Now that McDonald's is displaying proud banners throughout NYC that they have "iced coffee!" you can be sure that the once unusual and eccentric beverage is a trend that's exceeded its critical mass. Isn't Mickey D's the barometer of when trends reach the point where they become totally and forever uncool? In the last few years-in New York City at least-iced coffee was the domain of Starbucks and the assorted bagel shops, bakeries and internet/bookstore boutiques. The perfect blend of thirst quench and caffeine jolt, the iced coffee gives you a lift, then makes your tongue shrink up from dehydration as it pulls all the available moisture out of your body to assist in its chemical conversions within your body, but it does NOT make you all gaseous like soda pop might, so you can walk down the street, jaw set in grim determination, and suck that thing down and never make one illusion-of-togetherness shattering "noise."
Oscar Madison in his Columnist Manifesto points out what I didn't know, that not only is McDonalds serving iced coffee, but they're serving Newman's Own Organic Iced Coffee, and Mr. Madison glibly likens this to the evil Russia-Nazi Warsaw Pact of 1939. Notes Madison about the previously charity-driven, low environmental impact-minded Newman brand: "The Newman's people are playing a dangerous game. I suspect that, like Hitler, McDonalds is much smarter than everyone tends to think, and will themselves do the playing."
There's also some commotion in the air that McDonalds is going to change their look from the drab family-style colors and hard plastic booths to follow the new soft lighting and earth hues, stay-awhile and plug in your laptop-style vibe that Dunkin Donuts adopted to compete with Starbucks. It's all very strange, as critics predict that McDonalds may just end up inadvertently throwing Starbucks a beat-down as a side-effect of their war on Dunkin Donuts. The Throwing Stones blog notes that McDonald's automatically puts sugar and cream in their iced coffee, and that ordering it without is a big hassle as they just nod and do whatever they want anyway. That sounds right to me, though I haven't set foot in a McDonald's since long before Supersize Me made me nauseous for three days.
What strikes me as funny is all the stealth hooplah because for some local beanery in the hood, such as DT/UT to add iced coffee to their menu involves going outside and writing the name in some colorful chalk on the outside board. For McDonalds to do it there's got to be a whole ad campaign, drum rolls, fanfares, hell-you can bet some overpaid corporate bigwigs argued for weeks on colors and brand placement on the plastic cups, firing people over how much extra sugar they would need to make sure the obese goblins who are their bread and butter keep coming back but not enough sugar to make the exercised urbanites fall down in toxic comas. One gram of sugar less per cup for example, could save the corporation probably 3 billion annually, but then people might not like it as much, so they'd lose in sales... and so on into the night.
Personally, I don't even cotton much to Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, which tends to overdose me with caffeine so that my hands shake and I want to talk real loud and real fast and run around the park but no I wont and I don't why is everyone pointing at me I think I'll hide under the table what do you mean why what's that supposed to mean-etc., I actually prefer the coffee over at Connecticut Muffins, which is a chain that originates-one presumes-in Vermont, and may or may not make it out farther than Ohio or so, though I have seen its franchised face poking around rest stops off Pennsylvania turnpikes if hazy memory serves... maybe I'm thinking of TCBY.
If you want to make your own iced coffee and avoid being ripped apart on the street by rival gangs, it's simple. I do it all the time. Merely make a very, VERY strong pot of coffee in the morning before you go off to work-- I'm talking about a full pot of jet black ink sludge. Instead of having your usual cup or two with the morning paper, have HALF your usual amount and compensate with extra milk or water. Then pop the whole carafe of remaining coffee into the fridge, and head out to enjoy your day and grab breakfast before that half a cup eats a whole out the bottom of your stomach.
When you come home you will find a pot full of delicious coffee waiting, merely fill a big highball glass with ice cubes, pour in the now cold thick coffee, and let nature take its relentless course. Add milk or stolen packets of sugar as you choose.
By all means be careful when treading into McDonalds, for even one sip of their sugary concoctions can prove addictive and before you know it you'll be there every day drooling at the pictures of the zillion calorie Big Macs. I know, it happened to me; it happened to Morgan Spurlock, it could happen to you.
And say a prayer with me tonight for Paul Newman, the King Lear of foodies whose kingdom seems to have escaped his waning control. On the other hand, if any man can wrassle the devil to the barn floor, it''s good ole Cool Hand Luke.