Phil Luciano: McGriddler pitches fit - and food

Phil Luciano

As documented here over the years, Peoria has a rich history of flung-food crimes.

Vittles volleyed in anger include spaghetti, cranberry sauce, a milk shake, an onion and a tomato. And, now, a McGriddle.

The basic setup to the McDonald's breakfast sandwich involves egg, sausage and cheese stacked between two pancake-like discs injected with maple syrup. Those ingredients are key, to at least one local McGriddle stickler whose ire over a sandwich snafu prompted a police probe.

At 5:20 a.m. on a recent Saturday, a drive-up customer ordered a McGriddle at a McDonald's in Peoria. Before leaving, the customer - apparently very particular about his McGriddles - carefully inspected the sandwich.

As later noted in a dutiful police report, "He was not satisfied with his order, because the egg that was supposed to be on the sandwich was not there."

He beefed to the 38-year-old worker in the drive-through window. She said she'd correct the mistake. Thus, peace reigned in the McDonald's Universe.

But harmony exploded at the blast of a horn. The motorist behind the McGriddle aficionado didn't want to wait one second longer.

HONK! The horn toot torqued off McGriddle Man. But he raged not at the horn blaster but the drive-through gal.

She had briefly turned away to call for a new McGriddle - one with egg. Then she turned back to the customer. Without a word, he reared back and whipped his egg-less sandwich through the small window.

As the police report noted, "The male threw a hot, greasy McGriddle sandwich at her and hit her in the face."

The driver tore off. The worker called police. As the report stated, she "became alarmed when she was ... physically assaulted by the breakfast sandwich."

The responding officer - despite little training at the police academy over breakfast-sandwich brouhahas - handled the situation with aplomb.

He noted, "I asked if she required medical attention for the assault by the sausage sandwich, and she stated she did not. I told her if the subject comes back to assault her again with breakfast food to call police."

So far, no suspects. Further, sources say the Hamburglar has an air-tight alibi.

The victim declined to talk to me, because her manager ordered her not to yap to the press. But a worker there told me the McGriddle attack isn't surprising. Though customers don't typically chuck any chow, they do throw civility out the window. If service isn't lightning fast, or if an order is even slightly off, patrons go ballistic.

"It happens all the time," the worker told me. "People get so upset. I've been called all sorts of names."

That's ridiculous. Paying a whole dollar for a McGriddle or whatever doesn't give you the right to get all Attila the Hun at Mickey D's.

I searched to find more information about this sort of insanity in the food industry. There are plenty of studies about customer satisfaction. But I could find nothing from the other direction: no food-worker surveys about rude customers.

So here's your chance, restaurant staffers: Give me the low-down. How do customers treat you? How crazy do they get? What drives you nuts?

Let me know. Meanwhile, make sure the egg is on that next breakfast sandwich. Or, if you're working the drive-through, wear a hockey mask.

Phil Luciano can be reached atpluciano@pjstar.com or (309) 686-3155.