Past Posts Revisited: 10 Reasons We (No Longer) Love McDonald’s

A few months ago, I wrote a post wherein I asked my kids what makes them mad.  Sutton’s response was quick and brutal: my singing.  Well, I’d like to state that her opinion has evolved.  Now when the topic comes up, she says, “I don’t like your voice!”

This is why it’s good to update old posts now and then.  Things change.  Sometimes, my kids grow firmer in their convictions, and sometimes, I ease up on mine.

I have to admit I no longer stand fully behind my post on why I love taking my kids to McDonald’s.  At the time I wrote that, we were only one month into our cross-country move.  I had discovered that the local McDonald’s had a family night every Thursday, featuring a nice magician guy.  He made balloon animals for the kids, while I got to enjoy the snotty teenagers heckling him from nearby.  It was a nice routine, at  time when we really needed one.

The free ice cream on Family Night is the world’s tiniest cone. Who says McDonald’s isn’t concerned about childhood obesity?

That was eight months ago, and I’ve discovered more things to do around our new home.  I’ve also gotten thoroughly sick of McFood.  I don’t think I’ll ever become one of those fast food fascists who never lets their kid step foot inside the golden arches because it’s POISON — POISON!!!, but going there once a week is no longer something I proudly recommend.  Here’s my point-by-point rebuttal of my prior post:

1. My kids are always the best behaved children there.

Still true… but also a source of concern.  You know those balloon animals the magician makes?  My kids ask for giraffes and flowers.  The other kids get swords and guns.  Then they battle each other to the “death” (if only).

Worse are the McDonald’s-es with play places.  Now that my kids know those exist, it’s hard to get them to go to a location without one.  Sure, that labyrinthine plastic apparatus lets them work off the ocean of calories they just consumed, but when you put all those kids together in a confined space, just out of grown-ups’ reach, it’s bound to turn into a miniature, neon-colored Thunderdome.

Adults have no jurisdiction inside those twisty, netted structures, because they simply can’t fit inside or even see what’s going on up there.  There are always some little monsters quick to take advantage of the lack of supervision and go all Lord of the Flies on each other.  It’s a Hobbesian state of nature, every pipsqueak for himself.

My kids mostly stay above the fray in this pop warner Hunger Games… but I wonder how long that will last if we keep going there.  The day I see them with pig blood smeared under their eyes, we’re outta there.

This piece of crap kept my kid busy for 20 minutes.

2. The meal comes with its own entertainment.

My kids still love Happy Meal toys… unless they’re given two different toys and one of them gets a better one than the other… or they’re given the exact same toy but one of them still thinks the other’s is better… or they both get crap toys.  I cringe when I first peek in the bags to see what the toys will be, hoping they will meet my kids’ approval.

3. It kills time.

It’s great getting out of the house for a while… but McDonald’s is not really a fun place for a grownup to be.  If only the McAcoustics didn’t so greatly amplify the shrieking and stomping, maybe I could zone out a bit and forget that the chicken sandwich I’m eating is hastening my demise.

4. The zit-faced 16-year-old slaving over the grill for minimum wage is a better cook than me.

Hey, kid, ease up on the salt… or at least throw some beta-blockers in the Happy Meal box.  Sheesh.

5. It’s an excuse for me to eat McDonald’s.

Nothing on the McDonald’s menu appeals to me anymore.  When I wanted to be sorta healthy, I ordered a salad… which is basically just a chicken sandwich (you can even get it breaded and fried!) on a bed of iceberg lettuce instead of a bun.  Eventually I realized that I could get a halfway decent salad by taking the kids to Panera Bread instead, and they could eat grilled cheese sandwiches instead of French fries.  If one of us is going to settle for food they’re less-than-thrilled about, I’d prefer it be them and not me.

6. It’s cheap(ish).

Panera Bread is about the same.

7. It’s low maintenance food.

So is Panera Bread.

8. They eat a full meal there.

Not anymore.  The food doesn’t have nearly the appeal it used to. My son can eat a peanut butter sandwich every meal, every day and never complain.  But even for him, one serving of McNuggets a week is sufficient.

Half the time, I have to beg them to eat a second McNugget just to make sure they won’t McStarve.  Honestly, they eat more at Panera Bread.

9. The food’s not much worse than what I serve at home.

The food at Panera is better.

10. McDonald’s teaches my kids the value of moderation.

You know what teaches them the value of moderation even better?  That three out of four times we eat out, we go to Panera Bread, instead of McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has become more of a once-a-month destination, and personally, that’s made my meals a lot happier.

When I think back on that original post, I still understand what I felt at the time, I’ve just grown since then.  (Mostly, I’ve grown sick of the food.)  If you’re still in more of a once-a-week mode yourself, more power to you.  I would never judge anyone for taking their kids to McDonald’s that much.  Hey, I’ve been there.

A word of advice, though: if they open a Panera near you, check it out.  And if you have any other family-friendly dining suggestions, please let me know.  I’m gonna be SOOOOOO sick of that place in a few months.

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36 comments on “Past Posts Revisited: 10 Reasons We (No Longer) Love McDonald’s

  1. That was good, totally agree with everything. Was going to shout my boys to a Maccas breakfast the other day, they weren’t interested!!! Must say, aside from the wallet savings I am most impressed and happy.. Yeah, McHappy, lol

  2. Panera is so good. My only complaint with it is that it has gotten so popular that I always have a hard time finding a vacant table that will accommodate both me and my baby’s stroller. I guess that’s not a bad problem to have, though! Great post, Jerry!

  3. They don’t have a list of their Canadian locations, I’m sure they will have one near me at some point. I don’t often go to McDonalds because our local one seems like a hangout for all of the teenagers. Every time I see little kids there, they behave and eat their dinner. The teenagers are throwing stuff, teasing their working friends, talking loudly with profanity. I swear too, but I’m sure 5 Fbombs in a sentence is a little much, especially when they are only barely outnumbered by the amount of “like”s.

    Once in a blue moon, the hubby and I will sneak some Drive thru. Sometimes you just need a Big Mac.

  4. Every place I took my kids to eat turned into a family friendly place……I made it that way..whether the food establishment liked it or not. They experienced, Thai, Italian, Chinese,Le Cirque, and Diners & Dives since they were born.
    Sometimes it was a rough road, but most times they became a product of their eating environment. And if we left them a table that resembled the aftermath of a tornado…..I left a hefty tip.

    If you can find them: Macaroni Grill…they use butcher paper over their linens & supply crayon’s for the young Picasso’s to scribble while they nibble. Also ask some restaurants for a sample of Pizza dough..kept my kids busy until the meal arrived.

    • I know what you mean, but I don’t take my kids anywhere too fancy, just because I don’t see the point in spending the money if they’re not going to appreciate the food. And I don’t want to have to take care of my kids when I should be enjoying the meal.

      My general rule is, if they have a kids menu, we’ll go there, but I’ve made a few exceptions for places that should have kids menus but don’t. Some restaurants aren’t as fancy as they like to think they are. :P

  5. The Panera Breads in my area are significantly more expenses than McDonald’s and they aren’t nececessary “kid friendly”. They’re loaded with hipsters soaking up free WiFi because Starbucks is crowded.

    • McD’s is usually just under $20 when we go there. Panera is just over $20 — and worth the slight upcharge.

      … and what better way to piss off the hipsters than to surround them with little kids? :)

  6. Told ya! I think I vaguely remember my comment on the original post and I am glad you’ve come over to my side. The reason why I basically never go to McD is that I absolutely dislike their food. I know it’s somehow, miraculously appealing to kids’ tastebuds but certainly not to mine. As you so poignantly stated: “If one of us is going to settle for food they’re less-than-thrilled about, I’d prefer it be them and not me.”

  7. I wish we had a Panera here in Northern Nevada. Yum. And, ya, the McToys are the only lure for me to take the little guy to MckeyDs. … I just saw a commercial for Scooby Doo Halloween buckets … I’m a total sucker for that.

  8. When my kids were small(eons ago) we used to be at McDonald’s and Burger King all the time, especially when travelling since they could play and run off all that excess energy…..as they got older we started going to buffets where they could choose what they wanted to eat and they loved that…..I think things evolve naturally as they age anyway…..

    • I knew I was in trouble when I was taking my kids to Burger King just for some variety. :) We don’t have a lot of buffets where I live unfortunately. One reason I envy the South.

  9. Our go-to kids’ place is Souplantation. In other parts of the country it’s called Sweet Tomatoes. There’s something for everyone, in a place where they don’t mind too much if kids are being kids. I don’t think there are any in NY (or even the Northeast). But maybe there’s something like it?

    • Oh, how I miss Souplantation. I’m sure we would’ve been there all the time if we were still in LA. We don’t have anything like it in NY (that I know of, at least). Panera is the closest thing I know of.

  10. I agree about Panera! I absolutely love going there with my little man. I am a little bit of a paranoid mom so I don’t think he will ever fully experience the Mcdonalds play place.lol

  11. I can honestly say that I love this. McDonalds is great from time to time ( my husband would eat there 24/7 if I let him) but my kids really are sick of it. They basically have 2 options burger or nuggets for my kids and they are sick of both to the point that it goes to waste when they don’t eat it. Plus my oldest can handle the play areas hes 4 and tall enough to climb. but my youngest cant navigate them and I honestly dont think the companies that design them think about the smaller kids.

  12. i LOVE this post … my kids aren’t tiny anymore, but i vividly remember someone else’s kid peeing at the top of a mcd’s slide …. that was the beginning of the end for us and mcd’s …. my 11 year old will tell you she’s never been to a mcd’s … she has, just not in her memory ….. i must tell you that it is all about ages and stages …. you’ll all outgrow mcd’s and move on (like to panera) …we moved on to arby’s (what was i thinking?) and then to chik fil a (awesome sandwiches, above average toys) …… i have 15 year old twins and an 11 year old, recently we were down to me only liking moe’s and chic fil a … this summer i quit chic fil a and the kids nearly had a cow (ha) and weren’t impressed by my moral stand….. but these things must come and go … we’ve found zaxby’s to replace chic-fil-a …. all that said, mcd’s is a stage … teething, potty training, long division, dating …. you’ll get past it one day ….

    • We don’t have Zaxby’s where I live. I love Arby’s, but I haven’t taken my kids there yet. I guess the ideal place would be somewhere that has all the “fun”, convenience and affordability of McDonald’s, but with healthier food that appeals to grownups, too.

      Bravo for your moral stand on CFA. Maybe your kids weren’t impressed, but I am!

    • I was actually waiting for someone to suggest that! I swear they know nothing about it, though if they want to send me a gift card or something, I’ll gladly accept! :)

    • Thanks — I’m sure there’s one around here, but I’ve never been a big fan of Chuck E Cheese. Too chaotic, and the food’s not great. Plus, my kids aren’t ready for video games yet. At least at a McDonald’s PlayPlace, they get some exercise.

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