What I Learned in a Week of Being an Aspiring McDonald’s Influencer

by Cristina | Last Updated: January 3, 2022

I had big plans last week as I set off to pick up my kids at soccer camp.  I made them lunch so they could eat in the car and we could head straight off to do a few last minute Christmas errands I had to run. Everything was going according to plan until I saw them.   

There they were just staring me dead in the soul.  Those golden arches shining extra bright in the midday sun.  They were calling to me.  Singing the sweet sweet song that only a hot and salty McDonald’s french fry could sing.  I was helpless.  I was deep under the spell and before I even knew what I was doing, I was at the drive thru speaker and shouting (politely) “one medium french fry, and three Oreo McFlurry’s”.  

I posted it on Instagram, with some off the cuff comment about eating my feelings, and suddenly I was flooded with messages.  Before I even knew what was happening, I was getting pictures of people’s lunches.  I was getting questions about what my favorite sauce is.  I was getting confessions from people about how much McDonald’s they eat, or recommendations to get the App for “free Fries on Fridays” {which is game changing advice}.  

I had discovered an entire underground McDonald’s secret society.  I’m talking about 100s of messages over the next few days. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot for me on one particular subject.  Being a self-appointed McDonald’s Influencer now, I might as well dive deep into my role. I polled the audience and asked for everyone’s top secret go-to guilty pleasure order. Here are some of the top answers:

So, as a top McDonald’s Influencer now, I started to think about the why of it all?

Why was this McDonald’s post striking such a cord for everyone.  I came up with a few ideas.  The first few had to do with Big Mac Sauce, quick carb fix and ice cream.  But then I got down to the more serious stuff.   

First, I think that in some ways seeing someone else not just eat it, but also be public about it, gave people “permission” to be open about eating and enjoying something that has widely been labeled “terrible for us”.   Second, I think that in this time of immense stress- between a worldwide pandemic + Omicron + the holidays we are looking to eat something not necessarily because it is going to solve our problems, or not just because we love carbs and salt but because we are looking for something that can feel like going home again.  

Let’s first look at permission to be more open about something that is terrible for us.  My truth is, that I do not have McDonald’s often or really at all anymore. (Boo!) I actually have been dealing with high blood pressure for a couple of years, and so my “doctor” says I have to “cut out red meat and salt” and have more “vegetables” and things that are “good for me”.  Be more boring, Dr. Thomas  However even he agreed there is absolutely nothing wrong with hitting the drive thru every now and again. 

So why are we doing it in secret?  Why do we feel some sort of shame when we pull into the drive thru?  I’m sure this is layered and different for everyone.  Between diet culture and the food bloggers out there showing you all the labels and sounding on all the alarms, it’s totally normal to feel like eating anything with MSG will kill you instantly.  If this week of my McDonald’s influencing has done anything, I hope it shows you- you’re not alone.  There are many of us out there eating our chicken and honey in the car watching Netflix (the netflix part could just be me).

When life gets stressful or hard, or if you have no time to stop for a real lunch, or if you are pregnant, or if you are hungover- then sometimes you find yourself craving something delicious yet terrible.  There has to be science out there to support this hypothesis.   Maybe for you it’s a different meal that doesn’t involve McDonald’s.  Maybe for you it’s some other guilty pleasure who knows maybe you just want a loaf of white bread.  For me though, for me, I just sometimes need a cheeseburger, fries and a fountain coke.  Period.  

Listen, If on a real hard day, like you have lost a loved one, or you lost your job, or a relationship or really made a huge mistake- if you are the kind of person that craves a salad- then more power to you.  You are one of God’s few chosen people, and I’m sure your jean size rewards you consistently and daily. 

But I need the carbs, the salt and sweet magic goodness of a fountain coke to get me through. For the love of all things holy, what do they put in that fountain coke and how does it solve all of life’s problems. 

I link this all back to my childhood.  

What? I am a child of the 90’s.  In the 90’s we didn’t know that companies were actually kind of cool with feeding you things that killed you in an effort to make money.  We just knew that the chicken mcnuggets were delicious and hashbrowns were King. 

It would make sense that when my anxiety is through the roof, sometimes all I need in my life is a # 7 from McDonald’s?  This brings me to my next point.

I have concluded, at least for myself, and I think some of the people who have been sending messages, McDonald’s is like going home.  We end up here because there is comfort in it.  

We all know that it’s a short term solution.  We all know our problems are still going to be there when we finish the last salty bite.  No one believes this will make your problem disappear.   In fact we may now will most certainly have a different kind of (tummy) problem to deal with. 

I think it’s a lot like when you put on a show you’ve seen 100 times.  You know what to expect and how it will end.  No surprises.  There is solace in that.  

Tomorrow is always another day to eat the salad and make “better choices”.  But sometimes you just need to make the choice that is going to make you feel good in the moment.  Whatever that might be for you.  Maybe it’s Burger King maybe it’s Wendy’s maybe it’s just a PBJ or a sleeve of Oreos.  Let yourself every now and then.  You have my permission- not that you need it from anyone else.  Whenever we are ready we will put on our big kid pants and fight the good fight.