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A de-Supersized Morgan Spurlock is–just Morgan Spurlock

Posted by Steven on August 24, 2011

Last month McDonald’s went angling for positive publicity when it announced that apple slices will be a mandatory component of their Happy Meals starting in 2012, the first step in a calorie and saturated fat reducing program designed to make their foods healthier by the year 2020. This makes 2020 the equivalent of December 21, 2012 in the minds of fast food consumers, the year in which the Big Mac they knew and loved–while driving home from work every day with one hand on steering wheel in the midst of a hellish gridlock on the expressway–will be destroyed forever.

One could argue that McDonald’s self awareness began back in 2004 when Morgan Spurlock decided to take a page out of Michael Moore’s playbook and bring a camera along as he played a self aggrandizing and manipulative joke on a major corporation, slowly transforming himself into a living confirmation bias in an attempt to win cheap praise for bringing the tired topic of America’s growing obesity epidemic forcibly back into the light. The scheme worked, as people were shocked by the idea that eating McDonald’s every major meal of the day for a month could lead to rapidly deteriorating health and the brink of death .

McDonald’s responded by removing the now infamous Supersize option from their menu, appeasing the masses, but according to the ultimate resource for the intellectually lazy, McDonald’s competitors have managed to escape scrutiny and still serve up giant burgers, fries, and drinks by getting rid of marketing words that draw attention to size, instead selling them under the more neutral sounding small, medium, and large labels, thereby leading customers to think they got a bargain when the item happens to go beyond their perception of what a given size should be.

I was reassured after reading this, since I was under the impression that all fast food chains had caved in to external pressure and were therefore busy working on the next infuriating salad conglomeration and turning their once plump, jovial mascots into weekend warriors who are now depicted in active poses and as having fully embraced a healthy lifestyle, with Ronald McDonald himself at the head of the parade–looking as though he wishes he’d gotten a padded seat before taking up endurance cycling. An eternal penance forced upon these characters by their very creators as they try to shed the image brought on by the food that made them significant in the first place.

For every movie like Super Size Me that tries to push the obesity pendulum into the “this is a major problem with potentially catastrophic implications on future generations if we don’t put down the Triple Whopper and act!” zone, there’s always a study that contradicts whatever dire statistics were generated by the aforementioned study, pushing things back into the apathy zone for those people who don’t happen to be overweight.

With the success of Man vs. Food, the pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction to the point where people now appreciate those who are willing to attempt consuming the 72 oz Big Texan Steak Dinner for public amusement, because hey, the eater presumably knows the risks going in, and as long as the outcome doesn’t impact their own health, everyone in attendance wants to see that steak go down. They want to collect on the bet they made with the bartender.

In the Happy Meals article referenced above, McDonald’s senior director of nutrition claims the decision to include both apple slices and fries was prompted by consumer demand. Yet the very same article mentions that only 11 percent of customers were ordering the apples when given a choice between the two, so going the conservative, politically correct route in spite of the facts seems to have won out here.

This won’t save a select group of parents from succumbing to the the occasional bout of drive thru rage after their kid, expecting only fries in their Happy Meal, starts throwing a fit upon seeing apple slices in the box.

“I specifically asked for only a burger, fries, and a drink in my child’s Happy Meal and you throw in apples?! Corporate may have told you to put a little gift from Johnny Appleseed in here, but why don’t you go back to not thinking so much about your job and assume I’m coming to McDonald’s because I want, and expect, an unhealthy meal! Now give me a second order of fries and get rid of these fucking apple slices!”

“Sarah, what did you get as a toy with your Happy Meal? Why it’s a snow globe that features Morgan Spurlock writing an apology letter to McDonald’s that is signed… ‘Without you I’d still be a nobody with a camera.’ How nice!”

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2 Responses to “A de-Supersized Morgan Spurlock is–just Morgan Spurlock”

  1. shoutabyss said

    I hate to be the voice of correction, but we gotta stick to the facts. McDonald’s doesn’t offer anything like “apple slices” on their menu.

    What they actually offer is an item lovingly named “Apple Dippers.” And they come with “Low Fat Caramel Dip.”

    You know. We can have fruit the way God made it without sugary dip, right? What kind of loser would go to a fast food restaurant to eat plain old ordinary fruit?

    McDonald’s says the serving of apple has 35 calories. The dip has 70 calories. Yes, that’s a 2-to-1 ratio of the dip to the actual product. They must be slacking. Usually they do better than that!

    • Steven said

      Good catch. The term “apple dippers” jogged my memory enough that I remember seeing them advertised on TV when they first debuted, but I was just called them apple slices because that’s how the article refers to them, and in light of your new information it doesn’t appear to be as well rounded as it could’ve been given it doesn’t mention anything about the caramel dip.

      When I first read this article I was surprised that McDonald’s was still serving Happy Meals because I’ve never seen them advertised when I’m flipping through the channels. When I was younger, about 15-16 years ago, Happy Meal commercials aired regularly during blocks of kids programming as these big showpieces designed to emphasize the toy and whatever TV show or movie tied in with it, and at least in my case, whether my mom took me to Burger King or McDonald’s during a week when my dad was of town depended on the toy each chain was offering. Naturally I was royally pissed if the place we went to was handing out outdated toys from a previous campaign, even going so far as to have my mom speed away from a McDonald’s drive through window for Burger King while we were waiting for food I ordered because I wanted their featured toy of the month. This isn’t to say that I felt a compulsion to collect all the toys in a particular happy meal line, but there was a small part of me that was envious of the kids whose parents neglected their diet often enough to allow them to successfully “collect them all”, as those commercials implored us to do.

      I just looked at the most recent Happy Meal commercial on McDonald’s website and the featured Power Ranger toys look generic and aren’t given much screen time.

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