Happy all the timeApril 5, 2010Jon Brooks 4 Comments »
Fast food is not only recession-proof, it’s recession-enabled. From an AP news story last year, during the heart of the downturn:
Recession helps boost McDonald’s sales
McDonald’s Corp. said Monday its same-store sales rose 7.1 percent in January, as cash-strapped consumers lined up for the fast-food company’s burgers and breakfast items. Total sales in January rose 2.6 percent. In the U.S., same-store sales, or sales at stores open for at least 13 months, rose 5.4 percent during the month. Overseas, same-store sales rose 7.1 percent in Europe, the U.K., France and Russia, and rose 10.2 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa.
But no matter what your financial situation, you might want to think twice (or thrice) before you use fast food as a way to stretch your budget. Why? Well take, for instance, Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog, from Baby Bites, an ezine for parents of picky eaters. Nonna purchased a Happy Meal in 2009 to “see if the claim that (it) will last for years is true.” Selected entries from this year-long relationship below:
March 3, 2009
My newly purchased Happy Meal smells yummy and it’s very colorful. I receive a PetShop virtual pet dog in a yellow plastic doggie carry-case, along with my child-size hamburger, small fries, and a soft drink. On one side of the cardboard box the meal comes in are cutouts for a pet shop window and door. What little girl wouldn’t absolutely love it? The boy’s side of the box has a Spider-Man scene. The Spider-Man side states, “Meet the spectacular Spider-Man in McWorld at HappyMeal.com and go on your own superhero adventure!” WOW what fun. As colorful as my Happy Meal is, the food is mostly colorless. French fries are made from starchy white potatoes and a hockey puck-size brown hamburger is served on a mini-white-bread bun. There’s no lettuce, cheese, or otherwise healthful topping, just a dab of ketchup and a slice of pickle.
Happy Meal greets me as I walk into my office this morning. It’s perched on a shelf behind my desk and there is a faint smell of French fries as I enter the room. My husband is concerned about the odor. I ask, “What do ya mean?” After all it smells yummy. He says, “What about when it putrefies, decomposes, and turns rancid?” I answer, “That’s the point of my experiment. It’s NOT supposed to decompose, only a natural food would do that! If it does, I’ll move it into a glass container, to control any unpleasant smell. Then, I’ll have more to report.
Day three, my cheery Happy Meal’s yummy smell is hardly noticeable as I come into my office. I can’t help but think about the hidden ingredient in much of McDonalds’ food. It’s even in their fries …MSG. MSG is an excitotoxin, which over-stimulate brain cells to the point that they die. Many people experience headaches when this occurs. MSG is an excitatory neuro-transmitter or “excitotoxin.” Excitotoxins are chemical transmitters allowing brain cells to communicate. Unfortunately, excitotoxins over-stimulate your brain cells and they die. It’s a toxic substance. As you would guess, children are most at risk from ingesting MSG in Happy Meals. It can pass the blood brain barrier and even the placental barrier, affecting unborn children. Morgan Spurlock, from the movie SuperSize Me, experienced extreme headaches on his McDonald’s diet. In his movie and book, he says his health team was at a loss for the reason. It’s a shame they missed the connection to MSG.
YIKES, I’m becoming a regular McDonalds’ costumer! Yes, I went back there today and purchased a second tiny hamburger. Yesterday, I realized my experiment hamburger had ketchup and a slice of pickle on it. I was afraid these two toppings would alter the result, so I went back and purchased a PLAIN tiny burger. It cost me another 89 cents, plus 6 cents tax. Now, I have a control burger without toppings, albeit three days fresher. While I was there, I checked out what it would cost to purchase a small order of fries: $1, plus 7 cents tax. That means that the FOOD and PAPER portion of my original Happy Meal cost me $2.02 and the toy $1.00.
It’s day five, and somehow I don’t feel consoled by McDonald’s website reassurances: “McDonald’s offers a range of menu options to help meet your family’s nutrition needs. When it comes to eating with your kids at McDonald’s, you can feel good knowing that our Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals contain important nutrients that growing kids need. Many of the foods we serve at McDonald’s are the same trusted brands you might purchase for your family at your local grocery store.
My Happy Meal looks pretty much the same as the day I purchased it. The only difference I can tell is the ketchup and the pickle are being absorbed into the mini-white bun. Of course, the plain burger I purchased looks the same, so do the fries. If this were real food, there should be some decomposition…
Could the lack of decomposition be because of trans fat? I thought McDonalds said they no longer use trans fat, but according to the McDonlds website their French fries are prepared in hydrogenated soybean oil, corn oil, or canola oil. Any hydrogenated oil is a trans fat!…
Today, is day 7. My Happy Meal still looks happy. The fries haven’t changed a bit, although the French fry smell is faint. The hamburger itself looks like it did on day one. The ketchup and slice of pickle have dried. The mini-white bun is now hard and has split. If you look closely at my original photo at the top of this blog, you can see a vertical crease in the bun. It looked as if it had been squished or bent before the patty was placed on it. The split is in the crease. (My second PLAIN Burger, purchased three days after is still perfect.)
My Happy Meal is 12 days old. I’m taking it off my shelf, just for a little peek to see how it’s doing. Ya’d think that there would be some sort of decomposition going on by now. I don’t see any…nope none at all. My Happy Meal still looks perky.
It’s too bad that even in the midst of the recession, parents are finding the financial wherewithal to keep their kids supplied with Happy Meals. February’s sales were up 5.4 percent above last year. January’s global comparable sales leaped 7.1 percent. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents cooked whole foods at home? Not only would they save during these tight financial times, but their kids would be healthier, too.
I’m taking my Happy Meal on its first field trip. It’s going to be my show-and-tell for tonight’s presentation to preschool moms in Littleton, Colorado. No one will believe my Happy Meal is one day shy of four week’s old! It looks as good as it did on day one.
Since I began this blog, I’ve written another post about Monosodium Glutamate. MSG is a common ingredient in McDonald’s food. Click Here to read “Hidden Toxin in Food.” Unappetizing as it is, my Happy Meal is just as perky as the day I bought it, nearly two months ago!
I wish I could say that my Happy Meal has changed in some way. But it looks pretty much the same nine months after I purchased it. The bread is crusty. That’s all!
I know it’s hard to believe. Time flies, doesn’t it? My eyes tear when I think today, March 3, is my Happy Meal’s first birthday. They grow up so fast, don’t they?
I purchased a Happy Meal, not to eat, but to observe and blog about. Yes, I bought a Happy Meal and then placed it on my office shelf, right behind me and my computer. It sat on my shelf for a year as a silent witness to our fast food industry.
It smelled delicious for a few days. I’d get a whiff of those yummy French fries every time I walked into my office. After a week or so, you could hardly smell it. My husband worried that when the food began to decompose, there would be a terrible odor in our home. He also worried the food would attract ants and mice. He questioned my sanity.
NOPE, no worries at all. My Happy Meal is one year old today and it looks pretty good. It NEVER smelled bad. The food did NOT decompose. It did NOT get moldy, at all.
This morning, I took it off my shelf to take a birthday photo. The first year is always a milestone. I gave it one of my world famous Nonna hugs as we’ve been office mates for a year now!
…Because Colorado has an arid climate, over the year the moisture has been slowly pulled from the Happy Meal. The bread is crusty and if you look closely, you will see a crack across the top. The hamburger has shrunk a bit and still resembles a hockey puck. Yet, the French fries look yummy enough to eat. I never had an odor problem, after a couple of weeks, I couldn’t even smell the fries.
Picky eaters universally love junk foods. They won’t touch veggies and sometimes refuse to eat the food their moms prepare. Out of desperation, parents give in and purchase the food their picky eaters will eat…junk food.
The next time you’re tempted to purchase a Happy Meal for your child, think about these photos. Food is SUPPOSED to decompose, go bad and smell foul…eventually. When I was a kid, I remember our garbage pail for the left over food scraps was kept by our back door. After a couple of days, flies deposited their larvae (maggots) in the meat. When I would lift the lid, I would see the recently hatched maggots wiggling on the putrid mess. A fly never bothered to land on the tiny hamburger patty on my office shelf.
Food is broken down into it’s essential nutrients in our bodies and turned into fuel. Our children grow strong bodies, when they eat real food. Flies ignore a Happy Meal and microbes don’t decompose it, then your child’s body can’t properly metabolize it either. Now you know why it’s called “junk food.”
I think ants, mice and flies are smarter than people, because they weren’t fooled. They never touched the Happy Meal. Children shouldn’t either.