“You Deserve a Break Today” so “Eat Fresh” ’cause “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” and make sure to “Have It Your Way.”
Whether we eat it or not, fast food is embedded in American culture — along with the chains’ slogans, mascots, jingles and collectible toys.
Jon Hein of Melville has long been known as a connoisseur of this cuisine and has even authored a book, “Fast Food Maniac,” which he’ll sign copies of at Book Revue in Huntington Thursday, Feb. 11.
“Fast food touches a nerve with people because it was part of our growing up, which gives you a strong attachment to the food,” says Hein, 48, who eats from the chains three or four times a week. “I remember when I got an A on my report card, I was taken to McDonald’s.”
Hein is known for his colorful commentary as co-host of “The Wrap-Up Show” on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM channel and for coining the term “jump the shark.” In 2012, he had his own TV series, “Fast Food Mania,” on Destination America, which inspired the book.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Hein lived behind a McDonald’s, which soon became his favorite fast-food franchise.
“McDonald’s is successful because of its consistency,” he says. “You go into a McDonald’s any place in the country, order a large fries and you know exactly what they are going to taste like.”
His main hub is the McDonald’s in Melville, where his standard order is the No. 4: a double quarter pounder (plain, no cheese), large fries and large Diet Coke.
LI LOVES FAST FOOD
Long Island has lots of fast-food locales, including recent additions such as DQ Grill & Chill in Huntington, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in Westbury and Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station.
One new chain that is making its way to Farmingdale is Wahlburgers, which is owned and operated by actor Mark Wahlberg and his older brother Donnie from New Kids on the Block.
“I’ve never been to one,” Hein says. “I’m skeptical when a burger place has a reality TV show, but if the food is good I’ll be there. The more the merrier!”
The place that Hein cherishes is All American Drive-In in Massapequa, which he says is like going back in time.
“It feels just like it did when you were a kid,” he says. “It hasn’t changed at all. There’s something very comforting in that.”
SECRET MENU ITEMS
In his book, Hein focuses on geeky details in fast-foodisms like secret menu items, which are orders that are served but not advertised. For example, the Land, Sea & Air at McDonald’s is a beef, fish and chicken patty all on one bun.
“Secret menu items are like hidden gems of being a fast-food fan. It rewards the customers who come a lot and want to do things a little bit different,” Hein says. “If the clerk doesn’t know what you are talking about, then it’s your responsibility to educate them. Remember, they are all about satisfying the customer.”
MASCOTS ARE KEY
Hein has opinions about marketing and the importance of a proper mascot.
“A mascot has to work within the brand and be inviting, like Colonel Sanders of KFC,” he says. “You can’t be too clever or snarky.”
Although he’s aware of the healthy options at some of these venues, Hein chooses to ignore them.
“If you are going to eat fast food — do it right. I don’t go to McDonald’s to eat a salad,” Hein says. “I know I shouldn’t have this stuff as much as I do, but I’m addicted.”