Columns, Opinion

RODRIGUE: Unhappy meal

I’ve been told I’m a woman of simple pleasures. Give me a new pair of shoes every now and then, buy me a pound or so of pepper jack cheese at the deli, tell me about the new designer diffusion line available at H&M, and I’ll be a happy camper. But nothing delights me quite as much as fast food. There is no sound more comforting than the nostalgic crinkle of a grease-soaked cheeseburger wrapper, no feeling more satisfying than the sharp sting of a salty shoestring French fry. And that excitement you feel as you’re standing at the shiny counter waiting for the guy behind it to hand you your giant bag of cheap food ‘-‘- it’s just incomparable.

Perhaps the best part of a fast food habit is the consistency of it all ‘-‘- it’s comforting to know that when I walk into McDonald’s after a long, hard day of class, I will see the same menu, the same cooks and the same soda dispenser with the broken root beer button all greeting me warmly, welcoming me home. The ketchup will be plentiful as always, the cup lids arranged neatly by size, the straws standing eagerly at attention. Ah, simple, delicious pleasures.

So imagine my utter disgust ‘-‘- imagine the huge upset to my delicate constitution ‘-‘- when I walked into my humble hometown McD’s my first night home for Thanksgiving break and saw that the double cheeseburger (my all-time favorite when complemented with a four-piece McNugget, small fry and ironic Diet Coke) has been replaced on the ‘Dollar Menu’ by some thinly veiled imposter called ‘the McDouble.’

‘What is that?’ I ask the girl at the register. I may or may not have gone to high school with her ‘-‘- she has a familiar, albeit slightly hassled, face ‘-‘- but I ignore the obligatory chitchat and immediately get down to the brass tacks. I’m hungry and looking for a little sympathy at the one place I know can provide it.

‘It’s a double cheeseburger with one piece of cheese instead of two. It’s cuzza the economy or whatever. Extra cheese is 20 cents.’

I hadn’t felt such disappointment since McDonald’s discontinued its chicken fajita a few years ago. But the fajita was one thing ‘-‘- a little accessory to spice up your usual burger selection, negligible only because Taco Bell can do it better ‘-‘- while the McDouble is something entirely more significant. It’s a seminal event in our society, readers, when something so reliable suddenly becomes one cheese slice less-so. Imagine, if you will, Starbucks eradicating flavor shots, or the GSU doing away with complementary water. To me, that little orange square was more than just a delight to watch melt between a disc of beef and a piece of bread ‘-‘- it was an institution. It was a little nod from the people at McDonalds, saying, ‘Hey, we know times are tough, but you still deserve two pieces of cheese for a buck.’

It has always been a fear of mine that one day the Dollar Menu will just disappear altogether. It seemed like one of those miraculous things that are so good they can only be temporary ‘-‘- like freakishly warm weather in early spring or designer sample sales. But in our current time of economic struggles, the last thing they would ever take away would be cheap food ‘-‘- I mean, Americans may not be so inclined to buy entire seasons of bad TV shows on DVD anymore, but we still need to eat. I just recently transferred all my faith from the stock market into the Dollar Menu, confident in its vitality, sure about its cheese.

And then came the paltry McDouble, bringing with it a whole storm cloud of feelings of imminent doom. What comes next? A rationing of special sauce? A 60-cent salt tax? Napkin allowances? Or, God forbid, an overall purging of trays? It was pretty obvious to everyone that the economy was going to hell when oil prices reached ridiculous heights and the government became visibly panicked on CNN. But I turned my cheek, because, well, fashionistas don’t care about those silly things. It wasn’t until a few days ago, when I was left half-cheeseless, peering miserably into my to-go bag, that I knew something terrible was afoot.

But now that we can admit there’s a problem ‘-‘- and now that McDonald’s has so tactlessly confirmed it ‘-‘- we can start working toward a solution. I personally am going to triple my weekly trips to McD’s and invest the entirety of my economic stimulus check (which heretofore has been slumbering in some savings account somewhere) into purchasing food there. And of course, I’m going to write to the board of the Ronald McDonald House and ask that it’ redirect a percentage of its donations back into the company, so that it can work toward rebuilding a financially sound platform, from which I hope will someday spring a whole new generation of dollar double-cheesed double cheeseburgers. That’s change I can believe in.

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  1. the first two people suck, i’m sick of people bashing the freep just for the sake of seeing their own words on the screen. They just are negative for no reason<br/>this article was great

  2. I thought your column was delightful. Don’t worry about the haters. I like my extra slice of cheese too.

  3. oh leave her alone, she’s joking.

  4. It seems very silly that someone should get worked up over a piece of cheese… Really, the double cheeseburger was quite too good for the dollar menu anyway. Times are tough…and you didn’t “deserve” that extra piece of cheese anyway.<p/>Here’s hoping that this piece is a poor attempt at satire!

  5. Fast food sux!