weight without dieting or exercise.

Here's a true story, too: I googled an article to find out what it says about my body that I sometimes crave salt. I read that Hirsch was a doctor who thought food cravings showed what type of personality you have, and I instantly thought to myself: I bet this guy's gotten in trouble for scams, and googled his 'Foundation' to learn that it was true! I wonder what kind of food cravings doctors who use their medical degree to fleece gullible people have?

Then again, if you exist in 2015 and think you can lose weight without dieting, exercising, or doing both, you probably deserve to have someone take your money away from you.

Apropos of that, I saw this morning a tweet which announced again that eating celery is "like exercise," because you burn more calories eating it than you get from the celery.  I HATE when people say something is "like exercise." What you are saying when you say "X is like exercise" is that X is not exercise but is somehow similar to it, which means that if you are doing X you are not exercising.  "X is like Y" is proof that "X" is not "Y."  Take it from someone who spent years doing things that were like exercise until he ballooned up to 260 pounds: things that are like exercise are not doing you any good.

On a related note, if you exercise too quickly after eating certain kinds of vegetable dishes, you can get exercise-induced anaphylaxis and die. This is why I constantly remind people that no good can come of eating vegetables.  I searched for "Doritos-related-anaphylaxis" and came up with nothing.  JUNK FOOD 1, HEALTH 0.

8. McChicken: Let's just call this one: A chicken sandwich is the same every single place you go. They opened up a "Chick-Fil-A"  here in Madison not long ago, and a bunch of crazy people camped out to get free sandwiches for a year, and then one day I took the boys there for a lunch.  Not because I wanted to go there for the food, but because they had a playland in it, and the boys saw that from the road and wanted to go there.  If you want people to come to your business, especially in Wisconsin, where winter lasts 17 months of every year, put in a playland, because parents are desperate for things to do with their kids.  I would patronize any business that had a playland: restaurant, grocery store, insurance agency, etc... If they want people to vote more, they should put playlands at the polling place.

Anyway, we went there and I ordered the basic "Chick Fil A" sandwich, using my theory that if you are in doubt you get the thing the restaurant put their name on, because that they will probably not screw up. It tasted like a chicken sandwich.  There's not much you can do, right or wrong, with chicken. Same goes for the McChicken, which I had once, I think.

7. Chicken McNuggets: I am old enough to remember when these first came out and people were superexcited about bits of chicken being available.  I look back on that now as the harbinger of a great era in humanity's time, because that was the beginning of developing foods without bones.  I don't know why people bother eating chicken off the bone anymore.  Do they know they don't have to gnaw on an animal's skeleton like hyenas, I wonder, when I see people doing that. The worst kind of chicken is 'wings,' which are literally garbage that a housewife decided to cook up to make some extra money (Here is The New Yorker backing me up on that).  That is quite seriously how 'wings' became a food, and I think people who buy actual 'wings' are among the dumbest people who exist.  "I would like to pay you for the part of the chicken you used to throw away because there was no actual food on it," those people are saying, before they take their bucket 'o' wings and slurp barbecue sauce off the bones.  There's no meat and precious little usable skin on 'wings'.  You'd be better off just dipping your finger into barbecue sauce and licking it. You'd look  less stupid, for one thing.

Anyway, I don't really ever order McNuggets because they're kind of soggy, but they're better than everything that has come before them on this list.

6. McDLT: I worked at McDonald's when these came out, 'back in the day' as I like to say so that that saying becomes so uncool nobody will ever say it again.  That's one of my missions in life: to take dumb sayings that my kids use, and say them earnestly, so that my kids then associate that saying with their uncool, Blobfish-esque, parent, and never use those sayings again.  I once sent all the kids a picture of me and the boys standing in front of the spot where the idea for the Gideon Bible first arose, with a caption explaining where we were and the phrase "#turnedup" on it.  I haven't heard any kids use that phrase since then. #Victory.

I think we don't mark enough spots in America where people had the idea for something.  I would like to see a series of markers saying where everything was first thought up, like "This is where So-And-So was standing when he first thought of putting eggs on a hamburger." (Have you tried that? It's delicious.)  That would be a very inspirational way to travel around the country, seeing those signs.

One day, at McDonald's, my job for the entire day, was putting the stickers on the outside of the styrofoam clamshell containes McDLTs were served in.  There were two sides, joined together:

And when McDonald's first came out with the sandwich, they didn't have those sides pre-stamped on, so someone (me) had to get paid ($2.35 per hour) to put them on.  For 6 hours.

Also, I did it wrong: I got bored just putting them on and began doing them 'creatively.' Like I would put them head-to-head, or flipped 180-degrees.  My manager had to come and tell me not to do that.  I was apparently messing up the brand. #turneddown.

The McDLT eventually became the "Big N' Tasty," according to various people who what does it matter if it's true or not, it's about a fast food sandwich's history, so go with it.  The "Big N'Tasty" in Australia is the "Big Oz" and it has beetroot on it.  "Beetroot" is just beet.  So it has beets on it.  Another reason I probably won't go to Australia, although the fact that every animal in Australia is superpoisonous is still number 1, and their having spiders as big as my car is number 2.  But beets on burgers is number 3.

5. Hamburger: this only ranks this high because everything else so far is worse than it, but what's the point of getting a burger without the cheese? I don't get you, America.

4. Quarter Pounder With Cheese: For some reason, these taste totally different than the regular cheeseburger.  How does that work? It's the same exact thing, only bigger.  The SAME.  Only they taste completely different to me.  Imagine if everything else worke that way.  Maybe I wouldn't like it.  In fact, I think I wouldn't. I don't want life to be more random.  I like a little uniformity.

The other reason I don't get the Quarter Pounder With Cheese is that it's too much.  A regular burger patty is 1.6 ounces, pre-cooking.  A Quarter Pounder, then, equals 2 1/2 burgers.  It's already been established that two cheeseburgers is the optimal meal.  So with a Quarter Pounder, not only do I not get the enjoyment of anticipating another burger after I finish this one, but I'm getting 2 1/2 burgers in one swoop.  That's too much. I may be able to eat, as I recently did, 12 slices of Rocky Rococo's pizza in 12 hours -- there were extenuating circumstances!-- but even I have my limits, and eating 2 1/2 burgers for a single meal exceeds those limits.

3. Big Mac: A Big Mac is delicious, and totally obnoxious, because they are too sloppy.  That's why nobody wants lettuce and mayo slopped all over their burger, unless they are eating it at home or in a sit-down restaurant, and that's why Burger King will always be number two.  Who wants to take their fast-food burger home? Time kills fast food.  Wait 10 minutes to eat any fast food and it's like eating the stuff that's left in the bottom of your garbage can after you left them out in the rain.

Sometimes I get a Big Mac, though.  Sometimes.

Also, fast food restaurants are not 'sit-down' restaurants. The only reason to be sitting in a fast-food restaurant is because your kid are in the playland, or because you have a brief to write, can't stand the people in your (old) office, and want to take advantage of Wifi with free soda refills.  Everyone else sitting in a fast-food restaurant is probably on the run from the law.  If they wanted you to sit down in their restaurants, the decor would invite you, not terrify you.  Fast food restaurants' insides look like psychological experiments you always heard existed.

2. McRib: The internet has accelerated the pace with which I hate things because things become so popular so quickly that I have barely enough time to enjoy them before I have to hate them because everybody won't shut up about them.  That is what is going to happen to the McRib, which is caught between the two tidal forces pop culture exerts on me.

On this side: the tug of Internet love, as people annually go nuts over McRibs and blog about them and make jokes about how they're having them for their wedding or probably create a Tumblr, "McRibs Throughout History" or somehow combine them with Shakespeare.  I bet all of those things have already happened.  I bet there is a Tumblr out there called "Zombie Shakespeare McRibs Get Married," and I hate my brain for being able to come up with that concept.  Once the Internet gets hold of something, it's like a pit bull with a baby.

It made me want one for breakfast.
On this side, though: the McRib haters showing videos of frozen McRibs and talking about how the Keystone Pipeline, when it's not causing 9/11 or whatever, is secretly full of McRib Pulp (TM) gushing onto buns to be freeze-cooked using ions superheated by smog in Chinese factories by 3-year-olds making a penny a year.  THAT group makes me want to use whatever it is they hate this week, which is what nearly caused me to pre-order 32 Apple Watches before I remembered that I can't stand Steve Jobs because he's a colossal jerk, even in death.  Somewhere in the afterlife, Steve Jobs is being a complete A-hole and people are lauding him for it. #turneddown.

Those two forces counterbalance each other perfectly and let me get the occasional McRib whenever it comes out, which I never know is happening because I reflexively look away from any Internet page which mentions McRib to avoid causing a power imbalance.

Also, did you know that the guy who wrote Pride & Prejudice & Zombies somehow makes a living writing, instead of having to work in the coffeeshop that isn't Starbucks in his hometown? It's true.  He's got a movie deal for his latest terrible meme-grabbing 'book'. I'm going to be sad all day. His entire career is based on Tumblr jokes, and yet he somehow has a career. I hate everyone.

1. Cheeseburger: In addition to the aforementioned epic poem, I have written a short story in which cheeseburgers played a prominent, and symbolic role, compared them (favorably) to The Dark Knight, managed to squeeze them into a review of The Odyssey (hands down the worst epic poem I ever read part of), and even derived a formula for proving that the McDonald's Cheeseburger is, hands-down, the greatest thing ever in the history of the world.

They are perfection, in a bun, and the best part of it is: you get two.  How can you go wrong with double perfection?

PS: If you go into a McDonald's and order anything but ask for even a single change -- even so much as "can you leave the mustard off of it" I will hate you forever.  That is NOT what McDonald's is about.  GET IT THE WAY IT IS MADE.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kids Say The Darndest Things And Then I Go On A Diet Again

Mr Bunches got a new ABC book, "ABC Oceans," and as always, we asked him what everyone's favorite animals were in the new book.  We always do that: any list of things he has, we ask him what our favorites are and, rather than ask us, he just assigns things to us.

So from ABC Oceans, Mr Bunches said that his favorite was a "xiphias," which is a kind of swordfish, and which he likes best because it starts with X, his favorite letter.  Sweetie's favorite was "jellyfish," and Mr F's was "clownfish."

And mine?

"Daddy likes blobfish," Mr Bunches said.  This is a blobfish:

But you probably guessed that from the name, right?