A new McDonald’s commercial shows off its latest menu addition, “Scrumptious Fruit and Maple Oatmeal,” featuring some beautiful shots of cascading oats, glamorous fruit and a good-looking brunette chowing down on this classic breakfast favorite.
The commercial’s appetizing display, bright colors, clean design and relatable front woman almost make me want to try some of this purportedly “scrumptious” oatmeal. It almost makes me reconsider my long-standing hatred for fast food; almost makes me forget that it’s a McDonald’s advertisement. But after that 16-second lapse of forgotten principles, I readily come back to my senses.
Nice try, McDonald’s, but you can’t fool me.
You can’t slap your logo on a cup of my second favorite breakfast food and expect me to forget years of disappointing french fries, tasteless chicken nuggets and the prolonged presence of baby fat. You can’t parrot Starbucks’ famously delicious beverages in an elaborate rouse called “McCafé” and think that I will be tempted by your lower-priced mocha.
You are McDonald’s and will forever be fixed in my mind as first place in fast food and last place in healthy.
The restaurant’s efforts to appeal to the healthier crowd in the last few years — and perhaps to shrink the double chins of their already established customer base — can be seen on menus, advertisements, window clings and even in their overall design.
Their website, with a surprisingly clean design, has an even cleaner tagline on the nutrition page: “You rely on us to deliver quality food, and we take that responsibility seriously. From our team of registered dietitians to our trusted suppliers, we’re dedicated to making you feel good about choosing McDonald’s foods and beverages.”
And perhaps they are making gains. McDonald’s was listed as the eighth healthiest fast food chain in the nation, after Panera Bread (No. 1) and Chipotle (No. 6), according to a list by Health.com, thanks to their selection of health-conscious foods.
But they can remodel, revamp, redesign and play dress up all they want, and it’s still — now and always — a slimy, greasy, french-fry-smelling fast food chain.
Their burgers are still floppy and flimsy. Their pickles, still mushy and disturbingly warm. Their french fries, too tiny and hyper-salty. Their chicken nuggets, still made of questionable “white meat.”
And these grease-free options that have been added to their menus are few in number and mundane at best: yogurt parfaits, wraps, salads, oatmeal, smoothies and fruit sides for kids’ meals.
Personally, I prefer to make my own yogurt parfaits, which is cheaper, allows more variety and always tastes better.
The nutrition content of the wraps is laughable: the healthiest at 260 calories and 9 grams of fat, the least at 430 calories and 26 grams of fat — multiplied by two, since one is not enough to satiate an empty belly.
Salads and smoothies are staples of almost any all-American food joint, and I’m not persuaded those produced by McDonald’s are any different.
Their fruit option with Happy Meals is long overdue but complementing the apple slices with caramel sauce, even low-fat, maybe earns McDonald’s a half-step toward preventing child obesity. Still, the teeny hamburger with apple slices and milk is 450 calories with 12 grams of fat. Not to mention 33 grams of sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends 1,200 to 1,800 calories for boys and girls, 4 to 13 years old. This Happy Meal alone eats up 25 to 37.5 percent of their daily caloric intake, while being only one of the several times a child eats per day.
Even so, McDonald’s is drawing more and more business to its double arches, and has been since 2003, according to StockAlerts.com. Recent growth in sales is credited to McCafé and healthy choice options.
An article titled, “Three challenges to McDonald’s growth” reads: “It tweaked its menu beyond its core offerings of burgers and fries, grabbing all kinds of new customers, from the health conscious with its latest oatmeal breakfast to the cost conscious with its dollar menu items. And watch out, Starbucks — McCafé’s specialty coffee drinks now satisfy those who want more than just a standard cup of Joe.”
That last, threatening aside directed at Starbucks is the icing on my anti-Mcdonald’s cake.
I am not a professional McDonald’s critic. I haven’t been a regular fast food customer for more than four years, and I’m not a health nut either. But I am an unapologetic Starbucks junkie.
I don’t go to Starbucks exclusively for the chai tea lattes and peppermint mochas that have consumed an embarrassingly enormous part of my measly income; I go for the atmosphere, the mood (and the scones).
There are almost 8,000 stores in the United States (Census Bureau), and it’s anything but a mark of brilliance and ingenious enterprise that if I were to visit every one, I would feel at home. I never open those heavy glass doors and feel that I’m at “just another Starbucks,” like I’m feeding the conglomerate big business monster. I feel comforted and at ease knowing that, wherever this Starbucks is, I’m about to enjoy a tasty beverage.
Starbucks isn’t the most diet-friendly establishment, by any means. But at least I don’t feel caked with grease within its doors.
Sure, McDonald’s is making strides in the nutrition world. Sort of. But its reputation in my eyes is tarnished, ruined and irreparable.
Save your wishful thinking for someone else, McDonald’s. I am not convinced.