happy meal

This post is sponsored by McDonald’s.

Hello, Friends. Can you believe I partnered with McDonald’s for this post? Not the typical Design Mom sponsor, right? And before you jump ship all at once, know that when my ad network asked me about working with McDonald’s, my initial response was: no thank you. But I later reconsidered, because once I learned more about what McDonald’s is trying to do, I confess, I was intrigued. And also because I felt hypocritical — I felt like I was pretending I’m never a McDonald’s customer, when actually, from time-to-time, I am.

McDonald’s knows they have a bad rap with moms, and they’re attempting to see if they can upgrade their reputation by making some concrete changes — like being really transparent about the farms where they buy their ingredients, and being incredibly open about their nutritional information. I don’t know if they’ll be able to reach their #WinningMomsOver goals, but I do have honest opinions about McDonald’s, and they promised me I could speak openly. So here I am. Laying it all out on the table.

Here are my thoughts on McDonald’s in list format — it’s sort of a McDonald’s confessional:

– As I’ve written before, in France, it wasn’t unusual for us to eat at McDonald’s (see the reasons here), and the restaurants there are viewed differently than they are in the U.S.

– On family road trips, if we’re driving in the morning, McDonald’s breakfast is our preferred meal-on-the-go.

– I remember hearing about my friend Amber, who had a child who was having a hard time falling asleep, so at the spur of the moment, they jumped in the car late at night and went to McDonald’s. I loved hearing that! And I knew it must have made the best memories for that child. I vowed to copy her.

– During the last trimester of my pregnancies, I would consistently have cravings for Quarter Pounders with Cheese (hold the ketchup, please).

– When we lived in New York, one of my most stylish friends, Erin, would come pick up toddler Oscar and take him to McDonald’s with her own son, so I could have some quiet time with baby Betty. Oscar adored these trips to McDonalds! And I remember thinking at the time, that it was so refreshing that my friend openly and un-embarrassingly went to McDonald’s. And she was still cool! At the time, if I ate at McDonald’s, I felt like I had to keep it a secret.

– I think that feeling (of not wanting to admit of ever eating at McDonald’s) is kind of a national one — when my brother was recently traveling in Thailand, he stopped at a McDonald’s and his friend took a photo of him in line and posted it on Facebook with a caption: Caught red-handed!

Seeing someone you know at McDonald’s, or having yourself documented there, can be cause for blushing. My brother is actually quite the foodie, but sometimes McDonald’s is the best, quickest, easiest option.

– In my childhood memory, getting invited to a McDonald’s birthday party was like the crème de la crème of invitations.

– A few years ago, I remember learning about The Ronald McDonald House charities, and also learning about how many steady jobs McDonald’s provides around the world, and there was a moment where my opinion about the company took a big shift. It was this reminder to me that the world is rarely black & white.

– I’m not going to pretend I’ll ever be convinced that eating at McDonald’s is as good eating a home cooked meal made from whole ingredients. But as I mentioned, I do eat there occasionally, and over the years I’ve let the guilt go about eating there. Goodness knows, I can’t pretend I eat well all the time (I’m looking at you entire-bag-0f-sour-patch-kids I ate last night).

But now I’m curious. What’s your take? Do you ever eat at McDonald’s? Or would you ever admit it? : ) Do you feel like the reputation of McDonald’s can change? Is there anything McDonald’s could do that would shift your opinion, or have you sworn them off forever? Is there anyone out there reading my blog that has never eaten at McDonald’s? And lastly, if you don’t eat at McDonald’s, is there another fast food chain you favor? Or do you avoid fast food at all costs? I’d love to hear!

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Update 9/16: Over 450 excellent comments! Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts, opinions, and points of view. I’ve read every single one — probably twice!

I’m going to close the comment section (though you can still read them all) because I have to move on to other posts and can’t dedicate the time needed to keep responding to comments. But if you’re dying to weigh in, feel free to email me so I can read your thoughts.