Burger King’s Whopper with cheese. Yes, I used to have a real problem. Emphasis on “used to,” because I am off that narcotic.
So when I saw a headline about Burger King testing out a home delivery service I first got a little chill, and then I got kind of sad.
Residents living within a 10-minute drive of select Burger King locations in Maryland and Virginia can place orders by phone or online and receive deliveries for a $2 fee, the company said in an e-mail. Burger King is starting with a handful of locations and requires a minimum order of $8 to $10. It will roll out the delivery service in 16 locations by Jan. 23, but hasn’t yet specified when the service will be available nationwide.
I’m imagining Baltimore and its corner stores and corner bars, and asking myself how likely people will be to order Burger King instead of walking down the street for an equally unhealthy steak or sub. I’m remembering neighborhoods I’ve lived in where the closest thing to a fresh meal was wildly greasy so-called Chinese food. We could always order in pizza, so why not burgers and fries? Burger King’s decision to deliver food makes so much sense that it’s painful — of course the evolution of eating would take diners from cooking for themselves in actual kitchens, to driving up to actual kitchens, to ordering fake food from drive-ins, to not even needing to drive to get drive-thru food. Genius and sad.
But this is not like ordering in pizza or a cheesesteak.
I’m not exactly a recovering fast food “addict” because I never ate that much of the stuff and it was nowhere near a staple in my diet, but in recent years I’ve accepted the poisonous and addictive properties of it, and am pretty disgusted with myself for having eaten a single bite. Let’s face it: the crafty food chemical engineering of fast food is a Dr.Evil level of sensory manipulation. When I think really hard about how my mother’s famous potato salad tastes, I can almost imagine it but not quite — it’s too fresh and therefore unpredictable to fully call to mind. When I think about a Whopper with cheese I can imagine exactly how it tastes and can do the same for McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. Whatever I’m imagining is exactly what you’re imagining too, and this sense memory is based on artificial flavoring — more like a perfume than actual food. You can remember what Victoria Secret’s Tranquil Breezes smells like even though you probably haven’t smelled it in years, can’t you? Exactly. It’s natural to crave what we can imagine over that which we cannot, and cravings are the stuff delivery is made of.
Of course, those artificial flavors are masking the least nourishing food around. Fast food is not exclusively to blame for the obesity epidemic but it certainly isn’t helping; even McDonald’s attempt at oatmeal is really little more than a bowl of sugar with some processed grains thrown in. The cheap and easy options are not the healthy ones, and we all know that this has deeper socioeconomic repercussions. When throwing in just a few extra dollars to save yourself from walking to your car for a fast meal is cheaper and easier than going grocery shopping and preparing a meal composed of whole, clean foods, we have a problem.