FastFoodSource Reviews

In Days of Old

I was watching the 1979 movie Time After Time, starring Malcolm McDowell the other day and a thought crossed my mind when McDowell, as the fish out of water H.G. Wells, discovered McDonald’s.

(c)1979 Orion Pictures Corp & Warner Bros.

No, it wasn’t the overly perky cashier or the hustle of the pristinely-uniformed crew. No, it was this menu board:

(c)1979 Orion Pictures Corp & Warner Bros.

Take a closer look at the board and what do you see? Aside from the fact that a Big Mac was 95 cents, you’ll note something big missing. Take another look. Can’t tell? There are no combo meals. Ah, the golden age of the Golden Arches, when you ordered your Big Mac, fries and coke separately. Here’s McDowell’s character tasting his first french fry:

(c)1979 Orion Pictures Corp & Warner Bros.

He’s not sure what to make of it. How did people ever survive not being able to order “a number one?” Of course, restaurants like McDonald’s soon discovered that combo meals did the up-selling for them. And it wasn’t long after this movie was shot that America saw its first combos and “value meals.” Hot on the heels of that innovation: super-sizing, which lead to more profits along with the stigma of association with the nation’s increasing waistlines.

I like looking at these pics from the innocent days. Here’s another observation only a fast food geek would make. Wells places the same order as the man in front of him in line (actor Nicholas Shields, seated to McDowell’s left.) They both order a Big Mac, fries, and a coke. Interestingly, McDowell gets what looks like a Filet-O-Fish foam box, while Shields’ character has the proper gold-colored Big Mac container. I guess the prop guys weren’t fast food geeks.


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