Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm Lovin' it!

Quick - think of something that has revolutionized our culture in the last 60 years.  Computers?  Absolutely.  Safer cars?  You bet.  Television?  Most definitely.

But I'm going to talk about something else that has completely changed the way we live - fast food.

Reproduction poster meant for a McDonald's interior but
never used
Now, I was born in 1968.  Around that time, McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's existed, along with some other regional chains like In n' Out Burger, Sonic and Carl's Jr. (Hardee's for those of us east of the Rockies).  They were family restaurants, but the drive-thru didn't exist yet.  The drive-IN was in place, but kind of difficult for those of us in frigid climates.  People were already enamored with these types of restaurants, but they weren't places you'd take Grandma for lunch - they were teen hangouts more than anything.

By the way, this is going to be a purely nostalgic post about these types of places, namely McDonald's.  I could go on and on about how they've changed our waistlines for the worse; they're making us lazy; they're stripping our globe of its resources - but I'd run out of room.  So I'll just stick to the good ol' days.  :)

McDonald's has been a part of my life since I can remember.  When I was a little kid there was only one McDonald's in Green Bay - on Shawano Avenue.  It's one of the first McDonald's in the country - #91, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.  It's also significant in that it plays host to one of only four remaining "Speedee" signs in the world - SO cool!  The city where I currently live, Fond du Lac, has the distinction of being the one hundredth McDonald's, which opened in 1959 on Military Avenue.  This particular location is also noteworthy because of a gentleman named Don Gorske.  You may recall seeing Don if you've ever watched "Super Size Me", the damning documentary by Morgan Spurlock (worth watching, by the way).  Don holds the world's record for most Big Macs consumed - over 25,000 since he began keeping track in 1972, and most of them purchased at this very location.  Read his whole story here - his story is so remarkable, he has his own Wiki entry!  My husby Brian worked at this McDonald's for four years in the early 90s and he probably made some of Don's burgers.

My own history with the franchise is a little more normal. :)  I have very fond memories of the Oneida Street McDonald's, where my dad would treat us to dinner there every payday.  I think we all looked forward to that for different reasons - my dad really enjoyed the Quarter-Pounder with Cheese, but was on a pretty strict diet so couldn't eat it very often.  My mom enjoyed not cooking, and Jen and I thought we were pretty cool because most of our friends didn't have the standing McDonald's date that we did.  These occasions mainly pre-dated the Happy Meal, so my parents didn't even have to deal with us asking for them   (incidentally, Happy Meal toys make me sad when I see them in antique malls.  Unless you have the very first Happy Meal toy in its original packaging, it's not worth saving).

The McDonald's I frequented in Salzburg, 1988. See the
sign on the right?  It had to be in keeping with the
architecture.  Incidentally, Mozart's birthplace is right up
this promenade.
When I was in Austria in 1988, and we couldn't eat one more bite of weinerschnitzel or cordon bleu (which was on every menu there, for some reason), my friend Sandy and I would frequent the McDonald's.  I saved a couple of the place mats, which were in German, and gave them to my sister Jen.  I wonder if she still has them?  :D  I was 19 when I was there and thought it was SO cool that I could order a beer - at McDonald's.  Also, I don't know what was in the Chicken McNuggets over there, but methinks it wasn't chicken.

These days, I go to McDonald's maybe two or three times a year.  I'm just not a fast-food consumer.  I have a hard enough time keeping my weight down and if I ate fast food I know it would be even more difficult.  Also, I'm a cheapskate and while it may appear that it's an economical alternative, it's still cheaper to eat at home for me.  But there are just some days where I HAVE to have a Big Mac.  I love them, so I allow myself to have one about every six months or so.

Another reproduction poster that was never used
Original waxy cup, probably early
Oh, but I do love the vintage advertising and products!  Check out these items - aren't they wonderful?  Most of them I got from a friend of mine but I specifically ordered the Canadian Mountie pin off of Ebay because I loved it so much.

Original worker's hat, probably from the early Sixties

Canadian Mountie McDonald's
 fries pin, 1997

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