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Who among us didn’t love a McDonald‘s Happy Meal as a child? The little sesame-studded burger (with its uniform distribution of ketchup, mustard, onion pellets, and pickle), the tiny paper bag full of crispy fries, and (perhaps most thrilling of all) the tie-in toy that has elicited shrieks of joy in American kids for decades.
Those were simpler times, weren’t they? Before Supersize Me, before The Omnivore’s Dilemma, before factory farming and gluten intolerance entered our cultural consciousness, before we knew that Donald Trump eats two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and two Big Macs and washes it all down with a chocolate milkshake. Before we knew about pink sludge and corporate greed and exactly how many billions of germs there are in those goddamn ball pits.
YouTube’s The Try Guys force us all back into our mom’s station wagon (maroon, Chevrolet) with their latest video. In it, one of the aforementioned Try Guys, a bespectacled “Keith,” pokes at the part of our brain that triggers nostalgia and tries to make a gourmet meal out of a hamburger Happy Meal.
Today’s Happy Meals apparently contain apple slices and apple juice in an effort to appease Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow. In my day, you got an orange soda, but we’re a different people now.
This Keith fellow deconstructs the burgers and fries to create a cross between a dumpling and an empanada, a Frankenstein’s monster he calls a “dumpanada,” which is the most unappetizing thing I’ve ever heard. It’s accompanied by a pickle-studded, condiment-enhanced gastrique artfully sloshed on the plate.
Keith applies the same technique to his dessert portion, reducing the apple slices and juice to a filling that he stuffs in a smooshed burger bun and then lightly cooks in fry grease.
The fry grease is a stroke of genius, by the way. Keith manages to extrude the cooking oil (which used to be beef tallow, didn’t it?) from the fries by lightly heating them in a saute pan. A+, Keith.
Keith’s judging panel, two of his adult male friends and a restaurant professional, are tasked with determining whether he’s made a Happy Meal into something adults should eat. I’ll spoil it for you: They give him the W, out of pity.
The larger question of this video: How can we make it acceptable for grown men to eat a McDonald’s Happy Meal? You can’t. You can’t get back in your mom’s station wagon, McDonald’s is a corporate behemoth, those toys are probably choking hazards, and there’s E. coli in the ball pit.
Have a nice day.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.