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POULSEN: McDonald’s sells out to the kale crowd

Image Credit: Chuck Poulsen
May 14, 2015 - 8:06 AM

I’ve never written a restaurant review so it’s an honour to start with a five-star eatery.

McDonald’s has a new item on its menu.

Canada has been chosen as the world-wide test market for McDonald’s kale salads. They arrived at the McDriv-Thru last Friday.

Don’t think we’re being used as Guinea pigs. Maybe like canaries in the coal mine for those who eat like a bird.

The happy health people have put McDonald’s at the top their extensive list of shameful and degenerate food choices.

McDonald’s is now frantic to rebrand its image. This means kale salads, including the variety with purple leaves. People who eat a lot of purple stuff will live to be 115, ask them.

Same deal for red wine, although foodies won’t admit red wine also makes them feel McHappy.

It’s a mystery why the food do-gooders have turned up their noses at the Big Mac and not, for instance, the Burger King Whopper.

Here are the myth-busting facts about calorie content of the major fast food signature burgers. (All include cheese):
- Burger King Whopper: 729.
- A&W Papa Burger: 630.
- Dave’s Hot and Juicy (Wendy’s): 580
- Big Mac: 549.

Still, McDonald’s is as reviled as a pack of cigarettes because, hell, I don’t know.

Before moving on to the kale review, here is a super consumer tip: A McDonald’s double cheeseburger costs $2.29. But if you ask for a McDouble, it costs only $1.69. The McDouble has only one slice of cheese but you can add a second slice of cheese on you own for eight cents, which I do at home.

The customer ends up with a McDouble that is identical to a McDonald’s double cheeseburger. However, the McDouble is a whopping 52 cents less.
Stop tsk-tsking me, ma’am.

The kale salads are an experiment to meet the health-crazy market. Good thinking.

As part of the rebranding, McDonald’s has brought back the Hamburgler. Bad thinking.

Although he’s now a much thinner Hamburglar, this reincarnation is just plain creepy. Today’s Hamburglar looks like he is about to say: “Pssst. Hey, kids! I have something to show you over here behind the dumpster.”

Kale fans say it’s packed with nutrients, but I can’t find a single vitamin or mineral in kale that isn’t in my One-A-Day vitamins for seniors. 

The last time McDonald's discussed kale was in a January Big Mac advertisement. Strangely, the ad mocked kale, along with, quinoa, and Greek yogurt. (I like both quinoa and Greek yogurt so stop thinking your restaurant reviewer doesn’t know how to spell epicurean).

The ad said only iceberg lettuce would be used in a Big Mac . . ."Nor will that ever be kale."

But the number of restaurants in Canada with kale on the menu increased more than six times between 2010 and 2014, an irresistible market force.

Armida Ascano of the Toronto research firm Trend Hunter said if McDonald’s had added kale to the menu when it was just for the trendoids, it would have insulted their regular greaseophile customers.

"This isn't a move to get somebody who's 27 and buys their meat from the local artisan butcher on board with kale," she said. "That person's already on board with kale. This is a move to get the mom who is 44 and loves Beyonce on board with feeding her kids kale."

Beyonce is often seen wearing a sweater with “Kale” printed on it. Maybe her sweater is made of kale; kale having the texture of a sweater when eaten.

The McDonald’s Kale Caesar cost $2.29. It kind of McChickened out because it also includes real lettuce, thankfully.

After masticating on a few pieces of kale for 30 minutes, I thought: What’s the opposite of succulent, sweet and tender? I know: dry, bitter and tough.

I was also thinking: silage? Is this what McDonald’s feeds its cattle?

The salad comes with minor shavings of bacon and Parmesan, croutons and an ample portion of Caesar dressing. (Health alert! The croutons contain gluten, which is very bad for you).

Still, a good salad for $2.29.

But next time, hold the kale, please.

—  Poulsen can be contacted at

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