I Fell Off The McWagon

Damn you, McDonald’s.

I’ve never been a huge fan of fast food. I like it just fine, sure – what’s not to love about greasy, fried, calorie-laden burgers and fries? But I’ve always been able to resist it fairly easily. I just feel too guilty after a fast-food meal, an emotion that ruins those ten minutes of pure taste bud bliss. Thank you, Morgan Spurlock. Super Size Me was the final nail in the McCoffin.

I’m not saying I never indulge in fast food. The Portland area has a local chain called Burgerville that dishes up delicious meals using products that are all locally-grown and sourced. Burgerville rocks! Especially their seasonal Walla Walla onion rings and pumpkin shakes. I’m drooling just thinking about them! They’re also on the pricey side, though, which is probably a good thing. It limits my trips there to once every month or two. I’m also a fan of Jack In The Box‘s value menu – two tacos for a dollar is a hell of a deal, and their grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough is only a little bit more. Hate the commercials, like the food, love the prices. I’m all about pinching pennies these days. And every once in awhile, nothing hits the spot for breakfast like a Sausage McMuffin with egg. I learned the hard way that you have to specify “with egg” if you want it with an egg. Seems logical in retrospect, but if you order a regular Egg McMuffin, you get Canadian bacon and an egg, so I assumed once – incorrectly – that a Sausage McMuffin also included an egg. I went all the way up the corporate ladder fighting that one, but in the end, I was McScrewed. C’est la vie, lesson learned.

Nirvana in a sack: the Cajun McChicken sandwich.

Still, for the most part, I avoid the stuff. Probably because there isn’t that one awesome, heavenly, impossible to resist holy grail of a sandwich that infiltrates my mind at all waking moments, a little edible devil sitting on my shoulder whispering “Eat me!” while I’m trying to innocently go about my business. Once upon a time, however, there was. In the 1990s, McDonald’s sold a sandwich called the Cajun McChicken, and I was hopelessly addicted to it. Hot and spicy, the Cajun McChicken was a breaded chicken patty sprinkled liberally with black pepper. Served on a sesame seed bun with shredded lettuce and a healthy (there’s an oxymoron) dollop of mayonnaise, the Cajun McChicken was like nirvana in a paper sack. There was a Golden Arches right down the street from where I worked at the time, and many a lunch hour was spent waffling down a Cajun McChicken sandwich…and licking my fingers afterwards. It was that good.

And then, one day, it was gone. Poof. Just like the McDLT a decade earlier (a burger that came in a styrofoam container (obviously the”save the earth” movement had not yet gained traction) divided into two compartments, the meat on one side and the veggies on the other so “the hot stays hot and the cool stays cool”), it mysteriously disappeared from the menu without warning, leaving me McDevastated.

Just for fun, check out this commercial for the McDLT, starring none other than Jason Alexander, before a little show called Seinfeld made him a household name. Dance on, George Costanza!

Like an addict, I tried to score, but the Cajun McChicken was nowhere to be found. I suffered from classic withdrawal symptoms. Nausea, chills, and an overwhelming desire for the crunchy, spicy bite of this sandwich. Quitting cold turkey was McPainful; I figured a trip to the Betty Ford Clinic was the inevitable next step. Gradually, however, I got over it. Mostly because I had no choice. Oh, I tried the regular version of the McChicken sandwich, but it paled in comparison. Talk about a McDisappointment. I resigned myself to a Cajun McChickenless existence and soldiered on.

Fast-forward some eleven years…

A couple of weeks ago I was driving past a McDonald’s, and saw advertised a new sandwich called the Hot & Spicy McChicken. I nearly slammed on the brakes, but there was a car behind me and I didn’t want to end up McRear-ended. It couldn’t be, I thought to myself, entertaining notions of a resurrected Cajun McChicken sandwich disguised behind a new alias. Could it??

Steeling myself for disappointment, I stopped by McDonald’s for lunch a few days later and ordered up a Hot & Spicy McChicken. I sat down and unwrapped my sandwich, fingers trembling in nervous anticipation. Hmm. It looked like the Cajun McChicken I remembered, right down to the black specks of pepper and the lettuce/mayo combo. Firing off a silent McPrayer to the sandwich gods, I took a bite…and was whisked away to a Happy Place.

Oh. My. God.

Yes. Yes. YesyesyesyesYESYESYESYESYES!!!!!!!!

Suddenly, it was 1997 all over again. I found myself humming a Spice Girls song (Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want; so, tell me what you want, what you really, really want) while fighting an insane urge to switch on a dial-up modem for access to my Prodigy account before rushing home to catch Suddenly Susan.

All because the Hot & Spicy McChicken tasted exactly like the Cajun McChicken sandwich from that halcyon, bygone era of my quasi-youth. The Hot & Spicy McChicken is the Cajun McChicken reincarnate. They are one and the same. And I am McThrilled.

I immediately McTexted my girlfriend to share this McJoyous news.

Damn you, McDonald’s. Don’t you know that recovering addicts are never truly “cured”? Thanks to your reintroduction of this most heavenly of all fast-food sandwiches, I have now fallen off the McWagon. Already I am craving another Hot & Spicy Cajun McChicken. Damn you…and bless you.

I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

17 thoughts on “I Fell Off The McWagon

  1. ” Probably because there isn’t that one awesome, heavenly, impossible to resist holy grail of a sandwich that infiltrates my mind at all waking moments, a little edible devil sitting on my shoulder whispering “Eat me!”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious!

    It was so funny to watch the TV commercial with Jason Alexander. I had totally forgotten about that one!

    When I was a kid one of my first jobs was at McDonald’s, and it was then that my love affair began with their french fries. No one makes fries like McDonald’s.

    Me too, not much of a fast food junkie, however I’m addicted to ‘Five Guys’ burgers once a month. It’s a must!

    Glad to hear you got your Cajun McChicken back, Mark!

    McBon appetit!


  2. Crikey. Why did I have to read this? I, too, suffered terribly when they raptured the Cajun McChicken…
    we rarely eat fast food any longer (thanks to Michael Pollan, Food, Inc. etc…) but…
    when next we take a foray into GMO-Laden delicacies…this will be our place.
    curse you, Mark.
    and, blessings


    1. I think anything in moderation is fine. Don’t beat yourself for falling off once or twice a month, Esther – that won’t kill you. I am trying very hard not to think of the Cajun McChicken today, especially as lunchtime nears. Off to make a healthy turkey sandwich!


  3. I feel McRipped-offed! We never had Cajun Chicken! Nor do we have Canadian Bacon!! Here its called back bacon- how un Canadian! We did have a McSomethingorother. It was fried onions and cheddar with 1/4lb patty on a rye bun. FRIED onions!!!! My world has never been the same. I miss fried onions and cheddar. I’ve boycotted McDonalds ever since. I am bringing them to their knees.


    1. I’m sure they have noticed your absence and are hurting for it. 😉

      Mmm…”back bacon” sounds so appealing…I remember that from the Bob & Doug McKenzie 12 Days Of Christmas! You wacky Canadians…


    2. All these years I still remember exactly what my favorite Mc D Cajun chicken taste like. No way the spicy Mc chicken can even compare or taste as good as the original Cajun. Please Mc Donald bring back the Cajun sandwich.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m pretty sure there is a direct correlation between the amount you pay for a burger and its quality. Which is a bummer if you’re ordering off the “dollar menu.”


  4. This post made me literally laugh out loud. Especially the Spice Girls reference, which I recently heard on XM’s 90s on 9 and rocked out to like it was the last song I’d ever hear.

    There was a cheesy gordita crunch back in 2003 at Taco Bell that I loved…. it was like a supreme taco with a layer of cheese and then a gordita on the outside. Delicious. And like 900 calories. I wish they’d bring that back! I’d probably have the same reaction you did!

    And, side note… did you ever wonder what they meant by “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends?” Somehow I always thought there was a hidden meaning there. A sexual hidden meaning. LOL.


  5. The Hot n Spicy is good, but still not the exact same chicken patty as the original Cajun McChicken. The original Cajun McChicken had a crispy crunchy crust similar to a chicken McNugget.


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