Mary Russell

Sometimes, your blog has articles about game design and development, or what it's like to spend your time making games, and sometimes it's Saturday night and you still don't have something for next Tuesday yet, and so you have no choice but to run a piece you wrote in 2014 about a sandwich you ate once.

This is one of those times.

Sometimes, I purchase the McChicken sandwich at McDonald's.

I'd rather eat real food, but hey, it's a sandwich for a dollar, so I can't expect too much. I don't want to say that I necessarily like it, the way I like a crème brulee. I would not go out of my way to get a McChicken; I do not get all excited, oh boy, let's go get a McChicken.

But it's reasonably palatable for what it is. It's at least vaguely chicken-like, and the pepper gives it a little bit of kick, which is cut back by the mayo. Just a little, mind you; too much kick does not agree with me. I would say my tolerance for kick is significantly lower than that of most people. Really, the McChicken's kick is usually about as much as I can take. That is, again, assuming the kick has been cut back by the proper amount of mayo.

The last couple of times I ordered a McChicken, there wasn't much mayo, which meant that the kick of the pepper overwhelmed the chicken, which made it unpleasant. Tonight, being mindful of this, I decided to ask for extra mayo. This, it turns out, was not a good idea.

First, it was not a good idea because it raised the price of my dollar sandwich to a buck-thirty. Now, I don't mind paying a little extra for food if I'm going to taste the difference. We buy fresh veggies instead of canned; when we get parmesan cheese (which isn't often), we get the real Italian stuff. But paying extra for a McDonald's sandwich, and for a condiment on said sandwich no less, that just rubs me the wrong way. "That's really chintzy," I told the missus; she agreed. "There's no way there's thirty cents worth of extra mayo on this sandwich."

Boy, was I wrong. There was an insane amount of mayonnaise on this sandwich. I couldn't even see the chicken, that's how much mayo this thing had. It looked less like mayo and more like white cream butter. It was smeared all over the paper and the bread. Mary almost retched at the sight of it. So did I.

Now: I'm a person who likes mayonnaise. One time, Mary and I bought a five gallon jar of mayonnaise, and it took a year and half to work our way most of the way through it, and I maintain that that wasn't too much mayonnaise - for a year and a half for two people. I'm pretty sure that that is how much mayonnaise was on my sandwich.

I grabbed four paper napkins in order to wipe the mayonnaise off. You know how the way to sculpt an elephant is to take a hunk of clay and chip away everything that isn't an elephant? That's what I was about to do, wipe away everything that wasn't allegedly a piece of chicken.

To commence this mammoth undertaking, I took off the top bun. Or I should say that I tried to. There was so much mayo on the underside of that bun that it came apart in my hands. That's how much mayo there was.

I knew then that this was going to get messy. I took off my coat, and rolled up my sleeves, and got to wiping. It turned out four paper napkins were not sufficient. I got four more.

By the time I was done, the chicken looked like a piece of chicken parisienne, but at least it now had a chicken-shape. Using the wrapping paper, Mary "bounced" the top bun back on top. For now it was time to eat the darn thing.

So, you know how a couple of years ago, when you started reading this, I said that the McChicken sandwich is not something I seek out or something I necessarily "like" the way I like real food, but that I found it palatable? This was not the case with this particular McChicken sandwich. I will say that there was no danger of the kick overwhelming the chicken, as the mayo did that. I'm not sure how it still had such a strong mayo taste. I theorized that instead there was a latent "mayo aura" exuded by the sandwich. An invisible mayo AoE attack. This was later confirmed by the fact that the inside of my coat had some mayo on it, despite having been doffed and slung over a chair, untouched, long before I set to my ghastly task.

I could only eat the sandwich so long as I didn't actually look at it. So I stared at a poster from Zombies of the Stratosphere - this being the kind of McDonald's that has a poster of Zombies of the Stratosphere, as well as a statue of Superman, who looked like he was always trying to punch a separate statue of Elvis - and forced each mouthful in sideways. I was doing okay until I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. I could immediately feel it starting to come back up. Not even immediately; it was like it had already started coming up before it did, like it had always been coming back up even before it had started going down, the way God has always existed and always will.

Quickly I threw the sandwich down, and Mary covered it with the paper to hide it from view. I did manage to keep it down.

The moral of the story, of course: don't ever order a McChicken with extra mayo.


  • This story never gets old.

    And I know a lot of Tom stories that do, so I have a measuring stick.

    Brian Blottie

  • always with the trenchant design insights, tom.

    erin escobedo

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