Today on the tray: CostanzaBurgers

These days, we have to find joy where we can. One thing that’s making me happy is this 1985 commercial for McDonalds’s short-lived McDLT, starring a young Jason Alexander.

McDLT packaging
Twice the Styrofoam, but your lettuce stays crisp.

The McDLT was basically a quarter-pounder for the obsessive-compulsive consumer, with twice as much packaging to keep the lettuce and tomato from touching the meat. The theory went that the lettuce and tomato stayed colder and crisper that way. But that meant the bottom of the bun was hot and the top of the bun was cold. Also, you had to put it together yourself. If I wanted to go to that much trouble, I would cook.

In this clip from Family Guy, Stewie takes the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation to a McDonald’s drive-thru, and Michael Dorn (Worf) wants to order a McDLT, even though Stewie has explained to him they don’t make them anymore. “I’m just saying, they have all the ingredients for a McDLT,” Dorn says, to Stewie’s annoyance.

Jason Alexdander in McDLT commercial
Young, exuberant Jason Alexander is totes adorbs. Who would have guessed?
Jason Alexander with crowd behind him in McDLT ad
Not-George has charisma. The crowd loves him! Where he goes, they will follow!

Most of us think of Jason Alexander as the 30-something-year-old George Costanza from Seinfeld. But here is a 26-year old Alexander wearing a Miami Vice-style white jacket, appearing thinner and with more hair (is it real or a toupee?), singing and dancing with youthful exuberance. A crowd starts following this Pied Piper of hamburgers, reminiscent of the “I’m a Pepper” Dr. Pepper commercials of the late ’70s. The dancing is very ’80s—I keep expecting the crowd to start dancing on top of cars and holding up traffic like in the famous dance scene from Fame

“Keeps the hot hot!” chant the ladies. “Keeps the cool cool!” reply the gents.

At the end of the commercial, the actor we know as the pessimistic, sardonic George Costanza, shouts gleefully and unironically, “Could be the best-tasting lettuce and tomato hamburger—ever!”

It’s so nice to see “George” young and energetic and happy, even though it’s not George. And it’s nice to see a crowd of people dancing in close proximity to each other without masks. That’s why watching this makes me happy. I hope it makes you happy too.

5 comments

  1. I remember the McDLT. For me the biggest problem was that the cheese was kept on the cold side, and I like my cheese hot & melted.

    I don’t think Mr. Alexander needed a toupee yet, as he was only about 25 years old at the time. If you notice in the SEINFELD pilot, filmed when he was 29, he was just beginning to show a bald spot on his head.

  2. Oh yes, now I remember the cheese too. Another flaw in the McDLT design. The hair reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where he wore a toupee — that’s what made me wonder — but you’re probably right.

  3. Exuberant is the perfect word. Borderline lithe, which is not a Constanza adjective, but it does seem as though he’s on the verge of a Broadway move at every turn. Another example of packaging that would make cloth baggers LOSE their minds today.

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