I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Le Roy, Illinois.
Greetings from Le Roy, Illinois
N 40° 20.5266’ W 088° 45.6857’ Elev. 774 feet
It’s been an interesting week-plus since the SS Me So Hungry was finally paroled from purgatory.
We’ve been shut down by 60-plus mph winds in Nebraska and snow twice. The first was in Mishawaka, Indiana. Then again at the scenic Delaware Welcome Center Travel Plaza in Newark, Delaware. Eighteen hours and 11 inches of snow later, we learned that the Delaware Newark is pronounced “New Ark” to make damn sure it’s not confused with that quaint Joisey hamlet up the road.
The unusual thing that’s happened, though, is that we’ve eaten at McDonald’s what seems like every day since we left Salt Lake City. This is quite weird because I’m not particularly a fan of Micky Ds.
I’ve written about McDonald’s before, often derogatorily. But I’m not going to do it this time. After all, I liked the Sausage Burrito. I also like the occasional Sausage McMuffin when they’re only a buck.
It all started in Laramie, Wyoming when, having gone in for a $1 Side Salad and coffee — McD’s has pretty good coffee, especially when it’s “any size for $1” — I noticed a poster in the window announcing “Buy One Get One Free” breakfast sandwiches; according to the poster, the “Buy One Get One” special goes through February 6.
I kind of like the Egg McMuffin. How wrong can you go with an egg, a slice of Canadian bacon, and a slice of cheese between a toasted English muffin? Not very, I’d think (unless your name is Jason Lam, when you and your McMuffin fail the audition and they send you packin’). I never have them because, like most of McDonalds’ food, it’s overpriced. But when they’re two-for-one it’s a little more reasonable. So I ordered one (and got two!) the next morning and enjoyed them immensely.
The next day I stopped at Love’s in North Platte, Nebraska, which has a McDonald’s inside. I just wanted to get something in my stomach so I ordered a $1 McDouble. I often ask if they charge extra for Big Mac sauce when I get a McDouble. A few places don’t — the McDonald’s at Love’s in North Platte doesn’t — but many of them charge as much as 50¢. It’s as if the Big Mac sauce is gold-infused and blessed by Martha Stewart or something.
That night I slept at the McDonald’s in Williamsburg, Iowa. It’s a great place to park because not a lot of people know about it, it’s out of the wind and its located right next to the Tanger Outlets where I can pick up the Tanger WiFi from the yacht.
The next morning I went in to get a couple more Egg McMuffins and a $1 coffee. When I went in I asked the guy if they were doing the “Buy One Get One” deal there. He told me that they were only offering it on Egg McMuffins and the truly abominable Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddles. (McGriddles: Yccch! If you haven’t tried one yet: Don’t!) At the other places the offer was for any breakfast sandwich that wasn’t on the Dollar Menu. Whatever. They wanted nearly two bucks for coffee, so I passed on it and skedaddled across the street with my Egg McMuffins, getting coffee (84¢) and a sandwich from Casey’s General Store.
I’m telling you, those Egg McMuffins are pretty good. I’ll never get a handle on McDonalds’ coffee pricing though. I’ve purchased the $2 cups of coffee that cost a buck most everywhere else and I can tell you unequivocally: It’s the same coffee! It’s not that I’m cheap, it’s just the principle.
Next I ended up at McDonald’s in Vineland, New Jersey. I’d gone in for a couple of Side Salads and asked the guy — he turned out to be a manager — if they were offering the breakfast sandwich deal. He didn’t know what I was talking about but said he thought they’d passed out a coupon book recently that may’ve had them in it. He offered to go see if they had any left and, lo and behold, he found one. Nice guy, blue shirt with embroidered Golden Arches, smartly tied tie.
The coupon book included a couple of Buy One Get One Free coupons for Big Macs and Egg McMuffins as well as a host of things you could get free with the purchase of something else. I didn’t know McDonald’s did coupons. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing; on the front of the booklet is “follow us on twitter @McDPhilly”. (By the way, all McDonald’s restaurants will accept any competitor’s coupons, substituting a comparable product. McDonald’s desperately needs your money.)
It turned out there was something else I didn’t know about McDonald’s: The corporate behemoth has the ability to seemingly turn on a dime and create promotions at the drop of a hat, or, more accurately, a cold snap. That would be pretty impressive for a company 1/10th its size.
Along with the introduction of the term Polar Vortex to our lexicon has come a new McDonald’s promotion in Illinois (and possibly elsewhere). The deal is that you can get a second Egg McMuffin or Big Mac for the price of the temperature recorded at noon the day before.
So I went into the McDonald’s in Le Roy and a second Big Mac cost 19¢. Being a certifiable Jerk from Hell™ I took issue with this price. I thought 19¢ was a little steep. It didn’t factor in the wind chill. I know for fact that, had they done so, the second Big Mac would’ve been free.
Having been through Illinois too many times, I know that the wind is always blowing. Of course, if you ask any Illinoisan they will tell you the wind never blows, it’s just that Indiana sucks. While it’s true that Indiana does indeed suck big time, and every weathervane in Illinois is forever pointing a damning “finger’ in the direction of the Hoover, er, Hoosier State, I don’t think it’s possible, thermodynamically speaking. Then again, I’ve been to Indiana enough times that it’s hard to discount the possibility entirely.
The girl at the counter didn’t know if they factored in wind chill. She did helpfully point out that if I thought the price was too high I could come back tomorrow. “It was 9¢ yesterday,” she said. “It’s going to be even less tomorrow for sure.”
I bought the second Big Mac at the grossly inflated price of 19¢. Still, I felt like I was being ripped off. Hell, Big Macs are Two for $4 every day at McDonald’s in Kingman. And that’s in Arizona where it’s warmer!
I find it very baffling that the difference between a McDouble and a Big Mac are rather minor yet they taste completely different. I can get a McDouble with no ketchup or mustard and add Big Mac sauce but it just doesn’t taste like a Big Mac. Yet the only difference is that there is no lettuce and an extra piece of bread stuck in the middle on the McDouble. The only other difference, then, is the bun: the Big Mac is on a sesame seed bun while the McDouble isn’t. Can a quarter-teaspoon of sesame seeds make that much difference? I don’t know.
I do know this though: I’ve been eating way too much McDonald’s. So much, in fact, that I’ve begun calling myself Morgan. Not as in Captain Morgan but, rather, as in Morgan Spurlock. For those who haven’t seen it, Spurlock made the truly nausea-inducing documentary Super Size Me wherein he only ate McDonald’s food for 30 days. I won’t spoil it for you but the result of the diet was less than “pretty.”
And so we roll.
McDonald’s, 300 Sunset Dr., Le Roy, Illinois and over 1 trillion
served other locations
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.