Big Mac Attack

, , , | Hopeless | July 12, 2017

(I babysit three children every weekday. Once a week, I make dinner as well. Sometimes their parents join us, sometimes they don’t. The parents are health food nuts, so the kids have never set foot in a fast food place. Fortunately, the family keeps a very well-stocked pantry, they’re not vegetarians, and no one has any food allergies, so my options are pretty much unlimited. One day, when I am going to be making dinner and the parents will not be with us, I have this discussion with the kids several hours before dinnertime.)

Kid #1: *trying to be casual* “I wonder what a Big Mac is like…”

Me: “You’ve had burgers before. You know what meat tastes like.”

Kid #1: “Yeah, but Big Macs are fancy. They’ve got special sauce and stuff.”

Me: “Fast food isn’t very good. The ingredients come from questionable sources, safety procedures leave something to be desired, and they’ve got so much sodium that wildlife could use them as salt licks. Plus the flavors are so mixed together that you can’t taste anything particular, and the texture’s usually pretty wonky.”

Kid #2: “Just once won’t kill us. Mom and Dad aren’t gonna be home tonight. We could check it out tonight. Just once, please? We won’t tell. Promise!”

(I instantly decide on my course of action and pull up the McDonald’s menu on my phone.)

Me: “You guys tend to take a long time making decisions at restaurants. I don’t want to stand in line for an hour, so make your decisions now.”

(They do indeed take about an hour picking and choosing their meals. I take careful notes, including who wants pickles, cheese, etc. Eventually, dinnertime arrives.)

Me: “Okay, kids, dinner’s ready.”

Kid #3: “But I thought we were going to McDonald’s.”

Me: “We are.”

(They looked at each other, confused, but obediently trooped into the kitchen. Laid out at each place were the exact meals they had requested, freshly hand made. I had even Googled a recipe for Big Mac sauce. The meal was a big hit with the kids, and the parents cracked up when I told them. We have since done the same thing with other fast food places with equal success. Recently, Kid #1 confessed that he had gotten a friend to smuggle him a real Big Mac, and that after my fresh home cooking, he had found the real thing massively disappointing.)

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  • Raven Odette

    Big Mac special sauce is easy, 1 part 1000 island dressing, 1 part Miracle Whip and 1/4 part sweet pickle relish

    I also add in some sriracha to mine

    • Adrian Mckeehan

      My aunt would mix Best Foods mayonnaise (it had to be Best Foods), Thousand Island dressing, Mustard, Ketchup, and diced pickles.

      She called it her McD’s sauce and i preferred her version over the “real” stuff any day.

    • There’s also mustard and garlic, I think?

  • That One Person

    Okay…? This is a nice story, but what exactly is Feel Good & Inspirational about it?

    • Klaus Hellnick

      Well, the adult got away with repeatedly lying to kids, so that’s a good thing, right?

      • Rebecca Charlton

        When did they lie?

        • TheBigBadWolf

          “We are” < actually line in the story. In response to a kid saying they thought they were going to McDonald's.

          They didn't go to McDonalds. That is lying.

          • Ainoko_Ironrose

            If you want to get technical about this, the OP didn’t lie. They said they would go to McDonald’s as long as the kids didn’t take over an hour toy choose their meals, which the kids did.
            So, the OP did the right thing and made homemade McDonald’s for the kids, which they loved as the homemade McDonald’s was better then the real deal.

          • TheBigBadWolf

            Yeah, recreating something isn’t the same as going to the place. OP said they didn’t want to stand in line for an hour to wait for the kids to decide so decide now (implying that they will go once the kids decide). It gives an impression that they will end up there, not that if they take an hour or more that they won’t go at all. That’s not the lie but it isn’t the “they would go to McDonald’s as long as the kids didn’t take over an hour toy choose their meals, which the kids did.” that you are saying .

            Then when one of the kids specifically said “I thought we were going to McDonalds”, OP said “We are”. OP making the kids healthy versions of a Big Mac is not the same as going to McDonalds. Saying that they are is a lie.

            OP didn’t repeatedly lie, they repeatedly implied things that they knew wasn’t going to happen. But they did lie once. Outright telling the kid they are was lying since what the kid said was exactly “But I thought we were going to McDonalds”. Recreating a different version of a fast food item is not going to the fast food place.

          • I am Jenn

            I disagree that this is a lie….. I read it as more of a “I thought we were having McDonalds” “We Are” sort of intention. I really think zero harm was done to the kids, their psyches, etc. OP definitely did an awesome thing here.

          • Brian Argo

            I agree that zero harm was done to the children, in an overall sense, and quite possibly even some psychological good (as people will often subvert your expectations in the real world) but yes, it’s definitely a lie. If not white, then grey.

          • TheBigBadWolf

            @brianargo:disqus said what I was going to so I won’t bother you with two comments of the same thing.

      • Michael David

        They didn’t lie. The ingredients aren’t exactly fresh. And homemade is far superior to fast foot any day.

        • Alexander Rubin

          fast foot

        • Ainoko_Ironrose

          ANYTHING is superior to Fast Foot.

          • Medusa Jordan

            Yes, Fast Foot tastes awful.

  • Adrian Mckeehan

    You didn’t have to lie to the kids about going to McDonald’s. You could have said lets make better fresher versions instead.

    You can find any and every fast food recipe online and make better tasting versions at home (or worst if you screw up like me)

    anyway keep eating healthy OP

    • CometDragonfly

      not every recipe online is accurate, you’d be surprised how many are slightly tweaked so that you think you done something wrong

      • Adrian Mckeehan

        True, But I really screwed up. Burning the food usually does.

    • Michael David

      It’s not a lie, really. Pretty much everything they said was the truth. Especially about the sodium.

      • Adrian Mckeehan

        Reading comprehension works here. OP made it appear that they were taking the kids to McDonald’s when in reality they stayed and made better food.

        I was not saying that OP lied about McDonald’s food

    • TheBigBadWolf

      You can be healthy if you have junk once in a while. And by that, I mean like once/twice every month or so. Some people like to treat themselves with junk food. As long as they don’t make it a regular thing in their eating habits, they are still eating healthy.

      • Adrian Mckeehan

        I’m not saying no one can have fast food. I enjoy a greasy burger every now and again. Like you said it’s a once/twice a month thing.

  • Eme Guta

    So were you required to do the speech, or…?
    “Fast food isn’t very good. The ingredients come
    from questionable sources, safety procedures leave something to be
    desired, and they’ve got so much sodium that wildlife could use them as
    salt licks. Plus the flavors are so mixed together that you can’t taste
    anything particular, and the texture’s usually pretty wonky.”

    • Aaron

      Nah, with some kids, you’ve got to cover all the bases in one go, or you’ll be answering the same question for several minutes

  • HeadlessGhostOfAbrahamLincoln

    There is only fast food place i eat at, and i know for a fact they use freash food. McDonald’s is just disgusting.

    • Ainoko_Ironrose

      I go to Whataburger if I want fresh, tasty burgers

  • TheBigBadWolf

    Disclaimer: I don’t think OP was wrong for obeying the parents’ rules. It’s their job so they don’t really have much of a choice. I just really hate this idea that you can’t ever be healthy if you dare eat junk occasionally.

    Eating fast food once in a while is perfectly fine. The kids aren’t suddenly going to be unhealthy due to eating junk occasionally. The problem comes when the majority of the diet is junk food or letting the kids get into the habit of eating mostly junk food.

    Heck, I just had a doughnut today shaped like a dinosaur. It was delicious and it was something I went out of my way to get. I don’t eat doughnuts every day or all the often. Was it healthy? No, not at all. Is thing going to hurt my eating habits? Not unless I make a habit of eating it every week or day.

    The majority of my diet is filled with protein and veggies that are even oven-baked or stir-fried at home. The reason that my “food” is so vague is because I have something different every 2nd day for lunch and dinner. My favourite food right now is eggplant. You can be healthy and still have junk occasionally. I mean I wouldn’t go to Maccas either but fast foods being 100% off-limit is very excessive.

    Teach your kids moderation. They are not stupid. What do you think is going to happen if they move out when they are an adult and find some unhealthy food they do like?

    • Indeed. Moderation in all things is good. Even too much water can kill you.

      • TheBigBadWolf

        “Too much of a good thing” is a saying for a reason. I just wanted to use that phrase and can’t believe I haven’t already.

      • Patrick Mccurry

        If too much X wasn’t bad, then by definition it wouldn’t be too much. That’s what too much means. It’s a tautology. Like saying a circle is round. If it weren’t round, then by definition it wouldn’t be a circle.

    • jonoave

      Reminds me of the stories of sheltered kids who go crazy when they moved out to college and live by themselves. Kids who had barely drunk, interacted with girls or many different kinds of people.

      • TheBigBadWolf

        Yeah. Also moderation is a great thing. Especially if you have been eating junk regularly before deciding to change the habit. Making it completely off-limit is most likely going to make you feel like you are missing out. It’s also most likely going to make you feel ashamed and guilty if you do happen to eat junk food once.

        I have a takeaway curry about once a month or once every two months. People saying you can’t be healthy unless telling you completely cut junk out of your diet is like people telling others who exercise once a month that they have a good exercise routine.

        On the bright side, OP’s story gave me a good excuse to bring up the doughnut dinosaur I had today in my comment without being totally out of place. I really enjoyed the doughnut, so thanks OP!

        • Anne

          I want a donut dinosaur. Or a dinosaur donut. Or whatever.

          • TheBigBadWolf

            My mission has succeeded. 😛

            It was a good doughnut. I felt like I went to a fancy doughnut store but really it was just a kiosk (?) in the shopping centre.

          • Anne

            I am envious of your dinosaur donut kiosk.

      • Medusa Jordan

        There is such a difference between not being exposed to something, and being forbidden something. I grew up around heavy smoking and drinking and wanted to keep that away from my kids – as adults they are so not bothered about smoking and drinking because I did not forbid it – even though they were barely exposed to it.

    • Kitty

      My mother likes to pull the line of “You need to watch Supersize Me” on me when I have been getting fast food a bit too much. I have watched it, as I tell her, and the message of the movie fails for two reasons.

      1. The guy doing this experiment was a vegan beforehand, led a healthy life with exercise and balanced diet, etc. He stopped all that for the experiment, so of course he was gonna gain a lot of weight and health problems; likely faster than the regular Joe who eats fast food off and on.
      2. He ate the fast food all the time. Again, contrary to most people who have fast food now and then.

      So, her argument fails. I absolutely agree with your line of thinking. Having something ‘bad’ now and then is not bad in itself; call it a treat or something, that’s fine. Moderation. That’s basically the keyword to ANYTHING in life.

      Plus, I was forced onto a specific diet as a kid for at least a year. We still had McDonald’s once biweekly or so, but the burger buns were exchanged with whole-grain bread. Tasted okay and it was a treat when it happened.

      • Big Daddy

        I have to disagree with #2. The stats show about 40% of Americans eat fast food at least once a week. And that’s self-reported data, so I would bet it’s actually higher. 50 million fast food meals are served each day – roughly 15% of the population. Sure, Supersize Me was an extreme dramatization, but sometimes you have to shout REALLY LOUDLY to get people’s attention.

        • Patrick Mccurry

          If you “have to lie” to make your point, I reserve the right to ignore your “point” and label you a liar.

          • Big Daddy

            I wouldn’t call SSM a lie. Maybe an exaggeration.

      • Kevin Conti

        That line wouldn’t work on me either. Watching Super Size Me always makes me hungry for McDonald’s.

      • Benny

        Plus there’s the fact that several studies have failed to come even close to his results, so there’s a lot of speculation that he was cheating (not following his own rules) to prove his point.

        Fed Up is a much better documentary, IMO.

        • theBlueWitch

          Wasn’t he ordering one of everything on the dollar menu three times a day? Nobody eats that much when they go to McD’s.

          • I am Jenn

            I believe Super Size Me was a value meal three times a day, and if they asked if he wanted to Super Size it, he had to say yes, but otherwise he just got the “regular” size. I have not seen Fed Up.

          • Benny

            I believe you are correct Jenn. Some people trying to duplicate his findings noticed that the calories he was reporting didn’t line up with what he was claiming to eat.

          • Jennifer Franco

            There’s a science teacher called John Cisna who ate exclusively at McDonald’s for every meal for three months straight and lost 60 pounds. He, however, did not deliberately overeat and also continued his normal exercise routine. There’s also another documentary where a woman did the same thing for a month, but did not deliberately pick the high calorie options every time, did not cut out her exercise routine, and lost 10 pounds and dropped her cholesterol by 40 points. So really McDonald’s is what you make of it and how you make your choices. Also, the milkshakes and coke he drank may have effected him more than the food he ate. But since he refuses to post his actual food diary for the month, who knows?

            Edited to add his exercise routine was a 45 minute walk every day. Looked it up to be sure.

        • Patrick Mccurry

          He was also eating FAR more than most people could stomach. Wow, eating double the calories my body burns makes me gain weight? Wow, call the presses, because the public are too brain damaged to know this already.

          • Ares Zax

            Yeah, what Supersize Me conveniently failed to mention was that he was eating far more in excess of what most people would normally eat. And as others have pointed out, he was eating it for every meal, not something most people would do. (Heck, I love McDonald’s and after two meals in a row I’d be craving something else just for diversity!)

            Of course fast food isn’t as healthy as home cooked food, and you definitely shouldn’t eat it as your sole source of nourishment. But you can eat it occasionally in moderation to treat yourself or just because you want the experience. If people were to abstain from EVERYTHING that was bad for them, they should also abstain from alcohol, contact sports (too high a risk of joint and brain injury), drugs of all kinds (ALL drugs have side effects), the sun (you can get enough Vitamin D just by sitting inside your house by a window. Direct exposure to sunlight isn’t needed, so why damage your skin with UV radiation?), the beach (have you SEEN how much sewage and rubbish is in sea water?), electronic devices (blue light does affect our circardian rhythms) etc. etc.

          • Vulpis

            Oxygen is toxic in high concentrations, too much water can cause issues as well…not to mention the withdwawl symptoms are 100% fatal!

        • Brianna

          I love Fed Up! It’s what finally got my husband to realize just because the cookies and chips he came home with said “organic” didn’t mean they were healthy.

      • Medusa Jordan

        He wasn’t a vegan beforehand – his gf was.
        He lowered his exercise level to fit in with the average American.
        He found that MacDonalds have ‘super heavy users’ – people who do eat there every day.
        He went to an extreme to make a point.

        • Rachel

          But that’s the entire point. Going from a strict, regular exercise program to the average american (which if all my friends are a basis, is pretty much once a week?) then you will gain weight. Even on carrots.

          • Medusa Jordan

            I would dispute that you could eat enough carrots to gain weight – unless you deep fried them.
            He didn’t just put on weight – the doctor advised him to stop because of blood test results, not the weight gain.

      • Rachel

        I loved watching Supersize me because I had both McDs that night for dinner and then I intentionally got some for breakfast the next day to bring it to school and eat it infront of my classmates (several of them gagged, it was beautiful.)

    • Oldmanmike

      Someone did a rebuttal to super size me. While he did order 1 of everything, he mostly opted for the healthier choices and only super sized the couple times to meet the requirement of having 1 of everything (meaning a large and a medium fries/drink). His beverage choice was usually water or unsweetened tea. He watched the fat, calories, etc and exercised the entire month. Actually lost weight and lowered his cholesterol. Food for thought.

      • TheBigBadWolf

        Did you mean to reply to me?

        • Oldmanmike

          Nope, lol. not sure how that happened. Was meant for @catmutoa:disqus Sorry

          • TheBigBadWolf

            Probably because I started the thread. Disqus messes up a lot.

            “Food for thought” < I just noticed that lovely pun.

  • EffityJeffity

    Will people please stop equating sodium and salt as the same thing?

    • Ainoko_Ironrose

      Will you understand that sodium is another name for salt?

      • EffityJeffity

        It most certainly is not. Have you been to school?

        • Ainoko_Ironrose

          Yes I have, and Sodium and salt are the same thing. If Sodium and Salt are not the same thing, why do we see sodium in food packages?

          • EffityJeffity

            Seriously, google it. You’re making yourself look silly.

          • Jennifer Franco

            Uh, sodium is a METAL. Sodium Chloride is salt. You see sodium on food packages because it’s the part of salt that you need to watch out for.

      • Nevyn

        Sodium is an element, not a salt.

        • Celoptra

          sodium IS salt just the fancy name for salt

          • EffityJeffity

            It really, really isn’t. That’s like saying oxygen is the fancy name for water.

          • Celoptra

            Salt is composed of two minerals sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl). Table salt (NaCl) contains about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium

          • Celoptra

            so what do you think a lot of food says 2,000mg of sodium? It means it has a LOT of salt

          • Jennifer Franco

            2,000 mg of sodium is less than a teaspoon of salt.

          • Brian Argo

            Being pedantic, but, no, sodium is sodium and there are plenty of salts that contain no sodium. Sodium is necessary and harmful. Most other salts are… Not safe to consume.

          • Nevyn

            No it isn’t! Sodium Chloride is the compound we normally label salt.
            Sodium itself is an element. No. 11 in the periodic table. Don’t try to correct people when you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • Kathryn Baggs

        Yup, they just use sodium on the “nutrition” information section.

    • possiblymeprobablyme

      Are you going to get cranky if we don’t refer to water as dihydrogen oxide?

      • EffityJeffity

        Again, you don’t understand basic chemistry. Calling sodium “salt” is much like calling hydrogen “water”.
        Salt (in this instance) is sodium chloride. A white power with a strong flavour.
        Sodium is a silvery METAL that will explode on contact with water. Very, very different things.
        And don’t get me started on “carbon footprint”.

        • possiblymeprobablyme

          It’s not a matter of knowing or not knowing chemistry, it’s a difference in context between casual conversation in which ‘sodium’ is understood to be short for sodium chloride AKA table salt and speaking to someone in a specifically chemistry related conversation. You either know this and are being deliberately pedantic/obtuse or you really need to get out more and realize that real life is not a textbook.

          • EffityJeffity

            So, someone’s tried to be clever by discarding the commonly used and understood single syllable word “salt” and using its chemical name. But then they discovered this was too long, so they shortened it, and now they want the word “sodium” to not only mean an elemental metal, but also a compound containing it?
            You understand why this is absolutely insane, don’t you?
            If you want to say “salt”, use the word “salt”.

          • Jennifer Franco

            It’s not a shorthand for salt, though. It’s telling you how much sodium is in a serving for real. A teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. A teaspoon of salt itself is about 5,700 mg.

        • HiddenWindshield

          Sodium is an essential nutrient for humans. Sodium chloride is just the most convenient way to get sodium into our bodies without it exploding. The chlorine part is discarded once it’s served that purpose, much like packing material when you ship a package.

          I was on ritalin for a while as a child. Except you wouldn’t really call it “ritalin” now, would you? Since the pills had binders and dyes and other inert components, according to your logic, it isn’t actually ritalin.

          • Jennifer Franco

            No, the pill as a whole is called Ritalin. The active ingredient is Methylphenidate. So you are not really making the point you’re trying to here with that analogy.

    • Big Daddy

      Although there are other sources of sodium (MSG being the main alternative) these are practically nonexistent in most commercial foods. So sodium=salt is a reasonable approximation.

  • Jackie Fauxe

    I wish the surprise had come without the lie, but I understand you were trying to get their order specifics, and I’m assuming you figured your surprise would be cool enough that they weren’t disappointed they didn’t go to an actual McDonald’s. That seems like a big risk to take, but you appear to know these kids well enough to make the right call, so I’m glad it all worked out.

    • 4302

      Yeah, if it had been me as one of the kids I would definitely have been disappointed. The actual trip would have been a big thing to me and even if I had found the food to be disappointing I would have been happy to have had that experience.
      I also would have been far more interested in getting that food if I didn’t get to try it.

  • Dani Toussaint

    I was getting mad at the OP for undermining their parents however I think it was a wonderful idea to show the kids how fresh is always better. You can make anything if you are willing to; its better, healthier and always cheaper in the long run. Thanks for the heads up about the special sauce. I am going to try that too.

  • possiblymeprobablyme

    I really wish my parents had been more like these childrens’ parents. We rarely, if ever, had anything healthy growing up and it really screws you up long term.

  • Medusa Jordan

    I last had a Big Mac about 10 years ago and it was a disappointment for me also.

  • Passenger_Zero

    Isn’t the “Special sauce” just Russian salad dressing?

    • Phil Adler

      I think it has relish in it but after that I’m not sure.

  • chickenface

    I want the OP to come to my house and cook me dinner too!

  • Phil Adler

    For the record, I took chemistry. Sodium IS NOT salt and should not be used as shorthand for salt. NaCl, aka Sodium Chloride, is salt.

    The Nutrition Facts table is telling you how much Sodium is in a serving, NOT how much salt.

  • Broken Haiku

    So OP…can I come over for food? 😉

  • Vulpis

    About the only sad thing here was that the kids were hoping to go *out* someplace, and instead just got to stay at home.

  • Jami

    I really hate these “let me pat myself on the back” stories. Fast food once in awhile isn’t going to hurt anyone. And the kids will never know they don’t like it if they never try it. You’re a pretentious git, OP.

    • Kate Avery

      It really wasn’t OP’s call, though. It’s the children’s parents who are health nuts. It’s not her place to overrule them, or disregard their parenting choices. OPs little speech about unhealthy it is might have been just so the kids don’t tell the parents “Hey, (Babysitter) thinks fast food is okay.” OP just found a way to give the kids (kind of) what they want, without overstepping her boundaries. I don’t agree with lying to the kids, and I think you’re right about the patting her/himself on the back part, but I don’t fault (s)he for holding up the standards her employers set.

  • Noinipo

    You’re a better babysitter than I ever was.