Remember how exciting McDonald's was when you were little? I haven't lost that. I still love the place.
Pretty much every night out in Wellington ended with a cheeseburger combo, courtesy of a taxi ride through the Taranaki Street's BP Drive Thru. And in America, McDonald's is better than ever.
We're talking massive restaurants, 30-cent soft-serve cones, unbelievable $1 deals, and small sizes that we call large in New Zealand.
Touching down in new cities every couple of days is fantastic, but it does leave you missing a certain sense of familiarity - and, for me, that's where McDonald's comes in.
Can anyone relate to this? Am I the only one hungry enough to consider McDonald's home away from home?
While things are bigger over here - both the restaurants and the foods - the menu is essentially the same. In fact, the biggest difference we've noticed is the way we choose to refer to the place. While New Zealanders tend to favour Macca's, here no one knows what you're talking about. We've come across new nicknames for the chain, the most popular being Golden Arches, Mick Dicks, Mac's Lounge, McDonaldos and Mickie D's.
In line with our "fight the fat" strategy, Nathan and I agreed we would do only one McDonald's visit during our time in the States, and that momentous occasion took place last week.
Wanting to do it in true style, I had insisted on going to a McDonald's with some sort of significant background, and was thrilled when I found out that Des Plaines, Illinois, was the site of the first franchise store, which opened in 1955. The store, about 30 minutes west of Chicago, is actually now a small McDonald's museum in a replica of the original store, but there is a working restaurant across the street. It certainly fitted my "significant background" requirement, and we planned to mission out there during our visit to Chicago.
However. After doing a film tour of the city, the bus dropped us directly outside a huge McDonald's. Standing outside in 41C heat (seriously, if you look closely at the top photo you can see the 105F), those arches looked positively heavenly. The air conditioning, burgers and fries called, and we went.
Though we ordered $15.65 worth of food and drinks - me a two cheeseburger combo, Nathan a double quarter-pounder combo (question - shouldn't this be called a half-pounder?), I was left a little disappointed. They didn't ask if I wanted to super-size; surely that is a great part of the US Macca's experience?
Anyway, we headed upstairs for the view, but more for the escalator ride. That's right. An escalator. In McDonald's. Lovin' it.
After stuffing myself, I was having a wander around and found this little exhibition on the other side of the building about McDonald's through the years. It included displays of old Happy Meal toys - dating back to when they gave out those Mr Potato Head toys. I was most excited to find transformer toys from the 90s that changed from food items into mechanical animals and things. Those were cool.
A little further reading; I learned that I was at Rock N Roll McDonald's - a flagship store and once the busiest in the US. It was also the first McDonald's to have a two-lane drivethrough - where I very nearly got run over posing for photos.
So fate intervened. I got my significant McDonald's visit. I got my two cheeseburgers. Now it's just a matter of holding off our next visit until Europe...
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