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McDonald’s Apple Pie Is the Finest Food on Earth

Whatever happens, at least we have this

Ringer Illustration
Ringer Illustration

When it fails — when the orange man loses the presidency but wins the platform; when the yelling grows louder and the things that used to work, like your Xbox controller and left shoulder and the local public schools, suddenly don’t anymore; when all of your favorite sites shut down and The Economist prognosticates and the men in suits come and take your laptop and it dawns on you, finally, that it’s over — we will at least have had McDonald’s apple pies.

I am going to tell you something now, and if you disagree, it’s only because you’re wrong. Maybe you simply didn’t believe it could be true and never gave yourself the opportunity that you and it deserved, in which case you should run or drive or bikeshare or whatever it is you do over to the nearest McDonald’s — at the very farthest, you will run/drive/bikeshare for just barely 100 miles before the arches come into view, this being the absolute maximum distance separating you from a Mickey D’s in the continental U.S. of A. — and rectify that injustice. But anyway, here’s the truth: The McDonald’s apple pie is the finest food on earth.

Are there healthier foods? Yes. Are there fresher foods? Yes. Are there cheaper foods? Barely, but yes. Are there more delicious foods? Yes, there are: Some foods, I confess, taste better than this food does. Are there foods less obviously tied into the neoliberal world-is-flat hellscape, in which lucky happenstance has placed you so snugly at the top that even as you reap the benefits you are aware, vaguely, that it is coming at the cost of your fellow man? Yes, yes, yes.

But is there any other food that so effectively combines all of these things: deliciousness, affordability, availability, reliability, and the last and clanging gusts of you deserve this? No. There isn’t. There is just one: the McDonald’s apple pie.

Let’s look at it. McDonald’s describes its pies as “delicious apples, lightly spiced with cinnamon, baked in a flaky pastry.” Your hackles are rising at these adjectives, these impossibilities, and — well, I’ll admit that “flaky pastry” might be an oversell; it’s more turnover-esque than anything. But it is good — great, even. “Gooey” is a gross word, so we won’t use it, but it’s whatever the less-gross version of that is. It is soft in the middle and crispy around the edges. It is not too sweet. It is flavorful, but not in a way that tires you out after just one (we’ll get there). It is neither — you don’t believe me, but this is true — dry nor mushy. It is, in essence, perfect.

It’s also not fucking around. It knows why you came to McDonald’s, just as you know why you came to McDonald’s. Fast-food ads generally fall into one of three categories: (1) Hey, look at this burger, it has more bacon on it than you will goddamn believe; (2) Your kids will shut up for a second if you bring them here, we swear; and (3) The consultant we hired told us you like salads, we’re spending a lot of money on this, look how crisp and green and nice it is, fast casual is ruining everything, I can’t afford my mortgage, please come back. I get the salad thing, I do: Sometimes we have to lie to protect the things we love. You and your pie can laugh together about it later.

Sorry, did I say pie? I meant pies. Because the McDonald’s apple pie allows you to be honest enough to admit that you don’t want just one. Sporadically, which is to say basically always, McDonald’s will run a promotion where for some incremental amount of money — when I was a kid, I remember the increase being one cent, from 99 cents to $1; the pair I just bought for “research” cost me 40 cents extra, from 89 cents to $1.29, I assume to punish the lawmakers I share the environs of Washington, D.C., with — you can get a second pie.

You will be asked if you want a second pie, in exchange for no more than lightening your wallet of a couple of coins. You will say yes: It’s just good economic policy. Is one pie for your friend? No, it is not. Is one for later? No; we all signed the same NDA not to talk about cold fast food.

You will be happy. And don’t we all deserve a little more of that?