FREEDOM...that is what comes to mind when I take a look at that unforgettable logo. A logo that a group of total strangers could look at together, and still have one thing in common...they know McDonald's.
Growing up, I was an easy child to please. A few comics and action figures was all I ever needed. However, there was something else. Something that almost every child of my era longed for...and that something was a day at the Golden Arches.
As I sit back and talk with my friends about the yesteryears; it almost seems like some sort of law that McDonald's has to be brought up. Whether you went for the food, the arcade games, the playgrounds, or the toys, every child had his or her agenda when stepping through the doors.
Personally, I went for all of the above. You see, when I went to McDonald's I gained some sort of freedom. A freedom that couldn't be fount anywhere else. I ate, I played, and I even took a piece of that freedom home with me. McDonald's never let me down, and to this day, provided some of the best memories I can recall.
Here are my four main categories ranked in order from the least important, to the unforgettable.#4 - THE FOOD
Coming in at number four is, well you guessed it...the food. While the food provided all the flavor of cheap burgers, chicken and fries a kid could want, it wasn't the focal point. Now don't get me wrong, I liked the food just fine, it just wasn't the #1 priority of my trip. The chicken nugget Happy Meal was always the choice for me. Some kids, like my fiance, was more of a burger kid. Whatever your preference was,the Happy Meal featured your main food item, fries, a small drink, a little pack of character shaped cookies, and a toy.#3 - The Playgrounds
I can't really call number three "play places", because that's not what they were known as when I was a kid. Nope, no fancy name, just a playground. Actually, I couldn't even find a picture that remotely looked like our local McDonald's playground. It was an old single leveled, ball pit dwelling, short slide shocking nightmare. Ah, but how fun it could be at times. Dirty black bottomed socks and ball fights were all the rage in those days; except the ill fated day when I discovered that a kid had left his breakfast in the ball pit. Stepping on pancakes IS as gross as you would expect it to be. Playgrounds have evolved over the days, into the indoor mega giants now known as PlayPlaces. Although they lack the nostalgic feel of the old playgrounds, they still look equally if not more enjoyable.#2 - The Arcade Games
As the trip to the Golden Arches begin to see its end, there was one last thing I had to do. Throughout the entire eating process, there was always the loud parent dreading arcade music and noises. Hearing these noises while you stuffed your face with McDonald's food was undoubtedly one of the best parts of the trip. Once the food was devoured, and the playground lost its appeal, it was time to work my fingers out a little. I knew that I would only receive a few quarters, so I had to make wise choices on what I played. However, upon entering the building, there was no question to which arcade games would be deemed mine.
Other than the Ninja Turtles Arcade game, the two games above were the ultimate in early 90's arcade gaming choices. Not only were the games extremely fun, there were so many character choices! Where else could a kid play as Bart Simpson and Wolverine within a ten minute period! It would be hard to imagine how many quarters were put into those machines, and the amount of button mashing fun I walked away with.#1 - The Toys
Here it is, the number one thing I enjoyed most about McDonald's...the toys. I don't think I am the only one who shares this opinion, for the fact that McDonald's toys are still being wrote about today, helps preserve their well deserved glory.
Whatever the latest craze was, McDonald's was almost sure to have a toy for it. Sure, other fast food joints had good toys too, but McDonald's just seemed to have the best. If you were to go to my basement right now, you would find a Happy Meal toy graveyard, as I have yet to toss any of them away and have doomed them to a lifetime in brown cardboard boxes. It would be nearly impossible to cover all the assortments of toys offered throughout the years, so I have gathered a few that I could remember liking.
McDonald's always offered Disney related toys and holiday themed toys too. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed getting a holiday themed pail over a toy, but I took whatever I could get!
Even though I was a little bit older when it hit, the Teenie Beanie Baby craze was insane. My fiance remembers going with her mom just about daily to get the latest beanies,and the best bragging rights. It's funny how we fight tooth and nail for random toys, and yet they hold next to no value now...oh well, it's the given rights of being a kid.
As i finish up this rather lengthy article about McDonald's, I can't help but to sit back and crack a smile. Those were fun days well spent. You couldn't buy the great memories that I have collected throughout the years. I still visit McDonald's every now and then, only to sit and remember those glorious days at the Golden Arches.