Just when I thought it was safe to praise my fellow Kiwis for how well we'd all done through lockdown, the pizza and chicken and burger joints open up and whammo, contact chaos.
Okay, so you can't go in to the premises, but pictures of crowds standing around chatting while they wait for their orders are commonplace.
The drive-thru has morphed into the stand-around. Did everyone just forget the social distancing rules, or does the lure of fast food turn off the cognitive centres of the brain?
Given the endless hype about fast food outlets reopening in the days prior to that event – hype which swamped any other aspect of stepping down to level 3 – I'm inclined to think it's the latter.
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Which raises the question: is our society seriously addicted to junk food?
Hordes flocking to join blocks-long queues for the taste of a chicken nugget or flame-grilled patty clearly says yes, we are.
Now, I admit I snack on the odd pie and sometimes treat myself to a burger, and the wife and I invariably have at least one day a fortnight when getting takeaways is the easy-do option.
But I don't crave it. And part of the reason I don't is that almost inevitably, while the meal may fill the space, it's disappointingly unsatisfying.
And the bigger the fast food chain, the less satisfying the result, I've found. There's no substance to it. One could eat half a dozen cheese burgers and get nothing but indigestion.
By the way, I include barista coffee in this critique, so the better-heeled among you, don't think you're immune. Mobbing the nearest cafe for your style-of-choice fix and sidelining lockdown rules for a few quick chats with friends proves addiction inclusion dynamics cross all social classes.
There are two main addictive "hooks" in modern processed food: sugar and salt.
Eating too much salt is a major cause of high blood pressure, something about a quarter of New Zealanders suffer from.
A new Boston University study analysing products from 10 major fast food brands – including five that operate here – and comparing results from 1986 to 2016 found the chains collectively had added 50 per cent more salt to their foods over that time.
A single burger and fries helping now often exceeds the recommended daily salt intake for an adult.
Then there's sugar. Fast food chains add sugar to their doughs – whether they're making buns, rolls, or pizza bases – and by the time you add in the other sugars in ingredients like tomato sauce, an average burger, roll, or even sandwich has between 1.5 and 3 teaspoons of sugar in it. Triple that if you order pizza.
But wait: have a fizzy drink or a shake, or even an orange drink, and you'll ingest anything up to 21 additional teaspoons (I kid you not) of sugar.
Diabetes city, here we are. About 6 per cent of Kiwis are diagnosed diabetic, with Māori and Pasifika respectively two and four times more afflicted than those of European extraction.
Worse, perhaps, is the alarming increase of diabetes amongst young adults (under 39) generally – those most likely to consume fast foods.
This is without delving into the long list of other potentially health-affecting additives commonly used by the industry. Though at least McDonald's has, finally, stopped using the "pink slime" Frankenfood they formerly made their patties with.
Four weeks of home-cooked meals should have weaned some people off their bad food habits – and let them discover how much cheaper (as well as better) real food is.
Guess maybe we need community cooking classes first.
Bruce Bisset Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.