Call me a masochist, but I like to read the comments you guys leave on my stories. I get a lot of great ideas on where to eat and what to order; this is particularly true for Fast Times, since I don't often sample widely from fast-food menus.
A few weeks ago, commenter tiltingwindmills wrote that s/he has given up on "special/promotional/limited-time-only/artisan burgers" in favor of sticking with the classics. And while I understand the sentiment (these promotional things are often underwhelming), I usually don't pick standard menu items to write about, simply because you guys probably already know if you like Big Macs, Whoppers and the like.
But that idea stuck with me, and finally I decided to just go for it -- order up an old favorite and see how it holds up to the "cherished" memory of how much I enjoyed it as a teenager. Enter: McDonald's Number Four Value Meal.
The Number Four has morphed since it first became my favorite, back when I was in high school. In the early 1990s, my local McD's Number Four consisted of two regular cheeseburgers, french fries and a drink. Eventually the Number Four morphed into a double cheeseburger, and I continued to order it until I went off to college; unlike other people, that's when I stopped eating so much fast food because, well, dining hall.
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Anyway, these days -- at the McDonald's on Kirby -- a Number Four is a Double Quarter-Pounder with the requisite fries and drink. I have to admit, I was kind of excited -- I felt like a kid again when I was ordering. As I waited in line (and then for my food), I reminisced about how much fun my high school friends and I had making the trek to McD's. As seniors, we were allowed to go off-campus, so once a week I would escape the yearbook room where I spent my lunch period and grab a bite with my girlfriends. (You can say it -- I was a huge nerd. AND YEARBOOK EDITOR. IN CHIEF. Suck on that.)
Of course, time moves on and old favorites stop being favorites for a reason. Is the sandwich different, or am I? This is the deep, existential question that I am left to ponder after my first Double Quarter-Pounder with cheese in who-knows-how-many-years. My burger was big and had all the elements I remember: the heavy double patty, the melted cheese, the raw onions, the pickles, the smear of ketchup, the sesame seed bun. But the burgers were bland (where do they put the sodium, anyway? How does 1,280 mg of sodium taste so dull?), the cheese flavorless, and even the pickles lacked any trace of tartness or zing. It was, quite possibly, the most boring thing I have eaten in months -- and I had just eaten oatmeal for breakfast that morning.
How about you guys -- any sentimental favorites you would like to recommend? Horror stories to share? Leave me a comment...'cause I read 'em!