You can’t go back again

Big Mac Meal, McDonald's - Austin, Texas

Big Mac Meal, McDonald’s – Austin, Texas

In a moment of weakness and nostalgia, I went to McDonald’s earlier this month and had a Big Mac meal. I’ve gone there, on occasion, to get a cheese burger as a snack, but it’s been years since I had their larger burgers. McDonald’s no longer holds any significance for me, but it was a noteworthy place, as I grew up.

I remember that time clearly, some 40 years ago. When I was ten or so, I used to get two cheese burgers for dinner. One day, unexpectedly, my father bought me a Big Mac. As a child, I equated that burger with grownup food, something not suitable for a kid. The Big Macs were special back then, in their own special bright red cardboard box, fitted with a white band to keep everything in place.

My father explained that a Big Mac really wan’t any bigger than two smaller burgers, convincing a skeptical child, which then overcame a minor gastronomic hurdle. Since then, during my teen years, the Big Mac ruled supreme until I shifted over to Quarter Pounders. Seems like a silly story, but one that marks a small transition from a child to an adult, on my road to maturity.

During college, I remember 99 cent Big Mac specials and 2 for one coupons where, I would eat both in a single sitting. Seems like ages ago, and it was.

Jumping back to 2017, that Big Mac meal, as expected, was not satisfying. The romance of nostalgia was more powerful than reality. McDonald’s, the restaurant chain, is no longer as popular as it was back years ago. It now cost $6.59 + tax for a meal, with even the burger itself at a whopping $4.29. The scourge of inflation is real.

No, now a days, I eat burgers so infrequently that I rather spend double that amount and have a gourmet one at Hopdoddy’s. The price performance equation no longer favors the cheap fast food places. For the same price as McD’s, I rather eat at Chipotle, where I can get a tastier, and healthier bowl with lot’s of vegetables and grilled chicken.

Nostalgia is a powerful force, but you really can’t go back again, to the way it was. You change and the world changes. At least there’s the memories and the stories.

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13 thoughts on “You can’t go back again

  1. We occasionally pick up some chicken burgers at our very local McDees. They aren’t very tasty. They probably never were. Now, they are the convenience food for when no one is even willing to put a frozen pizza in the oven. Otherwise, almost anything is better food. I’m told they are going to start using fresh meat in the burgers. What have the BEEN using?

      1. I didn’t get to eat out very often growing up and nothing in particular stands out in my memory. I do recall getting to go to Dairy Queen once in a while.

  2. I had almost the same experience when I was a kid. We didn’t have any fast food restaurants in the small Ohio town I grew up in, so eating at McDonald’s was a treat. I still remember getting a Big Mac for the first time.

    In college, the campus newspaper ran coupons for Burger King, 2 whoppers, fries and drink for just a few dollars. Still don’t know how, or why, I could eat that much junk in one sitting.

    1. Jim, I remember those 2 or 1 whopper deals too. I could eat two Big Macs, but two Whoppers where a little too much, even for my 20-year-old self. Thanks for your visit.

  3. I had a similar experience. It had nothing to do with burgers but with a place and a sensation of peace and happiness. When I came back to that place, several years later, the sensation did not repeat. As you said, you can’t go back again. So, live and enjoy the moment since it will never be back.

  4. I remember an internship I did once in a small town in Czech republic in 1993, only a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Food was very cheap there and generally good. You could eat a stew with some knoedel and a beer for maybe a dollar or 2 at a local restaurant. But no burger, no fries. Later we found out that there was a brand new mac Donald’s restaurant on the other side of town. At that time, it did not seem too crazy to spend 2 hours on a bus for the round trip, plus 4-5 dollars (2-3 times a meal at the restaurant!) for big mac and fries!. And I was not even born in the US!

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