The Summer of ’96 and McDonald’s Monopoly


According to wikipedia, McDonald’s has been doing it’s Monopoly game since 1987, which is way longer than I thought.

Oh well. The first year I gave it any attention was the summer of ’96.

I was working my first full time job that summer, the summer before my senior year of high school. I was an office assistant for the same eye doctor that my sister had worked at a decade before and who my parents went to for eye exams. I pulled files, put files back, called patients to tell them their contacts were ready to be picked up, and watched Days of Our Lives during my lunch break in the upstairs breakroom. I felt so grown up.

I got suckered into religiously playing the McDonald’s Monopoly game.

Back then, my favorite McDonald’s combo — the #2, no onions, no pickles — was only $2.99. You had to super size your fries and drink to get the Monopoly pieces so maybe I paid a tad more than that, but it was still an el cheapo lunch.

Some days I didn’t even want the burgers so I’d just get the large fries and large drink, peel of the pieces and stick them to the playing board I kept in my car.

I never won anything of substance. No car, no million dollars. I probably won a free order of fries or free apple pie every now and then, but I wasn’t one of the BIG winners.

I suppose I played it again other summers, but never like I did the summer of ’96. Something about that summer had a special magical innocence to it. Maybe it was the first full time job and feeling so grown-up, or my first summer driving,  or the last summer before the end of high school —  that made be believe I might actually win that silly little contest.

After that summer, all those things that were so magical weren’t anymore. Driving became blase and just something you did, as did working; high school was the end of life as I knew it. Everything changed after that, so that summer was really kind of the last of it’s kind.


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