I love newspaper food pages, what with their Bolognese sauce recipes and reviews of locavore bistros. They tell us how to eat well, and that’s something of real value. Putting thought into what we put in our bodies is never a bad thing.
That said, sometimes I just wanna grab some garbage food and shove greedy handfuls of it into my dumb face. There’s not much coverage of junk food in the food pages, and this feature seeks to remedy that.
In every biweekly edition of Pat Eats Garbage Food, I’ll review a different fast food item or convenience store snack and let you know what works and what doesn’t. (You’ll note I didn’t say what’s good and what’s bad; it’s all bad. That’s the point.)
For this, the first Garbage Food column in more than two years, I had to go with a real classic: McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. It’s not new or Xtreme or Nacho-Blasted or whatever else your average wad of drive-thru dough and animal fats is these days; it’s just a simple, almost elegant breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and Canadian bacon. (OK, maybe “elegant” is the wrong word — DEFINITELY “elegant” is the wrong word — but in a fast-food landscape that passed the point of self-parody long before taco shells were even made out of fried chicken, it’s nice to be able to order something that is recognizably “breakfast food.”)
$4.39 through DoorDash, because I’m not loading three kids in the car on a Saturday morning unless I have to. This is a fine, fair price, though as I’ve mentioned many times previously, I have developed that old-guy thing where I think all food should cost what it did when I was younger. “Why I remember when Egg McMuffins cost a dollar! And did we have them delivered? With our cellphones? No! We drove there. It took three weeks by buggy. The weaker among us didn’t make it.”
The other damage
310 calories, 13 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 30 grams carbs, 17 grams protein, 3 grams sugar, 770 mg sodium, 250 mg cholesterol. One McMuffin contains 34% of the protein you need each day (which would be great if it didn’t also contain 83% of your daily cholesterol allotment).
“Our Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich is an excellent source of protein and oh so delicious. We place a freshly cracked Grade A egg on a toasted English Muffin topped with real butter and add lean Canadian bacon and melty American cheese.”
They’re really touting that protein. And good for them. They omitted this part, though: “Eat three and get your entire day’s worth of protein! Plus a prescription for Lipitor!”
It’s the old standby. It was the first McDonald’s breakfast item (launched in 1973) and it holds up. It’s not as good as the Sausage McGriddles or the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit, but Matisse wasn’t as good as Cezanne or Van Gogh. And people still liked him a lot.
How does it feel
It feels OK. If you’re eating one, you’re probably either hungover or in your car. In the former case, it’s a pleasant salve that’ll help you survive the morning. In the latter, it’s a nice bit of sustenance that’s easy enough to hold in your hand while driving. If you’re both hungover AND in your car, you have permission to order two McMuffins.
Will I eat it again?
Yes. It’s not exciting, but it’s reliable. In this crazy, ever-changing world, I appreciate knowing it will always be there. (Me in 2046, on break from the sulfur mines on planet XK-458: “One Egg McMuffin please. Extra Soylent Green.”)
6 out of 10, a fine score for a fine piece of garbage food.
Pat Muir is former Yakima Herald-Republic staff writer whose Pat Eats Garbage Food Column ran from 2018 to 2020. It will appear in Explore every two weeks.