I Don’t Trust People Who Claim They Don’t Like McDonald’sPhoto by Brett Jordan/Unsplash Food Features McDonald's
I try not to judge people based on superficial traits, viewpoints or ideas. You like Marvel movies? Fine. I’m sure you have plenty of other good qualities that make up for that small flaw. But there are a few that cross the line for me: Not being obsessed with cats. Not preferring train over other forms of transit. And, perhaps most importantly, not liking McDonald’s.
I don’t care if you choose not to eat McDonald’s. In fact, it’s probably better if most of us eat there less—the food is far from healthy, and more importantly, the chain has come under fire for alleged human rights abuses. McDonald’s is the food world’s face of capitalism, its imperialistic golden arches looming over landscapes across the globe. In many ways, McDonald’s stands for everything I’m against, so I don’t judge people who choose not to eat there, whether for health or ideological reasons.
Who I do judge, though, are the people who claim not to like the food the ubiquitous chain is known for. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it. The food at McDonald’s has been designed to taste as good as possible; there are scientists whose literal job it is to make sure you want to take another bite of your Big Mac. McDonald’s food is at the height of hyperpalatability: It’s so full of salt, fat and sugar that our bodies struggle to turn it down. To refuse a McChicken because you know it’s going to make you feel awful makes sense, but to turn it down because it doesn’t taste good? I frankly find it hard to believe.
It’s not that I want to encourage people to eat mass-produced fast food on the regular, but when I hear someone say they think food from McDonald’s is gross, it raises classist alarm bells for me. McDonald’s is affordable, convenient and accessible for many people who don’t have a lot of other options. For some, this level of accessibility is something to look down upon, to mock, to ridicule. To admit that you too enjoy McDonald’s is to associate yourself with something that poor people enjoy. Oh no! It’s a sentiment that earns an immediate eye roll from me. The lack of class solidarity, of empathy, is laughable. And it also just doesn’t reflect reality: McDonald’s claims that 90% of people in the U.S. eat at the chain at least once a year—it’s not like all of those people are below the poverty line.
If someone’s disgust at McDonald’s doesn’t fit into the classist category, it probably fits into the fatphobic one. By this point, I don’t think anybody is under the delusion that the chain is serving up anything particularly healthy. But people can enjoy a calorically dense meal from time to time if they want to. In fact, they can do it for every meal if they’re so inclined, whether they’re stick thin or very fat. And if you have something to say about how their body—anybody’s body—looks, from the result of eating McDonald’s or literally anything else, you’re an asshole, and that’s a problem for you to figure out.
Maybe there are valid reasons for disliking the way the food at McDonald’s tastes. Perhaps some people don’t like juicy burgers, salty fries and sugar-spiked McFlurries. If you’re someone who falls into that category, I guess you just have bad taste, and bad taste is not a moral failing. But otherwise, if you’re the kind of person who talks about McDonald’s food as if it’s deeply unappetizing, maybe you should think more critically about why you feel that way. Perhaps your distaste is more sinister than whatever’s floating at the bottom of your local McD’s fryer.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.