Is Nothing McSacred Anymore?
The world is always changing, and I think we can all agree that this is basically a bad thing.
The more things change, the greater the reminder that the world is passing me by and that the reality within which I now exist is an alien and frightening one where cars have no CD players and everyone keeps telling you to use Spotify.
But I like CDs. I like the cultural artifact that is music being contained on a physical artifact that I can put on a shelf and beam proudly at. But the world is moving so fast that now I feel even buying music from iTunes is an outdated practice that makes me a dinosaur.
It’s the kind of thing that makes me sad; but more than sad, it makes me feel alone and dislocated in a world that doesn’t want me. But change can be endured, as long as there is something that stands fast, as long as there is one constant that can always be relied upon, one fixed star in the night sky by which we can navigate.
Sadly, that one fixed star, that last remaining constant, has now been obliterated, with McDonald’s announcing that they are changing the way they cook their burgers.
This is too much. It’s more than I can stand. My whole life, I have proceeded on the assumption that no matter how terrifyingly the sands of existence shift, at least I know that Quarter Pounders will always be the same. And now a corporate behemoth, without even consulting me, has informed me that, nope, Quarter Pounders are changing and there’s nothing you can do about it. Big Macs, too. Not that I ever had a Big Mac, because I knew what I liked. I thought McDonald’s knew what I liked too. Apparently not.
Oh, they say it’s an “improvement”. But that’s what they said about 'The Bill' when the cops started dating each other. Well, Macca's burgers are my culinary 'The Bill': an old friend I return to seeking comfort and familiarity, not new and unsettling feelings.
McDonald’s claims their new method of cooking burgers will make them “hotter and juicier”. Newsflash: they were hot and juicy enough. Where they’ve gone wrong is in thinking we go to McDonald’s thinking, “I really feel like a meal with a maximum level of heat and juice”. Actually, we go to McDonald’s thinking, “The world is on fire and my life is in disarray; I need something that reassures me that some things will always stay the same.”
There’s a reason I ate at Macca’s a dozen times when travelling through Italy, and it’s not because I find authentic Italian cuisine incapable of living up to the standards of a Hot Apple Pie.
Why’d they have to do this? Doesn’t the insatiable monster of change have enough to feed on? Almost everything I once cherished is gone already, the touchstones of my youth evaporating before my eyes.
For example, have you noticed how shops are phasing out strawberry Big Ms in cartons? They’re all selling them in bottles now. Some of them don’t have Big Ms at all! These days, whenever I see a carton of strawberry Big M, I buy in bulk, because I don’t know how long it’ll be before they disappear completely. I feel like a doomsday prepper.
And what about rugby league scrums? When I was little, rugby league scrums were hard-fought, contested affairs in which anyone who stuck their head in was liable to get it punched, whereas today rugby league scrums are an opportunity for large men to take a brief nap.
It’s the same all over: from proper Transformers to text-based computer games to amusing Australian sketch comedy, the things I thought I could count on have been disappearing year by year.
If, on top of all this, we have to process an exciting new era of burger preparation, then what’s left? What can we depend on to be our rock amid the shifting sands, if even our Quarter Pounders insist on transforming before our very eyes? The very thing that made a Macca’s burger so beautiful -- its unchanging nature -- has been cruelly torn away, leaving us shivering and naked on the freezing tundra of cultural ephemerality.
I beg of you, Macca’s, reverse course. Don’t cast us adrift by removing the anchor that is your most dependable range of burgers. Don’t make us lament the passing of the classic Quarter Pounder the way we were forced to lament the passing of taping songs off the radio.
And if you really want to make the burgers better, why not just take the freaking gherkins off?