I would scan the commercials for every tiny detail about what life was like when you lived somewhere where there was a McDonald’s: sunshine, happy music, food wrapped up like presents in special papers and boxes, cups that came with lids and straws. Straws! People in the real world ate food in brightly colored packages and lived in houses with sidewalks and lawns. Nothing bad ever happened there. No one was cold, no one got hurt, no one died. They had flush toilets and hot water, and they had McDonald’s, and they were happy all the time because of it.

We went into Fairbanks a few times each year; whenever we flew in a visit to McDonald’s was almost guaranteed. Everyone from the villages went to McDonald’s if they could: eating there meant participating in a world we, kids from “the bush” (a general way of referring to rural Alaska), didn’t feel like we had access to, but could only admire from afar. Going into Fairbanks and eating at McDonald’s conferred status.

Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes writing in Eater about the role McDonald’s played in her life growing up in the tiny “bush” town of Fort Yukon, Alaska.

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