Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm NOT Loving It: Finding a Foreign Object In My McDonald's Burger

First of all, let's get one thing straight: The arches are yellow. They are NOT golden. Anyone who ever had a 64-count Crayola set knows that "yellow" and "gold" are two different colors. Those arches are yellow.

Over the years I've learned a lot of things from McDonald's. As a kid, I learned that's it's okay to put cheese on a fish sandwich. (The lesson? Cheese makes everything better.) I learned, as a very young boy, that my Grandma could eat two Big Macs in one sitting. (The lesson? Grandma was AWESOME!!!) I learned that it is possible to have "too much of a good thing." (The lesson? I shouldn't have had that third triple cheeseburger.)

As a guy who was single until he was 40, I frequented McDonald's frequently. And now, as a father of a two year old and a four year old, I still frequent McDonald's (just not quite as frequently.) As a concerned parent, giving consumers the choice of apple slices or french fries in Happy Meals was very smart. Then, deciding to include both apple slices and french fries was brilliant.

Not all of McDonald's moves have been smart, though. I remember when they tried to introduce "McPizza." It was like a slab of school lunch cafeteria pizza, only not as good. Then there was the "McDLT," which promised to keep the "hot side hot and the cool side cool." Instead, it was killed by this unspoken motto: "Same amount of burger; twice as much styrofoam."

And then there is the "McRib," a limited-time sandwich with a cult-like international following, which proves the old axiom: "People Is Stupid." The "McRib" is Horrible On a Bun. It is a pre-formed slice of meat-like substance (which looks and tastes like a bathroom sponge,) covered in sauce. (They say it is barbecue sauce. I disagree. It tastes like some sort of mixture of barbecue sauce and dish soap.) Every five years or so, I try a "McRib" again to see if they improved it or if my assessment of it was wrong, and every five years or so I am again completely disgusted. (I have a friend who gets the dry heaves at the mere mention of the "McRib.")

What makes the success of the "McRib" so infuriating is that around the time it came out, McDonald's offered another limited-time sandwich that was actually worthy of a cult-like international following. It was called the "Cheddar Melt," and it was fantastic! It was a quarter-pound burger on a rye bun with sauteed onions and cheddar cheese sauce (similar to the cheese sauce from  Arby's Beef N Cheddar.) Unfortunately, the "Cheddar Melt" was only given a couple of limited-time runs, and then it was never heard from again.

So, that's why I was so excited when I saw that McDonald's was offering the "CBO," a new limited-time burger with some similarities to the old "Cheddar Melt." The "CBO" stands for "cheddar," "bacon" and "onions."

(Just for clarification, McDonald's "CBO" should not be confused with the Star Wars droid C3PO.)

(Also, for the record, C3PO is golden. The arches are yellow.)

Let's break the "CBO" down. Cheddar: I like cheese. Melted cheese makes everything taste better. We have a saying around our house: "Cheese is for heroes!" (I think it's a quote from Chuck Norris.)

Bacon: I'm a big fan of bacon, and everyone who knows me knows this. So much so, that when anyone sees anything related to bacon, they post it on my Facebook wall. In fact, my Facebook wall is almost literally wallpapered with pictures of bacon. (I'm just not sure if it should be a "bowlful of bacon" or a "bowl full of bacon.") (Either way....bacon!!!)

Onions: I used to not like onions. Then I figured out what I didn't like were raw onions. Cook those onions up and they are delicious!

So, one late Saturday evening I was quite happy to ditch my regular dollar menu fare and splurge on a "CBO." We had gone as a family to a wedding reception. It was late, and we were hungry, so we stopped at McDonald's. (Parenting tip: If you want your kids to be able to play in the Playplace without having to deal with all those other unwashed, misbehaving kids around, take them there at 9:00 PM or later. Most other parents are responsible enough to have their little heathen tykes home and in bed at that hour. Even in Redneckia, Utah.)

And then, I bit into it. I was immediately disappointed. The burger was dry. (It would have moistened it up a bit if the cheese had been in sauce form.) I didn't know anyone could ruin bacon, but they did. It was overcooked past the point of "crispy." It was hard and dry and more resembled the bacon-ish dog food "Beggin' Strips" than any bacon I had ever eaten. And the onions were chopped up so small that they looked like slugs or boogers.

I was not enjoying my burger. And then, it got worse. It's never good when you have to stop what you are eating and say, "Wait, what is this thing?" I had just taken a bite when I noticed a piece of clear plastic roughly the size of a 50-cent piece. I didn't know exactly what to do. So I showed it to The Wife. "This was in my sandwich," I said to her, pointing at the plastic.

I then debated what to do next. Should I finish my burger? Of course not. (Although I did wonder for a few seconds because I was hungry.) I thought about just putting the burger down and saying nothing, but The Wife (rightly) said I needed to bring it to their attention, if for no other reason as to make sure it didn't happen to someone else. Also, I wanted to find out what exactly it was that was in my sandwich.

You always hear about people finding foreign objects in their food. Usually it's either a finger or a mouse. My foreign object was a piece of plastic. (Of course, I'm not sure if my foreign substance was actually foreign or not. It may have been domestic.)

I took my burger and its protruding plastic up to the counter and asked for the manager. Through a bit of detective work it was determined that the plastic in my burger was from the wrapping around the cheese slices. She asked if I wanted a new burger. I pondered for a second, then said yes. (I really was hungry.) She also offered me a shake. I wasn't sure I wanted one until she mentioned that one of the flavors was egg nog. I love egg nog. The Wife, however, hates egg nog, so I wouldn't get to share my shake with her. (Or wouldn't have to share it with her, depending on your point of view.)

I took my new, free burger back to my booth and ate it. I didn't enjoy it. It was as dry and uninviting as the first one was, except it didn't have any plastic in it. (That I know of.) (Although the chance of it being laced with the spit of McDonald's employees was significantly higher.) I probably should have asked for a different sandwich (a Filet-O-Fish or something) or insisted the whole meal be comped or something.

Maybe, like with the "McRib," I'll try the "CBO" again in five years or so and hope for a better experience. But, for now, I think I'll avoid the yellow arches for a while. My last expereince there was far from golden.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks or No Thanks

I'm thankful that Thanksgiving comes around every year to give me a reason to be thankful.

I'm not thankful that I'm too stupid to appreciate all the things I'm thankful for that I need a holiday with the word "Thanks" in its title to bash me over the head. (I should also be more grateful for flags on days other than Flag Day.)

I'm thankful for my wonderful wife and my two cute kids.

I'm not thankful for idiot drivers. (And it's amazing that pretty much every other driver on the road is an idiot. If they drive slower than me they are a "Grandpa Gomer." If they drive faster than me they are a dangerous, reckless lawbreaker. And if they drive the same speed as me they need to give me a little space.)

I'm thankful for all the people who serve in the military, putting their lives on the line to protect our country and the world. (People like my nephew Cody and my brother-in-law Jordan.) (One of the benefits of Veteran's Day being so close to Thanksgiving is that by the time turkey day rolls around I still have our soldiers and their sacrifices on my mind.)

I'm not thankful for the idiots, morons, and despots who start wars and make it necessary for our soldiers to put their lives in jeopardy.

I'm thankful I won't be going out for the "Black Friday" sales. (We did that last year, and it was a "once.")

I'm not thankful for "Black Friday Creep." "Black Friday Creep" is either the fact that the "Black Friday" sales are starting earlier and earlier on Thursday evening, or it's that guy with the mullet, tank top, and back hair that crowded in front of us at Target last year. Either way, it's not pretty.

I'm thankful the Detroit Lions play football every Thanksgiving. Why? Because if I miss the game while I'm eating or visiting with family it's no big deal. After all, it's just the Detroit Lions. (Only two things have been entertaining about the Detroit Lions in the last 30 years: a) Barry Sanders and b) Eric Hipple's beard.)

I'm not thankful the Dallas Cowboys play every Thanksgiving. Unless they lose. (I still have fond memories of Randy Moss toasting the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.) (This year? Go Redskins!)

I'm thankful for the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and Kansas City Chiefs. Because whenever I think life as a Minnesota Vikings fan is tough, I look at those teams and realize things could be worse. (Much, much, much worse.)

I'm not thankful for "reality" television.

I'm thankful for a four year old girl who says funny things that make me laugh. (Like this fall when the wind was blowing a bunch of leaves across the road and she said, "Are those leaves having fun? It looks like those leaves are having fun!")

I'm not thankful for gout. (I really could do without.)

I'm thankful for a two year old boy who has a smile that lights up a room, and who loves to have me read him books. (Except for when he starts whacking me in the stomach with a book in order to get me to read it to him.)

I'm not thankful falling asleep to a television show, then waking up in the middle of the night to a loud and annoying show on the same station. (Reruns of The Nanny are especially egregious at 3:00 AM.)

I'm thankful that instead of getting-married-for-the-sake-of-getting-married when I was younger, I waited around for someone who was right for me. (My wife is amazing, incredible, and fantastic!)

I'm not thankful for....Oh, who am I kidding? I'm just reaching for things to not be thankful for. I've got so many things to be thankful for, and so little reasons to be grumpy!

I'm thankful for my family. My wife. My kids. My brother and his family. My sister and her family. My Mom and Dad. My wife's family. My friends.

I'm thankful for chocolate chip pancakes on Thanksgiving morning. (Possibly a new holiday tradition?)

In fact, I'm so thankful for everything, I should be walking around with the goofiest smile on my face at all times. If you ever see me not smiling, please tell me to smile.

I'll proabably thank you.