Amalgam Day

Hello fair readers!

For the post du jour, I’m whining writing about a couple of things that have been in the hopper for a little while but needed proper motivation to be written.

Today is that day. Hooray!

Before we get to it, an amalgam is “a mixture of different elements,” the second definition of this word according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

First things first. I have decided that instead of “Hump Day,” Wednesday should be called “Slump Day.” I mentioned this to a friend of mine this morning because I feel very strongly against using the word “hump” – gross. And also it really does feel like a slump. Is anyone really motivated on Wednesday? Anyone? I’m waiting. Or we could just call it Amalgam Day, but that wouldn’t always apply.

Next on the list:

So apparently I’m a masochist. It takes me forever to realize that something is going to suck no matter how much I want it to not suck.

<Dramatic Deep Sigh>

Today turned out to be incredibly chilly, rainy, and windy, so I decided to get myself a hot meal at lunchtime. Since I didn’t have time to go out for a real sit-down meal, I ventured to go for McDonald’s, the only fast food place close by to my office. I know, you’re probably thinking, “There’s your first mistake.” I hadn’t been to Mickey D’s in a couple of weeks and so I was ready for it to reward me for my abstinence.

I also thought that perhaps they’d be having a Good Fry Day and I would be able to benefit from it. We all know what Good Fry Days are at McDonald’s – you get your bag and these perfectly cooked golden sticks with just the right amount of salt on them await you to consume them. They become the cornerstone of the meal, though Chicken McNuggets or a Big Mac aren’t too far behind. For the record, it was NOT a good fry day. I got hot fries but they were overcooked and had a puke yellow color to them, so they were not all that appetizing.

In any case, I decided that on top of getting a regular lunch meal, I’d opt to try a hot coffee drink, since they have already begun putting their holiday beverage advertisements out at the drive-thru. (I guess it worked….)

There’s no way in hell I would try anything with “peppermint” in it from McDonald’s, so that nixed the “Peppermint Hot Chocolate” and I didn’t want a regular latte, not that I trust them to make a great one. My go-to coffee drink is a mocha when I’m feeling splurge-y, so that’s what I decided on.

I know, we’ve been here before, right? Also here. I keep signing up for the pyramid schemes and believing I’m going to make my money back.

Needless to say, it did not live up to the expectations my little heart had set.

Pros: the ‘mocha’ was hot; it had whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top
Cons: it was mostly just espresso with not enough milk in it and was entirely too bitter; the best part of consuming this ‘mocha’ was at the end when I got the extra bit of syrup and whipped cream mixed in with the last of the drink. I should have just gotten a regular cup of coffee.

Basically, I’m living out the cliché definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The hope here is that having written about these disastrous drinks on a couple of different occasions, I’ll actually like, REMEMBER that the next time I think I am going to manifest that perfect coffee drink I’m craving and I find myself at McDonald’s.

I have yet to hear from anyone that these things are actually satisfying, unless you’re addicted to super sugary stuff and go for the drinks that are all syrup with a drop of espresso in them.

All of this leads me to my final point, and one I didn’t think I’d ever say:

Dear Starbucks, PLEASE SET UP A NEW LOCATION IN MY CITY! Urbana has the Starbuckses because the University of Illinois is there. We Champaigners don’t have one, unless you count going up to the mall area, which I don’t. You know what we get instead? A plethora of Espresso Royales.

Don't be fooled. It's horrible.

Espresso Royale is even worse than McDonald’s AND they charge you up the ass for their beverages and baked goods. I can’t say enough bad things about that place, and after trying them at least five times before giving up (are we seeing a pattern here?), I can say with confidence they don’t know how to make coffee OR hot chocolate.

I NEED a Starbuck’s. They may be all corporate and “everything that’s wrong with America,” but I am desperate. They know how to make a freaking mocha without screwing it up and know a little something about the art of coffee, even if they’re not everyone’s ideal. Plus, they make a damn fine pumpkin spice latte.

I don’t even need a giant Starbucks with a drive-thru. I just want a little shop set up within a mile of of where I work in the southwest corner of Champaign. Is that really too much to ask? Please, Starbucks, come and put Espresso Royale out of business!! It’s a travesty that that place is even staying afloat because they’re doing everything they can to keep people out, trust me.

I actually really like my newly adopted city but if I were appointed City Planner or whoever makes these kinds of decisions, I’d ban Espresso Royale and start getting some much needed coffee shops in the coffee-less areas for the suburbanites. It’s time to get the good coffee drinks to us coffee snobs in the farther out regions. (Some of us ninety-nine percenters have spending priorities such as I do – it’s all we’ve got! Did I say the word ‘coffee’ enough in this paragraph?)

To sum up: McDonald’s keeps on disappointing and it’s annoying; Starbucks is neglecting a very important area of the country and needs only to send me an email if they want to know where to set up their next location.

Happy Slump Day.


  1. Prediction: If you return to McDonald’s again and again and again, it won’t change but you probably will.

    • My answer to that is: not everyone who is fat goes to McDonald’s and everyone who goes to McDonald’s isn’t fat.

      Also, telling a person “McDonald’s isn’t good for you” is like telling a smoker, “Did you know smoking is really bad for you?”

    • Kevin Schneider says:

      This is confusing to me. How would I change? Also, sometimes McDonald’s is good. One weird thing is the fries. I know they’re SUPER regulated with everything – down to 1 oz ketchup on a burger. I’m surprised they aren’t super regulated on the fry salt quotient.

      • I heard something one time–could be rumor–that they do a “double arch” of salt on every batch of fries. But because it is so inconsistent, I don’t think this is in practice.

  2. I’m with you about the STARBUCK’s in that vicinity. Espresso Royale used to be good enough when there was no Starbuck’s in town. And the Buck’s house does not roll forth with perfect coffee, but it is consistent, and it is what you expect. I’m sick of having to drive to the retail hell corridor or the other side of town, or campus (ack!) to get my latte or frappuccino on. I think we should start a campaign. I can’t believe they haven’t done the demographic study. there is room for another, and the neighborhood in which you work would be parfait.

    • Kevin Schneider says:

      That’s what it is – consistency. It’s why I tend to shy away from McDonald’s coffee. I tend to go for things that are consistent – like bacon egg and cheese biscuits.

      • I admit McDonald’s coffee can be hit or miss, but that depends on the branch. Also, they can really mess up the biscuits if they wanna. Nothing is perfect, mister.

    • IIII KNOOOOOW! Seriously, you’d think a place as popular as Starbucks (which will have a Starbucks across from a Starbucks in bigger cities) would have figured this out by now. Where I work, there is PLENTY of room for one. I’d even go down to Curtis if they decided to put one there next to Carle.

      • There was a cartoon in the New Yorker several years back where a couple were sitting on comfy chairs in a Starbuck’s and the man looks from his reading material and says to his friend “Honey, are we at this Starbuck’s or the one across the street?” and Lewis Black also has a joke about seeing the end of the world in Dallas where there was a Starbuck’s directly across the street from another Starbuck’s. We’ve only got the three (ok, four if you count Barnes and Noble, which I don’t because they don’t take Starbuck’s gift cards, etc.), one is totally inaccessible to non-campus people, and neither of the other two are centrally located (probably due to the sheer number of local coffee venues we have downtown–which I applaud, though rarely patronize). That means we need one somewhere in the western part of town to even things out. Sometimes I want my joe without having to enter BigBox Hades to get it.

      • BigBox Hades!! I love it! That is what I’m calling it from now on.

  3. Years ago, I spent seven or eight months in Rantoul for maintenance officer training in the Air Force. There was nothing there at the time. We drove to Champaign to feel a bit of civilization. I’m with you on Starbucks and how others may feel about it; but I’ve drunk (or is it drank?) their kool-aid, and I LIKE IT! Plus, as you know, I’m a half & half kind o’ guy, and they always have mass quantities for my “pikes place grande in a venti cup” (plenty of room for cream!). We are fortunate here in suburban Roseville, Calif. – we have eight in about a two mile radius. And yes *embarrassed* we do have them across the street from each other, and even within the same strip shopping area!

    • It sounds like an embarrassment of riches in terms of Starbuck’s locales, onemikesmind, Enjoy the largesse. And it is “have drunk” or “drank” so either way, you’ve got it right. “I’ve drunk” seems to place it in a more proximate state, with some immediacy (as if it’s just happened!), as opposed to “drank” which places the episode firmly and further into the past. I also remember the days when many at Chanute came from Rantucky (as we CU natives called it then) to Champaign for some evidence of civilization.

      Zoe, I am dead serious about the fact that we need a Starbuck’s out in that vicinity. The problem with a campaign involving my buddy the mayor (we went to HS together and he’s an awesome guy) is that he’ll likely want to put his attention on a locally owned or semi-locally. On behalf of McDonald’s coffee, I think if one sticks with the “just coffee” it can be really, really good. What worries me is their foray into the espresso world. Also, I heart their biscuits but heart them so much that I very rarely get them, which means I don’t ever notice consistency or lack thereof. Clearly, you and I need to have a coffee date (even if it is in BBH–BigBox Hades) to plan our attack!

      • I understand locally owned – I do! And for the most part, locally owned tend to trump the Starbuckses. I just meant that something quality needs to be put out here. Someone from work said there is a Latte Da on Curtis (and there’s one in the library, too!) that makes good food and coffee drinks, so I’ll be hitting that up and trying it out very soon!

        Let me know if and when for the coffee date! Oh and I agreed with you about your statements on McDonald’s coffee and biscuits.

    • Are they drive-thrus? I don’t know if you personally need to feel embarrassed about the plethora of Starbuckses in your area, though I am a little ticked they don’t do more market research and put themselves in areas that actually need one!

  4. I am stunned that you even set foot into a McDonald’s…You NEED to go on YouTube and find the video about the Four Year Old Cheeseburger…I won’t even go into a McDonald’s to use their disgusting washrooms…they are a horrible company…and their food really sucks!

    Starbucks, is no better…they take cheap, crappy, lousy, bitter coffee, and they cover-up the bitterness with all kinds of sugary, syrupy, imitation flavorings…(loaded with calories and fat grams)

    One day, Starbuck’s will make an announcement to the masses, “Ha-ha, we have just surpassed the ten trillion cups served, and the Joke is On You America! We always bought the cheapest, crappiest, coffee we could find on the planet, and YOU people bought it! Nah,nah, nah-nah, nah!”

    Glad to see you on the blog, and sorry you had a horrible Wednesday…I love Wednesday’s because many people do not know how to spell it…

    I once had an uncle who tried to Open a Restaurant Chain and called it T.G.I. Wednesday’s, and it flopped, then he tried T.G.I. Thursday’s, and it flopped too! Then he died…a few years later, someone else…you guessed it…married my widowed aunt, and bought a McDonald’s franchise!

    Zoe, you rock!

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I don’t want to go on and read/hear more about McDonald’s – I’ve watched the documentaries and I know what happens. I don’t eat there every day or anything, but sometimes it’s more about convenience than anything else.

      My Wednesday wasn’t horrible this week – this post was just one particular atom of the day. Wednesday is decidedly NOT my favorite day of the week, however, for different reasons.

      Appreciate your feedback!

  5. I agree. Wednesday should be called Slump Day because that is totally what it is. It’s the Not-Quite-Half-Way-To-The-Weekend-This-Sucks-Ass kinda day. Especially when it’s too cold to play outside and the grey drizzly blah makes for bad lighting for good photos. Booo!
    We have a Starbucks in our Safeway grocery store, two blocks from my house. It is slowly draining my childrens’ university fund, and I feel not at all guilty about it 😉

    • Haha! That really made me laugh. Hey, you do what you gotta do. Someone’s gotta keep us caffeinated so we can SUPPORT the children making it to college. And if it’s Starbuck’s, well then, so be it!

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