Posted by: Chris Cole | November 19, 2008

Not so fast food?

Back in the dim dark days of my childhood, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, the term “fast food” actually meant something. The staple takeaway option was usually the local fish’n’chip shop, but now and then there would be the almost religious experience of an expedition to McDonalds, or Kentucky Fried Chicken (people could remember, speak and even type whole words back then). Pizza Hut was there, too, but was actually almost worthy of the title of restaurant back then, being perhaps not so fast, but complete with red & white checked tablecloths and candlelit ambience as well as standardised food and collectible drinking glasses (craptacularly worthless plastic toys had yet to make much of an impact).

Now I am, sadly, older and just possibly slightly wiser, and like most people I am aware that referring to what these guys serve up as “food” is only a bee’s dick on the positive side of being a justifiable statement. However, concerns about one’s coronary arteries aside, sometimes you just want food. Yummy food. Instant food. Like… now. And this was one of the niches that the venerable McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chickens of the world filled admirably well, along with the stomachs of their patrons.

The winds of change have, however, blown hard and long across the vast plains of crappy instant food, at least here in Australia. And the customer saw what had changed, and lo he was rapidly becoming a grumpy bastard, for it was not good.

McDonald’s fall from grace is perhaps the most profound and disturbing. A few years ago, one could walk into their trusty local McD’s establishment confident of the fact that they could almost certainly secure the pre-packaged cholesterol-fest of their choice inside of two or three short minutes. You might be the unlucky Quarter Pounder fan in line behind the fat prick who buys the very last one, and have to wait a gruelling extra two minutes for the McMinions to “cook” you another one, but this was indeed a rare event, and you really didn’t get too worked up about it since it happened so infrequently.

Tragically, the McMarketing managers seem to have fallen victim to a large dose of me-too-ism brought about by the arrival of the likes of Subway, whose subversive practice of not actually constructing your custom tubular sanger prior to you ordering it allowed them to trumpet “we make it fresh for you!” from the rooftops. The McPowers that be were feeling old-fashioned and tawdry by comparison. Something had to be done. The “fresh addicts” would obviously abandon McD’s in droves. The solution? No more pre-constructed and happily warmed burgers all lined up in their little slots. Oh no. From now on, the McPeasants would hastily bung together your Big Mac when, and only when, you asked for one. Thus, all your McBurgers could be claimed to be “made fresh to order”. Hmmm. Right. It seems to me the point these guys were seriously overlooking is there is a distinct cadre of committed, heavy-duty McD’s users who truly could not give a shit how “fresh” that burger is. Equally, the vast ranks of commuting / lazy / young-newly-independent-male-who-can’t-boil-a-$%^&ing-egg sort of people out there who are much more interested in the pure, unadulterated convenience factor of instant food, are being brutally ignored in the rush to be more appealing to the health-conscious amongst us. Dude… if they’re that worried about their health, or how fresh a burger might be, they’re not going to McDonald’s in the first place. Seriously. If I want to wait a painfully drawn out 5 minutes, I can go to Subway, Wok On Inn, or Little Noodle Bar and get real food just as cheaply.

And the practical upshot of this ill-considered ploy to attract Subway-ites back to the golden arches like moths to a mozzie zapper? It now takes at least 3 or 4 times longer to get anything to eat at McDonald’s, no matter how busy they seemingly aren’t, or what time of day or night it is. I suspect the adoption of the “let’s see just how few staff we can have on and not have the place actually implode” personnel management method (also employed by Woolworths, Australia Post, and all major banks) is also partly to blame. KFC certainly seems to suffer from the second problem of late, too.

And people are noticing. I can’t recall a single trip to either establishment in the past year when there hasn’t been at least one person either liberally brandishing The Death Stare ™ at the staff, rolling their eyes at me or other customers, making little middle-aged “tut-tut” noises or, in the case of septagenarians, just loudly bitching about how lousy the service is because hey, they’re old enough that they just don’t give a shit (or if they do give a shit they tell you that too, and then go to find the bathroom).

So what should be done? Perhaps we should petition the McBosses to reconsider. To give them the opportunity to salvage what little honour they have left. Most of us really don’t care how long that burger has been sitting in its little sunbathed warming slot. In the spirit of scientific inquiry, I’ve previously left a cheeseburger out at room temperature for over a week before anything even thought about growing on it. Trust me, nothing festy is going to get a foothold in the minutes to hour or so your Quarter Pounder has been sitting there all toasty warm in its little box.

Bring back the instant McCrap!!!



  1. Will have to start calling you the “Fast Food Nazi”

    They are all just as bad as each other, and seriously if you dont like it, dont eat it.

    Personally, I think the McRevolution of the golden arches in particular have gone a long way from the days that they expected you to enjoy a less than room temperature burger. But like I said, they are all as bad as each other, and should only be consumed once or twice a week if that!

    Hey, what they should do, is start to sell red wine at the McWinery!

  2. Too true. It’s all crap, and I usually don’t eat it. I’m just playing Devil’s advocate for the nutritionally impaired out there, I guess. 🙂 But sometimes instant food is good, even when it’s bad. 🙂

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