Questions I Have About The New Hamburglar

McDonalds revealed the new Hamburglar last week, and the result was one that no man, woman, or child could ever have imagined. As news of the rebooted hamburger bandit sweeped the Internet, people were shocked to see this on their screen:

Yeah. This guy. So… Let’s start off with the fact that when I was growing up and McDonald’s was the place you’d get a Happy Meal and free toy and maybe get to go to the PlayPlace, the Hamburglar looked that this:

I mean, I see the similarities, but here’s my own main complaint – the new guy ISN’T A CARTOON. He’s like a person. Like the human neighbors that hang out on Sesame Street. And for some reason that’s really jarring for me.

Upon doing some brief research, the Hamburglar reboot is part of a new McDonald’s rebranding of the character, who is suburban dad by day and Hamburglar by night/after the kids go to school. He’s also a wanted man:

Okay…

What?
Who is this man?
Why does he look like Eddie Cibrian?
Is he supposed to be deviously hot?
If you’re wanted for stealing hamburgers, wouldn’t it be a dead giveaway by wearing a hamburger print tie?
When did the Hamburglar get dimples?
Does McDonalds do ‘gourmet’ burgs now?
What’s a “third pound”?

BTW the McDonald’s Twitter account is officially trying too hard, but I mean, you do you Mickey D’s. You do you. They later posted this video:

Why are you saying ‘Robble Robble’?
What does that even mean? How are you talking to America on social media if you’re “Wanted”?
Who is your wife?
I’m assuming she thinks you’re at work?
Is this your main source of income?
Are you at the party store because you bought that Hamburglar costume?

Apparently I’m not the only one who has questions, because a spokesperson from a McDonald’s released a statement clearing up the confusion over the new Hamburglar:

“The clip that was posted to Twitter this afternoon wasn’t a commercial. As part of Hamburglar’s takeover of the McDonald’s Twitter account, the short video shows his double life: grabbing Sirloin Third Pound Burgers while keeping his identity under wraps via a call back to his family in the suburbs.”

What?
Why does anybody need to be steal hamburgers?
Why did the Hamburglar even need a reboot at all?
Who is McDonald’s target demographic with this?
Why is he specifically stealing Sirloin Third Pound Burgers?
If it wasn’t a commercial, what is it?

And the hits kept coming…

So these Sirloin Third Pound Burgers are a ‘limited edition’??
Why does he want American to keep tweeting #RobbleRobble?
How is America going to help?
There should’ve probably been a better social media campaign than this?
McDonald’s is one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world why did they shoot this on a shotty green screen?

If you thought you were safe from the Hamburglar, think again. He’s probably coming to your city.

How is he getting to all these cities?
Is he going on a plane with this ridiculous get-up?
It doesn’t even look like he’s really eating this Third Pound?
Does he even like hamburgers?
Is this secretly a campaign to get America to stop eating hamburgs and start eating healthier?

Clearly I have a lot of questions about this new direction McDonald’s marketing & PR department is going in, but if it works for them, then good on ya. But in the meantime, I’ll still be asking all these questions. And I still won’t be close to eating at McDonald’s any time soon.

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The Frappuccino, And Other 20-Year-Old Foods

Happy birthday, Frappuccino! Starbucks’ premier beverage – proof that a milkshake by any other name really would taste as sweet – just turned 20. That means that this year’s incoming college freshmen never even lived in a world without the frap. Good for them. Who would want to?

Okay, I’m not actually a hardcore frappuccino enthusiast. However, I can remember what a big deal they were when they first came out, during a time when “iced  coffee” was spoken in such a tone that you could actually hear the quotation marks around the phrase. The frap brought coffee and espresso beverages to a whole new season (summer) and a whole new demographic (children). I felt super grown-up ordering a Venti Mocha Frappuccino with Whip at Barnes and Noble in 6th grade while perusing James Cameron’s Titanic book for the third time because that shit costs $19.99 and my gift card is only for 15 dollars, and this became my gateway drug into the world of caffeinated drinks. Starbucks, at least in me, you have created a monster.

The mid-90s were actually a big, weird time in processed food history. While you’re sipping your signature Birthday Cake Frappuccino today, raise your glass to these other treats that turn the big 2-0 this year.

Stuffed Crust Pizza – Pizza Hut

Two of my childhood obsessions – pizza and mozzarella sticks – combined into one food? Pizza Hut, you shouldn’t have. I can still remember my excitement when my friend Patty’s mom ordered the stuffed crust pizza at a sleepover. There was a marinara dipping sauce, and despite the resemblance to mozzarella sticks, her mom didn’t remind me not to choke and die like my mom always did. [There was, like, one well-publicized news story about a kid choking on mozzarella sticks, and I’m pretty sure it was a baby, but moms grabbed onto that information and wouldn’t let go.] The commercials said that you would want to eat your pizza “crust first” but that’s not true. You’d save the best part for last. Stuffed crust pizza was at once entirely unnecessary and seriously so necessary.

DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza

What about when it’s NOT delivery? In those cases, it’s probably DiGiorno. In 1995, the rising crust pizza burst onto the scene and while I wouldn’t say I ever confused it for delivery, it was a hell of a lot better than Boboli. Remember Boboli? Anyway, the main pitfall of the frozen pizza – the flat, crispy crust – faded into the past, and suddenly it seemed a lot more respectable to dish out the frozen pizza at a slumber party. Just not AS respectable as Stuffed Crust*.

*Don’t worry, the future is now and you can currently buy DiGiorno stuffed crust.

Blue M&Ms

Next time you pour a handful of M&Ms, take a good look at the color selection. Then imagine if all of the blue M&Ms were tan instead. Yes, tan. Prior to 1995, M&Ms were significantly less colorful, like the first part of the Wizard of Oz, but after a popular mid-90s contest, the candies brightened up, like the second part of the Wizard of Oz. There was a big, pre-social media campaign to name the new M&M color, but the other entries – purple and pink – were obviously not as M&M appropriate. I voted blue and was thrilled to see the Empire State Building lit up blue after the winner was announced (we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the 90s were weird).

Here’s a curveball. Shortly after the contest, my mom noticed that the M&M-sponsored worksheet she’d been using in her classroom for years referred to “blue M&Ms.” So, did they know it was going to be blue all along? Had the worksheet guy time-slipped into the future? And why was my mother using an M&Ms handout to teach fourth grade?

Fruitopia

Fruitopia celebrated two decades in 2014, or it would have if the bev hadn’t died with pogs and sunflower hats. It’s hard to believe that they could bottle so much 90s into one little drink. It had psychadelic branding, “natural” juice that … wasn’t, Gen X-y marketing, and Peace And Love(TM) product names. Remember begging at the gas station for a bottle of Strawberry Passion Awareness, The Grape Beyond, or Fruit Integration? Those NAMES, oy. Coca Cola retired the Fruitopia brand in 2003, folding some surviving flavors into their Minute Maid flagship. Yeah, although Fruitopia was for awesome skaters who hung out under wall tapestries and Minute Maid was for moms who make the bed by billowing a crisp, white sheet into the air near an open window, they were basically the same thing.

Twizzler Pull n’ Peel

The mid-90s was all about taking time-honored junk food and doing weird stuff to it. Enter the Twizzler Pull n Peel. I have to say, I was never a huge fan of Twizzlers, but something about breaking the hard, flat rope into a twisted mass of smaller, softer round ropes was absolutely delicious. You could savor a single Pull ‘n Peel twist for ages, or you could bite through the whole thing for a whole mouthful of Twizzler. These bad boys are twenty years old and show no signs of slowing down.

French Toast Crunch

French Toast Crunch was just one of many high-concept, dessert-y cereals, like Oreo Os or Cookie Crisp. If the idea of toast and syrup condensed into cereal-sized nuggets and doused in milk doesn’t appeal to you, that isn’t surprising. For nearly a decade – from 2006 until the recent past – the product was off the shelves.  But it’s back now, so if you want to relive the 90s head to your nearest grocery store. Be warned: this crap had some sharp corners.

Arch Deluxe – McDonald’s

Looking a bit ahead, next year we will be celebrating the 20th birthday of the most adult burger of all time. Do you remember this? McDonald’s marketing concept was to bill this as a “grown-up” menu item, even though it was just a regular burger with bacon and some sort of sauce on it. It worked, I guess, because I was so offended that McDonald’s thought kids would hate the Arch Deluxe that I begged to try it. It was okay, not great, but at twice the price and twice the calories of a traditional cheeseburger, it didn’t last long.

Pop Tarts Crunch

Like I said: the mid-90s saw a lot of tinkering with junk foods to create Franken-junkfoods. Pop Tarts were already so unhealthy that I was only allowed to eat them for breakfast after I’d had an acceptable breakfast. I think this was actually worse than just letting me eat them for breakfast, since not only was I eating PopTarts, I was also eating two breakfasts. But I digress. What if you couldn’t choose between pop tarts and cereal? For a brief, shining moment from 1994- 1995, that’s not a question you ever had to answer. Pop Tarts Crunch cereal combined all the sugary unhealthiness of Pop Tarts with all of the sugary unhealthiness of kids’ cereals. What a time it was.

Doritos Tacos – Taco Bell

Wait, aren’t these new? Yes. And no. Taco Bell launched the Doritos taco shell a few years ago, but the shell was invented by advertising interns in 1995. I am not at all surprised. Doritos were THE Food in 1995, and we were obsessed with morphing our snacks into other snacks. Plus Taco Bell was super cool at the time – just not cool enough to incorporate Doritos into their fake Mexican experience.

McDonald’s Food From Around the World

The last time I was in the Philippines in 2005 (if we’re just meeting for the first time, my parents moved from the Philippines to the States in the 1970s, I was born in western New York and I used to go “back home” every five years for a family reunion. I have landed a real job since I was a teenager, have not been back since), I was sitting in a mall food court and taking particular note of the McDonalds items on the menu.

It looked something like this:

Some items of note: Longganisa (typical Filipino breakfast sausage), spaghetti, fried chicken and of course, rice. I guess it never occurred to me until then that McDonalds, although one of the most recognized brands in the world, must change up their menu in order to accommodate the tastes and palettes of  its local customers.

During my time studying abroad in Europe, I did my best to take in the local cuisine, but throughout a four month period, you just have to indulge in something that’s more familiar. While waiting for a plane in Madrid, I just HAD to have McDonalds, even though i rarely ate it in America. Even their menu was extremely different.

¿Discúlpeme, España? Your desayunos include toasted english muffins with olive oil, donuts and croissants? Yo quiero McDonalds, amirite Taco Bell?!

So there’s gotta be a bunch of other weird/different/interesting local food incorporated in McDs across the globe right? Here are some standouts from around the world.

China

Taro Pie
Taro is a common potato-like item that’s usually found in Asia and the Pacific Islands, so selling it in China is kinda like our apple pies. It’s similar to chunky mashed potatoes, but sweet and purple. And obviously attractive.

Fresh Corn Cup
This is self-explanatory, but just know that if you don’t feel like having fries, you can get this instead.

Hong Kong

Samurai Burger
This concoction includes a pork patty covered in Teriyaki sauce, egg, lettuce, and Japanese lemon mayo. It’s just familiar yet odd enough that I would try a bite of it.

Twisty Pasta
Inspired by the popular breakfast dish, this McDonald’s version includes macaroni pasta, chicken broth, carrots, corn, peas, topped with a sausage and egg.

India

Since all McDonalds in India don’t serve beef or pork per the Hindu belief, a lot of the foods in the country are specially crafted to include a lot of veggies and incorporate their cuisine. This is the McAloo Tikki, a patty made of potato and peas, coated in Indian spices and breadcrumbs, and topped with sweet tomato mayo, onions and tomatoes.

Veggie Pops
Potatoes and spinach in a crunchy breadcrumb outside? Sign me up.

Spicy Paneer Wrap
If you’re an Indian food fan, you’re probs familiar with paneer, a cheese used in a bunch of Indian dishes. McD’s decided to take a huge chunk of it, fry it, put it alongside lettuce, tomatoes, some kind of sauce and melted cheese in a wrap.

Flavor Twist (Green Apple)
It’s like the regular McD’s ice cream – but with GREEN APPLE. HELLO, AMERICA?!?!

Indonesia

Because who doesn’t like a good porridge from McDonald’s?

Japan

EBI Filet-O
Shrimp. This is a shrimp burger. That’s really all there is to it.

Bacon Potato Pie
I mean this is pretty straightfoward. Forget apple pie. Bacon potato is where it’s at.

Cheese Katsu sandwich
A thin piece of pork, cheese stuffed in the middle of it, then fried to a crisp and put in a sandwich. So, clearly, really good for you.

Shaka Shaka Chicken
It’s like a giant chicken McNugget in a paper bag. You choose a flavor, like cheese or lemon or pepper seasonings, pour it into the bag, then shake and enjoy. Not really sure why this is such a big hit in Japan. It’s essentially fast food Shake ‘N Bake.

Saudi Arabia

The McArabia
Served in warm pita bread, this item is made with grilled chicken or grilled kofta – beef with spices – and paired with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and garlic mayo. Garlic mayo?!

South Korea

Bulgogi Burger
Bulgogi is one of Korea’s most popular delicacies, so obvs it needs to be put between McD’s famous buns. The marinated barbecue beef is covered in bulgogi sauce and structured just like a Big Mac.

Egypt

McFalafel
No meat? No problem. Delicious falafel instead!

Taiwan

McRice burger
You know Ramen burgers? This is kinda like that. But rice patties. Sorry, FRIED rice patties….

France

CroqueMcDo
This item is a play on the traditional French croque-monsieur sandwich, consisting of two slices of Emmental cheese and a slice of ham toasted between two hamburger buns. Because if you’re in France, eat the best French food at McDonald’s.

Germany

The Nürnberger
What’s Germany without sausage?! And what better way to rep Germany than to put not one, not two, but three small, spiced sausages on a roll!?

McCurrywurst
This is a fairly new item, introduced in February, and is a play off the popular item, Currywurst. Sausage, yet again, in a tangy tomato sauce and curry powder, served with either bread or fries. Seems like a bit of reach to me.

Greece

Greek Mac & Spring Rolls
Not only does Greece have their own version of the BigMac on Pita bread, but they servce spring rolls too. Spring rolls!

The Netherlands

McKroket
In college, I studied abroad in The Netherlands, and in many of the train stations, there were fast food vending machines, where you would buy stuff that looked exactly like this McKroket, except sans buns. This is the same thing – a deep fried roll containing beef ragout, served with frite sauce – aka a special mayo that is delish on this as well as frites aka french fries!

Stroopwafel McFlurry
Holy crap, guys. McFlurries are obviously not a new thing. But this stroopwafel is. Stroopwafel is a popular snack/dessert which is two thin layers of waffle with baked caramel-like batter in the middle and it’s amazing. AND NOW IT’S IN A MCFLURRY?! I NEED TO GO BACK JUST FOR THIS.

Norway

Laksewrap
Deep-fried fish with salad and a mango slice in a tortilla. Because, Scandinavia.

UK

Bacon Roll
Because it’s from England, it’s exactly what it sounds like, and probably tastes as disgusting as it sounds.

Mince Meat Pie
Because the British can only out-British their own during the holiday season.

Canada

McLobster
For some reason, a lobster roll from a Canadian McDonald’s sounds much less sketchy than getting on in America…?

Mexico

McMolletes
Mexican bfast? English muffin topped with refried beans, cheese and pico de gallo. Si.

New Zealand

McPavlova
Based on the popular New Zealand dessert called Pavlova, this is crisp meringue, topped with soft serve ice cream and passionfruit sauce. I would like this right after the Stroopwafel McFlurry, please.

McCharacters: An Afternoon in McDonald’s

A couple of weeks ago, I had to get an oil change for my car. The mechanic I went to was not in my neighborhood and also did not have a waiting area. In addition, I went on a Friday (which is one of my days off), so I couldn’t have a friend to the drop off/pick up situation since apparently everyone has ‘jobs’ these days.

The closest place that seemed non-sketchy and a place that wouldn’t care if I was there for at least an hour was McDonald’s. Now I don’t go to McDonald’s on the reg, and I imagine a lot of you don’t either. Unless you’re in an airport or rest stop on the road and you need to get a quick bite to eat and don’t care that you’ll feel disgusting afterwards, you don’t go to McD’s for fun.

I’m assuming this to be true seeing as how 97.5% of all the people I watched come in and out the doors of McD’s were absolute characters. Like, for all I know, I stumbled upon a sitcom set and all these people were hired actors. Here’s just a sampling of the people I encountered on that fateful day – and I hope you never have to find out the realness of this for yourself.

Online Poker Guy

When I sat down with my iced coffee (because let’s be real, it was the only thing I trusted there), I faced the door so I could make a quick exit if I could tell a psychopath was coming in and I needed to bolt outta there. Directly in front of me was a guy sitting by himself, with a rolling suitcase next to him and a laptop on the table, and its cord plugged into the wall. And by plugged into the wall I mean the closest outlet was near the ceiling and the cord was going up.

Photo Aug 30, 11 07 57 AM

yes, this is my screenshot from snapchat. whatevs.

He sipped on a McD’s bev, with the only food being that of indiscernable candy that looked like Air Heads but had a yellow wrapper. He went out for a smoke approx every 30 minutes, and when he left I could see he was playing online poker. This dude was playing online poker in a McDonald’s. I know there are people who can make a living off online poker, but really, if that’s all you do with your life (and it clearly looked like he did), why don’t you just spring for some Wi-Fi in your own house? Also, do people actually go to McDonald’s specifically for free Wi-Fi? America.

Families in Play Place

I suppose one thing that hasn’t changed about McDonald’s over the years is the fact that people like to take their kids for a fun afternoon at Mickey D’s. Grab a Happy Meal, get your free toy, then spend hours in the Play Place. While I’m guessing the whole healthy food question has barred a lot of people going to McD’s for fun over the past few years, the fact is that parents still take their kids to McDonald’s. And the kids are still exciting about going there. I legit heard a couple of tots singing a fake ‘chicken nuggets’ song, exclaiming their excitement over their future of nug eating. Anyways, nothing snarky here, it’s just nice to know that some traditions never change. Also, I probably have a lot of Happy Meal vintage toys somewhere… do those things cost money now, or have they gone the Beanie Babies route?

Guy Who’s Being Too Loud

Is this Dwayne from Full House??

We’ve all been there. You’re in a space that doesn’t necessarily need to keep library type volume levels, but also shouldn’t be a rave – and all of a sudden that one person decided to do something realllly loud that you can’t focus on anything else. This guy in McD’s decided 10:30 in the morning was a good time for him to bust out his iPhone and play some guy of racing game… at max vol. First of all, put some headphones in if you want to play with sound. Second of all, why are you even playing with sound at all? Third of all, forget what I said in parts one and two and just shut it all down. Shut. It. Down.

Woman Who’s Speaking Too Loud in Another Language

Pretty much everything I said about the guy, except replace game with phone conversation that last for the entirety of their meal. And make it en Espanol. The good news is that I think I picked up a few recipe tips on tostadas … or I’ve made a horrible mistake and wrote down the recipe for how to make meth instead…

Relationship Advice Seeker

After the Spanish speaking woman finished her meal and left, all whilst talking on her phone, a couple of guys took their seats behind me. At one point, I heard one guy say that he doesn’t put dishes in the dishwasher and his wife gets really upset about it. And then it turned serious, and he started to seriously seek advice about his marriage. I could be wrong, but the vibe I was getting was a total Sponsor/Addict relationship. Do these people go to McDonald’s to talk about their problems? I’m all for getting help, but you really couldn’t pick a better place?

 

Almost Homeless People

There were at least five men, probs all in their 40s, and they all looked the same. As in slightly too overtan white guys who were clearly brought up in California. Their clothes were baggy, one even wore pajama pants, and they were slightly dirty. It’s kinda like when you see a legit hipster and you’re not entirely sure if they’re a college graduate trying to figure out their place in the world or if it’s a homeless person. The fact that they all had bikes didn’t help the situation. Maybe I saw a rare hipster bike gang of men in their older age. Great. Checking it off the bucket list.

Actual Homeless People

Not actually a homeless person, this is John Galiano, dressed ridiculously for both a fashion designer and a regular human being.

And then there were a couple of actual homeless people, who brought in their trash bags of items. One was wearing camouflage pants, those Adidas sandals you see swimmers wearing to the pool and latex gloves. LATEX GLOVES. DEXTER, IS THAT YOU???