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What has Grimace done? What does Big Boy have to do with the death of his longtime gal pal Dolly? Sounds like something worth discussing on our message board.

This book has gotten lots of exposure in the popular media for being the first to take a no-holds-barred look at the dark underbelly of the fast food industry. Many have even compared it to such socially relevant works as Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." It's more akin to something Albert Goldman would scrape together.

Fast Food Nation

What's it about?
A lurid expose of the seamy underside of the world of fast food- scandals, rumors, things like that. Kind of a "McDonaldland Babylon."

Good stuff?

Not bad, if you're into this sort of thing- these sleazy tell-all books, then you'll be interested. Some of it I'd heard before, like the Fry Guys' prostitution bust in 1992 or Burger King's underage affair with Wendy. Plus, lots of material that's pretty much public knowledge by now- the Noid's addiction to painkillers and subsequent suicide, the Burger King Kids Club Kids pretty much all ending up in rehab, especially the one in the wheelchair with lasers.

A couple of stories were new to me and frankly sounded a little farfetched.

Like what?
Well, (and bear in mind this is all offered as pure conjecture, based on what I'm sure are unreliable sources) the big one for me was the Grimace's involvement in the asassination of Lil' Chef in 1979. I'm not putting it past him, but implying some sort of complicity on the part of the CIA and the Carter administration stretched it beyone all credibility. Maybe mentioning this in passing as an example wouldn't have been so bad, but devoting an entire chapter to this just highlights the irresponsible journalism at work here.

The chapter on the regular week-long orgies at Little Caesar's Palm Beach compound were admittedly a guilty pleasure, as were eyewitness accounts of Colonel Sanders' julep benders, but I'm just not sure if these are stories that need to be told.

There was just too much of a focus on the negativity, the sensationalism. I mean, I know some fast food mascots have led full meaningful lives. No mention of Speedee the McDonald's Hamburger-Headed Man's service in the Korean War, for which he won the Purple Heart, nothing about Jack-In-The-Box Jack and his tireless work with the Lupus Foundation, and countless others. None of that, just the dirt.

Deafening silence

Anything left out?
Oddly enough, this book doesn't even get its hands dirty with the kingpin, Ronald McDonald. No mention of his numerous drunk driving arrests, the affair with Sheena Easton, the abrupt and mysterious end to his senate bid in 1986, nothing. His colleagues aren't spared- the aforementioned Grimace segment, Mayor McCheese's corruption, Birdie's numerous run-ins with the law, the rumors of Big Mac being a pederast- all these tales are covered here, but the big man himself is absent. There have been rumors that Ronald McDonald's attorneys got ahold of an early galley copy of the manuscript and threatened massive legal action. It's a shame that both the author and publisher backed down, because the inclusion of some dirt on such an important figure might have possibly saved this from being just another scandal hack job.