Fast Times

Fast Times: McDonald's Under 300 Menu

When I see a McDonald's commercial I don't exactly stop everything I'm doing and pay close attention, but I couldn't help but take notice of their recent attempt to brand "Egg McMuffin" as a descriptor for "the best" of something. The ad features various people describing things as "the Egg McMuffin of" items -- boyfriends, cars, apartments -- to indicate that they are the absolute best (boyfriend, car, apartment) possible. This is probably intended to be funny for people who like Egg McMuffins, but I bet it's even funnier to those of us who hate them.

Then I noticed a second McDonald's commercial in which an assistant grabs her boss a variety of under-300 calorie breakfast meals -- including the Egg McMuffin -- and somehow the combination resulted in an irresistible urge to revisit McDonald's breakfast food.

As usual my fast food destination of choice was unable to complete my order as desired. I ordered an Egg McMuffin (300 calories, 12 g fat, 18 g protein), Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (290 calories, 4.5 g fat, 5 g protein), and the Fruit & Walnuts combo (210 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g protein). McDonald's was out of the Fruit & Walnut combo but substituted a Yogurt Parfait (160 calories, 2 g fat, 4 g protein) and refunded me 50 cents. For those keeping score, the Egg McMuffin, Parfait, and Oatmeal cost $6.70.

I still hate Egg McMuffins. They just taste so bland and raw! The egg part was rubbery and tasteless, and the muffin is doughy and chewy and totally bland. At least I know I haven't been missing anything.

The parfait was good. I think it's kind of hard to mess up yogurt and fruit. It's hard to give McDonald's any real credit for it, either. The fruit is that same kind in the sweetened jelly that they put on sundaes, so prepare for a sugar rush, but the yogurt is really rich and creamy and vanilla-y, so even though the serving is under 200 calories, it feels more substantial.

The best part was definitely the oatmeal. I had the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal a couple of months ago in the Anchorage airport, but it was 5 a.m. and I had just slept on airport chairs for three hours, and I barely remembered what it tasted like. The rolled oats leave a little something to be desired in the texture category -- kind of mushy, but they are instant oats after all -- but the apples were fresh and crisp and there were plenty of raisins. The serving size is perfect; it's just enough to feel full and satisfied. Maybe the maple flavor is a little artificial and sweet, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I am probably a little sensitive. Finally, a reasonable alternative to the Egg McMuffin of breakfast sandwiches.

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Christina Uticone