Tag Archive for mcdonald’s

Why the Hell Would You Eat That? McD’s Fries

It doesn’t take a genius to understand McDonald’s food isn’t great for you, and after seeing Supersize Me, I tend to avoid the golden arches as best I can. There are times, however, I’m in a hurry or I want to let the Rugrats abuse the McD’s indoor playplace, so I cave and order something.

This time we’d just finished a veterinary visit for our cat and needed to grab something quick on the way home. McD’s was handy and convenient. As I ate my fries, I recalled a claim that, “McDonald’s fries haven’t been within two miles of a real potato.” I was never sure that was accurate, but the fries certainly don’t look or taste like fresh-cut fries I get at some restaurants, or like fried potatoes made at home.

I know someone who worked for McDonald’s briefly in the ’60s, and she said potatoes used to be delivered directly to the restaurants. Today, a manager I know says the fries are delivered pre-cut and ready for the frier. So what’s really in them?

To the Internet! Here’s a video of how McDonald’s fries are made, courtesy McD’s Canada:

At first, it seems all is well. Lots of potatoes, peeled and sliced and sent off to the restaurants where they’re fried in canola oil. Okay, fair enough. But let’s listen a little closer, shall we?

At the 2:10 mark, Mario says:

Once the potatoes are cut, we push the strips through a blancher to remove the natural sugars from the strips. This will prevent some variation in our color once we re-cook the product.

So McD’s fries are blanched to remove natural flavoring? WTF?

So following the blanching process, we add a dextrose solution to add that nice even coat we see at the restaurants.

They “remove the natural sugars” but then turn around and add dextrose, a sugar. And then it gets a little scarier:

We also add an ingredient to our strips to make sure we prevent the graying of our product throughout the process.

Note he doesn’t tell us what this ingredient is. I’d have to guess it’s some kind of preservative, or something like a bleaching agent. I’m no organic nut, but it seems to me we just don’t need that crap. McD’s, if you’re going to go through the trouble to tell us how you’re doctoring up our food, at least have the balls to fess up on the mystery ingredient.

Keep watching and we learn after the fries are sprayed with the mystery ingredient, they’re dried, fried, and frozen. In other words, they’re cooked twice before they leave the factory, then they’re re-fried (read: re-heated) at the restaurant.

I don’t get it.

Their point to this video seems to be, “Hey, look, we use real potatoes!” My takeaway is more like, “We care more about how the food looks than what’s in it.” Most of the flavor in these things is the salt. Hold the salt and a McD’s french fry doesn’t necessarily taste bad, but it sure doesn’t taste like a regular potato. Most of their flavor is marketing.

There’s a bar not far from here that slices their potatoes in-house. Order them loaded and you get real shredded cheese and chopped bacon, not cheese sludge and bacon bits. They cost a little more, but I’ll take their fries over McD’s any time.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

McDonald’s Will Kill Us All

When the Superflu comes, McDonald’s will be the vector.

I let the kids talk me into McDonald’s for lunch because it’s one of the few places we can get something to eat and then I can get some work done while they stay occupied on the indoor playground. I always end up regretting it, but today my regret went to a whole new level. Check out the photo below of their service counter, shot in the middle of the lunch rush.

McDonald's will be the death of us

Not pictured: the Grim Reaper and the circling buzzards

Looks like any typical day at a McDonald’s, which most of you have seen before, right? Right. Now let’s take a closer look at these people, from left to right.

The boy in the black baseball cap is probably nine or ten years old. He walked up to the counter, and he rested both elbows on somebody else’s tray.

The old lady in the obnoxious shirt has set her purse on someone else’s tray. The manager in the black shirt is not bothered by this in the slightest as she sets food on the trays around it.

On the other side of the counter, you can just make out a shorter employee in a yellow cap. Just a moment ago she exchanged cash with a customer, directly over someone else’s uncovered french fries and a chicken sandwich. Her arm passed within an inch of the fries, and do I need to remind anyone how filthy cash is? I may have just become a germophobe. Also, minutes after this photo was taken, I told her I still needed my daughter’s chocolate milk. See the cooler on the right in the background? She couldn’t reach into the back, so she knelt on a stack of trays and used it as a step stool. The same trays which are about to go onto the counter for customers’ food.

On to the lady in the blue t-shirt. She had the sense to push a tray back a bit to set down her purse, as the tray had food on it already. However, she then leaned over the tray to speak to the cashier. Had it been my food, I would have asked them to take it away and make me some food that other people hadn’t breathed on. Or potentially spat on if she ordered something with a lot of P sounds.

So what’s the lesson here? Order everything to go so it’s in a bag while it’s sitting on the counter? No, the lesson is to stay the fuck out of McDonald’s until they fix their horrible line management and customer order practices.

This ordering system is a mess in general. People are forced to negotiate their own spot in line and nobody seems to know when it’s their turn to order. Then there’s nowhere for them to stand after they’ve placed their order, so there’s constantly someone in the way. This is compounded by groups of people—usually parents with small children—who don’t have the sense to have some of their group sit and wait at a table rather than near the counter. Having to watch total strangers breathe on, lean on, and handle cash over food is injury on top of insult.

The drink station is just as bad. People jam their way around it, cut in line, stand there for ten minutes while their kids decide what they want, allow their kids to attempt to fill their own cups and make a mess, stand in the way while they wrestle with lids and straws, and generally do their best to create a traffic jam. Once again, this is compounded by groups, especially parents who keep their swarms of children around them while they fill drinks. They ran out of lids, they later ran out of tea, and because the ketchup is at the same station, you have to wait for all the drink jerks to get out of the way so you can get your ketchup.

I have to assume McDonald’s went to this new setup to speed things up. It’s got to be faster than the single line through a corral, right? Apparently not. It’s like the toll plazas all around Chicago: they added a whole bunch of booths, and now the traffic jam occurs after the booth, when people have to fight their way back into fewer lanes, rather than before the booth, when they’re stacked up to pay.

News flash, McDonald’s: the food doesn’t cook any faster. Now you just have to try to fill ten orders at a time instead of two or three.

“Welcome to McDonald’s! If our food doesn’t kill you, our horrible line management practices will.”

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Customer Disservice

I love Portillo’s. I know that. You know that.

At least, you do if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, or have spoken to me about food.

About once a year or so I send them an email that amounts to “Hey, get your asses to Peoria!” These people confuse Arby’s roast beef or this shredded crockpot shit with real Italian beef, and even the places that claim “Chicago-style Italian beef” manage to screw it up every time. I explained this to Portillo’s.

Their response:

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your enthusiasm and humor; however, The Portillo Restaurant Group does not have any plans to expand further, as we are perfecting our newest concept – Honey Jam Café. We appreciate your input and will keep your comments on file as The Portillo Restaurant Group continues to grow. We value your patronage and look forward to serving you soon at our other locations throughout Chicagoland.

Mm hmm. Let me translate that for you:

Peoria sucks and we’re too busy making breakfast up in this bitch.

You’re boned.

*sigh*

Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, a local McDonald’s has been a pain in my ass. We very rarely visit McD’s because we’re not fast food fans, but sometimes you really do need food fast, or the kids just want to tear up the McD’s Playplace. Yet as rarely as we go, more often than not they manage to screw up the order: they forget pieces, they give us the wrong stuff, or it takes over fifteen minutes just to make a hamburger. As long as I was emailing restaurants, I hit them, too.

They emailed me back saying they were going to lay the smack down. Today, the local manager tried to call. Left a voice mail apologizing. They want to earn back my business.

I think she just wants to spit in my food personally.

And then there’s Tempur-Pedic. We got a bed from my sister-in-law, and one of the boards inside was busted. It took them three weeks just to verify the bed was under warranty. They then told me it would be 7-21 business days before a local delivery company called to exchange the broken platform.

They called today. It’s been over four weeks, or 23 business days. They’re allegedly coming on Friday to make the exchange. Meanwhile, the Wife and I moved the mattress to the floor to spare our backs over three weeks ago. That’s getting kind of old. They may make the comfiest beds on the planet, but their service is ridiculous. We went into a store and the guy couldn’t get us out of there fast enough after we told him we were looking for pillows. I think he had money on the baseball game he was watching.

Portillo’s disappointment aside, I think I’d get better customer service standing in front of the chimpanzee exhibit at the zoo.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: I Hate McDonald’s

Really, I do. I only go there when I’m in a real hurry, so it’s probably once a month at best. Part of it is the food, but part of it is I’m getting sick of the poor quality of service at many of them. More often than not I have a problem, which says a lot given my infrequent visits.

Off the top of my mind, here are some of the most recent problems:

  • Given the wrong bag at the drive-thru
  • Asked for no pickle, and got pickle only (no ketchup, mustard, or onion, and the receipt even said no pickle)
  • Been asked to pull up and wait for my food, only to have the guy either forget about me or be unable to find me
  • Given no ketchup, napkins, and/or dipping sauces despite asking for them (this one’s constant)
  • When dining in, told they’d bring the fries out to us, then never got the fries (and then had to wait longer while they made a new batch)

Which brings us to today’s Photo Friday entry:

They fuck you at the drive through!

Seriously?

Understand, this is just recent memory, and this is at multiple locations. I can understand if one restaurant was populated by pinheads, but it seems to be a chronic problem. What’s worse is they work at a place that is constantly dumbing their job down for them. When there are pictures on the cash register, videos & manuals for every function in the place, and even a machine that handles all the drinks for you, it’s pretty damn hard to screw things up.

Yet these people find a way every day.

Next time I’ll learn the lesson Leo Getz tried to give us in Lethal Weapon 2:

Next week: the hockey and cheerleader pictures I never got around to uploading.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

That's Why I Don't Eat It

Take a few minutes to browse through this fast food nutrition chart provided by A Calorie Counter. You can click the charts to sort the various columns, essentially ranking foods and restaurants by calories, fat content, trans fats, and so on.

I played around with it this morning, and man, it’ll curl your hair. If you consider the alleged average person’s daily intake of 2,000 calories, one meal at Mickey D’s could kill your day. For example, a Big Mac and a large fry come to a total of 1,110 calories, and that’s without the 42-ounce soda they try to upgrade you to (which, by the way, is damn near half a gallon, and I know someone who says she drinks 2-3 of these a day because she works for the Evil Arches).

It’s also a good reminder that even chicken isn’t safe. When I go to Hardee’s, I like to get their charbroiled chicken club sandwich. I don’t always get the fries, but let’s assume I did (and use the large info, because medium isn’t provided). That comes to 1,170 calories. Hrm. Maybe the difference is in the fat?

Nope. McD’s comes to 59 total grams and Hardee’s to 58. Hardly enough to give chicken a definitive edge. Trans fats? 9.5 grams at McD’s. Hardee’s? “Unknown.” In the end, if you’re going to eat fast food you may as well stick to your favorites, because they’re all going to kill you the same way. You may be able to pick and choose based on fats and trans fats, but the calories are still what adds up around the waistline.

If I run a Basal Metabolic Rate calculation, I should be able to take in about 2,200 calories a day and maintain my current weight. A Hardee’s lunch gets me halfway there. My wife is quite a bit smaller than I, and the BMR calculator says that same lunch is 75% of her daily calories. By the way, that’s without the bucket of soda they serve you. Ever see a Hardee’s medium? It’s a large at most restaurants. Sure, I get iced tea instead of soda, but if it comes out of the same Syrup of Death machine, it can’t be much better, can it?

I guess Hardee’s is fine if I want to eat like a rabbit the rest of the day. But wait a minute, what about subs?

I like Jimmy John’s. I think their sandwiches blow Subway’s away, and I like that I can say “Give me this sandwich, no tomatoes” and they have it to me in 17 seconds or less. My personal favorite is the Italian nightclub sandwich, usually on their whole-grain wheat bread which makes the whole package look like a Dagwood special. It’s a deli sandwich, so it’s got to be better than that McD’s crap, right?

Not so much, actually: 1,011 calories and 57 grams of fat. That’s for the sandwich alone, no side of chips. I guess that’s the end of giant clubs. The good news, at least, is if I can limit myself to the 8″ sandwiches, I can cut that calorie count in half: the Big John, a basic roast beef sandwich, weighs in with 558 calories and 27 grams of fat. Good if not great, and certainly filling.

Unfortunately there’s not a convenient Jimmy John’s around, so let’s look at Subway. I like the Italian BMT, untoasted, on wheat bread, with pepperjack cheese. That’s 450 calories and 21 grams of fat. Throw on mustard, mayo, vinegar, oil, lettuce, and onion, and it’s probably in the Big John’s neighborhood. I can also get mik instead of soda, but I give Jimmy John’s the nod for having a bigger sandwich (8″ vs 6″ and having tastier bread).

Now let’s make it a little more fair. Even at the delis, you’re probably going to get a side item. Subway doesn’t have lists for their chips (probably because the selection varies by franchise), but the Jimmy John’s house brand jalapeño chips have 150 calories, so let’s call that a chip average. You’re still topping out around 700 calories of food at a deli shop, saving you a good 400 calories over their fry-pushing cousins.

Notice I didn’t say burger-pushing. For sandwiches alone, the burger-based fast food joints don’t do too bad. A Wendy’s spicy chicken fillet sandwich is 440 calories, which puts it neck-and-neck with Subway in the sandwich battle. No, it’s the 540 calories in their fries that does the real damage.

Consider the fact you can’t get out of spitting distance of a McD’s in a big city, and half the time you can find a Burger King and/or Wendy’s right across the street. They all have their snazzy combos, they all push those mega fries and super-sized drinks on you for just a few cents more, and most people consider that a full meal. They bombard us with commercials, and at lunchtime you can find their drive-through window lines backed up to the street.

Is it any wonder we’re staring down an obesity epidemic?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.