I’m a sucker for nostalgia which is why I do half the things I do with my son. I often say I want him to experience new things but I think many times I want to relive my childhood with him.
He’s growing up in a world of eat it now, buy it now, watch it now. The idea of waiting or saving or savoring is a bit of a foreign concept to him. So I’m constantly reminding him of how fortunate he is to be living in the world he’s living in and sharing stories (often to his chagrin) of how things used to be, you know, back in the olden days.
I’m especially amused when he asks questions like, Mommy, did they have TV when you were a little girl? I remind him that I am not 97 years old and that some things have been around for a while.
McDonald’s is one of those places that, in my memory, has always been around. It wasn’t always accessible but it was part of the American culture from the time I was a little girl. One of my favorite memories was traveling what seemed to be three days to get to most amazing McDonald’s in the world. It had a pirate ship right smack in the middle of the restaurant and lucky families could snag a table eating on the pirate ship.
In reality, the McDonald’s was only about 45 minutes away right near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge but it was an occasion when we went there. (In case you’re wondering, that McDonald’s is long since gone. Trust me, since I moved back to Maryland, I was desperate to find it again!).
And then my tiny little town in southern Maryland saw the opening of its very first McDonald’s some time in the early 1980s. It was a very big deal. Our town closed roads, held a parade, and marched all of the McDonaldland characters right through town.
I love that the small Maryland town I live in now still has something special about it.
Sure, it looks like any other McDonald’s (we don’t have the fancy new building design yet). But inside, it’s a different story. It’s a history buff’s dream.
Plastered on the walls are hidden gems like this:
Our McDonald’s sits on the site of the old one room schoolhouse. And it’s not the only piece of history you’ll find in the place. As I was taking this photograph, a group of senior citizens sitting nearby (they gather there every morning) offered up a town history lesson about the school house and what became of it before McDonald’s sat in its place.
I’m not kidding you when I say every trip to our local McDonald’s is a history lesson, learning about old farm country and the battles of Lord Baltimore.
But let’s get real. The reason we go to McDonald’s is not for the history. It’s for the food. Whether it’s the nostalgic taste of burgers or the best fries in the entire world or the annual Shamrock shake, it’s about the food.
I’m still a sucker for reliving my own joy at the special occasion treat of a meal at McDonald’s. In fact, it’s become a bit of a family tradition for us. Whenever we start out on a long trip, we almost always start with a jaunt through the local drive-thru.
As we headed out last April for a long journey to Los Angeles, we were up earlier than our usual late riser selves and rewarded our good behavior with a stop at McDonald’s for breakfast, one of my very favorite meals there.
My absolute favorite sandwich is the Egg McMuffin, which is my go-to wholesome choice. It’s less than 300 calories, uses lean Canadian bacon, and real eggs. Admittedly, I was surprised to learn that last point. The eggs McDonald’s uses actually get to the store faster than they do the average grocery store or average home kitchen.
Frankly, I’m amazed at the strides McDonald’s has made to bring freshly prepared, balanced options to their restaurants while maintaining the same level of quality and volume. Even though I still miss the old deep-fried cherry pies, it’s nice to know that some things can change (for the better) and still bring you that same sense of nostalgia.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by McDonald’s via ModeMedia. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of McDonald’s.