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Keep your eyes on your fries

October 14, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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Editor's note: Tim Rowland is on vacation. This column originally ran Sept. 4, 2002.

War with Iraq, battered stock market, Homeland Security (aka the Reversal of Freedoms Act of 2002), record-setting drought, dogs and cats living together -- so I turn on CNN this morning to get the lowdown on all these issues and discover that the big news is: McDonald's may change its french fry recipe.

God Bless America.

There's no catastrophe so catastrophic in this nation that a little blip on the fast food radar won't immediately trivialize. People are pretty irate and the message is clear. Bomb Baghdad if you must, but don't mess with our fries.

Everyone knows that if you want a burger you go to Wendy's or Burger King, but if you want fries, McDonald's is in a league of its own. And they want to mess with this?

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Their chemical that tastes vaguely like potatoes beats all the other fast food chains' chemicals that taste vaguely like potatoes hands down. My friend Dave made the mistake of loaning me a copy of Fast Food Nation, and if my horse wasn't high enough to begin with, it's now all but unmountable.

According to the book, just about all the tastes you get in fast food restaurants are manufactured in a chemical plant in north Jersey. If you want to find out what french fries really taste like, you have to go to, no kidding, France, where the great natural potato flavor is one we have long since forgotten.

But natural flavors don't stand up well to the flash-freezing process, hence the need for artificial enhancement.

My coffee (the most nutritious food I have before lunch) was done, so I don't catch the full report, but Frygate has something to do with a change in the grease McDonald's uses to rejuvenate its frozen sticks.

I guess McDonald's has finally been beaten down by vegetarians and fat people who consider grease an issue worth going to court over. Best I can tell you, McDonald's grease is kind of like NAFTA -- you had the extreme wings of both parties opposed to it, putting the likes of Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader on the same team.

The Unhappy Fat People are suing because they are fat. The Unhappy Thin People are suing because they are unhappy. Whatever happened to "fat and happy," I don't know.

The UFPs say that they were blindsided by the revelation that a diet consisting almost exclusively of burgers, fries and shakes will make a person fat.

What about 540-calories-per-Big-Mac don't they understand?

Now, of course, they say fatness is a matter of genetics. So the UTPs should be suing their parents. And who should Ally McBeal, whom Dave Barry gently refers to as "a skeleton with eyeballs," sue for being too thin? The makers of carrots? Can you get compensatory damages out of God?

The UTPs say in their suit they suffered "emotional distress" when they discovered small amounts of beef extract (ironically, the only natural flavor in the fries) were dumped into the cooking oil.

But that begs the question, what, in the name of Paul McCartney, is a vegetarian doing in McDonald's in the first place? This is like a snowman walking into a steel mill and suing because it's too hot. What do they order? "Hi, I'd like special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a seseme seed bun and fries?"

If you really care about your diet, you won't even be downwind of a fast food joint. This only serves to bolster my theory that 80 percent of vegetarians are vegetarians only because they want something to be condescending about, and rap lyrics was taken.

I mean, if they really hate meat so much, why do they go to such lengths to make soy products that feel, look, smell and taste like it? There are lots of people out there who hate vegetables, but you don't see them getting a pound of ground beef and rolling it up to look like a turnip, do you?

Still, I can see that for the UFPs and UTPs this McDonald's grease issue is one that is wearing on them and since I don't like to see anyone suffer I have come up with a solution. It's pretty radical and it took some thinking "outside the box," but here goes:

Don't eat the fries.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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