March 2021

Hello, everyone.

February was quite an eventful month, though sadly without very much progress in my investigation. I was sidetracked by Newsmax host Greg Kelly, whom I exposed as a liar after he claimed his local McDonald’s does not serve Filet-o-Fish. But hopefully I am “back on track” with my current effort to entice McDonald’s into bringing back pizza so I can “binge” eat it in a mukbang video.

To be very candid with you, I am somewhat concerned that my latest recordings have been perceived as “unprofessional” due to some louder than normal background noise. Over the past several months, several tenants have moved out of my apartment building. Typically, I would not notice. For security and time management reasons, I largely keep to myself, so I am mostly unaware of the comings and goings of my neighbors.

But approximately five weeks ago, I was forced to notice that several apartments in my building have been kept vacant after the previous tenants departed, as the owners have decided to renovate them. Consequently, every weekday from 8:00am to at least 5:00pm, I am subjected to constant bangs, pops, splashes, whacks, thwops, and crashes from the major construction occurring not 100 feet from my person.

At first I tried to make the most of the situation by interviewing the construction workers about their memories re: McDonald’s Pizza. But after receiving some “grief” from the foreman, I have given up on that effort. He asked me to “keep it quick” and “keep it down” when conducting my interviews, both of which are terms I find unacceptable. There is no point in asking a question if one is not allowed to budget the time for six to nine follow-ups. And as far as “keeping it down” goes, I would not have to “keep it up” if I was not forced to shout over all the bangs, pops, splashes, whacks, thwops, and crashes.

I attempted to create a makeshift soundproof recording booth in my apartment by recording under a pile of fourteen quilts, but after just a few minutes in this environment, my microphone becomes dangerously sweat-logged, causing my voice to sound like that of the character Connor MacLeod, the titular highlander from the film The Highlander, when he gets pushed out of a boat and finds himself at the bottom of a lake and talks to himself in surprise because he fails to drown (as he is immortal). In short, when my microphone becomes too sweat-logged, I start to sound rather “bubbly”.

I am still pondering how I might alleviate the negative effects from this construction, up to and including hiring local out-of-work actors to inhabit the empty apartments during the day and convince the construction crew that they have the wrong building. In the meantime, I will continue to time my utterances of syllables around each bang, pop, splash, whack, thwop, and/or crash and hope no one complains about any unwanted noises that “slip through”.

Finally, I would like to tell you all about a YouTube.com channel I have been enjoying lately. It is operated by a gentleman named Jim Foreman who lives in a Texas retirement community and regularly makes instructional videos about how to make breakfast sandwiches “the cowboy way”. This video is slight off-topic, but it is an interesting story about how he got kicked out of a Chili’s.

Thank you for your time and attention. I hope you all have a pleasant March.

February 2021

A new beginning

Greetings to all of you who have subscribed to the Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s? newsletter. As is evident, the publication schedule for this publication has been rather unreliable. No apology is necessary, of course, as I am sure all of you understand how time consuming it can be to conduct investigative journalism at the high level I try to maintain.

Be that as it may, I have decided to pursue a new path for this newsletter in 2021. From now on, I shall publish it on a monthly basis. And while I cannot say what its format will always be, I can guarantee that I will try to make it worth your while. Unlike 90% of today’s journalists, I ask no financial compensation for the privilege of reading this Substack-distributed periodical. But I am asking you to pay for it with something far less legal tender yet only marginally less valuable: your time. I hope it will live up to the cost.

In the time since my last publication, I have made some progress in my McDonald’s Pizza inquiry. Most recently, I have discovered that McDonald’s may or may not have taught classes in pizza making, pizza marketing, and/or pizza appreciation at their Illinois training camp called Hamburger University. Interesting, is it not?

But along with this good news comes some less good news. Late last year, I was the unfortunate victim of a “hit piece” in a local newspaper called The New York Times. I will not validate the article in question by linking to it or mailing a photocopied clipping to any of you, but suffice it to say the The New York Times fact checkers must have been “asleep on the job”, for the feature in question was positively “riddled” with inaccuracies.

No doubt many of you reading this now subscribed to my newsletter after being exposed to this borderline libelous article. If so, it is likely you have listened to Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s? yourself and discovered on your own how misled you have been by the “gray old lady’s” characterization of my program. I take some comfort in that, as well as in the fact that most of the The New York Times staff has either been terminated or resigned in disgrace.

Perhaps you even subscribe to some of their Substacks.

But I do not wish this newsletter to become a forum for airing grievances. I will try to contain that impulse to the forum in which it belongs: Twitter.com. Instead, I will endeavor to use this publication as a force of positivity. And one way in which I shall do so is by highlighting the work of some of my colleagues that deserve your attention.

The first such honoree is a researcher who manages a YouTube.com channel called New England Wildlife and More. I have yet to watch any videos on this channel related to New England wildlife, but the “and more”-related content more than makes up for that oversight. Similar to myself, this gentleman whose name I have never caught focuses his study on the realm of vintage food. But unlike original recipe McDonald’s Pizza, the food he covers is still available, if only in the dank basements and cellars of homes recently vacated due to their elderly owners’ deaths.

The proprietor of New England Wildlife and More purchases canned, boxed, or bagged food items left largely untouched by non-mouse or rat hands for the past 10, 20, 30, 40, or even sometimes 50, 60, or 70 years. Occasionally he tastes these food items, though he typically just dumps them into a tub or bowl and digs around in them with a fork or his fingers. Sometimes he tests these items for various chemical contaminations or examines them under a microscope for bacterial activity.

Here is a video wherein he opens a can of 70-year-old quail eggs:

Interesting, is it not?

I look forward to bringing your attention to some of my other notable colleagues in future installments of this newsletter.

Thank you all for your dedication to supporting fine investigative journalism.

With all due respect,
Brian Thompson, journalist

Have you considered joining the Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s? Patreon? Patrons receive several exclusive benefits in exchange or relatively little financial compensation. Enjoy exclusive podcasts such as Investigative Journalism After Dark and Intriguing Conversations, plus several other perks. For more information, please visit Patreon.com/pizzaatmcds.

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Issue 5

Announcing my new book

Greetings. It has been quite a while since the last issue of this newsletter, and quite honestly I have forgotten where we left off. Some news since I last wrote:

  • The world has fallen victim to a deadly pandemic

  • McDonald’s has introduced spicy chicken McNuggets

  • I am publishing my first book, entitled How to Be an Investigative Journalist

It is this last piece of news that is most notable. Many reading this newsletter already listen to Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s? and/or follow me on social media, so you have already heard about my new book. But a few of you are solely “newsletter-heads” who are unaware of my other work. If you count yourself among those, consider this your first indication that I am releasing a book on September 15th, 2020, entitled How to Be an Investigative Journalist.

For more information, please visit the book’s official website: HowtoBeAnInvestigativeJournalist.com

There you will be able to read more about the book’s premise (it is about how to be an investigative journalist) as well as a sample of the introduction. It will be available in both electronic (“e-book”) and physical (“p-book”) formats on the website of a Seattle-based business called Amazon.com. While the “e-book” version is exclusive to the Amazon Kindle for the next three months (and will be available to read for “free” if you already pay for a Kindle Unlimited subscription), the “p-book” version will also be sold by a New York City-based business called Barnes & Noble, which will offer it via their internet website or via special order in-store. More details about both these purchasing options will be made available on HowtoBeAnInvestigativeJournalist.com ASAP (as soon as prudent).

I am also very pleased to say that signed copies of the “p-book” version of How to Be an Investigative Journalist will be available exclusively at select independent retailers throughout the United States. Right now, confirmed locations include Nice Price Books & Records in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Floating World Comics in Portland, Oregon. More locations will be added in short order. If you would like your local independent retailer to stock signed copies of the book, please have them contact me at pizzaatmcdonalds@gmail.com.

Finally, I would like to offer some information regarding How to Be an Investigative Journalist that will be shared only in this newsletter. First, allow me to reveal for the first time the full wraparound cover for the p-book version of the book. I think you will agree it is quite beautiful and will make a worthy heirloom to pass down through the generations.

As you can see, the cover art accurately symbolizes the struggles of an investigative journalist.

I also would like to share an exclusive excerpt from the book. This comes from an early chapter entitled What is Investigative Journalism?. I hope you enjoy.

The best way to illustrate the difference between an investigative journalist like myself and a regular person like, for example, you (before finishing this book, of course) is by way of a hypothetical scenario. Let us begin by imagining a fictional character named Rian Jhompson (not to be confused with Ryan Johnson, director of such spectacular films as Star Wars: Jedis and The Bloom Bros.). Mr. Jhompson has become quite disillusioned (almost, you could say, emotionally and somewhat physically “beaten down”) by the repeated “dead ends” and outright failures he has experienced in the course of his investigation into why Wendy’s discontinued their Super Bar. To take his mind off his troubles and enjoy some much-needed respite by indulging himself in an indulgent fantasy world, Mr. Jhompson visits his local public library to check out a DVD copy of his favorite film: The Beastmaster.

Upon entering said library, Mr. Jhompson proceeds directly to the self-service reference computer. He does this for three reasons:

  1. This particular library threw out their card catalogue several years ago in an effort to save space and “make a buck” selling their card catalogue cabinet to a “kitschy” vintage furniture store.

  1. He does not want to bother a librarian with a query as to the whereabouts of their The Beastmaster DVD since doing so would require the indelicate act of waking the librarian up from her nap.

  1. This hypothetical scenario takes place prior to the era of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, thus Mr. Jhompson has no fear that touching a common-use self-service reference computer keyboard will infect him with a deadly disease.

Upon looking up the The Beastmaster DVD, Mr. Jhompson heaves a heavy sigh of relief, for the DVD is listed as “checked in”. However, when he goes to the DVD shelf and searches through the Bs in the “sword and sorcery” section, he heaves another heavy sigh. This heavy sigh is not one of relief but, in fact, the opposite: un-relief. For the The Beastmaster DVD is nowhere to be found.

If you find this “cliffhanger” compelling, you may enjoy the rest of How to Be an Investigative Journalist.

Thank you for your time.

-Brian Thompson
(an investigative journalist)

A Script for Expressing Your Discontent to the White House

If you listened to this week’s special edition of Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s?, you know that I felt compelled to contact the White House to voice my discontent with our acting president Donald Trump’s failure to address the McDonald’s Pizza issue. Despite the fact that Mr. Trump is a well-known McDonald’s food enthusiast (and was even photographed enjoying a McDonald’s meal aboard Air Force One this week), he has gone nearly four years without even mentioning that McDonald’s used to serve pizza, much less doing anything to facilitate its return.

Well, enough is enough.

If you feel the same way I do about this issue and would like to voice your opinion to Mr. Trump himself, it is very simple. Any citizen with a working telephone or access to a working telephone may dial either the White House comment line or the White House switchboard. However, since I am aware many people are not as comfortable with impromptu public speaking as I am, I have provided the following script to aid in your efforts. Please feel free to modify it to best suit your voice, but be sure to retain the key piece of information: that you cannot support a president who will do nothing about the McDonald’s Pizza issue.

SCRIPT:

Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME HERE]. I am a(n) [INSERT OCCUPATION AND/OR FULL-TIME HOBBY HERE], but I am also a concerned citizen activist. I would like to let President Trump know that due to his inaction on the McDonald’s Pizza issue, I will not be supporting him in the upcoming election. Thank you.

You may reach the White House comment line here: 202-456-111
Or call the White House switchboard here: 202-456-1414

If you would like to record these interactions, it is well within your legal rights to do so and send the audio file to pizzaatmcdonalds@gmail.com for potential use on a future episode of the program.

Issue 4

The 4th issue of the Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald's? newsletter.

Hello, everyone, and happy new year.

It has been several weeks since the last issue of this newsletter, so I would like to provide an update as to how my holiday season went.

It went very well, thank you.

If you have been following the program, you know that I have made some encouraging progress regarding my McDonald’s Pizza investigation. Specifically, I have established an intense personal bond with a kindred spirit who happens to work as a curator at the McDonald’s museum in San Bernardino, California. He has pledged to work with the shadowy owner of the museum to fund an expedition to retrieve the abandoned McDonald’s Pizza oven from the dump on the desolate island of Adak, Alaska.

I have no progress to share on that front, however, as I have not heard from this curator since our initial conversation. However, I plan to take him up on his offer to visit San Bernardino and observe some of the McDonald’s Pizza-related artifacts from his personal collection. I simply need to secure some kind of bullet-proof vest and “brush up” on my self-defense training, as Sen Bernardino is unfortunately quite a “high-crime” area.

In the meantime, I would like to inform anyone who is not already aware that I have released Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s?: Expedition to Alaska: Collector’s Edition. This is a groundbreaking package of audio programming related to my expedition to Alaska. It includes the original Expedition to Alaska itself, plus deleted scenes from my trip, a first-of-its-kind director’s commentary track, and more “bonus features”. I am particularly proud of the commentary track; not only because no one else has ever recorded a director’s commentary for an IJP (making this, I believe, a world record), but also because it contains an interesting tidbit of information from a “man on the street” whom I happened to question while recording the track on the Los Angeles subway system.

Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s?: Expedition to Alaska: Collector’s Edition is available for the low price of at least $5 on my Bandcamp page.

In other news, I received early word that this would be the case, and it has just been confirmed that the new Star Track series Star Track: Picard on CBS All Access features a touching tribute to my work in its fourth episode. The episode is entitled “Absolute Candor”, which is an obvious “tip of the hat” to my personal philosophy. We will know more when the episode airs, but I have been led to believe that this concept of “Absolute Candor” will have a major impact on the “lore” of the Star Track universe. I could not be more grateful or humbled.

Finally, I would like to point your attention to this touching ballad about McDonald’s Pizza from Canadian singer/songwriter B.A. Johnston. Please make sure you have a tissue handy before listening to his song “Best Day Ever”.

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