Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Breakfast cereal as fast food

Our most basic comfort food is now becoming the latest fast food trend: breakfast cereal.

The 'cereal as fast food' concept started three years ago on the campus of Arizona State with the Cereality Cereal Bar and cafe.

The idea is simple: offer a wide variety of breakfast cereals, toppings, and milk in a to-go container. It's simply an astute commercialization of what you can see during any major city's morning commute; people eating their breakfast cereal out of a tupperware-type container while they sit in traffic or on public transport.

Cereality, started at ASU, now has 3 locations. They offer 33 cereals and 34 toppings served in a "milk-tight container" that looks like a Chinese take-out carton. It's served by cereologists in pajamas. Cartoons, of course, are shown on flat-screens and milk is dispensed from the Moo Machine.

A second chain based in Ohio, Cerealicious Cafes, will open locations in Columbus and Cleveland next month.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New products from McDonald's

McDonald's will begin selling a premium spicy-chicken sandwich next month and an Asian salad in May hoping to attract consumers seeking healthier fast food. They will also start selling a "more robust" coffee in March; the coffee will be served with the popular raised lids that open and close like those used by Starbucks. Also in development at McDonald's is a "drinkable breakfast" like enriched yogurt.

New Steak 'N' Egg burrito at Hardee's

Hardee's introduced a new item to their breakfast menu yesterday, the Steak 'N' Egg Burrito. They describe it as including "strips of real grilled steak, plus a blend of Swiss and cheddar cheeses, with two eggs, all wrapped in a large, warm flour tortilla." It comes with salsa.

My question, regarding their description, is about "real grilled steak." What other kind of "grilled steak" is there? Wait, stop, don't answer that, I don't want to know.

Hardee's says this burrito represents their "continuing emphasis on food quality, by featuring steak as an ingredient." Want quality? Put some "real grilled steak" in your food!

The Steak 'N' Egg Burrito has 550 calories, 28 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of protein, 455 mg of cholesterol and 1330 mg of sodium.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

SNL's taco mockery

I got to see one of my favorite commercial spoofs on SNL last night: "Taco Town"!! It's not just a spoof of Taco Bell, but of the entire fast food industry that has been creating bigger and bigger menu items.

You can watch the SNL parody video of this 'taco' from Taco Town: A crunchy all beef taco smothered in nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, and special Southwestern sauce; wrapped in a soft flour tortilla with a layer of re-fried beans in between; wrapped in a savory corn tortilla with a middle layer of Monterrey jack cheese; wrapped in a deep fried gordita shell smeared with a layer of special 'guacomolito' sauce; wrapped in a corn husk filled with pico de gallo; wrapped in an authentic Parisian crepe filled with egg, gruyere, sausage and portobello mushrooms; wrapped in a Chicago-style, deep-dish, meat lover's pizza; rolled up in a blueberry pancake; dipped in batter and deep fried until it's golden brown; and served in a commemorative tote bag filled with spicy vegetarian chili.

With real items like BK's Enormous Omelet Sandwich that almost seems plausible!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sweets disguised as fast food

Billed as "the world's first sweet fast food," the hamburgers and fries at Mamido's Burger in the Shibuya district of Tokyo are not at all what they seem to be. They look like hamburgers and fries but they are actually a confectioner's creation...sweets in disguise!

For example, the Mamido burger consists of a 'bun' that is actually sponge cake, a 'meat patty' that is actually chocolate cream, and 'pickles' that are kiwis.

The deep-fried fish burger (photo above) has a banana shaped like a fish fillet in sponge cake and is topped with 'tartar sauce,' which is actually fresh cream. The fries? They look like the real thing but are actually custard cream covered in starch powder and deep-fried!

Everything on the menu is a sweet of some sort.
In an interview with the media, Shino Naoyo, the president of the firm, said: "I wanted to make sweets that people could eat with one hand, and I wanted something that would be a hit in Shibuya." The inspiration for her idea came from a traditional Japanese sweet known as dorayaki, which consists of a sweet bean paste filling between two pancakes. [Web Japan]
What a great idea! It's a little off-putting at first glance to see something that's not going to taste like what it looks like, but I think that sensory confusion is exactly what makes it intriguing and special. [Thanks to the Cake Fun blog.]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Carl's adds jalapeños

Carl's Jr. "observed customers topping their burgers with jalapeños," so now they're adding the jalapeños in the kitchen. Their new Jalapeño Burgers come in 3 sizes, ranging from 700 to 1010 calories and $2.79 to $4.59.

In the press release for the Jalapeno burger they mention "Nuevo Latino" cuisine and the Seinfeldian statistic that salsa is now America's number one condiment!

Nutritional stats for the smallest of the 3 versions (the single) is 700 calories, 50g carbs, 27g protein, 44g fat, 8g saturated fat, 90mg cholesterol, 1160mg sodium.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Organic food fast

I've been reading about Organic To-Go today and I think they've got an idea whose time has come. Unfortunately, those of us who don't live on the West Coast might have to wait a bit for it to come to us.

Organic To-Go looks like the ultimate healthy alternative to traditional fast food. The speed and variety is there and along with it the benefits of a healthy, organic menu.

With four stores in the Seattle area, 3 in LA and 3 in the OC opened since the first one in November of '04, they're just starting out, but they seem to have a solid plan... and a mouth-watering menu.

How about the Turkey Bacon Ranch Wrap: Natural turkey and smoked bacon, lettuce and low-fat ranch dressing rolled in a Sun-dried tomato tortilla. Get it in the 'lunch bag' and it includes organic cheddar crackers, organic dill pickle, organic sliced Washington apples, Athena water and a homemade cookie. Yumm!

The menu goes on and on and they've got a super-convenient on-line ordering system for pick-up or delivery. I'll definitely be checking them out next time I'm in LA. If you've been, let the rest of us know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2005 Food Blog Awards

The polls have opened for the 2005 Food Blog Awards at Accidental Hedonist and Fast Food News (the blog your reading now!) has been nominated in the "Best Blog Covering the Food Industry" category!

If you enjoy reading Fast Food News I'd certainly appreciate your vote, but my fellow nominees certainly deserve consideration, too. They are all great blogs and I'm proud to be listed among them. The other nominees are: The Food Whore, News You Can Eat, Saute Wednesday, and US Food Policy.

A special thanks to Kate at AH and the other judges for the nomination.

The best thing about voting in the 2005 Food Blog Awards is checking out all the great blogs that have been nominated. So head there now and check them all out and VOTE!!

By the way, the Food Industry category, that Fast Food News has been nominated in, is the 3rd one down on the left of the two column of categories. ;)

if for some reason, the other links above to Accidental Hedonist are not working (???), you'll have to cut and paste the url directly above. (hopefully a temp blog glitch)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Quiznos introduces bread bowls

As I've said before, Quiznos is reticent to reveal their foods' nutrition data and with the introduction of soup-filled bread bowls we might be able to see why! As to the bread bowls, I can't beat this copy from USA Today:
If there's one sign in 2006 that the low-carb fad is officially dead, it might be this: The bread bowl is about to make a comeback.

Quiznos Sub, the trendy sandwich chain best known for its toasted subs, this week will introduce nationally three varieties of Toasted Gourmet Bread Bowls. They can be had not only with soup or chili, but also stuffed with rings of toasted cheese and chunks of roast chicken or beef.

Bread is something "that anyone on Atkins avoids like the plague," says Sherri Daye Scott, editor of QSR, a fast-food industry trade publication. "It must be the end of low-carb."

And, perhaps, the start of a who'd-a-thunk-it fast-food trend. Quiznos says it's the first national fast-food chain to sell bread bowls. The move is an attempt to inch closer to more upscale Panera Bread, the "fast-casual" chain that says it sells one in five soup orders in a bread bowl. It also might help Quiznos distinguish itself from Subway, which now sells hot subs.

Wendy's brings back 99 cent menu

Wendy's did some experimenting with their 'value menu' pricing recently. They had a long list of items with value prices ranging up to $1.39. But apparently they've decided that they had it right the first time. They've returned to the simplicity of the 99-cent menu. Wendy's was the first fast food chain to offer a value menu and its popularity spawned the industry-wide trend.

McDonald's follows MOS with rice burgers

McDonald's has begun serving rice burgers in Taiwan and Singapore. The rice burgers are fried beef slices served between two pressed rice cakes.

Rice burgers were originally developed and served by MOS Burger in Japan in the 80's. MOS Burger operates 1,600 restaurants in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. By emulating MOS Burger, McDonald's is not only vying for MOS's growing market share, but also acknowledging the popularity of the rice burger.

It would sure be nice to see something this unique served in the US.
[more @ CNN]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Self-serve machine for fast food

RoboServer Systems unveiled their self-service machine for the fast food industry today. The "Line Buster" is so named because it will presumably reduce the time customers spend in line by allowing them to place and pay for their order on a touch screen display.

From RoboServer: "Customers can process their own orders by selecting a few buttons on the touch-screen, pay for their order with the machine's credit card processor, and pick up their order at the counter. Industry estimates show that self-serve technologies can cut customer waiting time by as much as 33%."