June 2, 2008, - 11:48 am

The (Big Mac) Burger Economic Index, Plus New “Lucky Charm” = Overscheduled Kids?

By Debbie Schlussel
It’s a good thing self-appointed food police chief Morgan Spurlock isn’t ruling American gastronomy, especially in this time of economic downturn.
As we know, fast food restaurants are a very economical way to eat and present a number of choices to Americans who want animal protein and also can’t afford the exorbitant, “healthy” tofu, argula, and edamame Whole Foods diet of Spurlock and his vegan chef girlfriend.
In what I call the Burger Economic Index, more and more Americans are eating at McDonald’s than ever because, with sky-high and rising gas prices and more and more lay-offs, it’s the only thing they can afford. In Spurlock’s world, they’d be hungry:


Leading Economic Indicator of Downturn

Slightly over half of Americans eat fast food at least once a week, according to a national online survey of 1,000 people in March by Research International USA. One in five eat the on-the-go grub every other day.
McDonald’s (MCD) is far and away the most popular. Nearly six in 10 Americans have been to a McDonald’s in the past month, the survey says. By comparison, just more than three in 10 have been to a Wendy’s.
Most regulars say they’re eating fast food more often due to “economic pressures,” says Research International. Hmmm. So the economy is prompting the “average” American to spend $500 per year on fast food.
Meanwhile, market researcher The NPD Group reports that the red, white and blue entree of choice is burgers.
Some 7% of restaurants of all types – from quick service to fine dining – are selling more burgers than two years ago, it reports. That’s 15% of all restaurant orders last year, or about 8.5 million burgers.

We’re lucky that we have these economical choices in today’s hard times. If we were in the third world, we wouldn’t have any choices. And we’d still be starving.
And Morgan Spurlock and his girlfriend would still be out of touch and spending gazillions on imported produce normal people simply can’t afford.
For the record, I’ve never had a McDonald’s Burger (or Burger King or Wendy’s). They’re not kosher. But I celebrate that most Americans–who do not keep kosher–have this economical choice and the freedom to choose it.
In another sign of the times in food products, Lucky Charms cereal adds the first new charm in a decade: an hourglass. USA Today’s Ad Team says it symbolizes how pressed for time kids feel these days.


Huh?: New Lucky Charm is an Hourglass

Well, they have plenty of time to surf the Net and talk on cellphones . . . .

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14 Responses

McDonald’s is a great place to get a VERY inexpensive meal that can include healthy choices. Their side salads are amazingly good, with assorted dark leafy greens, not just iceberg – and only $1. Even comes with Paul Newman dressing. Add a single burger, and a cup of coffee, milk or juice and you’re eatin’ healthy for pennies.

dm60462 on June 2, 2008 at 12:30 pm

McDonalds is a great company and more people should apreciate that fact. This company serves millions of people inexpensive meals and really great service. Quality and consistency.

PrincessKaren on June 2, 2008 at 1:06 pm

McDonald’s tastes like crap. Burger King is much better – if you can’t find a deli.

LoveAManInAUniform on June 2, 2008 at 1:27 pm

A head of lettuce, fresh vegetables and fresh fish are a lot more inexpensive than McDonald’s.

Audacious on June 2, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Wonder of wonders!!! For the first and only time in my life I have to agree, with reservations, with Audacious, as long as he stipulates that he means romaine lettuce, and fatty fish such as salmon or whitefish. I even have to say that the one and only thing I will ever agree with Obama about is eating aragula. It is a cruciferous, cancer-fighting veggie, and unfortunately, like many of the most healthy foods, e.g. kale, hulled barley, purple cauliflower, etc., can only be obtained at Whole Foods or similar stores.
Of course people can eat wherever they want. It is also unfortunate if people’s economic limitations force them to eat fast food. I’m not going to criticize anybody for their dietary choices, but there is no question that a diet based on fruits, veggies, beans & whole grains is far healthier than the garbage that prevails at fast-food restaurants. I doubt McDonalds etc. have whole grain choices (maybe 25% whole grain & 75% refined grain or sugar). Even if you can get a few healthy greens there (althuogh probably not the best kinds based on cruciferous veggies like collard greens or kale), it isn’t possible to get a balanced diet of whole grains, multi-colored veggies, beans, etc. there. At best lots of empty calories with too much salt & sugar, even if the deadly dressings are avoided.
This won’t be enough to make me vote for Obama though. I still think he is an enemy of our civilization, and a friend to our enemies.

c f on June 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Americans like to eat hearty and inexpensively. In most of the world, people can’t get the large servings of food Americans can. We should be grateful as Americans that we can eat well. Few people in history have had that privilege and it once reserved to the very well off in Europe, where my ancestors lived.

NormanF on June 2, 2008 at 2:52 pm

I can’t say anything about economics, but I do agree you can eat healty fast food if you look. Just eat the salads and grilled chicken and you are fine.

mindy1 on June 2, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Mcdonald’s is also very popular in places like Russia because of food security; IOW, the people can trust an American purveyor of food to serve uncontaminated food.

PJ on June 2, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Why does tofu have such a bad rap? I love tofu. It’s a big block of bean protein. What exactly is wimpy about that? Would it have a better reputation if we called it Slab o’ Bean instead?
I do understand “edamame,” though. The use of the name is pretty pretentious. If we just called them soybeans instead, I doubt it would sound so snooty. I was surprised when I moved back to America from Japan, only to find people throwing around “edamame” like it’s some gourmet food item. In Japan, edamame is like the peanuts you have with your beer when you’re out at the bar.

LibertarianBulbasaur on June 2, 2008 at 11:47 pm

hey Debbie, would it really kill you to have a McDonald’s burger just once in your life. I know its not kosher, but just once will not condemn you in any way.
P.S. You’re so frekin hot…:*

tita2juju on June 3, 2008 at 12:39 am

So… the Left is practicing mysticism again?
After their soothsayers read the signs of their apocalypse (global warming) and the second coming of a Bill Clinton (Obama), they read the signs of forebode and misery in the food?
I have a great-looking 1î thick porterhouse they could read, ìI see in itís future a bed of spices followed by the sounds of grillingÖ with the sudden infusion of sherry, mushrooms, and sautÈed onions! The future is bleak for the national economy when sides of roasted potatoes and asparagus are set upon the plate! OH! The destruction of polar bears with the addition of a hot dinner roll!î
This is pathetic to say McDonaldís is an indicator of a poor economy. The left is really desperate to win this election. Next thing theyíll do to win is call me at home and bash my faithÖ oh, wait ñ they did that already.

bhparkman on June 3, 2008 at 1:17 am

DS, I found something to disagree with you about. FAST FOOD IS NOT CHEAP FOOD. It’s actually quit expensive. I suggest that if readers are trying to lose weight, try the McDonald’s French Fry Diet. The golden arches now gives you about 10 fries in a small order and the Large order of fries is all “hat and no cattle” (big box, few fries)

ParaLyzer on June 3, 2008 at 2:14 am

Brown rice is even cheaper, as is barley, and all kinds of other healthful grains. Beans can be purchased in bulk for low prices, as can seasonal fruits and veggies. If someone follows a weight-reduction diet based on eating unhealthful foods like McDonald French Fries (even if they eliminate the trans fat they will be loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat), the wieght reduction in many cases will not prevent the onset of degenerative disease. At best, their ‘healthful’ foods will cause minimal harm, but little real benefit, and at worst, they will raise blood pressure and predispose to diabetes due to the excessive sodium, refined grains and sugar. Most people will spend more money down the road in health costs by trying to save a few pennies now on that junk.

c f on June 3, 2008 at 3:48 pm

“dm” is right. Their Grilled Chicken Caesar with lowfat dressing comes in at about 270 calories, is packed with protein, and runs me just under $5 (a hell of a lot cheaper than if I ordered a handmade salad with hot, grilled chicken at a deli or bought the “supplies” to craft it at home).
I work like crazy. The opportunity cost to make something like that at home these days is too freakin’ high.
Vive McDo!

Second City on August 12, 2008 at 3:04 pm

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