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Fast Food Flashbacks

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Some of you may, or may not, know about a divorce-saving compromise that my husband and I made back in 2004 when I was pregnant with our son.  I won’t bore you with the details of our compromise, but it involves me giving up a lifelong love of fast food.

Back in 2000, when my husband agreed to be stuck with me for his entire life, we were both young, eager ‘I’ll have a steak, please’ diners.  We’d share McDonald’s while we painted our new one-room home and barbecue juicy hamburgers, chicken and steaks in the summertime.  But then, just after 2 years of wedded bliss, my husband decided that he was going to take a break from red meat  Then chicken.  Then everything else with a beating heart.

At the time I thought that would be for a month or two, but he hasn’t touched the stuff in 10 years.  In 2007, he decided to let seafood back into his diet, so the official term for my husband’s food lifestyle is pescatarian.  (I mispronounced this title up until a couple of years ago, calling him “apiscatarian” – as in, “Who, Dave?  He’s an apiscaratian.”  I’m sorry for everyone who had to stifle their inner-laughter.  Don’t worry.  I get the term now.)

Although we have both influenced major decisions, style-preferences and even clothing choices of each other, I have never been able to embrace the fish-only lifestyle, because frankly, fish is gross.  Shellfish, seaweed, salmon…it’s all just nasty.  To me : )

So, when the rare occasions come and I get to enjoy a free pass of fast food delight, it is truly a happy day!  My free pass still comes with qualifiers, though.  We have both agreed to avoid our compromised vices 100% Fuller-kid free, so freebies must be enjoyed when I am not around Kid 1 and Kid 2.  This is actually quite tricky!  I have racked up at least 10 freebies (that I know of) but it will most likely take me 4 years to be able to cash them in!

Usually, my fast food splurges take me to McDonalds, the vilest of all un-fresh dining places.  The place that my son points to as we drive by saying “Look, mom!  FAT food!”  He fervently admonished his sister the other day when she mentioned that she would like to eat there and play on the slide.  “That food is full of fat!  It is very bad for you!” my son lectured.  My sweet four-year old just took his advice and nodded, while inside, a small part of me was sad.

I often combat my son’s opinionated Mickey D’s bashing with something like, “Just because someone chooses to eat there, that doesn’t make them bad.” or “It’s not nice to yell in the backseat, son.”  I mean, come on…I know that place is bad for you.  No, I haven’t watched the movie about the guy who eats only McDonald’s, and no, I haven’t watched all the other ‘Fast-Food is Ruining Our World’ documentaries either.  And this is why: so many happy moments of my life are connected to those darn places!

Here is just a sampling of the many memories I have with McDonald’s. 

(I am leaving out the legendary story that my father tells about a McDonald’s French Fry being my first solid food and that I was known as a kid who could be given just one fry, which I would recycle and reuse as I slurped ketchup off of it.  Yuck.)

– Vinny (a classmate from 1st grade through 12th grade) had his 6th or 7th birthday party at McDonald’s.  We all got Happy Meals and got to have ice cream sundaes (my parents never bought those, although occasionally, I’d see my dad sneak one of those pocket-sized apple pies.) We played a Velcro ball toss-game at a McDonald’s themed felt board and had a great time!

Loved this guy...

– The playground on the Avenue I McDonald’s was awesome!  (Pronounced “Avenue Eye” for all you non-Lancasterans)   By the time I moved away from Lancaster, there were 4 McD’s less than a mile from my house, but the one on Avenue I (the farthest one from my house, at the time, had the coolest playground when I was younger.  Remember the McDonaldland characters?  This playground had the Officer Big Mac climb-in jail equipment that let you climb up inside his head and look out through the bars of his teeth.  It also had the Fry Kids rocking bouncy riders and a ball pit.  Simply awesome.

– 2 for $2 Sausage McMuffin with Egg breakfast meal deal.  This meal deal was in existence throughout most of my senior year, and either Mr. Lihme or Mr. Zietlow would let a couple of us sneak off campus (down the street) and go grab some of these for class, or we’d attempt to zoom there and back on our 15 minute morning break.  They are still one of my favorite breakfast treats!

– Boot-shaped chicken nuggets!  They were always my favorite shape and tasted the best to me.  I rejoiced if I got a 6-pack with ALL boots!  Very rare…

But McDonald’s was not the only influential treat that I got to have growing up.  My family loved to eat pretty much anywhere, except In-n-Out, which was also on Avenue I, which cracks me up, since this is the only fast food-like place that we Fullers, eat at now : )

Tales of when my first-time home buyer parents would drive up from Redondo Beach to check out the construction on their new home always include the detail that they would eat at the Avenue K Weinerschnitzel.

It was our many trips to Wendy’s that I am convinced, partially led to my appreciation for vintage newspaper advertising.  (Remember those black and white tables they used to have with all the ads?  So cool!)  I also was convinced I had invented the whole ‘dipping my fry into the frosty’ trick.  It was (and still is) so yummy!

Bringing it Back Around

Recently the kids were in bed, and I decided it was a good time to cash in one of my fast food freebies.  (Pretty risky, huh?  They could come out to the living room and catch me at any moment!)  It was after ten at night and I decided to venture to another old fast food stand by that also, just happens to be the closest fast food to my house, Carls’ Jr.

Wow…do I have a history with that place!  A cheeseburger, small fry and a 6-pack of Happy Star shaped chicken nuggets was my ‘usual’ dinner there throughout high school.  Oh, and I’d always enjoy it with a Sprite w/ added lemon (because I was super-classy).  I’m lucky I didn’t have to have bypass surgery when I was 16!  Wow…that was a lot of food!  But oh, so delicious!

But Carl’s Jr. and I had a different relationship at lunch time.  During our Junior year, our baseball and softball team sold fundraising cards that had these little peel-off stickers for 2-for-1 deals at Carl’s Jr.  They passed out a TON of them and told us to sell them, but then never asked us for the remaining cards.  I don’t think I sold any of them, so we often went off-campus to CJ’s (not to be confused with my high school boyfriend, who also had the same initials) and split a 2-for-1 deal.  Becky and I would always get the Western Bacon Cheeseburger (I’d remove the nasty onion ring) and that is exactly what I wanted to eat the other night.

I drove up to the drive thru, feeling pretty awesome that I was in my cozy, black, yoga pants and yet, no one would know.  I would NEVER normally wear out of the house unless I was going to work out – so it’s been about 3 years since they’ve seen the outdoors.  (I’m not sure if that is something to brag about…)  Anyway, I pulled up and then stared at the menu board like an idiot.  I was unfamiliar with the format of the board and couldn’t figure out why they were only showing me Value Meals!  In the end, I ordered a Western Bacon Cheeseburger combo with two House Dressings on the side (my preferred dipping sauce) and pulled forward to wait.

After what seemed like an exaggerated waiting time, I sped home to enjoy my treasures.  I figured that now that my taste buds had matured, I’d try eating the burger with the onion rings on.  I got about half-way through, then remembered that although the breaded coating was yummy, the slimy, translucent onion inside was just too much for me to handle, and I set it aside.  The type of French fries were different from the kind I previously remembered from high school.  I decided that I liked the old ones better, but that didn’t stop me from inhaling the entire box.

I had hoped that getting my food at Carl’s would fix the problem of getting a burger and fries that was made hours earlier and then just set out under the heat lamp to wilt and wait for a buyer.  Carl’s Jr’s charbroiler would make sure that my burger was juicy and freshly grilled, right?  Maybe that’s what took so long in the drive thru?  Nope.  When I got home (just around the corner) my meal wasn’t very hot and the sandwich looked as if it had been sat on.  This, of course, did not stop me from eating it – I mean, a girl only gets so many chances to cash in a freebie, right?

About Jenny Z

I love to overuse italics, misplaced hyphens and internal dialogue when I write about my usual favorite topic, myself.

4 responses »

  1. For the record, I did eat at McDonalds and Burger Kind a lot when I was a kid. With a single mom it was fast food, La Comida, Swenson’s or grandma’s house for dinner most nights. Also for the record, I can’t recall any happy memories associated with fast food. But that’s probably due to my lack of memory, rather than an absence of good things. Maybe. In any case, I liked this entry. I enjoyed reading it while drinking my trendy, locally made, single orgin, decaf Thai coffee. Thank you.

  2. “Trendy, locally made, single origin…” Let me guess….you’re my friend from Chico who drinks raw milk and makes you’re own yogurt, right? : )

    Ha ha ha…sorry, I couldn’t resist. I don’t even know what the heck ‘single origin’ is, but when I read things like that, I’ll admit, sometimes I wonder when I’m going to catch you wearing dreadlocks.

    Thank you for being my friend and exposing me to the unknown world : ) Let me know if you ever want to tag along on one of my freebie trips. I’m sure there could be some happy times then! (Although part of me worries that your stomach lining might implode with the fakeness of it all! Yikes!)

    • Oh, dreadlocks, I’m so glad you see the ‘real’ me. 😉 I do think of them very fondly; but they don’t fit into my current lifestyle.

      You could convince me to eat a jr bacon cheeseburger no mayo and a frostie with you at Wendy’s. It would totally give me a stomachache, but it would taste good.

  3. Another fun read Jenny! Thanks


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