The High Price Of Dipping

Flickr / James Palinsad
Flickr / James Palinsad

I’ve never thought about dipping. No more than the average guy. Probably a lot less than the average guy. This has to be because I don’t usually get appetizers at restaurants. My stomach is kind of sensitive, so fried mozzarella sticks, nachos, and chicken wings are out. And raw broccoli and cauliflower dipped in ranch dressing—forget about it. Consequently, I don’t dip.

Recently, I found myself at a food court where I encountered a McDonald’s. I took a look at their menu. (Sometimes I’ll get a chocolate shake, but not anymore. They’re too runny.) Nowadays, they’ve gone very high-tech with their menu boards—bright, full-color, hi-definition T.V. monitors. I wish my T.V. looked that good.

Then my eye fell on something glaringly out of place. It was a red and white street sign, just like the ones that say “No Parking Before 6 pm” or “Tow Zone—No Stopping Anytime” However, this one said “Sauce Policy.” I’d never encountered a policy for sauces before—and certainly not a sign declaring a sauce policy. But McDonald’s has both. Below “Sauce Policy” it read:

Chicken McNuggets

4-6 pieces=1 sauce

10 pieces=2 sauces

20 pieces=3 sauces

Each additional sauce 25¢

I was so fascinated by the concept of a sauce policy that I almost asked one of the servers to tell me more about its origins. Had patrons become grabby with the sauces? Had they turned greedy? Or was it just the all-too-human urge for variety that had driven the sauces behind the counter? Then I noticed another sign (a fancy one) that read, “Dip, dunk—Delicious!” Perhaps that had started the problem.

Then I wondered if you could pay a quarter for one sauce, without buying any Chicken McNuggets, or if you could buy a chocolate shake, for example, and then pay a quarter for one sauce — just for the hell of it. Even though I never eat Chicken McNuggets, I felt sad knowing that other people who did were being charged extra for additional sauces. I felt sad that there was such a thing as a sauce policy.

Before I got sadder, I left and headed for that Japanese place, Sakura Japan, where they pass out free samples of teriyaki chicken, and, if you order it, they give you steamed vegetables and a hearty slab of white rice. And, most striking of all, they will give you extra teriyaki sauce if you ask for it. I have seen this with my own eyes on a number of occasions. And they don’t shake you down for extra sauce quarters like McDonald’s does.

Later that night, having moved beyond this troubling sauce issue, I saw an Applebee’s commercial that’s an aggressive celebration of gluttony. They’re hawking their New Handheld Brew Pub Philly. They show a sandwich piled high with meat and sauce–and then even more meat. And, of course, it comes with “bottomless” fries.

The viewer is informed that there is “beer cheese to dip your beef and beer cheese in.” At first, I am offended by the clunky, barbaric syntax. Then, I am confused as to why they direct you to dip something that already has beer cheese on it into still more beer cheese. It would be like having a hamburger slathered with ketchup and then being told to dip it into more ketchup.

I guess they know how to throw a party. Everything in the commercial looks festive, if you find noise, excess, and bug-eyed customers festive. Now I often wonder, “How much beer cheese in enough?”

Between McDonald’s repressive sauce policy and Applebee’s gratuitous cheese dipping, I feel like Goldilocks in search of that happy medium. I can only hope that she’d go to Sakura Japan, where they give you what they give you–but you can always ask for more. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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