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Julie Mason CAS 137H Bedell Paradigm Shift 28 October 2013 The Once Golden Arches The Golden

Arches have hung over Americans heads since the early 1900s. For decades, McDonalds was the essential place for Americans to grab a quick, cheap, delicious meal. Ronald McDonald was a fun clown to entertain American children and the Happy Meal was a good alternative to a home cooked meal. However, as the decades progressed, startling information began to arise about the Big Macs and the crispy golden fries. Americans happy 50-year marriage with the fast food chain began to crumble into a nasty 20-year divorce. The public was becoming more informed by documentaries, news articles, and research that their beloved Ronald had been putting harmful chemicals into his meat and causing health problems for themselves and their children. With the rise of organic and local foods and nutrition awareness, McDonalds has lost their strong reputation as a reliable source of quick food and become a symbol of American obesity and the evils of fast food. In 1937, in a parking lot in Pasadena, California, America gave birth to a revolutionary restaurant (Can It Regain Its Golden Touch, David Leonhardt). McDonalds, in its toddler years, started to find its footing: Between 1940 and 1948 that drive-in evolved into the prototype of today's fastfood outlet. The McDonalds discovered they could solve a lot of problems and

increase the sales volume by getting rid of the carhops (who served as parking lot waitresses) switching to over-the-counter sales (Has McDonalds history been altered by revisionists, David Young.) McDonalds quickly learned to adapt to the ever-changing needs and wants of the American public and their continuously more frantic lives. David Leonhardt describes these changes from the 40s to the 80s: The changes were vital, but never radical. McDonald's gave us what we wanted before we even knew we wanted it, whether it was movie tie-ins or Egg McMuffins. This quality of McDonalds helps explain its immense power and high place in the American food industry. Mothers were able to provide a quick and easy meal to their children, and hurried businessmen were able to grab a cheap bite in the middle of their hectic, busy workday. McDonalds was able to offer the more and more frenzied Americans constancy and consistency: As Americans became more mobile and harried, people looked for something that was familiar, quick and dependable. McDonald's uniformity and quality satisfied these needs (In Praise of McDonalds, Samuelson). The American citizens were over the moon with the idea of McDonalds and the corporations ability to meet their needs, and for a more than reasonable price. In 1984, McDonalds had gathered over 17 million customers per day and had overwhelming better sales than Wendys and Burger King (Chicago Tribune). By the end of the 1980s however, Americans began to come to terms with the idea of a fast, cheap, meal being too good to be true. Leonhardt attributes this change to the lack of menu changes since the 1980s: McDonald's core recipe has changed little since the early 80s . . .(t)he company has been unable to harness the strength of its brand to grow beyond its basic formula of

burgers and fries. The lack of diversity in McDonalds menu, keeping its basic formula, can certainly be seen as the first hint of Americans losing interest in the big food chain. Due to the rising prominence of other fast food chains, McDonalds was losing ground. An article written in 1995 discussed the thoughts of the McDonalds corporation on menu changes: Analysts said such moves (menu changes) would not be unexpected as the fast-food giant struggles to fend off growing competition (McDonalds Mulls Menu Changes, Cliff Edwards). However, many Americans still held firm in their faith in McDonalds. This faith had yet to be shaken by insightful research or studies. The few Americans that disliked McDonalds in the 80s had, in the publics eyes, no good reason for their obvious disdain. In his article from 1989, Robert J. Samuelson wrote: There are three types of Americans. First are those who, like me, openly worship McDonald's. Next is a much larger group who like McDonald's but would never admit it . . . Finally, there's a small group of weirdos who genuinely dislike McDonald's. They can't stand the food and regard McDonald's as the embodiment of all that is vulgar in American mass culture (In Praise of McDonalds). Today, that small group of weirdos is no longer ostracized for their antiAmerican/anti-McDonalds sentiment. In fact, they tend to represent the current societal view of the renowned fast food chain. The true question is, what happened to the McDonalds is Mecca ideology of the 1980s? When did the American public create the guilt that is now associated with a trip to the golden arches? The 1990s leading into the new millennium was where this huge ideological flip-flop occurred. The McDonalds empire hit a huge snag in 2004 when Morgan Spurlock released his shocking,

provocative documentary, Supersize Me. In the documentary, Spurlock followed an all McDonalds diet for 30 days and documented his bodily changes: Over the course of the experiment, Spurlock gained weight and felt depressed for no apparent reason, and his liver-the organ that helps break down toxic substances-went on overload. At one point, Spurlock's doctor asked him to stop the diet. By the end of his experiment, Spurlock had consumed a total of 30 pounds of sugar (Supersize Controversy, Alison McCook). Spurlocks documentary created a backlash of events. Even those who hadnt seen the film were hearing the horrifically negative effects of McDonalds food on Spurlocks body and also the methods McDonalds was using to process their foods. Not only did Spurlock document his dietary changes, he also commented on McDonalds manipulative advertising and marketing methods: In 2001, McDonald's spent $1.4 billion on advertising . . .In one scene, [Spurlock] meets with first graders and shows them a series of famous faces. Several of the kids struggle to identify George Washington and Jesus. However, they all recognize Ronald McDonald (McCook). To parents, this scene can be seen as the brainwashing results of the massive fast food corporations advertising on their children. The aftermath of Supersize Me was a devastating blow to McDonalds shining public image. The public had at long last been made aware of many of the nutritious shortcomings of McDonalds food. More substantially, McDonalds itself felt the sting of their customers resentment. McDonalds, after the films release, removed the Supersize option from their menu (Cook). Without doubt, there was no coincidence that McDonalds anticipated the food and nutrition critics from the film. However, the

fast food corporation insisted that the removal of the supersize option was not due to the film. An epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Lisa Harnack, spoke out saying that this act by McDonalds was not simply a coincidence: The supersize option has ... too many negative connotations now (Cook). This societal disdain towards the deceptive corporation that was manipulating American families and hiding information from their customers turned into shame and guilt. In his 2013 comedy sketch, Mr. Universe, Jim Gaffigan makes a hilarious but accurate point about the current American feelings toward the once golden arches: No one admits to going to McDonalds . . . you ever been in McDonalds and you see a friend? Youre like, oh crap! Eventually youre like Hey whats going on, Im just meeting a hooker. Gaffigans hilarious sketch also mentions that those who dont go to McDonalds have a sense of being better than those who do. That small group of weirdos that was mentioned earlier, not only are no longer small, they are no longer considered weirdos by society. Instead, they have a superiority complex that Mr. Gaffigan referenced, and their dislike for McDonalds has now turned into a widespread outbreak of McDonalds dislike and shame. The recent wave of McDonalds guilt can also be coupled with the advent of organic and local foods. As the antithesis of factory farmed fast food, the organic food market has gained tremendous ground over the past few decades: (G)rowth in organic production has been strongly correlated with increased consumer knowledge about mass-produced food, at times coming as food scares but also with compelling evidence of some of the public health, environmental and moral risks involved with chemical-based crop production (Fast food/organic

food: reflexive tastes and the making of yuppie chow, Julie Guthman). Organic food has certainly become trendy and mainstream over the past 20 years, thus nudging the public further and further away from the fast food industry. In her article about the mainstreaming of organic food, Beatrice Hunter writes, Twenty years ago, the few organic foods available were found only in specialty outlets. Currently, more than one-third of supermarket shoppers list organic foods among their purchases (Organic Food Goes Mainstream, 2002). One of the redeemable qualities of the fast food industry was its availability and convenience. As Hunter states however, organic foods are continually becoming more available to the public. The popularity of Whole Foods Markets, an organic/vegan grocery store chain, is a prime example of the public trend towards healthier eating and away from establishments like McDonalds. Seeing the success of Whole Foods, other food sellers across the country have mirrored its actions: Organic food has become the fastestgrowing sector in the retail food industry, and conventional grocers such as Randalls and H.E. Butt Grocery Co., . . .Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. are aggressively expanding their offerings (Whole Foods investors taste sweet success, Lori Hawkins). Mackey mentions even national chains, Wal-Mart and Target, getting in on the action and following the public trend of organic foods. With the rapid growth of organic foods paralleling the rise of fast food that came decades before it, critics are questioning the value of organic food: [T]he simultaneity of growth with the so-called McDonaldization of America raises the question of whether the arrival of organic foods truly represented a paradigmatic shift or was the just the other

side of the same coin (Guthman). McDonalds lasted around 50 years before its public perception began to shift, leaving Americans questioning if the organic food trend will follow the same curve and fall victim to McDonalds fate. Nevertheless, organic food currently dominates the retail food industry and continues to look down upon McDonalds. Certainly McDonalds continues to make plenty of money and bring in customers, but the golden arches dont shine as bright as they used to. Americans hide in shame and guilt underneath them.

Bibliography Edwards, Cliff (1995, Jun 14). McDonald's mulls changes to menu. Journal Record. Guthman, Julie (01/01/2003). "Fast food/organic food: Reflexive tastes and the making of 'yuppie chow'". Social & cultural geography (1464-9365), 4 (1), p. 45. Hawkins, Lori (03/07/2006). "Whole Foods investors taste sweet success". Austin American-statesman, p. D.1. Leonhardt, David in Oak Brook, Ill, with, bureau reports. (1998, Mar 09). McDonald's. Business Week, , 70. McCook, A. (2004, 10). SUPERSIZE CONTROVERSY. Current Health 2, 31, 22-23. Samuelson, Robert J (11/01/1989). "In Praise of McDonald's". The Washington post (0190-8286), p. a.25. Young, David "Has McDonald's history been altered by revisionists?." The Toronto Star. (September 15, 1991 , Sunday, SUNDAY EDITION ): 697 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/11/08.