I dreamt of pizza often in the worst year ever. Though not what any reasonable person
would consider to be good pizza. I am referring to every 90s kids’ favourite Happy Meal dish (?) the McPizza: a piping hot cacophony of near liquid cheese, meat that I can only assume was pepperoni, and sauce that blistered the roof of my six-year old mouth all served on a cardboard adjacent crust.
I have spent countless car rides with my sister engaging in intense nostalgia sessions in
which we catalog all the weirdest and least healthy menu items that fast food restaurants used to serve. Inevitably all of these conversations would come back to our Holy Grail. “You were old enough to remember the McDonald’s Pizza, right?” I always steer the conversation with that question a wry smirk already knowing the answer.
“Oh my god yes!” Nikola always replies. The two of us then descend the rabbit hole
reminiscing about bad pizza, celebrating our own birthdays and birthdays of our friends at the Owen Sound McDonald’s in an old train caboose they converted into an event space, and almost everyone in attendance getting the pizza Happy Meal.
Talking about fast food items with my sister is also conveniently a coping mechanism for
both of us. While both of us are emotionally strong, independently minded people our
relationship isn’t one of emotional intimacy. We talk about feelings broadly but never in the way we both do with other people. For us, making each other laugh is how we cope and nostalgia is often an easy space for both of us to mine for humour. I remember distracting ourselves on the long drive to our Great Aunt’s funeral a few years ago when I introduced Nikola to the McDonald’s Secret Menu. Both of us recoiled in curious disgust at the overwhelming number of calories in the McLand, Sea, and Air (a combination Big Mac. McChicken, and Fillet O Fish) and joking about whether or not we should try ordering them at every small town McDonald’s we passed along the way. I remember both of us spending summers working gruelling hours in restaurants, endlesslesly debating whether my post-work Junior Chicken and hash brown or her post-work Wendy’s salad was better. I remember struggles with problematic coworkers accompanied by a litany of the grossest Taco Bell items that thankfully no longer exist. The list goes on. When something sad or hard happens, the McNamara siblings will probably be talking about gross food.
During the worst year ever, these conversations have continued and become a bright spot. Almost as if fast food was a symbol of normalcy for both of us. Though unfortunately now, a lot of our food conversations end up revolving around our favourite restaurants that we haven’t been able to eat at in over a year. Very specifically all you can eat sushi (I’m getting to the point where I would seriously consider debasing myself in countless degenerate ways just for a table full of maki rolls and deep fried Japanese wonders) though our hometown pub regularly makes the list
too. Yet still, even in the worst year ever, a popular conversation topic is that elusive McDonald’s pizza. This has inspired me to do a tiny amount of research and a whole lot of baseless speculation and I will present my findings here.
The McDonald’s pizza was part of the franchise’s planned attempt to expand into Italian
food. Presumably because when any of us think of the name McDonald, the first thing we imagine is an elderly Italian woman standing on a beautiful terrace in Tuscany using a mortar and pestle, lovingly and painstakingly crafting homemade pesto. The McPizza was the first of such creations with the plan to later introduce spaghetti and lasagna.
Here’s where things get interesting:
The reason the McPizza ended up getting taken off of the menu was because it took ten
minutes to make. Customers regularly got angry and frustrated with having to wait so long at a “restaurant” that prides itself on fast service. I can actually vaguely remember this from when I was a kid. Though in that context it was painfully waiting ten minutes for my pizza to come up to find out whether or not I could FINALLY add Doctor Octopus to my collection of Spider-Man Happy Meal toys.
So here’s my theory: McDonald’s represents one of the greatest applications of Frederick
Taylor’s work on scientific management. Every step of the food preparation process is divided across multiple employees and broken down by the second. I am convinced that the McPizza was created by an anarchist to fuck with this.
To quote the friend I texted this piece’s title while high as a peregrine falcon scouting vast fields for prey: “LMAO WHAT?”
I guess first of all, think about how long ten minutes is in McDonald’s time. Now think of
what impact that would have during high volume periods. That is pure chaos. The drive-thru grinds to a halt as soon as someone orders a pizza, the dining room in the store starts to get uncomfortably crowded because multiple families have ordered pizza Happy Meals, customers’ patience grows thinner and thinner, and the best part? This menu item is something a ton of kids are for sure going to order. While this is unquestionably shitty for workers, it is utterly hilarious from the perspective of an employee purposely throwing a wrench into the workings of a company they (presumably) hate. I feel like I need to give this employee a name so I’ll call him
Steve Anarchist from here.
The way I imagine it, Steve Anarchist ended up trapped in a job creating products for
McDonald’s and hates himself for being part of a company with a history of labour issues. He spends years hating the company more and more. When the time comes for his revenge, Steve, dripping with nervous sweat, stands up on shaky legs in a board meeting and sheepishly says, “What if we tried making Italian food?"
The boardroom grows silent as everyone stares at him. A beat passes.
“That,” his manager says staring sternly over the top of his glasses, a look of cold
contempt on his face. “Is the finest god damn idea I’ve ever heard!”
The room erupts into a round of congratulations and back patting; grown men singing
Sweet Lady Capitalism’s siren song. Steve Anarchist meanwhile lets out a sigh of relief. His plan is in motion.
The McPizza rollout happens and the people at that meeting begin to panic. Steve
Anarchist meanwhile has quietly slunk off to Tahiti, satisfied in the knowledge that for a brief moment, he was the reason the McDonald’s machine slowed down. Hopefully he won’t be the last.
I am McPizza wherefore I will not rule, and also ruled I will not be.
Nikola and I had a conversation a while ago that started as a joke but gradually grew
more serious. She had just found an article online about two guys who found the last
McDonald’s serving pizza in Ohio. We may or may not take the trip once the pandemic ends if for no other reason than to satiate our hunger for a simpler time.