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I Thought I Hated McDonalds

I almost never do this, never. It seems that I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m not. I’ve been to McDonalds, and not just one time, but two times in two days. The problem is that I kind of hate McDonalds, yes McDonalds sucks – almost.

McDonalds sign

There’s always a reason

The reason I almost never show myself inside a McDonalds restaurant, is because I’m a vegetarian, and they’re not very vegetarian friendly. Well, they got their salads, but I’m not sure if they’re even vegetarian. And when I eat at McDonalds (I’ll tell you what I was eating in a minute) I’m supporting their killing (100 million cows a year?) and the McDonalds business and McJobs.

It seems that every time I read about McDonalds I don’t want to be anywhere near one of their restaurants. I remember that after reading Fast Food Nation, I didn’t want to eat at a fast food joint ever again – but hey, that’s a few years ago, and a lot have changed since then (I’m not talking about the fast food business).

Um.

McDonalds is sometimes the easiest way, not the only way or the most ethical way or the best way, but the easiest. When you’re travelling with two kids, like I have been, then you do what’s easy.

The Trip

I have been driving from Norway, through Sweden and to Copenhagen (Denmark), and as I’m writing this I’m still in Copenhagen. While driving, way before me, the kids got hungry. When the kids get hungry, I don’t have time to go looking for an interesting restaurant that serves awesome vegetarian food. So, when the kids saw a McDonalds sign, that was it.

McDonalds do have some huge signs, and I know why. They work wonders, kids see them from miles away.

Sweden

The first stop at McDonalds was in Sweden. The kids had an awesome time, eating and playing. The great thing about McDonalds is that they always have a fairly decent playroom for the kids. I did have a respectable meal myself. I ordered McBean, even though it didn’t show on the menu. I had to ask for a vegetarian alternative, but that’s ok, it’s not a vegetarian restaurant. I was thrilled when they offered it, and it tasted a lot better than I thought it would.

The McDonalds experience in Sweden was outstanding. The kids played for 45 minutes, they ate a lot of food, and everybody was satisfied with everything (the restrooms were clean).

Denmark

We’re at Copenhagen, and we’re out walking. This is the day after.

Suddenly I realize that we’re in a hurry, we’re going to attend a wedding in about an hour, and the kids haven’t eaten. Well, that’s were McDonalds saves the day for the second time in two days.

The interesting part of the story is that I always believed that McDonalds restaurants were identical all over the world (or as close to identical as they can be), but that’s not the case.

The one in Copenhagen didn’t serve any vegetarian meals, well they offered to remove the chicken from the salad (probably not by hand, but I could get a chicken salad without chicken) and they served french fries, they always do. I didn’t eat much before the wedding, but the kids did. They ate like never before, and they played like they always do.

I’m not sure, but the ketchup was different, and not in small cups. The ketchup was sealed and I had to ask for more ketchup (and salt). It didn’t bother me, but I was a little puzzled. As I said earlier, a while ago, I thought that all the McDonalds restaurants were close to identical, and they’re not, they are different. They all have their best selling menu (McFeast, BigMac, Happy Meal etc.) and the playrooms for kids (the playrooms are always different, but they all have playrooms). I’m not sure why the McDonalds restaurants are different, maybe it’s based on different cultures, and the Danish people don’t like their ketchup in small cups? Well, it doesn’t matter, it was just a digression.

In Copenhagen, I didn’t get the McBean, I ate some of the french fries I ordered for my kids.

Why McDonalds are Great Family Restaurants

The interesting part about McDonalds is that kids love it, and when kids love it, parents have to take them there. If they don’t, all hell breaks loose.

There are three things that makes McDonalds a great family restaurant.

1) Location. A McDonalds restaurant is always there when you need one. When you’re travelling by car, and the kids get hungry, in five minutes or less, you’ll always find a McDonalds next to the road (I’m well aware that I’m exaggerating a little, but you get my point).

2) Free Prize Inside. No, I’m not talking about the book by Seth Godin. The kids knows that when we go to McDonalds, they’ll always end up with a toy and it comes with their food, inside a box. It’s like a magic surprise, it’s fascinating, and it’s just as fascinating every time they get it.

3) The playroom. A McDonalds restaurant always have a playroom, kids now that. The playrooms vary a lot. The playroom in Sweden was little, had just a few games inside, but outside they had a slide, enough stuff to keep my kids happy for many hours. The playroom in Copenhagen was a lot bigger, and the slide was huge (probably the biggest one I’ve seen at a McDonalds restaurant).

The End

I hate to admit it, but my kids love McDonalds. And when they do, everything is ok, no matter how much I dislike it. My kids want it. They’re lovin it.

One thing I don’t get though, is why can’t more restaurants be like McDonalds? Turn the kids into addicts, make them drag their parents along. Remember, it’s not about the food, it’s all about the marketing.



10 responses to “I Thought I Hated McDonalds”

  1. That was a good story. From a hater to a lover. Well, that’s because of your kids anyway. 100 million cows a year? that’s a lot. I was reluctant to believe at first but thinking about the sales of McDonalds and all the branches, 100 million cows a year isn’t impossible. I guess McDonalds’ marketing is excellent. It won’t get that far of success if it isn’t.

  2. Mark Dykeman says:

    I have seen McDonalds restaurants in a number of countries and the differences are sometimes interesting, particularly the menus. Yet there’s still a certain consistency that people like.

    And yes, catering to children is probably their smartest move ever.

  3. Vincent Chow says:

    McD has a very strong branding. Remove the logo and ask your kids to compare it to the regular fries, they probably can’t differentiate them. The golden “M” somehow makes food taste better, with a jacked up price.

  4. Hank says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate. If McDonald’s ceased doing business tomorrow all of it’s burger competitors would increase in market share. How many of those 100,000 would be saved? My guess, not many. People would simply get their burgers elsewhere.

    It’s easy to blame the industry leader when you don’t like an industry but the industry exists because people want it to.

    I for one love meat. And I love McDonald’s.

    • jens says:

      Hey Hank,

      My problem is that you’re probably aboslutely right. If McDonald’s ceased doing business, the world would still be the same place as it is today, and we’ll still be consuming just as many burgers 🙂

      On the other hand, their vegetarian burgers are not that bad. So I shouldn’t be complaining that much, because people do have an option. I should be complaining about people and not McDonald’s 🙂

      Jens

  5. Pete says:

    I use McDonalds for similar reasons.. I have got some serious food allergies, and if I am travelling in Asia – McDonalds is like a haven to me.. I know what I get, which is very important in that area. It sucks after a week, but at least I survive, right? 🙂

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