Motherhood and McDonald’s: Allies?

A few weeks back I received an email inviting me to McDonald’s for an Open Door Tour.

The invitation stated that I could have the opportunity to go behind-the-counter at McDonald’s and learn about their commitment to offer improved nutrition choices, their wholesome menu items, and how their quality food  is prepared. Then have the chance to hear about McDonalds’s involvement through Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio.

Honesty, the first thing that crossed my mind after reading the invitation was that nutrition and wholesome menu should not be in the same sentence as McDonald’s. The second thought that crossed my mind was that I would be interested in hearing more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio. I would really like to get involved with that charity and this might be the perfect opportunity to learn more and share with readers. So I mulled it over for a few minutes and with a somewhat skeptical, I dare you to prove me wrong type of attitude, I RSVP yes!

So the day of the Open Door Tour arrived and I dropped my kiddos off with my sister and headed to McDonalds’.  On the way there I couldn’t help but think of my relationship with McDonald’s and where it went wrong.

As a young child McDonald’s was a special treat we would have on occasion. And on really, really special occasions we, my sister, brother, and I would receive Happy Meals and yes, it made us very happy. McDonald’s was an experience, not just a fast food restaurant…it was the feeling you would get as a child walking through the doors, seeing Ronald, and having those golden arch handles on a Happy Meal box handed over to you, and then eagerly opening the box to reveal the price inside. It was beautiful. I was loving it! But somewhere along the way I lost that loving feeling.

I think it was all the gossip and hearsay, the trans-fats, pink slim, dirty dinning rooms, and Super Size Me (which I did think was a tad ridiculous, no one makes you purchase food, you have the free will to purchase a healthier alternative) that got in the way.  Perhaps it was all misconceived nonsense; perhaps I should give this relationship another go? But I am a mother now, and I need to put my children first.  Motherhood and McDonald’s might not mix. As a mom and wife I want healthy options for my family and I don’t want to have to go home and research what I want to order in order to find out the nutritional value. But I owed it to McDonald’s to try to give it another go.

Once I arrived at McDonald’s and seconds after I opened the door guess who was the first person I saw? Ronald! So first things first I had to get a pic with an old childhood memory. I have to admit McDonald’s was very clever having him there, well-played McDonald’s, and it almost worked, I was a little distracted from the nostalgia but I  managed to stayed focused.

After a few words from the owner the tour, excuse me, the behind-the-counter tour commenced. As I walked behind the counter my skepticism showed its ugly face and my eyes wandered floor to ceiling looking for any signs of dirt, dust, old food, etc. anything gross. But I found nothing; in fact, you could probably literally eat off of the floor. While searching for any signs of less than quality cleanliness I was interrupted by the words, menu board labeling. What?

McDonald’s is listing the calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus to help customers and employees make nutrition-minded food choices. Seriously!?!  You mean I know longer have to research a potential meal prior to visiting? No more research, I could get on board with that. And my hubby who has a great relationship with McDonald’s can hopefully make wiser choices when ordering (A loving wife’s dream come true…thank you McDonald’s!). He might love McDonald’s but I love his heart and maybe, just maybe, McDonald’s and I could find a common ground.  Speaking of grounds….

Hello gorgeous! Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid coffee lover and up until recently I had a great thing going with Starbucks. Well, we had a falling out and I have been looking around for something new, something reliable, something freshly ground on site, and looks like I have found it and at McDonald’s, really!?! I feel like McDonald’s has really grown and might just be ready for a grownup relationship, one that includes iced coffees and lattes. And while I am there in the morning I have got to try McDonald’s Oatmeal, others were raving about it. But it would be hard to pass up an Egg McMuffin that is on 300 calories. Speaking of the Egg McMuffin….

Have you ever wondered how they get the egg to perfectly form to a shape the fits the English muffin like a glove? No? Well I have and I often wondered about those eggs, do they actually have an egg that they crack or is it some weird pre-mix concoction?  I found out that they do use real eggs and yes, they crack them into a pre-form type of thing, see photo. How cool is that? I want one. Oh, and I almost forgot, McDonald’s has been listening to us moms and is going to be offering a egg-white breakfast sandwich on an English Muffin made with 8 grams of whole grain, how cool is that? Okay, it is official, brace yoursleves…I am lovin it!

As the tour finished up and I walked back through the kitchen my skepticism had lifted and I found myself seeing McDonald’s from a whole new perspective, from the perspective of a pleased customer, a customer whose voice had been heard. In addition to the nutritional improvements previously mentioned McDonald’s also plans on adding seasonal fruits and vegetables during peak seasons, adding more side options for the children’s meals in addition to grilled chicken options, and that Happy Meal that I so fondly remember from childhood now automatically includes apple slices and a mini French fries and the option of 1% low-fat white milk.

And what better way to commemorate the occasion than over lunch. Lunch was provided to us (thank you…thank you so much) and we were given the instructions to order whatever we would like…hmm…what to order?  Since I was still in a nostalgic state of mind I opted for…wait for it…the Happy Meal! Yep, mommy got a Happy Meal all to herself and did not have to cook, cut, wipe, prep, etc. just me, some great blogging moms who also attended the event, and my Happy Meal and iced coffee…livin the life! And yes, I’m lovin it!

So, it is official, McDonald’s and I have mended our relationship. As a wife and mom I am quite pleased with the changes McDonald’s has and will continue to incorporate into their menu and service in order to make my visit to McDonald’s an experience once again (oh, and this time I can bring my laptop…Free WI-FI). I guess Motherhood and McDonald’s can be allies and work together to provide convenience food that is also nutritious (because God knows mommy needs a break every once in a while from cooking…and mommy needs her caffeine).

Ronald, I couldn’t have said it better myself, yep, that is truly something.

So my day started off with skepticism and ended with me proudly flaunting McDonald’s swag!

Oh, and about the Ronald McDonald’s House Charities, I might just have a reason to dust these off…..The Red Shoe Society!

Do you remember how much fun a Happy Meal was when you were a kid? Do you take your children to McDonald’s? If not would you consider visiting McDonald’s now that they have made improvements to the menu?

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