A while ago I had a chat with one of my friends who is a fake doctor* about fast food. He suggested as a meal or a whole diet fast food is nonsense, and this is pretty much the message everyone has received over the years. He also made another point however. He suggested if fast food is thought of as confectionary, and eaten accordingly at appropriate times, then it is actually really good. Compared to other forms of confectionary — sugared sugar dusted with sugar on an edible sugar-based stick, for example — then most fast food contains some vitamins and sometimes a large amount of protein.
Fast food as confectionary opens up a whole new world of consumption. Confectionary is consumed at certains times of the year and henceforth should be substituted for fast food. I am thinking of Christmas time. INstead of candy canes hanging from the tree, Christmas revellers should hang chicken nuggets. A Easter, chocolate eggs should be replaced with burgers. The best thing about burgers is that, like Easter eggs, they come in different sizes. So for that annoying sub-relative (younger in pecking order relative to grandparents than you, ie cousins of various iterations) a simple ‘hamburger’ will suffice. (Apologies, but I shall draw on the McDonald’s burger typology.) For your sibling, get them heaps and heaps of single meat-serving ‘cheeseburgers’. For your parents, get them something classic, like a ‘Big Mac’ (or whatever signature burger your preferred ‘family’ restaurant produces). For your romantic interest, lash out on a multiple meat-serving, bacon-infused ‘special’, like a triple Quarterpounder with cheese, and perhaps an artistic arrangement of fries and nuggets for presentation points. Unlike chocolate, burgers and most other fast foods will need to be eaten within a 2.5 day window of consumptive opportunity.
Fast food as confectionary can also be used to soothe over trauma with troubled teens. They are too young to have a stiff drink and cigarette. Having a cup of tea is too civilised and unfamiliar. Getting a drive-thru meal or ‘combo deal’ serves as an immanent point of reference external to the situation that can trigger various stories about the ‘last time’ they had said burger/wrap/piece of flavoured and batter-coated chicken. It is something familiar; a space carved out of the landmark franchise-islands and a time congruent with the instant-gratification taste of corn starch thickeryness and suger-salt flavour upgrades. Fast food as confectionary becomes a strategic resource, if used sparingly, that can help teenagers talk through the frustration of not having emoticons in everyday language to express themselves, even if such expression is muted mouthfuls of meat-bun confectionary and a discourse of txt-speak samples from advertisement jingles.
* not a ‘real’ doctor, he is merely a medical doctor