Like any American adolescent, McDonald’s played a large role in my childhood. When I traveled with my soccer squad the coach gave us a $5 per diem for expenses. This outlandish sum of money was carefully hoarded til me and my mates saw a Golden Arches off Interstate 75, at which point we’d immediately begin hollering for coach to pull off the freeway. I discovered McDonald’s via television. Corbin, Kentucky was too small to host one of the franchises, so anytime a roadtrip opportunity came along, my sister and I would begin plotting how we could coax our dad into taking us there. The McDonald’s ads that were on TV when we were little were incredibly enticing. The mayor, the hamburglar, the big doofus clown…we were rapt the moment one came on.

Finally news broke that we were slated to get our very own McDonald’s! Rarely has such a fervor swept through the Cumberland Highlands. Mountain folk ranged in from far and wide to taste the strange exoticism of “quarter pounders” and “big macs”

One imagines the chagrin felt at old stand-by Hardees, the lone chain that had set up shop in the old down town area many years before.

Things change.

As an adult I once vowed that I would eat at a McDonald’s once every ten years just to remind myself how bad they are. Sadly, it’s been over 16 summers since I last visited my one-time happy place. It was in Tallahassee in the late 90s and the food was unsurprisingly poor. My old standard bearer, the quarter pounder, had fallen on hard times.

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