5 Urban McMyths Involving McDonald’s
There are a lot of branches of McDonald’s around the world: That clown gets around, yo. Due to this ubiquity — the chain operates in over 100 countries, has more than 40,000 outlets and employs 1.7 million people — it’s entered culture in a lot of ways. The “Mc” prefix has come to refer to things that are cheap, shitty and of no real substance, like “McJob” and “McMansion.” It’s become emblematic of capitalism, overconsumption and globalization.
There are, of course, plenty of reasons to legimiately dislike McDonald’s. God knows how many independent businesses have closed their doors due to being undercut or overshadowed by them. A lot of those 1.7 million people have minimal job security and little fun. While laying the blame for the global obesity epidemic at Ronald McDonald’s feet is way oversimplifying things, McDonald’s certainly hasn’t helped in that regard — according to a paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, over a 14-year period (in which a lot of pro-health changes appeared to take place at McDonald’s) very little improved. And they produce around two million tons of non-recyclable packaging waste annually, which is fairly disgusting.
However, an endless supply of bullshit stories also follows McDonald’s everywhere — it’s just that big and well-known. The truth about McDonald’s is that it’s an enormous business that sells a huge amount of not-great food and makes a lot of money, but people seem determined to spread more sinister myths about it anyway. Such as…
The Pickles Are Doing Some Legal Heavy Lifting
Given the sometimes polarizing nature of the pickle in a McDonald’s burger (which is ridiculous, as it’s clearly the best part), there have been various rumors about its inclusion for years. Some say that without it, due to the high sugar content of the bun and the dubious nutritional value of the patty, the burger would have to be classed as candy. Others say that without it, the burger is of such little nutritional value that it can’t be sold as food at all. However, given a moment’s thought, it doesn’t really make sense — laws don’t work like that, for a start, and if a slice or two of dill pickle was enough to offset the rest of it, we should all be eating a jar of them a day.
‘100 Percent Beef’ Means They Use the Whole Cow — Eyeballs and All
There have been at least two different rumors over the years concerning the 100-percent beef claim on McDonald’s burger wrappers. One claims that it means various byproducts from the entire cow are used, to the extent that the chain is the largest purchaser of cow eyeballs in the world (the idea being, variously, that eyeball gloop helps bind the burgers together or that eyeballs are cheap and nasty). Another is that they set up a sister company called 100% Beef, meaning whatever gross shit they supply themselves with gets to carry that label and circumvent the Department of Agriculture. Neither are true — even if they wanted to do that (and there’s no real reason you’d want to use cow eyeballs in a burger), the USDA is a little tricker to get around than that — after all, the DA part doesn’t stand for Dumb Asses.
Their Meat Comes from Hideous Creatures
Both the chicken and the beef that McDonald’s sells have been said to have come from fairly disgusting sources. There have been tales of surreal, monstrous, genetically-modified animals that have been so fucked-with by science that they bear minimal resemblance to cows in anything but taste, living brief hellish existences before being slaughtered. An email in wide circulation in the early aughts described one such creature with “no limbs or horns, no bones (undeveloped cartilage instead), no eyes, no tail and no fur; its head is about the size of a baseball; they are fed through tubes connected directly into their stomach.”
There have also been rumors of worm meat, horse meat, kangaroo meat and even human flesh being used in the burgers (all of which would, pound for pound, cost a lot more than beef). Again, the most boring answer is the truth: McDonald’s farms so, so many cows that it can do so very financially efficiently.
On the McNugget front, they have been said to start out as a mousse-like substance made from reformed meat known as “pink slime.” While pink slime is real, it’s a beef byproduct that was once used in burgers, but no longer, and never McNuggets. (The four shapes McNuggets come in, btw, are known as the boot, the bell, the ball and the bow-tie, and are rolled out and shaped with a machine a bit like a cookie cutter.)
The eggs, similarly, have been said to come in various less-than-appetizing forms, from entirely eggless powder to a bizarre log that is sliced off for each McMuffin like a giant cucumber. Again, boringly, it’s just eggs — shitloads of eggs, some of them pre-mixed into easily-pourable form in the factory. That said, the chickens still probably aren’t ecstatically happy.
Everything That Shouldn’t Have Meat in It Has Meat in It
Conversely, for every rumor about Ronald’s meaty chunks being bizarre and fake, there’s one about the non-meat ones being absolutely awash with flesh. The milkshakes and ice creams have both been rumored to have been made with pork fat, and McFlurries were once said to contain chicken feathers as a sort of en-fluffening agent. Again, none of this is true — the one menu item that sounded vegetarian but wasn’t was the fries, which were for a long time cooked in oil that contained beef tallow, although that’s no longer the case. A woman thought she found a baby mouse in a McChicken sandwich once, but it was just a clump of chicken blood vessels. Gross, yes, but exactly the right species.
The Food Is So Fake and Preservative-Filled That It Doesn’t Decompose
This has also come up in various forms — the idea that both the burgers and fries are so jam-packed with chemical preservatives and inorganic compounds that, unlike actual food, they won’t ever rot. A few years ago, a guy produced a burger he’d had for 14 years as proof it was so shitty food-wise that it was pretty much plastic. However, rather than this being due to it being such terrible food, this is much more likely due to it drying out — the mold and bacteria that are necessary for decomposition need moisture. This doesn’t mean it’s good food — it’s not — but its remaining largely visually intact after the passage of time isn’t what makes it bad. It’s the whole “enormous business that doesn’t give a shit about you or the planet” element that makes it bad!
Also, damn, too much salt.