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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Spotted: A Brass Rat in the Wild? by Chris Peterson SM '13

Is this an alumnus hacking McDonald's, or McDonald's hacking MIT? I can't tell

Early this morning I got a text from my friend and former student Jeremy R. ’16 with a link to a new McDonald’s commercial for their new Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal, or STRAW. It’s a clear send-up of Jony Ive’s breathless product launches, complete with pictures of prototyping sessions and fluid analyses with subtitles like “real engineers, doing real engineer stuff.” Jeremy instructed me to look a bit after a minute into the video. I generally listen to Jeremy, so I did.

That’s when I saw it.



Can you see it?



zoom. enhance. 



zoom. enhance.

illuminati             confirmed



That is, of course, an MIT class ring, or so-called brass rat, a touchstone of MIT culture with a long and illustrious history. They’re easily recognizable and are sometimes even used intentionally in media as a sort of wink-and-a-nod that a character attended MIT, perhaps most famously, as Matt once blogged, in the case of Tony Stark ’87.

This is the first rat I’ve seen in a commercial, though. And it leaves me with many questions. Who is this nominal (or actual) alumnus? Did he attend MIT and decide to wear the ring in the ad? Is this deep-level nerd-in-jokes from whoever directed the ad? Is this an alumnus hacking McDonald’s, or McDonald’s hacking MIT?

This is like the Zapruder film for reflexive corporate irony / deep-level nerd navelgazing. If you have any information (inside, or otherwise) about this ad, or other good cases of prominent-but-surreptitious ring placement, please let me know in the comments below.