We owe celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, a SUPER-SIZED thank you. In the March 5, 2012 edition of Canadian Business (“Winners & Losers”), it was reported that he (and his band of revolutionary food gurus) sounded the alarm (either before, during or after) a McDonald’s USA invite to McDiners to tweet any and all nostalgic or memorable family moments spent under the reputable rooves (or should I say ruse?) of the Golden Arches. Oops! Big mistake! A tale of tainted taste buds!
McDonald’s garnered more negative feedback than a night at Air Canada Centre watching the Maple Leafs “Please-stop-booing-we’re-doing-the-best-we-can!” brand of hockey. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln (who thankfully never wore a Leafs uniform), ‘you really can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time’…unless, of course, you work in the McAd department. McDonald’s foray into the untested world of Social Media proved to be one small McStep for Mickey D’s and one giant bleep from its supposed fan base. America’s corporate, baby behemoth took one square on the McChin.
Ammonium hydroxide anyone? That’s what Oliver claims McDonald’s had been using in its hamburger preparation to turn parts of the cow (usually reserved for making dog food) into an offering of mouth-watering McHamburgers. AMMONIUM HYDROXIDE! Mr. Clean knows about it: a CHEMICAL used in the formation of household cleaning products! The boys in the War Department know about it: an important CHEMICAL used in manufacturing explosives. AND THE BOYS IN THE McLABS KNOW ABOUT IT: 1.Take meat (reserved for dogs). 2. Mix with AMMONIUM HYDROXIDE (Warning: Use eye protection!). 3. Grind meat scraps mixture into a pink, meat-like paste. 4. Form into patties. 5. Add seasonings and flavourings until it smells like ground beef (which it really isn’t but that’s our company secret isn’t it?). 6. Flash freeze and off to market… Enough to make anyone McBarf!
Allow me add my two cents. Years ago, a well-known Greek restaurant owner/friend told me a tale about a group of high-up McDonald ‘suits’ who often frequented his establishment for staff meetings and/or power lunches (they preferred real food). On one occasion, he overheard an excited babble about a new product that was to be introduced into the McDonald’s ever-expanding product line. Move over, pseudo-beef burgers. Chicken McNuggets have arrived!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried one (or six) of these golden gems of lightly battered and seasoned, all-white chicken pieces, served hot and juicy with your choice of dip (don’t even bother trying to pronounce most of the ingredients). Tell Ronald McDonald to wave the McStar Spangled Banner and lead his loyal McFlock to try these magnificent, magical, mouth-watering morsels that even the poorest of poor can afford. It will be Love at First Bite!
Now for the bad/sad news…According to my insider restauranteur/friend, these so called all-white chicken, lightly-battered chunks were not meat at all. THEY WERE GROUND UP, PROCESSED CHICKEN BONES! Hey, if one has the brains, the chemicals, the machinery and the balls to do it, then anything is impossible. It even proves that some THING can come from no THING! A bit of a McBig Bang Theory wouldn’t you say?
Of course, that was then, this is now…McDonald’s has apparently stopped the use ammonium hydroxide (I would too if I had a gun to my head) and, in all likelihood, has altered its McNuggets recipe (Weight Watchers endorsed them as healthy in 2010…Google it, ye of little faith!). There’s no telling what collateral damage has been done to the faithful flock of McDonald supporters who, for decades, have put a Big Mac ahead of mom’s home-made meatloaf. Time will tell (just like Jamie Oliver did). We’ll leave any alarming or shocking health impact reporting to the statisticians at Heart & Stroke or the American Cancer Society. It just goes to prove, however, that if you kick a stubborn mule enough times in the ass, it may grudgingly budge.
So McHats off to McDonald’s for making things right (at least that’s what we’ve been told), but, more important, three cheers for Jamie Oliver and the growing army of Food Revolutionaries. I pray no one puts a McGun to your head…