Free Southern Style Chicken sandwiches at McDonald’s until 7:00 p.m., today only. The catch is that you have to buy a medium or large beverage – but not the sweet tea, since it’s being promoed at a dollar. Funny how getting something for free at a fast food establishment always involves the purchase of a beverage, no? Well, not really. Anyone in the restaurant business knows that the mark-up on soft drinks is usurious. In Berkeley, where Matt and I went to check out the free grub, it cost us each $1.65 for the soda. The key point here is that this new product is a knock-off of the Chick-fil-A, a hugely popular sandwich in the Southern states. Chick-fil-A, the name of the chain restaurant, is also the name of its signature sandwich, I think, but they do serve other things. We are talking a deep fried piece of chicken breast on a steamed bun dressed with pickles and butter. I though the McDonald’s version was pretty good, but I leave it to the fanatical Chick-fil-A devotees to set us straight. The bun was soft and sweet – what they call a “regular bun” and the one you find around those lame basic hamburgers. The chicken piece was not huge, but fine, and moist and fairly thick for its size. Had I not read it, I would not have known about the butter. A bit of quick research tells me that Chick-fil-A uses no trans fat to fry, so it has it over Mickie Dees there. When you look into the trans fat situation on the McDonald’s website it is not easy to get exactly what you need since there is quite a bit of what seems like misdirection, but I figured out (from the ingredients section) that both the bun and fried chicken contain trans fat (i.e., partially hydrogenated oil) and that, for most of the USA, each sandwich has 1.5 grams of trans fat. This total trans fat number came from the nutritional information. It is not clear how much of the trans fat is attributable to the frying oil vs. the bun, unfortunately, nor is there anything (unless I missed it) about what kind of oils, specifically, they are using to fry various items. When I did a global search to find out what the deal is in terms of reducing their use of trans fat in general, I found this:
Frequently Asked Questions About McDonald’s USA Food & Nutrition
Q: What is the status of the trans fatty acid reduction at McDonald’s?
A: Reducing, and where possible eliminating, trans fatty acids from our fried menu items continues to be a priority at McDonald’s. Our goal is to provide our customers with significantly reduced or 0 gram TFA fried products that meet their expectations for taste and quality. We are pleased that we’ve identified an alternative oil which thousands of customers say produces the same great taste in our Fries. McDonald’s ability to achieve broader distribution of the alternative oil is now based upon availability of supply. We’ll keep you posted on our progress. Meanwhile, we continue to provide TFA information in all our nutrition information materials, including our Web site, in-store nutrition brochures, trayliners, and now some product packages.
I am soooo glad that McDonald’s has “identified an alternative oil.” Had they asked me years ago, I would have suggested several oils, including Canola. Gee, I wonder why it has taken them so long? Do you think money has anything to do with it? I guess we’ll all be in better shape when they get that “supply” issue worked out. Do you think that whatever they’ve done has been proactive or reactive? I’m also confused. It’s looking like the only thing that gets fried in this alternative oil is French fries, and that the only places it is in use are where McDonald’s has been legally required to change their ways. Doesn’t that conflict with the idea of “broader distribution” being “based upon availability of supply?” I’m not being sarcastic here — I really cannot figure this out. Do they only use it where they are forced to? Do they not use it elsewhere because there is not enough of it? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, what is the “alternative oil?” Is it something like Canola oil? Is it a blend of good oils? I hope it’s not a substance they are producing in their lab somewhere, but I have my fears since I would think they’d tell you what it is if it’s not scary. When will the government force these rich bastards (and not only at McDonald’s) to use better oil, period? Incredible that California is behind the trend here. Back to our regularly scheduled chicken sandwich. I would give it a go if you need to get that fix on, and it’s nice to have a sandwich choice that isn’t slathered with unidentifiable sauces and piled high with a bunch of other crap, like iceberg lettuce, that does nothing but get all over when you open the wrapper. I hate that! Oh, yeah: the McDonald’s in Berkeley now sells another Southern favorite, sweet tea, and was offering samples. I would be surprised if it lasted around here because it is unbelievably sweet.
The most important news, though, is that the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage today, striking down laws that declared it unconstitutional.