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The True Story Behind the Mysterious McDonald’s Gold Card

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by Reader's Digest Editors

What would you do to get free McDonald’s for a year? How about free McDonald’s for your whole life? For some, that dream is a reality.

The mysterious “McGold Card” came into the spotlight when actor Rob Lowe flashed his on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2015. Lowe didn’t get his just for being famous, though—he also happens to be friends with David Peterson, who owns and operates six McDonald’s locations in California and whose dad invented the Egg McMuffin, according to Business Insider. With his card in hand, Lowe was entitled to unlimited free food at his friend’s franchises for a year.

Lowe isn’t the first person to receive a McDonald’s gold card from Peterson—and actually didn’t even get the best deal. The franchisee also gave one to local philanthropist Larry Crandell as a 90th birthday present, which Crandell tried to use at least once a month. That solid metal card earned him a lifetime of free meals until he passed away at age 93.

Other locations—and sometimes even the whole company—have been known to give those valuable cards away, too. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney revealed his dad was a proud owner of “a little pink card” that gave him free McDonald’s meals. George Romney had done training
sessions with McDonald’s employees before the chain really took off, so Ray Kroc—who helped launch the fast food chain into an international powerhouse—gave him a lifetime of “a hamburger, a shake, and French fries at McDonald’s,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The card didn’t go to waste either. Mitt Romney said his dad would go in almost every day for a hamburger or fish filet sandwich. (If a soda is on your go-to order, find out why Coke tastes extra good at McDonald’s.)

 
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Warren Buffett revealed to CNBC that he has a card that gives him free McDonald’s in Omaha with no expiration. The billionaire also revealed Bill Gates has a McDonald’s gold card that gives him free food at any location around the world for the rest of his life.

Non-billionaires still have a shot at getting their hands on the coveted McGold Card, but you’d have to do something more than buddy up with a restaurant owner. In 2013, Cleveland local Charles Ramsey saved three women and a girl who had been kidnapped by his neighbor years before. In interviews, Ramsey kept mentioning he’d been holding a “half-eaten Big Mac” when he made his rescue, and thousands of Twitter users urged the company to reward him with a McDonald’s gold card. The fast food chain listened and gave him free McDonald’s for a year, and 14 Ohio locations offered to keep giving him free burgers for the rest of his life, according to CNN Money.

If McDonald’s isn’t your fast food chain of choice, Burger King has its own version of the McGold: the “Burger King gold card,” which grants free meals for life. Jennifer Hudson earned one as a former BK employee, while George Lucas got a card to thank him for partnering with the brand during movie releases. Famously, Burger King sent one to Hugh Laurie after he claimed he had one in an interview—even though he didn’t. The card might be even more exclusive than the McDonald’s version. As of 2008, only 12 people were proud holders of the card, according to AdAge.

Alas, the rest of us might be stuck paying out of pocket for our burger cravings.

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Voodoo Doughnut Is Coming to the East Coast (Finally!)
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Universal Orlando Resort

Voodoo Doughnut, the beloved Portland purveyor of creative pastries, is finally coming to the East Coast. The company is opening a shop at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, according to Travel + Leisure.

The original Voodoo Doughnut opened in Portland, Oregon in 2003. An early adopter of the maple-bacon dessert trend, it became famous for its Maple Bacon Bar and has since added doughnuts that incorporate other quirky flavors like bubble gum dust, Tang, and Fruit Loops. (At one point, the company sold doughnuts glazed with NyQuil, as well as one called a Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnut, but both of those have been discontinued by order of the health department.) Several of its unique flavors have also been turned into beers by the Oregon-based Rogue Ale.

A chocolate doughnut with a candy skull inside the hole.
A Dia de los Muertos-themed doughnut
Mathieu Thouvenin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The popular Portland location usually features a line out the door and down the block, and the company now has outposts in Eugene, Oregon, Denver, Austin, and Los Angeles. It has such a cult following that the stores will not just provide doughnuts for your wedding, they will host the ceremony. Now, East Coast doughnut lovers will be able to get in on the action, too.

The Universal Orlando CityWalk store has opened already, but it’s still in preview mode, meaning the hours can vary, and there's no guarantee it will be open every day. When it officially opens later this spring, it will be serving up more than 50 types of doughnut seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight, and until 1 a.m. on weekends.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic
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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it's China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC'S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC'S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC'S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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