I was running early for a meeting with my new housemates last night, so I decided to stop at the "Golden Arches" for a quick snack. While in line, I noticed that the Monopoly instant game was back. I remember collecting pieces for the game as a kid; you'd order fries or a shake or a Big Mac and get a playing piece stuck to the wrapper or cup of each item. The playing pieces corresponded to properties found around the edge of the Monopoly board, some of them were instant winning pieces, garnering you a free meal or a coupon; you could also collect properties to turn in for larger prizes, cars and vacations or collect all the properties and you'd be the winner of a cool million greenbacks. I reminisced on my family collecting the pieces, never quite getting enough of any of them to amount to something other than a medium Coke or shared order of french fries. Perhaps it was because we only ate at McDonald's on rare occasions or perhaps it was because we were unlucky like scores of other Americans also playing the game. Waiting in line last night, I read the placard advertising the promotion: essentially, when one buys any of the non-value menu items, one is gifted with a playing piece for the game; 1 in 4 pieces will be winners, you too might win a Coke or a Big Mac (though not one of the more expensive items which you've had to shell out for in order to get a precious game piece) or a vacation (4 nights for 2 adults and 2 children [under the age of 15] msrp $7k) or a $1k gift certificate for spa services (unless you are in Guam or Saipan [evidently there are no spas in either place, so you will receive an equal amount of prepackaged Aveeno brand mud]) or, as a grand prize, a Nissan Z-series (base series only, player must possess a valid driver's license, msrp $39k). I'm sort of scratching my head on this one: 2 decades ago you got a piece with every damn thing that you ordered, you were playing for a million bucks and I don't really remember hearing about anyone ever winning that, let alone the promised entertainment systems or Hawaiian vacations. McD's is probably spending about the same amount as before to print and promote their game, but they've tweaked things so I need to order anything averaging $2.50 in cost to play the game and the best thing that I can win is a Nissan Z? What gives?

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