Thursday, August 31, 2006

Automat(ic) fast food in NY

The automat is back in NY. And it's called Bamn!

"Bamn provides tasty, inexpensive, real food for people on the go. It's the return of the automat, filled with bite-sized burgers, mac & cheese, pizza, chicken strips, grilled cheese, hot dogs, pork buns, and lots of other great stuff - made fresh throughout the day."

Check out The Message Wh0re for a full review.

My favorite Bamn automat(ic) offering? The Spam Musubi.

Carl's Jr. intros new breakfast sandwich

Carl's Jr. has expanded their breakfast menu with the new Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich.

The sandwich is "a split Hillshire Farm smoked sausage link, a warm, folded egg and a melting slice of American cheese served on a flaky croissant."

"Developing the breakfast menu at Carl's Jr. has been a key emphasis for us over the past few years – and it shows. We've now got an impressive line-up of early-morning offerings and we don't even carry English muffins," said Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing. "The Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich, along with our line of big, delicious burritos, helps give Carl's Jr. the kind of great-tasting breakfast menu you can't get anywhere else."

The Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich has 610 calories, 45 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 29 grams carbs, 295 mg cholesterol, 1330 mg sodium and 23 grams of protein.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

McDonald's McKids DVDs

McDonald's has released 2 McKids Adventures DVDs this month. They both have a list price of $14.98 and feature activities with Ronald McDonald.

Apparently your kids aren't inundated with enough advertising messages from McDonalds, so these DVDs will serve to further sear the McDonald's brand image in their little brains.

The "Get Up and Go with Ronald" DVD is an exercise video of sorts that is intended to get you kids active so they can burn off the fat from that Happy Meal they just ate!

From DVD Verdict: "Okay children, it's time for another adventure with everyone's favorite corporate shill clown: Ronald McDonald! Ronald surrounds himself with a politically correct gaggle of kids who he dubs the "McKids" and together this gang goes on educational adventure. This time around, the McKids are going to soak up the joy of exercise!"

And from the Amazon editorial review: "On the one hand, the DVD makes no mention of the company's cuisine. On the other, Ronald McDonald pops up every few minutes, so it's hard not to see this 30-minute program as a particularly insidious form of infomercial, regardless as to the rationale behind its creation."

The other DVD is Treasure Hunt with Ronald. Again, from DVD Verdict's review: "So apparently Ronald McDonald hangs out with a group of fun-loving, ethnically diverse children who think nothing of following a grown man in bright yellow jumper and clown make-up to Egypt. They are the "McKids," and they are very happy to be here. When Ronald McDonald emerges from his closet, covered in explorer's equipment, the McKids get the idea in their heads to go traipsing all over the planet seeking out adventures."

There are also a couple McDonald's branded toys available, too: the $20 McDonald's McKids Restaurant Play Tent (a tent that looks like a McDonald's restaurant), and the $99 McDonald's McKids Mega PlayPlace.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jack adds new breakfast biscuits

Jack in the Box has added two new Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwiches to their breakfast menu: the Bacon, Egg and Cheese and the Sausage, Egg and Cheese.

They both feature an egg, American cheese and a choice of either bacon or sausage tucked into a buttermilk biscuit. Guests can also order Buttermilk Biscuits á la carte with a side of butter and jam.

“With new players entering the breakfast market and long-time competitors building up their breakfast menus, it’s important that we continue to offer high-quality products that appeal to a variety of consumers,” said Teka O’Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box. “Our Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwiches offer something for everyone – they’re loaded with hearty ingredients, have great flavor and are easy to eat while sitting in rush hour traffic.”

Jack in the Box claims to be "the first fast-food chain to offer a breakfast sandwich way back in 1969."

Jack in the Box has also added Minute Maid Orange Juice to its breakfast menu. And unlike most other fast food restaurants, Jack offers their breakfast menu all day long, not just in the morning.

Unfortunately, both breakfast biscuit sandwiches are loaded with trans fat. The Sausage version has significantly more calories and fat; 310 more calories and 30 more grams of fat.

The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit has 430 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 5 g trans fat, 220 mg cholesterol, 1100 mg sodium, 34 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 17 g protein. The Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit has 740 calories, 490 calories from fat, 55 g fat, 17 g saturated fat, 6 g trans fat, 280 mg cholesterol, 1430 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 27 g protein.

Jack’s new Buttermilk Biscuit sandwiches are $1.99 and Minute Maid Orange Juice is $1.49.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Wendy's cooking with trans fat free oil

I realize I mentioned this yesterday in my post about Wendy's new Frescata Italiana sandwich and back in June when they announced the change, but it bears repeating now that the switch is complete.

Wendy's is now cooking with oil that has zero grams of trans fat per serving at its 6,000 U.S. restaurants.

"Wendy's has kept its promise to its customers," said Wendy's Interim CEO Kerrii Anderson. "After two years of research and development, we said in June that we would convert to the new cooking oil by the end of August. We're proud to announce that this process is now complete."

With the move, Wendy's becomes the first major quick service restaurant chain to switch to a non-hydrogenated cooking oil for its French fries and chicken items.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

DQ's new Chili Meltdown GrillBurger

Dairy Queen will introduce their new Chili Meltdown GrillBurger in September, with national advertising for the new burger beginning next week.

The Chili Meltdown GrillBurger is made with two quarter-pound beef patties, diced onions, two slices of American cheese and topped with chili.

"No question that you’ll need plenty of napkins to enjoy this one," said Michael Keller, chief brand officer for International Dairy Queen, of the new GrillBurger. "Our GrillBurgers are a cut above the rest in the quick service category, and with the Chili Meltdown GrillBurger, we’ve added a new twist with some good-old-fashioned chili, which has always been an intriguing flavor combination.

The average retail price of the half-pound DQ Chili Meltdown GrillBurger is $3.79. A quarter-pound version is also available for $3.25. Basket deals, which include French fries and a soft drink, are $6.15 and $5.15 respectively.

Nutrition information has not yet been provided.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New fast food Frescata at Wendy's

Wendy's has added another sandwich to their Frescata line-up.

The Frescata Italiana is made with "Black Forest ham, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, Romaine lettuce and roasted red peppers on freshly-baked artisan bread with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing."

It's worth noting that unlike the 2 other new sandwiches we've looked at this week (from Hardee's and Jack) this one has zero trans fats and quite a few less calories, too. So unlike McDonald's, Wendy's is sticking to their trans fat pledge.

On the other hand, I was disappointed to see HFCS as an ingredient again. This time it's in the sandwich's Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette.

Wendy's Frescata Italiana has 520 calories, 230 calories from fat, 25 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 1540 mg sodium, 49 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 26 g protein.

The sandwich will be available through September. It's priced at $3.49 la carte, or $4.99 as a combo choice. National advertising starts on Sept. 4th.

Chick-fil-a sweetens lemonade with Splenda

Lemonade is one of Chick-fil-a's most frequently ordered beverages; they squeeze over 71 million lemons (freshly, on-site) each year. They have recently changed the recipe for their diet lemonade to include Splenda.

"We have continued to work with our original recipe in order to maintain our high quality throughout the years," said Chick-fil-A Dietitian Jodie Worrell. "Not only are we proud to start a relationship with the SPLENDA® Brand, but we feel our customers will appreciate our continued commitment to using premium sugar substitutes in our Diet Lemonade recipe."

I'm a fan of Splenda and have been using it to make my own lemonade at home for a couple years now. You'll find some folks that complain that Splenda isn't natural and contains dangerous chemicals (much like the complaints about the most used artificial sweetener Aspartame, aka Nutrasweet), but I haven't read any convincing scientific proof. What I do know is that Splenda tastes a lot more like sugar than Aspartame.

Chick-fil-a's diet lemonade is a good alternative for anyone that wants to spare themselves excess calories from soft drinks loaded with high fructose corn syrup, but still enjoy something that tastes sweet.

Chick-fil-a's diet lemonade contains Freshly-squeezed lemon juice, water, Splenda® (dextrose, maltodextrin, sucralose). The 21 oz. large diet lemonade has only 50 calories, 10 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, and 6 g sugars. Their regular (non-diet) large lemonade has 390 calories and 93 g sugars.

Del Taco's Maple Sausage Roll Up

Del Taco has introduced a new breakfast menu item.

The Maple Sausage Roll Up is maple flavored sausage, hand rolled in a soft flour tortilla and then dipped in a luscious French Toast batter.

I have to say when I first saw a photo of these roll ups on Del Taco's web site, I was frightened and confused. They didn't look like food; at least not in the traditional sense. But without Del Taco's in Texas, I have no way to find out what they're really like... maybe they're great! (I doubt it though!)

All those seemingly unrelated layers (maple sausage, tortilla & french toast) remind me of the Taco created in SNL's Taco Town skit. But the Maple Sausage Roll Up is real.

Mornings at Del Taco also include a variety of breakfast burritos and a bacon and egg quesadilla.

By the way, breakfast is served at Del Taco until 11 AM.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

KFC's Moms Matter! PR move

KFC has formed an 'advisory board' called "Moms Matter!" to help promote a family friendly image for KFC.

The Advisory Board will meet in person bi-annually, hold quarterly conference calls and host monthly dinner meetings in their hometowns to "gain information and advise KFC on everything from trends that affect families to new product ideas."

"Moms have relied on our popular, meal-building menu items for years and now we're turning to them for ideas on how KFC can be even more helpful with managing their busy lifestyles," says Scott Bergren, executive vice president of marketing for KFC.

You would suspect that the first suggestion any mom that cares about her family would make is that KFC reduce or eliminate the high levels of trans fats in their menu items. But even if they do, I doubt it will be mentioned in the meetings' public reports!

Hardee's makes Jalapeno Thickburger

Hardee's has introduced a Jalapeno Thickburger.

"Just a few years ago, no one would have dared to introduce a fast-food menu item with this much heat, but as America has become more diversified, so have American's palettes," said Brad Haley, Hardee's executive vice president of marketing.

The Jalapeno Thickburger is 1/3-pound beef patty topped with jalapeno slices, peppers, pepperjack cheese and a Santa Fe sauce. It is priced at $3.49 by itself, or $5.78 for a medium combo meal.

The Jalapeno Thickburger has 840 calories, 522 calories from fat, 58 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 52 grams of carbs, 110 mg of cholesterol, 1690 mg of sodium and 30 grams of protein. Add an order of medium fries and you're up to 1360 calories and 82 grams of fat. I'll just stop there and not add a high fructose corn syrup laden cup of Coca-Cola!

If you're going to try one, save a $1 and use this coupon (good thru October 2006).

Jack's outlaw sandwiches

Jack in the Box has introduced two new western themed sandwiches, the Outlaw Burger and the Outlaw Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

They feature, respectively, either a jumbo beef patty or spicy crispy chicken breast with fried onion rings, slices of bacon, slices of American cheese, lettuce and tomatoes topped with KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce served on a toasted sesame bun.

“Consumers are looking for unique tastes and options when they dine out,” said Teka O’Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions at Jack in the Box. “Offering our guests bold barbecue flavor with the choice of beef or chicken answers both demands.”

UPDATE: Jack in the Box was nice enough to e-mail nutritional data for these sandwiches today. The burger has 820 calories, 380 calories from fat, 42 grams fat, 17 grams saturated fat, 4 grams trans fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 1610 mg sodium, 80 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 23 grams sugars, and 30 grams protein. The chicken sandwich has 780 calories, 290 calories from fat, 32 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 5 grams trans fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 1930 mg sodium, 92 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 23 grams sugars, and 33 grams protein. The high sugar levels are probably due to the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the bun and the KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New fast food salad concept in NY

Just Salad has been open in Manhattan for a month. The healthy fast food restaurant concept is the creation of twenty-somethings Nick Kenner and Rob Crespi.

Just Salad has 29 dressings ranging from chilled avocado to sesame-roasted onion and 12 chef-designed salads with names such as Texas Two-Step and Immunity Bowl, attempting to bring a gourmet feel to the fast food industry. All salads are chopped so the tasty ingredients are blended to perfection.

In a profile in NY Magazine last week, their fast food salad joint was portrayed as a meat market... in the sense that: “There are always attractive girls and guys my age there,” said Michele Waldman, a 25-year-old Just Salad regular.

"They portrayed us as young and hip and Just Salad as the new 'in' place because of the healthy young professionals who eat and socialize here. It was flattering, but we want to stay focused on our mission of providing the best, freshest gourmet salads for the best price," said Kenner.

I can see this catching on in other urban areas as a lunch-time only fast food concept, but not as a suburban fast food staple.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jared writes a book

Jared Fogle, Subway spokesman has written a motivation memoir called, Jared the Subway Guy: Winning Through Losing; 13 Lessons for Turning Your Life Around.

from Publisher's Weekly:
Jared is one of the most recognizable advertising icons of the last decade, and one of the most successful—sales at Subway franchises skyrocketed after the debut of TV commercials describing how he lost nearly 250 pounds by eating two sandwiches a day. But while those ads focused on the feel-good angle of his accomplishment, Jared's memoir explores the frightening aspects of being at high risk for heart attack at the age of 20 and the frustration of all his previous failed attempts at dieting. He uses his experience as a framework to offer advice on achieving all sorts of personal transformations, from dieting to battling addiction.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Diet book blames fast food, soda & TV

The Vice Busting Diet, by Julia Griggs Havey, claims the three biggest contributors in the Obesity epidemic are Fast Food, Soft Drinks and TV viewing.

The author, Julia Havey, has generated publicity for herself lately with her accusations against Coke and their Drink, Choose, Live promotion. She contends that regular Coke, and any non-diet soda products, are the #1 contributor to the obesity epidemic which cause secondary health problems.

If you read her blog (which is co-branded with eDiets) you'll see that she's a big supporter of lawsuits. Suing Coke over the wording of their ads and suing (seemingly) all companies that produce high-calorie foods because I guess it's up to them to decide for us what we'll eat instead of thinking for ourselves.

But back to the book... Havey says in her press release:
It is difficult if not impossible for someone to change every aspect of their lives overnight, as many of the popular diets demand; but anyone can succeed at realizing change if you approach it ONE change at a time. That is what I help the reader do in The Vice Busting Diet, to tackle their worst habits one by one and my approach supports them as they transform from their current lifestyle which supports their excess weight to one that will support improved health and fitness for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Infographic of the fries that bind

The International Networks Archive at Princeton University has produced a very cool set of infographics presenting various facts and figures.

The one that captured the attention of Fast Food News is entitled "The Fries that Bind Us," (it is paired with a Starbucks infographic):

"This pair of maps show the global presence of Starbucks coffee shops and McDonald's restaurants. When examined graphically, both companies act as global hubs that connect some of the world's poorest, most remote countries with some of the wealthiest."

It compares the revenues of the top six international fast food chains and the GDP of Afghanistan. And it shows the number of McDonald's around the globe. The caption reads:

"Probably the most visible symbol of American influence worldwide, McDonald's has over 31,000 restaurants in 118 countries, employing more than 1.5 million people. Despite it's 13,000 restaurants in the USA, McDonald's is slipping at home. Its customer satisfaction is worse than any other fast food chain, and ranks lower than all major airlines and the IRS." (Joanna might have something to do with that customer satisfaction rating!)

The Starbucks infographic illustrates how "a single cup of Starbucks coffee can depend upon as many as 19 different countries."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Castle's Chicken Rings from holy chicken?

When I wrote about White Castle's new flavored chicken rings last month, I ended by asking, "What the heck is a chicken ring?"

Now White Castle's PR agency has produced a viral video, with a photo (shown) and a story to go along with it, which attempts a humorous approach to explaining the chicken rings' origin.

I think it's good that White Castle has a sense of humor about the obvious questions that arise from serving such a bizarre menu item, and it's much more enjoyable than the self-righteous claims of superiority that some fast food companies (read Arby's) has done about the 'quality' of their chicken.

Having said that, this viral campaign is a bit weak. The doctored photo is good, but the video is simplistic; the actor quite annoying. What could have really helped is a dedicated website with the back story, more photos, and other chicken ring related features, like Long John Silver's Shrimp Buddy site, or BK's Coq Roq site to promote their chicken fries.

Anyway, here's the video, with the story below it:

Cincinnati, OH - Buck "Cooter" Jones was driving down State Road 22 Monday morning when he discovered what has been a long standing urban myth.

After running out of gas that summer morning, Jones sauntered down Hidden Valley Road in search of a gas station. Instead of finding fuel, he stumbled upon farmland, but not just any farm - it was the rumored chicken ring farm.

"The chickens, I never seen nothing like 'em," Jones said. "These nuggetless birds were just running around with holes right through their middle." But, seeing the irregular shaped chickens wasn't the weirdest aspect of the discovery; it was the aroma radiating from the farm.

"I've been around a lot of chicken farms in my day, and none of 'em got my mouth watering quite like this one," Jones said. "It was a strong, spicy smell, almost like Tabasco Sauce, mixed with a ranch dressing smell, but I don't know where it was coming from. I looked around and it was just me and a bunch of 'O' shaped birds."

Within days of the chicken encounter, White Castle restaurants introduced new, intensely flavored chicken rings, available in Tabasco and Hidden Valley Ranch flavors for a limited time only. A White Castle representative denied any knowledge of such chicken farms and would not reveal the source or process of making the rings.

McHero: fast food employee to the rescue

Many of the 200+ comments to my McRules article and Joanna's McRules themselves paint a pretty disparaging picture of fast food employees. On the other hand there is Lyn Fish.

Lyn casts fast food employees in a brighter light. She's a McHero.

Lyn was working the drive-thru at a McDonald's in Rochester, NY on Sunday when she noticed smoke coming from the windows of a house across the street. After she told her manager to call 911, she ran across the street to try and help anyone inside. In her own words:
"There were two people trying to climb out the window I helped them. Then there was a lady next door screaming that her kids were in there so I went in and grabbed them put one under each arm and ran down the stairs.

I cant let nobody get killed you know, whether I'm on the clock at work or not I help out everybody."
Assistant Fire Chief Sam Matrino said, "She did a great job, it's a very important thing that she got over there and helped them get out."

[sources: WROC-TV, WHEC-TV]

Get a Hummer with your Happy Meal

McDonald's latest Happy Meal inclusion is a miniature Hummer. Boys will be thrilled to choose from 8 different Hummers representing the full Hummer lineup, from the now-defunct H1 to the H3T Concept pickup.

But beware, as Joanna pointed out in her McRules, if you've got all 8 you might not be feeding your kids at home enough!

Despite the outrage expressed by the NY Times in their article "Would You Like A Gas Guzzler With That?" (as pointed out by Slashfood & Autoblog), this promotion is a match made in conspicuous-consumption heaven! I mean, if you eat enough of McDonald's McTransFat you'll need a McHummer to haul you and your McKids through the McDrive-thru, right!?!?

UPDATE: The environmentalists are really upset about this promotion. The Environmental Working Group has created www.RonaldMcHummer.com, an information site about the evils of Hummers. To draw traffic to the site, it also allows you to create cool custom McDonald's signs like this one (right). What the site fails to mention is that (according to TreeHugger) just cooking fast food creates more air pollution than all the trucks on the road! And, of course, all the pollution caused by cars & trucks idling in the drive thru lane. It just goes on and on....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Captain D's to unveil new look & menu

Captain D's is about to undergo a major transformation in both appearance and menu. (The old logo is shown at right.) UPDATE: This is Captain D's new logo.

The new logo emphasizes the company’s core strength in seafood, featuring a stylized fish beneath the company’s name, with the words “Seafood Kitchen” across a blue ocean below. “We believe our new logo represents our seafood expertise, fun and authentic, underpinned by high quality and value,” said Captain D’s chief marketing officer Bob Kendzior. “The unique logo colors communicate tradition, freshness and warmth. The phrase ‘seafood kitchen’ is noteworthy as well – supporting our goal to be a welcoming kitchen where an evolving, contemporary menu keeps delighting our customers.”

In addition to keeping the all time traditional menu favorites like Captain D’s freshly battered fish filets and deluxe seafood platter, the kitchen will be cooking up a host of new grilled items. Customers can now choose from Alaskan Salmon, Tilapia, farm raised Catfish or Shrimp Skewers grilled and seasoned to perfection. They can also select Blackened seasoning with any grilled entrée along with a choice of sides.

Captain D’s is also doubling the number of side items to 14, adding such consumer favorites as Cheddar Broccoli Casserole, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Mac N Cheese, Cinnamon Apples and Peaches, and Roasted Red Potatoes.

The new logo will roll out on a system-wide basis by the end of this year.

"The Fast Supper" t-shirt for fast foodies

Threadless, an online t-shirt shop, has reissued a great t-shirt from their collection called "The Fast Supper." It depicts 6 characters from the world of fast food advertising sitting at a table in a setting reminiscent of da Vinci's The Last Supper.

The fast food apostles as they appear on the shirt are (from left to right): Arby's, Little Caesar's Pizza, Wendy's, Burger King, KFC and McDonald's.


Of course I bought one of these! I also liked and bought a t-shirt entitled Fossil Fuels.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Domino's adds brownie dessert to menu

Domino's will be introducing new brownie squares as a dessert beginning nationwide on August 21. Domino's new Brownie Squares come 10 to an order ("bite-sized brownies with warm chocolaty centers"). They are delivered with a side of fudge dipping sauce.

They are Domino's first dessert menu item not to use traditional pizza dough.

"Everyone loves brownies, but no one can deliver on the promise of warm, oven-baked brownies delivered right to your door like the Delivery Experts at Domino's Pizza," said Ken Calwell, Domino's chief marketing officer.

As a special promotion, customers who order a large pizza at regular menu price will receive an order of Domino's Brownie Squares absolutely free.

UPDATE: Domino's now has a web site, www.fudgems.com, dedicated to the Brownie Squares (evidently now known as Fudgems) that has games, downloads and various animations of 'Fudgems' dancing. The site is also available in a Spanish version, Brownito instead of Fudgems, at www.brownito.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Taco Bell sauce dump video

I wrote last week about the return of a large quantity of Taco Bell 'Fire' hot sauce packets to a Taco Bell in Marion, Indiana. The event captured the attention of local and then national media. I've been in touch with an acquaintance of those involved and he has now supplied me with a video produced by those involved.

Let me say at the outset that I think the amount of attention this little prank has gotten is out of proportion with its novelty, but since I've got the facts and the video I'll present them here. (The story was picked up by AP; other coverage includes: Washington Post, Consumerist, and Fark.)

Via my contact, the perpetrators of this prank wanted to point out that despite some news reports to the contrary, those involved were not wearing masks when they entered the Taco Bell and did not intend to give the impression they were robbers.

My contact has also informed me that "the kid who was hoarding them did feel bad and returned them. I also believe that his mother said something about 'getting rid' of it," and that he does believe all this publicity "is definatly going to someone's head... I heard MTV and Dave Letterman mentioned."

As you'll be able to see in the video the prank was clearly that: a prank. It was meticulously planned out and even had a name: "Operation F.T.B" which evidently stands for Fire sauce Taco Bell.

The text of the note accompanying that was left with the bags of Fire sauce read:
"Dear Taco Bell, I bet I know what is going on in your heads right now. You may be asking questions like "Why" or "How" but I assure you I'll try to answer those in this letter. Little by little I have accumulated these packages with multiple trips to Taco Bell. It was such a gradual process of taking this sauce that we took 275 lbs of sauce right under your noses without you even noticing. We came here tonight to return to you the 25,000+ fire sauce packages that have been accumulated over the last 3 years. Please do not be angry for we have just come to return the sauce out of kindness. I have thought many nights about what to do with the sauce and I secretly stored it in the trunk of my car. I thought of selling it on ebay or even using it as a practical joke, but after much thought and consideration I finally decided to return all of the sauce to its rightful owner, Taco Bell. Thank you for your dearest understanding on this entire situation. God Bless!"
The 'reply' in a statement from Rob Poetsch, a spokesman for Taco Bell, was:
"We do appreciate this person's passion for Taco Bell. We don't encourage people to take out our sauce, but we appreciate them being so forthcoming. We're not sure what we will do with the sauce, but we will NOT be serving it to customers."
The video is 6 minutes long. It was produced by one of the pranksters. It includes footage of coverage of the incident by local TV news stations (including an interview with the Chief of Police), bad quality, night footage of the planning of the prank in a parking lot, still shots of the bags and fire sauce packets scattered across the floor of the Taco Bell, and yes, some brief video of the pranksters running into the Taco Bell shot by someone already inside.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fast food games on the web

I decided this would be a good post for the weekend considering it has the potential to waste hours of your time. As I've found on-line games related to fast food I've been making a list and today I'm posting them all for your weekend time-wasting pleasure:

The Fast Food Logo Game presents you with 26 partial fast food logos and challenges you to guess which restaurant they represent.

Burger Time is a Donkey Kong variant in which you direct a little chef up ladders, across beams, and over burger components to construct complete burgers before being tackled by errant hot dogs. [via A Hamburger Today]

McVideogame.com
is both a game and a disturbing look at McDonald's that I wrote about in March. It is is a satirical, 'anti-advergame' that highlights the dark-side of running a McDonald's-like fast food restaurant. The player discovers that to make money running the company you must exploit underdeveloped countries and low-wage workers and feed unhealthy growth hormones to cattle.

Fast Food Fiasco can be almost as addictive as fast food itself, without the additives! It's a traditional matching game like Bejeweled in which you have to arrange 3 identical fast food items in a row or column to score points.

Guess the Calories is exactly what it sounds like: the game presents you with a popular fast food item and you have to move the slider on the calorie scale to indicate how many calories you think it has. Hint: use Fast Food Facts or the Fast Food Facts book to cheat!

Busy Burger is an infuriating (read challenging) little animated game that requires you to prepare and bag exactly what the customer has ordered. There are only three items for customers to choose from; burgers, fries, chicken, and a drink, but fulfilling an order requires planning and coordination.

Burger Invasion is a Galaga, shoot the space ships, type game except that the space ships are burgers and what looks like croissants. It just barely qualifies as a fast food game; primarily because of its name.

Bueno Rufus features Bueno the Beaver (!) who has been hired by a Mexican fast food joint to process orders. He has to top each dish with the correct topping before they quickly zap by. You help Bueno make the right choice of toppings in the nick of time because this is fast food and Bueno needs to be on his toes!

Fast Food Follies is really a horrible game both in premise and play. I don't even know why I'm listing it except for its absurdity. It is a shoot 'em up game that takes place in a Canadian Dairy Queen. The DQ employees you're shooting at are always in the same place and the premise, that DQ is getting meat anywhere it can, is just plain weird.

Of course the big boys have created some of their own games at their respective web sites:

Taco Bell has a memory game and you can dress up their sauce packets.

There's a couple games, including Burger Invaders, at Hardee's and Carl's Jr.; just click on the video game controller on their homepages.

McDonald's has gotten in the game, too, with Shark Bait. Shark bait is a promotion game for their Filet-O-Fish sandwich that I've written about before.

If you'd prefer to go with the full PC game experience you could purchase either Fast Food Tycoon 2 or the more advanced Restaurant Empire at Amazon.

And finally, if you need a fast food game fix on your mobile phone there's Fast Food Mayhem.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Alleged food tampering at a Pizza Hut

If Joanna, or anyone else, were wondering what happens when fast food employees do "unspeakable things" to customers' food (as mentioned in her McRules), just consider what happened yesterday at a Pizza Hut in Richboro, PA:

Six employees were fired after a health department investigation at the request of a customer who suspected her pizzas had been tampered with. Police and prosecutors are now conducting a criminal investigation.

from KYW in PA:
Jonathan Blum, a Pizza Hut spokesman, said Wednesday that six employees were fired as part of the investigation and the restaurant was scheduled to reopen Friday.

The company, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office or Bucks County Health Department officials would not comment on the nature of the alleged tampering.

First Assistant District Attorney David Zellis said the Health Department inspected the restaurant on July 27 when a customer complained about someone tampering with a pizza. He said as many as three pizzas may have been tampered with.

Kudos to Pizza Hut for reacting swiftly and sending the message that restaurant employees tampering with food will not be tolerated. Hopefully the prosecutor's office will be similarly expedient with criminal charges if the police investigation warrants it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

25,000 stolen sauce packets returned to Taco Bell

UPDATE #2: see the Exclusive Video (and more updated info on this story)

A group of 10 to 15 people wearing masks entered a Taco Bell in Marion, Indiana around 10:45 pm on Tuesday. But it was not a hold-up.

The masked intruders brought with them six 40-gallon trash bags containing approximately 25,000 packets of Taco Bell hot sauce weighing an estimated 400 pounds.

The group left a note with their hot deposit stating that they had been accumulating them for the past three years and storing them in the trunk of a car. Apparently they'd thought about using them for a practical joke or selling them on eBay, but their consciences prompted a return.
UPDATE: The Consumerist was also contacted by the individual that left a comment here, correcting details from earlier news reports about this incident. They supplied a photo to back their claim that "1.) They were NOT wearing masks, a few had baseball caps. 2.)None of the sauce was stolen, one individual had been stockpiling extra sauce packets for 3 years in the trunk of his car. 3.) None of the people involved were over 19. 4.) There were 10 people with 11 40-gallon trash bags."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August 10 is Miracle Treat Day at DQ

Thursday, August 10 is Miracle Treat Day at Dairy Queen. All proceeds from Blizzards purchased at Dairy Queen on 8/10 will be donated to the Children's Miracle Network.

Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America.

Children's Miracle Network has been Dairy Queen's charity of choice since 1984. In that time DQ has raised over $59 million for Children's Miracle Network hospitals.

You can watch the Miracle Treat Day TV commercial. Or read more here.

New 'Nacho Crunch' burrito at Taco Bell

Taco Bell will debut today it's new Nacho Crunch Grilled Stuft Burrito. This is the latest edition to Taco Bell's 'Grilled Stuft Burrito' line of burritos first introduced in 2001.

The Nacho Crunch Grilled Stuft Burrito is filled with carne asada or grilled, marinated all white meat chicken, nacho cheese sauce, beans and crunchy red tortilla strips, green onions and sour cream. It is available at participating locations for $2.99. Television ads supporting the debut announce that "crunchy makes it fun."

The new burrito has 730 Calories, 270 calories from fat, 31 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of trans fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 1700 mg sodium, 84 grams carbs, 7 grams dietary fiber, 7 grams sugars, 29 grams protein.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Fast Food Nation film trailer

I went to see A Scanner Darkly the other day. Great movie, by the way. I was also a big fan of the book. Anyway, it's directed by Richard Linklater who has also directed Fast Food Nation, the fictionalized version of Schlosser's book of the same name.

So not surprisingly there was a trailer for Fast Food Nation before Scanner Darkly. It was a new trailer I hadn't seen before or included on my Fast Food Nation movie info page.

There's some pretty disturbing stuff in this new trailer and I've managed to find it at Hollywood.com. You can watch it here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

McDonald's employee has McRules for you

Joanna works at a McDonald's in Walker, Louisiana and she has some McRules for you to follow if you want to eat at her McDonald's!

Joanna posted "Things not to do when visiting a McDonald's" at McDonald's Talk, a Live Journal community where many McDonald's employees post their thoughts, stories, complaints and ideas about their employment at McDonald's. She has worked at McDonald's for 2 years.

Here are a few of my favorites of the 43 McRules she has posted (I've made some minor corrections to spelling and grammar):
  • Don't confuse franchises! We don't Biggie size, we don't have onion rings or nachos, and no...you may not "Have it your way."

  • If you ordered a burger without pickles and they somehow ended up there anyway... just pick them off because that's all I'm going to do when you bring it back to me to "fix it."

  • Don't come into the lobby two minutes before we close. Chances are I've already cleaned, and it will only cause me to do unspeakable things to your (already stale) food.

  • Don't scream at me if I ask you to repeat your order... we're talking about cheeseburgers, not missiles... so calm down!

  • If you don't see tomatoes on the sandwich in the picture don't [f#@%ing] ask me to take them off. The Big Mac has been around for ages... it doesn't have tomatoes.

  • Does this look like Toys-R-Us? Who cares if your kid's got 10 of the same toy already. That's telling me you don't feed them at home enough!

  • When I hand you your food and say "Have a nice day," you better respond with a smile, a "Thanks, you too," or at least acknowledge my existence. Its called being polite people.Wow
! I'm glad she didn't elaborate on the "unspeakable things" she'd do to my food... I don't want to know! But I like her insight that people obviously don't feed their kids at home enough if they already have 10 of the same Happy Meal toy!

I don't know how important it is to follow Joanna's McRules, but it might be helpful to remember that other McDonald's employees might share her state of mind. It might help you avoid the "unspeakable!"

Joanna has also posted some photos of herself at work on her Myspace page.
Others have posted there own versions of rules like these
here and here.


UPDATE: Joanna has deleted her post and made her Myspace page private now, so the links above won't work. Fortunately I saved a text copy and I've posted a copy of her complete original list.

UPDATE2: You can listen to a radio interview with Joanna (after she was fired).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Krystals up for sale

Chattanooga-based Krystal Co., the oldest fast food chain in the South, has put the 74-year-old privately held company up for sale.

Company spokesman Brian Cooley said in a statement Krystal "is currently providing information" to interested parties. "We are still in the preliminary stages of the process and cannot comment further at this time," he said.

McDonald's "Farm to Table" PR

McDonald's "Farm to Table" web presentation appears to be what image conscious McDonald's executives must view as a rebuttal to fast food production claims made in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.

The animated "Farm to Table" presentation is 'hosted' by Vonetta Flowers, Gold Medal winner in Women's Bobsled, in the 2002 Olympics. The site's goal is to illustrate the wholesome path taken from farm to table by the foods that make up some of McDonald's menu items. Included are the Egg McMuffin, orange juice, Cheeseburger, French Fries, Coca-Cola, and their Asian Salad.

I have to say that the discussions of each of the menu items are (mostly) quite appetizing. You're left with a sense of wholesomeness, quality and, well, hunger. And that's the point.

There are numerous aspects of the farm to table trip that are absent, but after all it is basically just corporate PR, we can't really expect them to illuminate the 'dark underbelly' can we?

Speaking of belly, during the presentation on the production of the McDonald's cheeseburger you're introduced to Foster (left); he's the official bun taster at the plant that produces 60,000 buns per hour. I think the carbs are getting to him!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

That famous Big Mac jingle in an ad from '75

McChronicles has a great post about an instructional video on how to order "The Most Illest Futuristic Sandwich Ever."

The idea is to get a pseudo-Big Mac at McDonald's for only a dollar and entails ordering a double cheeseburger from the $1 menu and then asking for a "bun with seeds" (sesame seed bun) and 'special sauce' instead of ketchup. French fries are substituted for the middle bun that would be found on a real Big Mac.

Watching that video brought back memories of the famous Big Mac jingle. I guess there's a whole generation out there now that doesn't have the Big Mac's ingredients memorized because they've never heard the jingle!

"Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."

It's never too late to learn! I've included a Big Mac TV ad from 1975 below, with great lines like, "The big sandwich with the great big taste that every body's talking about."

And yes, the last words of the commercial are "Far out!" --"Where your dollar gets a break, every day. Far out!"


Jack adds topping and cherry to shakes

Jack in the Box has been adding new flavors to their series of 'real ice cream' shakes and now they're adding whipped topping and a cherry.

Also, Jack's shakes are now served in a clear plastic cup with a domed lid to fit over the new toppings.

They're also adding a new shake flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake.

Jack's shakes are priced at $2.49 for a regular and $2.99 for a large.

Spicy new menu items from Sonic

Sonic Drive-In has added 3 new spicy menu items for the hottest month of the year.

The new side item (pictured) is the Crispy Jalapeno Strips. Sonic didn't give a detailed description in their press release, so we're left to assume that they're deep fried strips of Jalapeno peppers...makes sense. They come with a dipping sauce of your choice.

The Crispy Jalapeno Strips are an essential part of the other 2 new items, because they, along with a new chipotle sauce, are being added to a couple Sonic standards.

The new burger is the Spicy SuperSonic Burger: two beef patties, two slices of pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, some of the aforementioned crispy jalapeno strips and chipotle sauce.

Finally, the new spicy breakfast offering is the Southwest Breakfast Burrito. You guessed it, it's the regular breakfast burrito with Crispy Jalapeno Strips and chipotle sauce added!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

McDonald's introduces snack wrap

McDonald's introduced their new "Snack Wrap" yesterday. They have been testing it in several markets for some time now.

It is unclear if this will be a permanent menu edition or a special promo or seasonal item like the McRib. There is currently no nutritional information available for it.

The Snack Wrap is: crispy chicken, cheddar jack cheese, lettuce and ranch sauce wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. It sells for $1.29.

UPDATE: Nutrition information is now available. The Snack Wrap has 330 calories, 16 grams of fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 2 grams trans fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 780 mg sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams sugars, and 14 grams protein.

Coffee chains expand breakfast menus

Coffee house chains (Starbucks of course, but other ones, too!) continue to expand their food menus especially for breakfast.

For breakfast you can now skip the Egg McMuffin and $1.50 cup of coffee at McDonald's and opt for a $7 cup of coffee and Starbucks 500 calorie ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich with 24 grams of fat, or the Coffee Beanery's 670 calorie smoked ham and egg breakfast sandwich with 31 grams of fat. By the way, the Egg McMuffin has 300 calories and 12 grams of fat.

Despite the additional cost (and sometimes calories) these coffee house breakfast items are bound to cut into fast foods' breakfast business, because I guarantee you that there are folks that have hit McD's for an Egg McMuffin and then Starbucks for their Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Blended Coffee. And despite the fast food joints upgrading their coffee, Starbucks will always win the coffee war, while people will happily trade their Egg McMuffin for something even bigger at their coffee place of choice.

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And since I've mentioned Starbucks, I'll include this just for the heck of it, a press release issued by Starbucks on the 21st of this month:
You may have seen a rumor or web posting about Howard Schultz, Starbucks and the Israeli army. The rumor and web posting are factually inaccurate. Neither Chairman Howard Schultz nor Starbucks fund or support the Israeli Army. Starbucks is a non-political organization and does not support individual political causes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Red Burrito menu coming to Hardee's

Following CKE's success with the Green Burrito brand in Carl's Jr. restaurants, Hardee's will now begin a Red Burrito co-brand.

The Green Burrito logo and menu items are offered in 263 Carl's Jr. locations. Green Burrito offers "big, fresh burritos, authentic and California-style tacos...and other Mexican-style favorites."

CKE, parent company of both Carl's and Hardee's, hopes is to expand both brands' appeal to Mexican food fans as well as Monster Thickburger lovers with the Red and Green Burrito brands.

Chicken fingers only, at Raising Cane's

Today we're taking a look at Raising Cane's. It is a highly specialized fast food concept, so if you don't like chicken fingers, you're out of luck: it's all they serve.

They certainly make an effort to excel in the one entree they offer: Raising Cane's uses only fresh chicken tenderloins (that's right, never frozen) marinated for 24 hours. As they say on their website they "only have one love, great tasting chicken fingers" and "consistently serve an exceptionally high quality product with fast food speed and convenience."

Named after the yellow Labrador retriever of the founder, Raising Cane's opened their first restaurant in 1996 outside Louisiana State University. They now have about 45 locations primarily in Louisiana, but also in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, Nebraska, Ohio and Virginia.

Raising Cane's keeps their menu simple with a few variously sized 'boxes' on the menu that always include chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, a drink, and their Cane's Sauce; and might also include coleslaw, Texas toast, or a Kaiser roll to make a sandwich.

I'm impressed that they link to their position on food safety from the main page of their web site. It's nice to see an emphasis on quality and safety.