Fast Food: it’s like kid catnip.

Burger

Flea’s got a bee in her bonnet.

Now, I’m all for freedom of choice and what’s right for my family isn’t necessarily right for your family, yadda, yadda, but…

We don’t eat at McDonalds.

I worked there as a sixth-form student and can tell you two things. First, I never earned the fifth star on my 'Welcome to McDonalds' badge (the one for a ‘positive, sunny attitude’) and second, I left at 18 knowing that I would never again eat anything made in a fast food restaurant.

Since I’m the law in our house, this means Flea doesn’t eat at McDonalds. And it’s not just me being mean. Flea doesn’t like fizzy drinks. Flea doesn’t like burgers. Flea doesn’t like ketchup. Flea doesn’t like chicken nuggets. Flea’s menu options at a McDonalds restaurant would be, frankly, rather limited.

But there’s a McDonalds restaurant near our local cinema and now that Flea’s favourite pastime is reading everything she sees, she recognises the name McDonalds, and has realised this is a place where some of her friends eat. And so  the campaign began.

Driving past on the way to the cinema one day:  “Mummy, do you know that my friend Thomas went to McDonalds? I think you can go when you are five. Hey, wait a minute … I AM five!"

On the way home: “McDonalds sells chicken yuggets. My friend Zara  says they are so delicious.

A few days later: “Mummy, Aunty L says you are mean for not taking me to McDonalds."

In tones of wonder: Do you know they give you a toy with your meal.”

A week or so later: “I know when I will go to McDonalds. When every other shop in the world is closed and we have no food, that is when we will go.” (I may have told Flea this thinking it would shut her up. It appears to have given her hope)

Opting for negotiating techniques: “I know I do not like chicken yuggets Mummy, but if we went to McDonalds and you told me to eat them, I think I would. I’d certainly taste them.”

Using information as a weapon: “At McDonalds they put salt on chips. Salt is very healthy for children, I think.”

Getting a bit desperate: “Mummy, when I am older and I like food that is disgusting, please may we go to McDonalds?”

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

27 Comments

  1. Sarah Cruickshank
    8th September 2010 / 4:40 pm

    Squeal, I LOVE it.
    Actually completely agree. We told Jonno that McDonald’s and all other fast food outlets were only to be visited on summer holidays, away from our home town, which we’ve stuck to (and he’s 11 now). It did mean that it was PERFECTLY OKAY when we went to a KFC in New York last week 🙂

  2. mathew
    8th September 2010 / 4:20 pm

    full on with you on this one. there’s little nutritional value in this food. too much salt, too much saturated fat. i want to try and give B the best start i can at least since she’ll make her own choices one day. that said, when i was little, stuff like the main pizza chains were good for a birthday treat. i think that’s fair enough. regular visits is just gonna result in kids w/ zero energy and attention span.

  3. 8th September 2010 / 4:21 pm

    It’s going to be a battle of wills from now on….
    I do let mine have the occasional MacDonalds – Flea’s right, you get a toy and everything lol

  4. 8th September 2010 / 4:31 pm

    Hmm, I am an everything in moderation girly, so the boys are allows McD’s occasionally, but they have carrot sticks and also have a fruit bag to share, they get milk and they its nuggets or a burger – so yes I am strict too, but it doesnt hurt. Oh I forgot, they get things like this off Grandma when mummy isnt looking!!

  5. 8th September 2010 / 4:31 pm

    Having just been to MacDonalds for lunch with the kids I am now a little bit worried….

  6. MrsW
    8th September 2010 / 8:13 pm

    We visited a couple of the new McDonald’s Bistros in the US – my they’re bit swanky for a fast food joint. Lovely looking menu, all fresh and lots of colour… but we were in a hurry and the did sell Aberdeen Angus 1/3 pounders and caramel frappes…. I was on holiday! Bite me (and my monster burger).

  7. 8th September 2010 / 7:58 pm

    I adore Flea. Seriously. She’s too amazing. 😉
    I think you should take her there, knowing she hates nuggets, just so that she won’t want to go back. It’ll save you a lot of trouble, and herself a lot of breath 🙂

  8. 8th September 2010 / 8:05 pm

    Agreed, nutritionally it’s questionable, but more than anything Flea wouldn’t even like it – she eats nothing they sell, and it drives me bonkers how even then, the power of marketing means she thinks that she wants to go there. Sheesh.

  9. 8th September 2010 / 8:05 pm

    We have a gazillion toys. (I’m so mean!)

  10. 8th September 2010 / 8:06 pm

    I know, I’m all about the sunny disposition, right?

  11. 8th September 2010 / 8:07 pm

    But my view (and this is purely my view) is that McDonalds isn’t a treat because it tastes rubbish and it is rubbish. A real treat, for me, is going to a fab Italian and having a great pizza, or an amazing Thai curry. From my perspective, I say to Flea, “You can go there but Mummy thinks the food is disgusting and you won’t like it. Up to you.”
    And so far, she’s never taken me up on it.

  12. 8th September 2010 / 8:08 pm

    Well, of course.
    But I bet you never read Fast Food Nation, didja?

  13. 8th September 2010 / 8:09 pm

    Thanks, I’m pretty keen on her, too. She’s a keeper.
    Thing is when she eats things she doesn’t like, she vomits. I’m not good with vomit. And I really resent spending money there. I’m such a tight-fisted old grump, I know.

  14. 8th September 2010 / 8:16 pm

    I hate the place too. My kids however love it. They do get to go occasionally, preferably not with me. Strangely, OH used to work for them too and it doesn’t bother him. I do however know my kids would choose pasta over most things, or pizza.

  15. Laura C
    8th September 2010 / 9:56 pm

    I used to work in McDs too and after seeing the horrors in there, well no thank you. I like the McFlurrys though and occasionally get some from there in passing. As a rule though I’d rather go to a family restaurant than a fast food chain!

  16. 9th September 2010 / 9:04 am

    Ah McDonalds, how that thorny subject used to set the cat amongst the pigeons on mumsnet (I’m sure it still does but I don’t spend much time there now). The only comment I’d make is that it gets much tougher to ‘enforce’ stuff like this as they get older and there is an argument that says when you ‘ban’ certain foods, you make them extra special and even more attractive. I used to go to school with a girl whose mum never ever let her eat sweets. My she was a fiend with pear drops!

  17. 9th September 2010 / 9:05 am

    BG has a had a chicken nugget once from mac donalds we thought she was asleep and she woke and stole one from OH but she doesn’t really like Chicken Nuggets either. We don’t tend to go into fast food restaurants with her, she’s never eaten a burger I feel she has plenty of time in her life to eat crap food so I try my best not to give it to her. I’d rather treat her to a cake from the bakery (or Homemade is even better) or an ice cream.

  18. 9th September 2010 / 9:17 am

    I see where you’re coming from but I don’t present it to Flea as a ban – it’s just not food I like. We don’t eat at seafood restaurants either.
    I think the problem stems from other parents and adults who consistently talk about McDonalds as a ‘treat’ – so Flea feels she’s missing out. But actually if you put a burger in front of her, or chicken nuggets (and it’s happened at parties) she cries because she doesn’t like it. So what’s the point of going?

  19. 9th September 2010 / 9:19 am

    I sort of agree. Except I hate this view that McDonalds is a treat because, for me, it’s really not. It’s cheap, mass-produced, low quality food – how is that a treat?
    And yes, at the heart of all of this is the fact that Flea doesn’t like what McDonalds serves – in fact I’ve offered once or twice to take her and she backs down because she knows she wouldn’t like it. She just loves the idea of it, because everyone tells her it’s so amazing.

  20. 9th September 2010 / 9:20 am

    Flea doesn’t even eat pizza. She’s THAT weird.

  21. S.
    9th September 2010 / 10:52 am

    I love the melodrama of only ever eating there when it’s the only shop left in the world. Una does this every time we say she can’t have something. “I’m NEVER going to have ice cream EVER again in the WHOLE world!” Even if we’ve just told her she can’t have one now but she can tomorrow!
    I think she may have had chips from McDs with the other half, but I would never take her. It smells gross. If we HAD to have chips and there were no other options I’d probably prefer even Burger King over McDs. But I’ve eaten something from there maybe twice or three times in the last 20 years and every time I just felt awful afterwards. It’s nasty.
    Anyway, as veggie-esques there’s not a lot for us in there, although much to my horror Una ate some chicken nuggets at someone’s party and thought they were ok. Yikes!
    One thing, MUCH as I HATE to sound as if I’m defending them, I think nutritionally they’ve made a LOT of changes to their food, and whilst I don’t doubt it’s not *good* food, I think the kids meals at least are *reasonably* healthy. I really doubt they are at all high in salt and have probably only average fat content*. So if parents do take their kids for a Sunny Disposition Meal they’re probably not actually sending them to an early grave any more. That’s only when they continue to eat them as an adult!
    * I blame you personally for my interest in the nutritional value of fast food Missus. You and your specialism advice turning me into a mad catering geek. :oP

  22. 9th September 2010 / 3:46 pm

    Oh poor kid!!! Mine are in the same boat!!! I told my kids Take-Outs and particularly McDonalds food was toxic… really I said: “That food could kill you, I have no idea what’s in it… but it isn’t good.” This does cause a dilemma when I want a take-out… But I have learnt to live without it… For the children’s sake and all that!!! Seriously good on you… when my daughter was desperate for chicken yuggets I showed her how to make her own crumbed chicken strips… and she was satisfied!!!

  23. 9th September 2010 / 8:40 pm

    We do eat there on occasion, but having too worked at Crappy Maccy I alway ensure that the girls get fresh burgers /nuggets and do you know if you want to really wind the staff up you can ask for fries without salt!! HAHA.. and I got all 5 of my stars!!
    BNM

  24. 10th September 2010 / 8:21 pm

    I think you are ace. I would never take my kids to McDonalds either (wouldn’t go to Disneyland or any theme park as well). Sounds super mean but we did loads of stuff they did like. We didn’t trail round museums being earnest, we just didn’t go to McDonalds or Disney. I reckoned someone else would take them sometime or they could go when they were teenagers and in the meantime I wasn’t going to do something I objected to. Result: adult kids who would no more go to McDonalds than I would, after a serious teenage flirtation from son which I ignored. Seems to fit Flea’s last idea of “going when you’re older and you like disgusting food”. Let them go when they are teenagers, and preferably earning their own money.

  25. 14th September 2010 / 9:21 pm

    My children hate all that stuff, too, but our Belgian McD serves fresh carrots, fresh OJ and fresh pineapple pieces, so I go there and let them play on the slides while I chat with my sister for hours and have junkfood.

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