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If You're Fat, Don't Blame McDonald's

November 23, 2002

I was shocked when I picked up "McTrouble in Fat Land" by Greg Critser (Opinion, Nov. 17) and read the opening line, "Blame Max Cooper." Since I'm the only Max Cooper in the McDonald's system and the only one who created the concept of "value meals," I assumed it was me. Little did I realize that the marketing of "table d'hote" meals at our restaurants and simplifying ordering by allowing the customer to say, "I'll have a Big Mac Extra Value Meal," would result in all America becoming overweight -- or that because of my Extra Value Meals our society would develop diabetes, high blood pressure and every other known and still-to-be-discovered disease.

Sitting in front of the television set and munching on potato chips or going to a movie and buying a bucketful of buttered popcorn or baking brownies at home have no effect on being overweight. No, it's only McDonald's. Why not take Emeril, Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck off TV? Isn't there any personal responsibility for what one does to one's body?

McDonald's in moderation is a great experience. It's tasty; it's fun and may be the only time that families dine together. When we featured our McLean sandwich, the public made it clear that they were not interested, nor do they buy more of our salads than Big Macs.

We're only a part of a weekly diet. If people are concerned about their weight and health -- and they should be -- they should embark on a regular exercise program. Then making McDonald's part of their monthly pleasures is tolerable. To single out McDonald's as the culprit for our overweight society is outrageous. Exercise, eat wisely, but enjoy McDonald's when you have the urge.

Max Cooper

McDonald's Owner-Operator

Birmingham, Ala.

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When I was a kid in Iowa in the early 1960s, we enjoyed eating at McDonald's. My next-door neighbor was a butcher and supplied the hamburger to the local McDonald's. His was a small business, and he hand-selected the beef from farmers in the local area, selling some to locals, shipping some to hotels in New York City and grinding some for the McDonald's. When I and my little friends went to McDonald's we enjoyed my neighbor's quality hamburger, along with French fries cooked in animal fat and milkshakes made from what I believe was real milk and ice cream. And dang, it was good!

While the conclusive scientific judgment on the healthfulness of such a meal is, I believe, still not in, I can tell you that, even though we had big appetites, we felt no need to "supersize" our consumption of such quality food, any more than one would feel it necessary to supersize a fine French or Italian meal at a restaurant. We ate a hamburger, a small fries and a milkshake and were satisfied.

Perhaps 21st century fats and oils and "reestablishing a group dining culture" will become, as Critser argues, an exciting substitute for my youthful fast-food experiences. But I will tell you that if the food at McDonald's tasted now like it did in the early 1960s, I and my kids would again patronize McDonald's. We do not now -- no matter how big or tiny the portions.

Grant Mulford

Granada Hills

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