Dryathlon, Dry January and Veganuary seem so long ago. It’s now halfway through a month that hitherto has had no major nickname. ‘Hi, I’m February. Yep, just February. The calendar forgot me.’
But the Feb snub might be over. There are things happening.
Let’s look into the whats and so whats. First, the Big Mac has just turned 50. Surely that celebration would involve a burger-shaped cake with fries planted rather than candles, I thought. No. To mark the big ‘Five Oh’, McDonald’s announced a Grand Big Mac, containing 741 cals.
Groan. Was a Grand Big Mac setting the right tone for today’s world, in which there’s no expectation to be a grandparent at 50? In fact, isn’t 50 the new 30? Mightn’t they have created the Midult Mac, 50 years young, rather than the Grand Big Mac?
(Interesting note: Filet-O-Fish turned 50 in 2012. That was a surprise. Looks younger than the Big Mac, but that’s seafood for you.)
Then I realised something more important was happening. The Grand Big Mac was, in fact, an attempt to oust Donald Trump from American political life. Come on, it’s obvious. Trump eats burgers. Everything in his life is the BIGGEST. His crowing about The Apprentice indicates he prizes top ratings, and it’s hard to beat 741 calories. Given this, there seemed little doubt the announcement of a Grand Big Mac would augur a change to the presidential takeway order. Surely even Trump’s system would give up after weeks of an extra 741 calories delivered by burger? With his expiration goes the threat he has presented to US ways of life – his challenge to freedom of the press and his undermining of governmental etiquette. With a return to normal under someone else, McDonald’s would be able to say ‘We saved the American constitution’ and, really, who on earth expected that?
I looked at the calendar, to note The Beginning of the End. Hmm. The Grand Big Mac was announced in the first week of February. Just after the end of January, during which we all swore to eat aerated sugar snap peas and nothing but. That seemed Filet-O-Fishy. Would they have announced a 741-calorie burger in early January?
I investigated further the food associations of each month. Early January: baking giants Mr Kipling introduced reduced-sugar cakes for the first time. The iconic and vividly orange British drink, Irn Bru, said it would do a 50% less sugar version.
As February loomed, the tone changed. KFC unveiled a woman playing Colonel Sanders. Greggs, Britain’s greatest aggregator of carbs, and the patron saint of sausage rolls, advertised Valentine’s Day dinners. If you don’t know this British chain, the Asia equivalent of such a plan would be getting a Circle K sarnie and eating it ‘a deux’ on a bench in Wan Chai park. It’s not a healthy choice, for your waistline or relationship.
Was the Grand Big Mac in fact NOT about a man named Trump, but a calendar called Julian? Did it symbolise February is about fast food, naughty treats, snacks that were forbidden in January? With progression to its own portfolio, a new monthly moniker surely comes. Flabuary. Or Fatuary. Or, given how greatly we love our food…Fabuary?
Incidentally, ‘Veganuary’ brought with it a rise in vegan food sales in the UK. So much so, vegan haggis was popular at Burns Night, on January 25th, when Scotland celebrates its national poet. These musings started with the Big Mac turning 50. So let’s end with another question: What age is vegan haggis? Less than one, I wager. Hoping it doesn’t get to two.