For two years, I swore off McDonalds. The golden arches made me think of nothing but toxic artificiality and cheapness. They made me feel like I was among the living dead. While I used to gobble down McChickens en masse on road trips, certain lifestyle changes made me kick that habit and not look back. Heck, the only time I tasted anything from McDonalds during the time frame was for an article I wrote about Shamrock Shakes. After tasting the saccharine elixir for journalism’s sake (ice cream is an inappropriate word to describe the pathetic concoction I tried), I threw it away after three sips.
I thought I had the wherewithal to avoid McDonalds for the rest of my life. Nothing prepared me for last Friday night. What began as a pit stop on the way home from a house show turned into me breaking my personal moral code in front of several witnesses.
That’s right: I ate a McChicken from the Dinkytown McDonalds at 11:50 p.m. (give or take five minutes) on Friday, July 31, 2015. Let it be known.
My misbegotten moral collapse was not due to an inebriated state. Sure, I had drank three beers by that point, but Fulton’s excellent Randonneur packs the mighty punch of a 4.1% ABV. The several glasses of water I drank to match the beers ensured I would be sober enough to wake up without a hangover, essential to working retail for eight hours on a Saturday evening.
Rather, a slight bet and curiosity got the best of me. The cashier thought I sounded depressed when I asked for a cup of water. The rest of my party purchased snacks to nosh on and ice cream drinks to celebrate the picturesque Friday night with, and I felt empty-handed with my satisfying yet mundane water. In the heat of the moment, I bounced back to the register and ordered myself a McChicken. The cashier noticed a tone of optimism, even hope, in my voice that it previously lacked. Game on: I was going against everything I held near and dear to me up until that moment.
Was the McChicken worth the guilt and shame of eating fast food? Yes and no. No because it didn’t quite taste like chicken. Though the McChickens I ate for years contained questionable ingredients, the patty’s flavors were faker than I remembered them to be. Yet the simplicity of the sandwich brought back faint nostalgia of road trips past where I felt free to eat whatever I wanted without a complex ethical code of gourmand guilt governing my every meal decision. This sensation brought me immense joy for several minutes, a joy that drowned out my thought process that would normally judge me for this behavior.
Will I eat another McChicken in the near future? I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, but it’s unlikely I’ll seek one out again. Next time I go to McDonalds, I’ll stick to the fries.