Saturday, November 27, 2010

The McNugget Dilemma

I have to admit it… I’m a fan of McDonalds.  I know the food is bad for me and I assume that each and every meal I choose to eat at McDonalds probably shortens my life by a measurable amount, and I understand that it is far from fine dining.  I understand the average McDonalds menu item has more sodium and calories in it than many children from Haiti eat in a month, and I wholeheartedly admit that even though they are offered I never order a salad or anything which could in any way be misconstrued for being remotely healthy.

Although I will never even attempt to compare the taste or quality of McDonalds with more expensive eateries, when it comes to fast food McDonalds does it about as good as anyone, and thus when it comes time to decide which drive thru is going to get my business on a particular day, McDonalds probably earns that dubious distinction more than any other.  Maybe it is the fries that are quite simply the best french fry of any fast food chain.  Maybe it is the “limited time only” offerings of the McRib or Monopoly game pieces.  Or maybe it is due to childhood nostalgia that surrounds the idea of a Happy Meal.

One thing I can promise is that my appreciation for McDonalds has nothing to do with Ronald McDonald himself.  It might be due to the fact that he is nothing more than a talking clown (and everyone knows clowns are just scary), or it might have something to do with the overall creepy “pedophile-like” demeanor, but I can honestly say I have never been a fan of Ronald McDonald.

That said, ever since I was a kid I’ve always liked the McNuggets.  I’ve bounced back and forth from sweet & sour sauce to barbeque sauce, and I’ve lived long enough to remember when they sold the nuggets in six piece, nine piece, or 20 piece boxes before they moved to the ten piece standard that is common today.  For a while I thought the chicken selects would soon replace nuggets as my preferred choice for tiny bits of chicken deliciousness, but eventually I migrated back to the nuggets and find myself ordering them more than anything else on the menu.

So of course ordering nuggets as often as I do has led me to a conundrum which I have affectionately labeled “the McNugget dilemma”.  The basic premise is, from time to time I have discovered an order of ten nuggets doesn’t always contain 10 nuggets.  On rare occasion I have been shorted a nugget, but it seems most of the time if there is a counting error it is in my favor, which translates to 11 nuggets (or one time it was 12 nuggets).

Now I fully realize in some cases the McDonalds employee who is putting the nuggets into the little box might have one or two extra nuggets in a batch so they just toss them in my box as a free bonus, but I have to wonder how often this odd number of nuggets is actually due to human error.

Thus, when receiving 11 nuggets should I be happy I have received a free (and tasty) bonus McNugget, or should I be sad that the McDonalds worker who prepared my meal lacks the ability to accurately count to 10?  These are the types of questions I struggle with, and I dare say I’m not the only one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Question of the Day

Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of pizza we consume is round, yet when you order a pizza it most often is delivered in a square box?  Seems like a lot of wasted space if you ask me.

Yes I know Domino's has clipped corners on their box, but it isn't exactly round by any means.  Papa Johns attempts to make use of this extra space by tossing in some dipping sauces and a pepper or two (which almost always end up in the trash), and occasionally you will find a pizza place that actually makes square or rectangular shaped pizza, but it is pretty rare.

I wonder how much extra space is delivered to American households in the average day.  I'd say the guy who can invent a round pizza box that can be produced economically (at least as cheap as the more common square boxes) is going to be one very rich man.

Maybe they should get one of the Ikea designers to work on this... those guys are experts at efficient design and know how to pack the absolute most amount of product into the smallest possible container.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baby Names and Professions

What is it with people wanting to name their kids after professions or activities?  Oh sure it all started innocent enough when someone decided to name their kid “Taylor” but spell it T-A-I-L-O-R, but next thing you know you have kids named Hunter, Priest, Lawyer, Carpenter, or Judge. 

Do parents actually think naming a kid something will lead them to follow that career or be interested in that activity?  If so I imagine those people who have named their daughter Candy probably wanted her to be a confectioner... or perhaps they just gave up all hope even before she was born and assumed she would be a stripper.

Parents who have named their son Hunter probably wanted to ensure he liked the outdoors, and parents who named their kid Dusty are probably just assuming he will be dirty his entire life.  However, if parents really do put emphasis on names as professions, DeForest Kelley’s mother most likely really wanted him to be a logger... specifically a logger in Ireland.  

Of course above all else is the former NASCAR driver with the name Dick Trickle… he must have been a huge disappointment to his parents as it seems they had their sights set on him becoming either a porn star or a spokesperson for Flomax.

That said, there is actually some science behind names.  I recently was listening to a radio program where New York Times columnist David Brooks spoke about “brain sculpture”.  He spoke of studies that have shown people named Dennis are disproportionately destined to become dentists and that people named Laurence are disproportionately likely to become lawyers.

According to Brooks in some sense people have a vague sense that they like the familiar – so they gravitate to words (and concepts) that are familiar to them.  The mind seeks out familiarity, and this is just one way it presents itself.  I suppose some might call it fate, others coincidence, but if you are taking the chance on naming your child after something you hope they can strive to become, might I suggest you name your child "Doctor", "Actor" or "President"?