The Grand Mac has been around for 3 years, one tenth of my life yet in that small amount of time it’s provided me with as much joy as just about any other food item has. I talk about this thing a lot. This is the second time I’ve written about it on this very outlet and yet I still don’t think I talk about it enough. To put it simply, the Grand Mac or “Grand Big Mac” as it’s going by now, is the best thing that’s happened to me at a McDonald’s since I was a child.

McDonald’s will always have a special place in my heart. When I was in elementary school there was an award that was effectively the “student of the week” award. It was called “Top Cooley Bulldog”. The best thing about being Top Cooley Bulldog was that your reward was that the school would buy you a Happy Meal and you’d get to eat it at lunch. I wanted that Happy Meal. I wanted that Happy Meal more than I wanted anything else in life. Each day my behavior at school was altered by the realization that if I was just a little bit more well behaved I COULD get a Happy Meal.

I won Top Cooley Bulldog, ONCE. It’s been my crowning academic achievement. I don’t think anything has come close to the sense of triumph I had when my name got called out in the morning announcements. That day one of the school secretaries came and pulled me out of class 10 minutes before lunch, walked me to the cafetorium[1] and at the end of one of the long tables was a Happy Meal. I remember this particular Happy Meal because it was the first time I ever had a cheeseburger, and it was good. I don’t think any burger has created so much joy in me as that one did.

I have so many stories like this.

McDonald’s isn’t just a restaurant. McDonald’s is a symbol for so many of the best moments of my life. As a child we would drive past a McDonald’s every week while on our way to church and on the rare occasion when we would stop and eat there after the third church service of the day, I would milk that visit for so long running up and down the play place so much my knees hurt. As I grew a little older and a Happy Meal would no longer fill me I remember “graduating” to the same hamburger my dad ate[2] and that bittersweet look he gave me when I asked for it instead of a Happy Meal. Entering High School the only restaurant nearby was McDonald’s but I didn’t care. It was an open campus and for the first time in my life I felt “liberty” as we’d pile into cars and head there for lunch.

Centered around all of these moments though is the food. There’s nothing normal about McDonald’s. I mean that in a good way. You shouldn’t eat McDonald’s every day, no one should really. It’s a reward, it’s a special thing. It’s not an extravagance by any means but it should be treated as such. A McGriddle is a miraculous thing. It’s a full breakfast you can hold in your hand. The fries, even without suet[3], are a miraculous thing. They inspired a poem from Aragorn[4] himself for crying out loud. The Grand Big Mac is a wonderful thing.

The Grand Mac is too big, it has too much bread, too much sauce, too much lettuce, it has too many sesame seeds! And It’s fantastic. When I opened the box and bit into it I was transported back to that time as a child biting into a McDonald’s cheeseburger again. It’s a rare thing, that won’t last, that shouldn’t be eaten every day, that is a perfect almost extravagant reward that fills one with immense joy.

Will it change your life? Probably not, but it represents everything about McDonald’s that touched mine and I love it.

Special burgers come in boxes

  1. This is a cafeteria and auditorium hybrid. All of my schools had this growing up until I got to Highschool. I'm not sure if they're still common. My Middle school cafetorioum was also the gym where basketball games were played. It had those vinyl tile floors and to this day I don't know how basketball was played there effectively. ↩︎

  2. A Big Mac ↩︎

  3. Go listen to Revitionist History's episode "How McDonald's Broke My Heart" if you have no idea what I'm talking about ↩︎

  4. I'm talking about Viggo Mortensen, who played the Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson movies. Not the fictional King of Gondor himself. ↩︎