I know. McDonald’s.
But before we even get into discussing the merits of fast food, we should remind ourselves what game we’re planning on eating them with; the much maligned Thursday Night Football.
The prevalent groupthink is Thursday night football is terrible for both the fans and the players. Writers like Barry Petchesky over at Deadspin adding digs like, “the fact that there has seemingly never, ever been a good Thursday game” in his write-up of the Jets-Patriots game two weeks ago. Dan Levy over at B/R, in typical Levy-ian fashion, brings up the wear and tear on athletes with the short break. Even our own Tunison thought last week’s Eagles-Chiefs game would have been better for all involved if it had been played on Sunday, stating, “if this were the Sunday night game, it probably would have played out a lot more smoothly and been thoroughly exciting to watch. Instead, it was mostly just yet another reason why weekly Thursday games are a bad idea.”
I personally beat the drum against an extra weeknight game because scheduling-wise, they’re a big old f-you to anyone west of Detroit. Don’t talk to me about kids staying up past their bedtimes on the East Coast unless you want me to tell you in no uncertain terms that until your child is also paying for tickets to the game, utility bills and a mortgage, I could give a hoot about their entertainment needs. Your offspring — who would be just as easily entertained with Madden or a pot and a wooden spoon — does not trump everyone I know in California working past 7pm, all hoping to catch at the last quarter of the game if they’re lucky.
Today Aaron Gordon over at Sports On Earth (not to be confused with Sports On Magrathea, I suppose) sort-of-successfully-but-not-really makes the argument that Thursday Night Football is actually more exciting than we give it credit for if you look at it from a statistical point of view analyzing Win Probabilities and using an Excitability Index. This argument is a tricky one, because a number doesn’t show you if the defender was inches away intercepting a catch or if running back who made it possible to get into position for a field goal did so with five players on his back. (This is also my argument against the RedZone Channel, which also doesn’t allow you get a feel for how a team got into scoring position in the first place.) However, the important point to take away from Gordon’s piece is that we’re still dealing with a small sample size when it comes to Thursday Night Football. Maybe it will eventually get better with time as teams learn to adjust to the schedule according and as more games are played.
Which brings us to McDonald’s Mighty Wings.
As a rule, I try to stay away from fast food as much as possible. Not for any sort of huge moral reason or because I’m a complete snob about food (I’m only somewhat of a coastal food elitist), but because I’m a big time calorie counter and fast food generally has the lowest taste reward to number of calories ratios out there. Much like all football games are not all equal, not all calories taste the same. If I’m going to blow 300 calories on pizza, it better have the smoothest, creamiest cheese, 600-700 calories for tacos better get me four or five of best slow-roasted pastor at a local stand, and 900-plus calories for chicken better get me the crunchiest, juiciest pieces from Honey’s Kettle or Roscoe’s.
So when a noted LA food-lover like Tricerapops said the McDonald’s Mighty Wings I’d seen Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick shilling were legit, I was surprised. When LA Times food critic S. Irene Virbila said the new Mighty Wings were the best thing on the McDonald’s menu, I was out the door and in the car to try them for myself.
And much like I was surprised by Gordon’s piece on Thursday Night Football, I was surprised how much I liked these wings. They were spicy, crispy and juicy, helped in large part by a generous coating of flour and spices (much how Thursday night’s game ratings are helped by the fact there is no other professional football being aired at that time, providing an extra layer of “special” to the event). They were certainly much better than wings I’ve had from chains like BW3, both in size and taste.
I tend not to prepare special game day snacks for Thursday football, mostly because of the West Coast time crunch and also because I never thought the game was worth doing much for aside of remembering to get my fantasy picks in on time. Maybe these wings are the easily solution to the harried NFL fan wanting to avoid a bar scene on Thursday — who can blame them for wanting a quieter night at home in the middle of the week — but still feel like they’re having a real game day fan experience. Fast food wings that are better than expected for games that may not be as bad as we think they are upon closer examination.
That is, until you wake up the next morning and feel the effects of both of them and it’s still only Friday.