Tag Archives: mass production

Tuna Salad…? Really Dunkin Donuts? WTF.

I come back from a conference to this email from J:

I believe it was the tuna fish sandwich that finally sent me over the edge.

Tuna fish isn’t supposed to have that effect on people. With the exception of the brief mental interlude of the mid-90s where we all pretended we cared about dolphins enough to abstain from canned fish, tuna fish is known for its lack of ability to provoke. I reckon I could get the phrase, “bland as a can of tuna fish” to catch on or trend on Twitter if it wasn’t so damn many characters, because, well, how many times have you even thought about tuna fish?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I blame Dunkin Donuts.

Dunkin Donuts, which for as long as I can remember has dominated the breakfast market with its donuts, despite the recent shrinkage of variety and size but not price, has apparently decided that they want to start serving lunch too. One of their officers announced as much to the financial paper of record when he said that the challenge would be to develop a slate of menu items that would attract a lunch crowd without turning off their primary breakfast market.

So the Dunkin Donuts brain trust got together and decided first they’d try tuna fish.

I’ve only seen the pictures and it looks like it has a lot of celery. I don’t want to try it, because it’s possible that my one purchase could skew their data enough to think that the whole idea is a raging success and if my life is to have any meaning it is to not encourage stupidity. I’ve given up on trying to make people smarter. As I watch our civilization decline a good part of me finds myself not caring as long as I can still watch reruns of my favorite shows on Netflix, but when I see the signage outside of Dunkin Donuts for a tuna fish sandwich it makes me want to stand astride the wave of civilization’s progress and shout STOP!!!

Ew.

The tuna fish sandwich is the last straw, but I’ve been watching this trend for a long time.

McDonalds started serving salads a couple of years ago. The chain that had made qui-billions (by the way, when did they stop counting how many billions served on the signs?) selling fast burgers and delicious french fries that Morgan Spurlock taught us never go bad, had come under a wave of bad publicity because Americans were getting fatter and it must have been happening because they were eating more McDonalds.

Interestingly, these stories started pouring out right around the time McDonalds was seeing real sales declines, but no matter. McDonalds decided to change its image by starting to offer salads, which, truth be told, are higher in calories than the average cheeseburger, and their spokesmen said that in a few years they would become for salads what they had been for hamburgers.

I hope not. I don’t go to McDonalds as often as I used to, but when I do go I get a burger or a chicken sandwich and I do not subject my children to those sliced apples masquerading as fries.

Taco Bell, which I practically lived off of during college because everything was either 59, 79 or 99 cents, recently started trying to pretend it was a high end Mexican restaurant by offering shrimp tacos. I am pleased to see that the marvelous science of aquaculture has brought the price of shrimp down to where it can be stuffed into a fast food taco, but if a restaurant can’t verify its meat is real I’m not trusting it with seafood.

Mercifully, the shrimp tacos didn’t seem to catch on, but that hasn’t stopped other stupidity from rearing its ugly head.

When I open a restaurant, it will have five items, including one vegetarian option for the self-important snot head who thinks they are better than everyone else because they eat grass. If you don’t like those five items, you can eat somewhere else.

I am not serving donuts and tuna on the same plate.

Now who wants pie?

Meat in Shapes, 7-11 Style

J writes:

In its continuing quest to see how many things it can make into a hot dog shape, 7-11 has nailed it. We all know about the failed attempt to put a bacon cheeseburger into a hot dog roll (they really just need to stop selling the big cheeseburger bite), but the new buffalo chicken rollers are a marvel of food engineering.

I discovered them last night on my way to class as I was looking for a quick convenient dinner. I’m told by my recent reading that 7-11 specifically caters to my demographic, that is men age 17 to 35 whose digestive systems can handle not only convenience store junk food but in a pinch could process the plastic wrapper it comes in.

That ain't a hot dog.

Here’s something else I didn’t know: 7-11 got its name because when it first opened it was open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., which were then unheard of hours. Everyone was impressed at the time. Now if you are a convenience store whose primary product is coffee and you don’t open until 7:00 a.m. people think you cater to rich, lazy, limo driving public school teachers on summer vacation.

I stopped at 7-11 and went immediately to those roller grills that spin the hot dogs and sausages all day long. You know what I’m talking about. The convenience store wizards had created a hot dog shaped buffalo chicken tender. I ordered one from my friendly Middle Eastern cashier, who mistakenly thought I had ordered the buffalo chicken taquitos. It was an honest mistake, I suppose, especially from someone who was new to the country. He apologized and got me the rollers I had ordered.

The rollers are in a class by themselves. Unlike taquitos, which are overpowered by the bread wrapping, the rollers are pure unfettered buffalo goodness. At $2.29 for two ($1.39 for one, so yes it’s worth it to get two) they are a bargain at three times the price.

I don’t want to get into how they got it to be that shape any more than I want to discuss whether square fish can swim with some old fart shilling for Wendy’s. They were the perfect hand-held snack.

And here’s the key. They were even better the second day, when I visited one of the local 7-11s in Philadelphia. This one was also operated by a friendly young man from the Middle East (does the chain have some kind of recruiting program in Yemen?) but my efforts were hampered considerably by some woman who couldn’t quite figure out how to order a hot dog with mustard (it’s on the condiment stand, lady. He shouldn’t have to tell you twice, this ain’t the Ritz).

But when I got my rollers (no mistaken taquitos this time, thank you Apu) I had the perfect snack for the rest of my walk.

Congratulations, 7-11, on a job well done.

(written to me by J via e-mail on 5/3/11, posted by me entirely too late and after one particularly expert guilt-trip by J)

Checkers

J emails me on Monday with this:

F— you Checkers. F— you and everything you stand for. OK, honestly I’m not sure what Checker’s restaurant stands for. I don’t see many signs that say “Eat Checkers and Free Tibet,” or “Eat Checkers–It’s What Nelson Mandela Does,” so admittedly there’s no moral equivalent to eating at Checkers. Maybe that’s why I went there.

Checkers is one of those places I keep meaning to go to. Unlike Sonic, which has brilliant advertising but no locations anywhere near me when I’m hungry, Checkers is conveniently located about a mile from both my jobs, so, theoretically, I could eat dinner there every night on the way home.

But having a Checkers so close by is a lot like living in a town with a major tourist attraction or knowing a hot girl who is terminally single. You could always see the Liberty Bell, or go out with her, so while you keep meaning to you never really do and then one day they either board up the museum due to budget cuts or she gets married and suddenly you’re left with the friggin pancakes and no syrup–don’t try to find the analogy, pervert, it’s not there.

So tonight, I went to Checkers.

Checkers has this unique system where there is no place to sit down. It’s just a drive-in. I guess some consultant in New York City told them, “You want to get an edge on all the other restaurant chains? The most profitable part of any fast food business is the drive-thru. If you want to make serious bank, have JUST A DRIVE-THRU!!!.”

“That’s brilliant,” said all the suits around the table.

“So what should we name this place?”

“Hey how about Checkers?”

It wasn’t a great idea, but the guy who brought it up had been dating the hot, terminally single girl from accounting thus taking her out of the pool and everyone hated him for it. They figured the boss would smoke him out for the weinie he was, but he didn’t.

No one knew why, but they suspect it was because the boss was already calculating what he could buy with the $7.10 an hour he could save by not having to hire someone to mop the floors of a restaurant so he said, “Sure, what the hell, Checkers it is.”

What the hell indeed.

So tonight, I went to Checkers.

Doesn't the neon glow just make want to go in, sit down, and grab a burger? Well, you can't.

The first thing that should have tipped me off is their menu variety. Checkers has a lot of stuff on their menu. An overwhelming amount of stuff in fact.

Here’s a rule of fast food. Fast food is for burgers, and maybe chicken sandwiches. I know a lot of them serve fish sandwiches, but the less said about that the better, especially with the Lenten season almost upon us. Out of respect for my Catholic brethren who necessitated the Filet-O-Fish in the first place, I’ll defer.

Checkers sells buffalo wings, both boned and boneless variety, and they sell them in five different flavors. I love boneless wings. I love the fact that someone came up with the idea of boneless wings, because what they are really saying is, “Look pal, we know you’re too lazy to throw the bones away or put in the extra effort to get the meat off the bone, so we’ll go ahead and make some illegal immigrant in Lake Titicaca do it for you and, just to keep the joke between us, we’ll still let you call it a wing? OK pal?” Lazy bastards.

Needless to say I ordered the boneless buffalo wings. I got them in garlic parmeasan flavor, which I shouldn’t have done, but I did. I’m not proud of it, but I did.

Here’s the thing. I’m just putting this out there as an unpaid consultant. If I am going to make a restaurant where people can’t sit down, I’m only going to sell things that you can eat in your car. So I got the box of boneless wings out and the sauce starting dripping out of the box and onto my jacket.

WTF?

Oh well, I thought. I’ll wait until I get to work. If the sauce is dripping out of the box, they must really lather it on, this must be good.

I think you probably know where this story goes. The wing sauce, that managed to drip all over my coat, did not manage to coat a single boness wing. And they were dry.

Moreover, I had been talked into upsizing to “large,” so the whole experience cost me $9.39. What did I get for “large?” No extra boneless wings. Maybe I’ve been conditioned by the tub of fries you get at most fast food places, but the french fries hardly seemed abundant either. What I got was a giant soda that made me want to pee so bad by vision started to blur.

So what have we learned today?

Don’t eat at Checkers.

Go see the Liberty Bell.

And for the love of God man, just ask her out, she’s not going to wait for you forever.

Now who wants pie?

Yankee Candles: the bane of the holiday season.

As injustices go, it doesn’t quite rank up there with starvation in Ethiopia, child prostitution in Thailand, Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment for resisting apartheid in South Africa, or the Holocaust, but I for one am sick of going to my office refrigerator and finding ice cube trays with one lonely ice cube. Come on people, what am I supposed to do with this? Couldn’t you have put that ice cube in your cup and refilled the tray? Who does that?

Spare me the lecture about how this just shows that Americans in general, and me in particular, have truly run out of things to worry about. Yes, we probably have. But that hasn’t stopped us from worrying and complaining.

Perhaps it’s the holidays. I think they make everyone depressed.

Those of us lucky enough to have families dread the thought of having to spend time with them, while lonely people wish anyone would be there to open presents with on Christmas Eve. True story–I once read a post on craigslist.com from a woman called, “Spend Christmas Eve with me.” She was alone, she didn’t want to be and she would welcome anyone to her house who wanted to spend Christmas Eve decorating her tree and listening to Christmas Carols. She ended the post by saying that men who were looking for something sexual should look elsewhere. My guess is she either spent the night with a lot of lonely women and their cats or is dead in a ditch somewhere; there really isn’t much in between on this one.

Those of us lucky enough to have money wind up spending it on a lot of meaningless garbage and running up debt, while those who do not have money have to answer some poor little kids question about why Santa couldn’t make it to his house. Nothing depresses me more than the thought of a kid with nothing to open Christmas morning, and I blame Yankee Candle for the whole mess. Seriously, Yankee Candle has become the new paperweight. Ever thought about how meaningless a paperweight is as a gift? Do you know of many offices that have a lot of windstorms that require us to have a special item to keep our papers from blowing away? My office doesn’t even have a window, and even if it did I’m not opening it in January. I might open it in April, but by then I would have forgotten about your damn paperweight.

Yankee Candles though are a travesty on the American economy. In my house we buy them in bulk and give them to people we feel obligated to give gifts to but don’t care enough about to actually think about what they would truly want. My guess is I’m not the only one who does this, and because we give them out before Christmas I also suspect that many of them get re-gifted at office parties and large family gatherings where people do not notice.

Oi vey.

Office Christmas parties are now in full swing depriving the American economy of much needed productivity. Seriously, if you are out of work and looking for a job you may as well stop until after new year’s because the decision makers are all on vacation and HR is busy planning the office party. Beyond the office party there are a lot of departmental parties and a lot of unnecessary gift swapping.

Whoever thought office gift swapping was a good idea ought to be taken out in the street and pelted with Yankee Candles. Most of these are “Yankee Swap” (Damn Yankees ruined everything, let’s hope the South rises again—Lee surrendered I didn’t!—Where was I? Oh yeah, office gift giving) where people have between $10 and $15 to come up with a gift that everyone might like. All these gifts go in a pile and people pick from the pile. Then the next person has the option of stealing your gift or picking from the pile.

I did this for three years at one of my old jobs. Every year I did the same thing. I would go to the local convenience store, buy a gift card for the exact amount of the Yankee Swap and put it in the pile. When my turn came, I would pick it and act surprised. Curiously, no one ever wanted my convenience store gift card and I would just fill up my gas tank and buy a Slim Jim on the way home. All things considered, a very Merry Christmas.

Gift Cards are great though because while they used to require thought they really don’t anymore. Used to be you had to at least be aware of where the person likes to shop, but now you can buy gift cards at your bank. And this is different than cash, how? Maybe it’s better if I don’t ask.

It will all be over soon, and then we’ll be in to gift returning season because, honestly, even if you are a conscientious person trying to do right by everyone on your gift list you are going to screw it up somewhere and that Yankee Candle is going right back to the store.

The tradition of returns is as old as Christmas itself. When Jesus was born away in a manger some well meaning kings, or wise men depending on your translation, brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to a screaming child (I don’t buy the “little lord Jesus no crying he make” line for a minute—I’ve raised two babies). After Mary graciously accepted these gifts, she likely ran out to the first century equivalent of Wal Mart and promptly exchanged them for some Yankee Candles.

Now who wants pie?

The Good People at HERRS

I took a sick day yesterday, and thus, was out of the office. When I returned I had several emails from J, 2 of which are related and posted here.

Yesterday at 3:58 pm J writes:

Food is just not living up to its responsibilities. I just ate a bag of Herr’s jalapeno poppers flavored cheese curls. They were stale. So I called the customer service line to complain. No one was available to take my call. What kind of crap is that? I ask you. I don’t have an answer; I’m just asking the question.

He also wrote this, at 4:10 pm:

Picked up when I called again. Don’t ask me how many times I called; it’s none of your business. They are very sorry for my inconvenience and they would like to send me a coupon for a replacement bag. They took my name and address and asked for the expiration date. They said they would send a coupon out in seven to ten business days, so I’m sort of excited that I have that to look forward to.

Here’s the kick in the ass, they asked me what size bag it was. Are they going to send a coupon for that exact bag?

This is the second time in my life I’ve called a customer service line about being dissatisfied with a snack product. The first time was Frito Lay. My Doritos had what I thought to be insufficient flavor and since 99 cents was a lot of money to me at the time (I was in college) I called them and let them know about it. They took down a lot of information and I mean a lot of information; they may have asked what I was doing when I ate the bag I don’t really remember.

When the coupon arrived though it was for ANY FRITO LAY PRODUCT. Man, I was in flavor country. My roommate and I drove right out to the grocery store and selected the largest bag of whatever we could find. We ate the whole thing when we got back to the dorm while watching really bad television.

I’m hoping HERRS will be as generous.


I write today, at 9:27 am:

There’s something magical about eating a ton of junk food while watching really bad television in college that somehow loses its appeal once you hit “The Real World” (not the bad television, the soul sucking abyss of personal responsibility and bill-paying).

J writes back a minute later:

The year after college is always the hardest socially. All the things that were fun and cool in college suddenly seem really dumb. You don’t bull until 4:00 a.m. because you have to get up for work in the morning. You don’t eat a lot of junk food because suddenly you’re not on a meal plan anymore and you have to budget for groceries.
____________________________________________________

It’s true. So readers, what was YOUR favorite bad food/TV combo in college?

Mine was chicken wing/mashed potato night and watching South Park (which isn’t actually bad television, but I sat on my floor while I ate it).

Post-Lunch, Pre-Labor Day Observations

I begged J to write a blog post, thankfully, he acquiesced today at 1:18 pm:

So today was a rather productive lunch hour.

First, I went to Borders. Rather disappointing. I had gone because the store had enticed me with a 40 percent off coupon that had to be used before Labor Day and I’m going to be busy all weekend. Thing is, the Borders at 13th and Chestnut doesn’t really have a non-fiction section, so I wasn’t sure where the book I wanted, “MORNING MIRACLE: INSIDE THE DECLINE OF THE WASHINGTON POST,” was going to be.

So I went to the computer and typed it in. Within about three seconds some pimple faced kid was on me like I was going to discover his porn collection with the ubiquitous, “can I help you sir?” I told him I had done a search for the book I wanted and it was showing, “not in store.” He said that was right, but if I wanted they could order it for me and it would be in within three to eight business days.

That seemed an inordinately long amount of time for a business that had a separate online operation that can deliver things in 24 hours, so I thanked him for nothing and went on my way.

And here’s the thing that really annoyed me about Borders. I used their bathroom. It was painted bright yellow. I don’t want to quibble, but should we really be painting a place where you pee bright yellow?

I’m just saying.

Is that little boy holding a GUN?

On my way back I walked through the Gallery. Sampling was a mixed bag today. They had the Charley’s Cheese Steak samples out, but she had gone back for a new sandwich when I passed through the first time. Out of three places that serve Bourbon chicken, only one was giving it away. And my little retarded friend that gives away chicken nuggets was nowhere to be found.

Auntie Anne’s was giving away free pieces of their pretzel covered hot dogs. I took two samples and got a glare. Is it coming out of your pocket pal?

Speaking of Chic-fil-a, I finally bought their Spicy Chicken Sandwich. It was a little disappointing. I mean it’s basically just a spicy version of their regular chicken sandwich, which I suppose I should have expected, but it still left me with a certain emptiness.

And for reasons I have never understood, Chic-fil-a puts just pickles on their chicken sandwich. Not free lettuce, not free tomatoes. Free pickles.

Pickles have a very distinct taste and they don’t really add anything to the sandwich.

Again, I’m just saying.

Making a Difference, One Food Truck At a Time. Next Up: McDonalds.

J writes on Monday at 1:26 p.m.:

I’m back from vacation today and my first stop was to my favorite food truck on 6th and Chestnut, the one that I wrote about last time when I complained that he had switched to the thin gyro meat.

When I ordered the gyro today, I noticed that he had switched it back to thick meat. I’m not sure if he reads this blog. I’m not sure if my post had any impact, but in a world where we sometimes wonder if one person can make a difference, I’m proud to imagine that perhaps I did.

So today I’m taking on McDonalds.

I took the family on vacation this week. My kids eat fairly healthy at home. They are not vegans, but they do eat a lot of fruit willingly. When you are on the road though, it’s surprisingly hard to order fruit in a restaurant. So by the end of the week I thought my kids were going to become a Chicken McNugget.

But here’s one thing I noticed. EVERY TIME I WENT TO MCDONALDS I HAD TO BRING MY ORDER BACK.

Did you add sauce? Yes, sir, we put the sauce in. Get back to my table. Nope. Have to go back and get it. Listen, I don’t actually think you put sauce in here, can I get a pack? I’ll have to charge you ten cents for it, sir. WTF? When did McDonald’s Chicken McNugget sauce become its own commodity? So in these cases my kids just dipped their nuggets in ketchup because on principle, I will not pay for a cup of sauce.

They're made almost exclusively of corn!

Then I ordered one of those Chicken Clubs, which are supposed to come with bacon, tomato and Swiss cheese. Got it back, it just had lettuce and mayonnaise. I brought it back with a head full of righteous indignation and even cut in line (I’m sorry, but I had had a long day at the zoo) to announce that they had shorted me my bacon, cheese and tomato. They apologized and gave me a new sandwich.

But the piez de resistance was when my ten nugget value meal only came back with nine nuggets. Yes I counted, and yes I brought the box back. The minimum wage flunky working behind the counter looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but he gave me a new ten pack of nuggets and then watched me count them. And yes, I got an extra pack of sauce too.

I know this seems like a small thing, and on the individual level it is. But McDonalds doesn’t just sell one box of ten piece chicken nuggets a day. They sell thousands or millions depending on the store location, and if they are shorting everyone a McNugget, then they are making out at our expense. Same thing with bacon and Swiss cheese.

I for one am not going to put up with it anymore, and the fact that I have to check my order every time before I bring it back to the table sort of defeats the purpose of fast food.

I’m just saying.
_________________________________________________________________
I point out:

Maybe Chicken McNugget sauce became its own commodity because they read your Ode to Honey Mustard.

Maybe you ARE making a difference…yikes. Better watch it buddy.