Tuesday, October 31, 2006

McRib is back again

Earlier this month I noticed that McDonald's McRib.com web site had a countdown clock on it. Now the site again features McRib's Farewell Tour like it did last year, but this time it is Farewell Tour II.

The McRib Farewell Tour II is very similar to last years site with a petition to keep McRib and some iron-on t-shirt graphics you can download. But there's also an animated rock concert stage on which you can control the lights, lasers and pyrotechnics.

It was last year at this time that McDonald's tried to make us believe that McRib was being retired. This time I'll know better; McDonald's will never retire their popular boneless 'pork product' sandwich.

It was at that time that I did my McRib Deconstruction
which includes McRib nutrition data and photos of what a McRib sandwich and boneless pork product patty looks like when taken apart. Like these:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Last Days of Fast Food cartoon

The cartoon Small World, created by Tom Briscoe, takes a look at the 'Future History' of fast food in a cartoon called "The Last Days of Fast Food."

It's a look at the road we're headed down with the trend of lawyers and politicians deciding what we should and should not eat.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last Taurus to Chick-fil-a founder

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a, owes a lot to the workers at Ford Motor Company's plant in Hapeville, GA.

His Dwarf House restaurant was located across the street from the plant an due in part to the workers' heavy patronage of it he was able to start his Chick-fil-a restaurant chain.

The Ford Taurus has been produced at the plant for the past 9 years and now Cathy has purchased the last Taurus to come off the production line at the plant tomorrow.

Cathy long ago pledge exclusivity to Ford products for his business and often rewards employees with Ford cars.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Taco Bell's World Series free taco promo

Taco Bell has announced that they will be offering a free taco to everyone in America if there is a left-field home run in tonight's Game 3 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers.

If an eligible home run is hit the free taco will be offered on November 1, 2006 between 2 pm and 5 pm.

“We can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate America’s Favorite Pastime than by giving fans a chance of winning America’s favorite taco,” said Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer, Taco Bell Corp. “Since we haven’t given away a free taco in previous World Series promotions, we felt this was the perfect time to ‘think outside the bun’ and open up the offer to include any home run over left or left center field.”

The promotion, called "Think Outside the Park," has some detailed terms and conditions:

"Taco Bell will offer the prize identified below for ANY "home run" hit over the "left field" wall. "Left field" will be defined as the territory from straightaway center field (directly from home plate) to the left field foul pole (including the foul poll), as determined by Taco Bell in its sole discretion. For purposes of this event, an eligible "home run" is defined as a ball hit during regulation or extra innings play and is subject to the determination/designation of the official Major League Baseball scorekeeper as an official home run. If a home run is hit over the left field wall during regulation or extra innings play by any player for either team, Taco Bell will offer every person in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain one (1) free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco (Approximate Retail Value 77¢)."

and here's a nice little caveat for those standing in line for the free taco on November 1 (if there is a left-field home run):

"Everyone in line at a participating Taco Bell restaurant before 5:00 p.m. local time will receive a Free Taco, even if is provided after 5:00 p.m."

And by the way, Go Cardinals!

Update: With no home runs through the 6th inning, Taco Bell announced that they would expand the promotion to include any home runs (not just ones in left field), but there were no home runs. The Cardinals shut out the Tigers 5-0! Yipee!

Taco Bell got a lot of publicity out of this promotion: the sportscasters talked about it, there was signage behind home plate and kids in the crowd could be seen holding up Taco Bell posters that looked like hot sauce packets. I'm sure they paid a lot for the promotion and it didn't really matter to them whether there was a home run or not.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Fast food halloween costumes

If you need to find a way to integrate your favorite fast food into every big holiday, I've found some fast food related Halloween costume ideas for you to consider.

First of all, for your kids there's a Ronald McDonald costume from halloweencostumes4kids.com. I wonder how McDonald's feels about somebody selling a Ronald costume and using their trademarked clown? Sure, it's free advertising, but you never know what somebody is going to do with one of these costumes. I can just see a little person robbing a bank in this costume! That would be a front page story for sure!

Then there's this cheeseburger hat costume for adults. Now THAT is scary! And not in a good way! Wow. It is available from lambstore.com. They also have a might spiffy looking hot dog hat, too.

Or you could go straight to the fast food source and buy a mask from Burger King. BK is selling a 'king mask' and a 'subservient chicken' mask at bkmask.com. They are each $10 and only come in adult sizes.

If you more interested in a DIY fast food costume, here's a suggestion from Associated Content:
Another easy costume would be to dress as a fast food worker. Get a nametag, make up a different name, something funny or with an edge. Also, make up the fast food chain you supposedly work for as well as a slogan. Buy a polo shirt, blacks pants, shiny shoes, a vest and you will be on your way. The key to this costume is the type of attitude you will decide to adopt. Are you going to be the earnest, or clueless, or retired person who works at a fast food restaurant to give them something to do, fast food worker?
And I couldn't resist posting this photo of a fast food DIY costume idea for your pets!

Be sure and post your fast food Halloween ideas in the comments below and have a great Halloween next week!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dunkin' to sell Togo's

Back in July, Dunkin' Donuts converted some the east coast Togo's Delis they owned into Dunkin' Delis. Now they are selling off the remaining Togo's Delis, primarily located in California.

"With the attention of the Dunkin' Brands leadership team focused squarely on accelerating our growth through global expansion of our larger Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins businesses, we believe a sale of Togo's will best position the brand to continue to achieve its own promising growth path," said Jon L. Luther, Dunkin' Brands chairman and CEO.

Trinity Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment banking firm with extensive experience in the multi-unit retail and food and beverage industries, has been retained to evaluate and market the business to potential buyers.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hardee's offers wine suggestions

Hardee's recent TV ad features the billionaire Maloof brothers downing their $6,000 meal: a Hardee's Six Dollar Burger and a 24-year-old bottle of expensive French wine. (The $6,000 meal is only available at the Palms in Las Vegas, by the way.)

In aid of this new wine theme, Hardee's asked a wine merchant near their St. Louis headquarters to produce a wine list for some of their signature sanwiches. Here's a couple of the suggestions by Paul Hayden of The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton, Missouri:

1/3-lb. Original Thickburger -- "One of my favorite matches for a burger like this is an Australian Shiraz or a California Syrah," Hayden says. "The big fruit of these wines matches well with the variety of flavors on the Original Thickburger." Recommendations: Step Road Shiraz ($15); Qupe Syrah ($17).

1/3-lb. Mushroom 'N' Swiss Thickburger -- "The earthiness of the mushrooms will pair with a good Italian wine like a Chianti or Barbera. The high acidity of these wines will match well with the mushrooms."Recommendations: Gabbiano ($13); Gagliardo Barbers ($17).

1/3-lb. Jalapeno Thickburger -- "The classic Zinfandel will match well with the spiciness of this burger. The full fruit and full body of the Zinfandel will hold its own against the jalapenos." Recommendations: Four Vines Old Vine Zinfandel ($11); Peachy Canyon Incredible Red ($10).

Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich -- "With the bacon, this calls for a red wine, but you can go on the lighter side. The flavors of a good Pinot Noir will match nicely with the chicken." Recommendations: Mark West Pinot Noir ($10); Carneros Creek Pinot Noir ($17).

Mr. Hayden isn't the first sommelier to attempt to pair wines with fast food. In August of last year I wrote about an article in the NC Times suggesting wines like Falkner Winery's 2003 Luscious Lips for Wendy's hamburgers and Arby's roast beef sandwiches or a 2003 Maurice Car'rie sauvignon blanc to go with a Subway Turkey and all the trimmings.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

KFC wants the Colonel on a stamp

KFC has asked the US Postal Service to put their founder, Colonel Sanders, on a postage stamp and they want you to sign their petition.

"The Colonel's entrepreneurial spirit and hospitable nature made him an American legend," said James O'Reilly, interim Chief Marketing Officer for KFC. "We believe that a postage stamp in his honor would be a fitting tribute to his memory."

It would also be a marketing coup! Putting the face of the man whose likeness serves as the KFC logo would have a priceless advertising value. It's not the same as putting Ray Kroc on a stamp (not that I think that is a good idea either) because although Kroc founded McDonald's his face wasn't used as their logo. Putting the Colonel on a stamp would be more like putting Ronald McDonald on a stamp.

It is also rather ironic that KFC now wants Sanders on a stamp since in 1975 they sued him for libel for calling KFC's gravy "sludge" and their mashed potatoes "wallpaper paste." (Sanders had sold Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964.) The lawsuit was unsuccessful and now, 30 years later, they want to honor him with a stamp instead! Glad they could forgive and forget for the greater (advertising and marketing) good.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bad odds for McDonald's Monopoly

McDonald's Monopoly game promotion is back and will again increase revenues for the fast food giant as those who ignore the odds flock to their neighborhood McDonald's to gorge themselves for loosing game pieces!

The odds of winning a Small McFlurry, a Medium 'trans fat' Fries or a Breakfast Sandwich are "approximately 1 in 7.2." So you should win something every 7th time you eat at McD.

Not so great are the odds of winning the $50 prize: approximately 1 in 91,697.

Odds of winning a Sony Home theater and Flat Panel HDTV: about 1 in 91,697,000. That's less than winning a few million in the Texas Lottery (which is 1 in 25,827,165).

The odds are even worse for the trip for two to Vegas: 1 in 114,621,250.

The odds are 3.5 billion to 1 against you winning a $50,000 prize.

And as for the $5 million grand prize: "Odds of winning are approximately 1 in 41,497,391,309." Wow! For the sake of comparison, the odds of winning the Powerball Lottery is 1 in 146,107,962. Much, much better.

Of course, for several years of McD's Monopoly game you had no chance at all of winning a big prize. That's because the winning pieces were horded by those working on the inside.

But McDonald's has supposedly worked out new security procedures since the fraud was discovered in 2001.

During those years almost all the large prizes, totalling $24 million, went to those in on the scheme.


A Burger King movie?

Burger King is hoping to make their own feature film.

Above the King is a comedy about a teen misfit. He lives in an apartment above a Burger King restaurant and has an unlikely friendship with an aristocrat.

BK has budgeted $5 million for the film and hopes it has a cult success like Napolen Dynamite.

from Forbes:
If it gets made, it is likely to be the first mainstream film written and produced by a marketer and its ad agency, and it is part of what Russell Klein, Burger King's head of marketing, calls "an allout full gallop to catch up with our consumer."
BK has had some seriously creative ad campaigns in the past, like Subservient Chicken and Huckin' Chicken, The Whopperettes, and the Stacker's Union, but a full-length feature film would certainly take the cake.

One prominent film with a specific fast food restaurant as part of its theme, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, was not associated with, created by or financed by White Castle. Although White Castle did create soft drink cups promoting the film (as a thank-you for all the publicity they received) which marked the first time an R-rated comedy was advertised on a fast food container.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Taco Bell's Gordita Crunch returns

Just like something out of the great Saturday Night Live "Taco Town" sketch, Taco Bell has brought back the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

The "Cheesy G" is "layered with chewy Gordita flatbread, a Beef Crunchy Taco and a blend of three melted cheeses in between." It will return October 16 through November 19 and will cost $1.49.

To celebrate the grodita's return, Taco Bell today announced a nationwide online search for the cheesiest pick up lines. Beginning today, fans can go to www.tacobell.com to submit their cheesiest pick-up lines for a chance to win a month’s supply of Cheesy Gordita Crunches ($50 in Taco Bell Bucks). Taco Bell will announce a winner a week for four weeks, with one grand prize winner earning the chance to win a year’s supply of Taco Bell ($350 in Taco Bell Bucks).


Friday, October 13, 2006

Wendy's sells off Baja Fresh

Two weeks ago Wendy's spun-off their Canadian Tim Horton's restaurant chain. Yesterday, they unloaded their Baja Fresh chain of Mexican grills.

Baja Fresh's 299 restaurants are being purchased for $31 million by a West Coast restaurant group and retail operator who owns the Sweet Factory chain and is a franchisee of Cinnabon and Denny's outlets.

Kerrii Anderson, interim Wendy's chief executive and president, said in a release the Baja Fresh deal and the spinoff of Tim Hortons will allow the company to focus on the Wendy's brand.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fast food ads target toddlers?

When Susan Connor noticed her 3 year old was humming the McDonald's jingle, the research manager for Cleveland's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital decided to conduct a study. The study suggests that fast food companies are dominating television programming for toddlers. The study is published in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.

from CBC:

The study found that messages for high-fat, high-sugar foods abounded on the child-targeted Nickelodeon specialty channel, the Disney Channel and on certain child-focused shows such as Sesame Street on the Public Broadcasting Service.

Both Disney and PBS, which promote their policy of ad-free programming, show corporate sponsor messages. Connor's study found that high-fat foods account for 82 per cent of sponsor messages on PBS preschool programming and 36 per cent on Disney's shows for toddlers.

"The majority of child-oriented food advertisements viewed seemed to take a branding approach, focusing on creating lifelong customers rather than generating immediate sales," the study noted. Connor also suggested that the advertisements adopted similar approaches, linking food with fun and happiness.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BK's Angus 'shroom and bk.com

Saw an ad during football yesterday for a new burger from Burger King. BK's new Angus 'Shroom & Swiss burger is Angus beef covered in sauteed mushrooms and 2 slices of melted swiss cheese. On Burger King's web site you'll notice an asterisk(*) after 'swiss cheese' with this tasty disclaimer: "Processed Pasteurized Swiss Cheese." Yum!

Burger King does not supply, at this time, any nutritional information for this burger.

By the way, Burger King's web site (bk.com) performs terribly in the Firefox web browser. I've experienced this before, so when I was checking out this burger I switched to Internet Explorer. When I went to bk.com in the Internet Explorer web browser I was asked if I'd like to participate in a "Usability Survey" for the Burger King website. I thought, "perfect, now I can tell them about my experience with their site in Firefox." Well, as soon as I clicked "Yes" I'd like to participate in the survey the site crashed Internet Explorer. Not good. Burger King needs to do some serious work on their web site's usability and browser compatibility.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Chick-fil-a's million nugget giveaway

In aid of promoting their party trays, Chick-fil-a currently has a Million Nugget Giveaway promotion.

The promotion is co-branded with the Dr. Pepper and the NCAA conferences: ACC, SEC and the Big 12.

Entering at the Million Nugget web site gives you a chance at a trip for 2 to the ACC, SEC or Big 12 championship game, where you'll compete for a chance to throw for up to $1 million, or one of over 15,000 small Chick-fil-a nugget trays. The first 300,000 entrants will also receive a coupon for a free large Dr. Pepper at Chick-fil-a.

I'm thinking it's an effective promotion because until I entered I wasn't aware that Chick-fil-a had party trays. Actually, they've got 10 different ones: Nuggets Tray, Chick-n-Strips Tray, Cool Wrap Tray, Cool Wrap and Chicken Salad Sandwich Tray, Chicken Salad Sandwich Tray, Fruit Tray, Fudge Nut Brownie Tray, Cheesecake Tray, Chick-n-Minis Tray, Cinnamon Clusters Tray.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wendy's frosty coupons

10 free Frosty's from Wendy's for a $1 donation? Sound too good to be true. Maybe so, but Justin Hazen says it worked at his local Wendy's.

According to Justin's blog, when you're purchasing a meal at Wendy's and you're asked if you'd like to donate to their charity, fork over a $1 and they'll give you the coupon book (shown here) good for 10 free Jr. Frostys.

I haven't tried it yet, but if you have luck (or don't) let us know about it in the comment section.

By the way, the charity your dollar will be going to is the adoption foundation created by Wendy's founder Dave Thomas, the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation. Dave himself was adopted and was a fervent spokesperson for adoption during his lifetime.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fast food drive-thru survey

The results of QSR Magazine's 2006 Drive-thru survey are in!

According to QSR's survey, the most accurate fast food drive-thrus are:
  1. Chick-fil-A
  2. Whataburger
  3. Jack in the Box
  4. Carl’sJr.
  5. Taco John’s
The fastest drive-thrus, with their average wait, are:
  1. Checker’s - 125.5 seconds
  2. Wendy’s - 135.1 seconds
  3. Taco Bell - 156.2 seconds
  4. McDonald’s - 163.9 seconds
  5. Burger King - 166 seconds
The friendliest drive-thrus, based on the use of "please" and "thank you" and smiles, eye contact and an overall pleasant demeanor, are:
  1. Carl’s Jr.
  2. Chick-fil-A
  3. Captain D’s
  4. Arby’s
  5. A&W

Starbucks edges closer to fast food

Starbucks has announced that it will start selling warm food at 200 NY locations.

"We are responding to our customers' requests to be able to purchase a warm breakfast sandwich or pastry along with their Starbucks beverage, and we are confident that these new offerings will enhance their Starbucks experience," said Gretchen Bartkus, Starbucks regional food manager.

Starbucks expanded menu includes breakfast egg and meat sandwiches served on English muffins and available all day, as well as lunch sandwiches that can be served warm or cold -- including a tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwich and a chicken-cheddar club.

Starbucks has been expanding their breakfast menu for awhile, but this development certainly moves them even closer to becoming a fast food restaurant. And the fast food players have been improving their coffee.

Does this mean the coffee house and the fast food joint will gradually morph into some new hybrid?

Or does it just mean that Starbucks is turning into a fast food joint?

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jack's steak ciabatta sandwich

Jack in the Box has introduced another sandwich to their Ciabatta line, the Sirloin Steak 'n' Cheddar Ciabatta.

The sandwich features sirloin steak on toasted ciabatta bread with cheddar cheese, red onions, tomatoes and lettuce topped with peppercorn mayo.

It sells for $4.59 at most US Jack in the Box locations.

Jack's Sirloin Steak 'n' Cheddar Ciabatta has 770 calories, 339 calories from fat, 37 g of fat, 8 g saturated fat, .4 g trans fat, 112 mg cholesterol, 1307 mg sodium, 65 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugars, 43 g protein.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

McD, BK sued over cooked meat

As if hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and HFCS weren't scary enough, now a doctors group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, is bringing attention to the carcinogenic PhIP (heterocyclic amines) found in grilled chicken at fast food restaurants.

Of course, the best way to bring attention to something is to file a lawsuit, right? So that's what they've done. They're suing McDonald's, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chili's, Applebee's, Outback Steakhouse and TGI Friday's because they identified the PhIP in their chicken products.

The problem is, these heterocyclic amine (HCA) compounds are found in almost all meats cooked at a high temperatures. They form when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react at high cooking temperatures. But heck, let's sue the restaurants anyway!

I realize the lawsuit is just a tactic to bring about public awareness of this carcinogen, and it works because here I am writing about it (as did Forbes), but I think it is an abuse of our legal system. The courts are not every special interest group's own public relations firm.

If you're concerned about HCA compounds in your food and want to learn about methods for cooking meat that reduce the amount created, please visit this page at the National Cancer Institute.

Update: These extremist groups are getting so good at hiding their agendas I almost missed it; this PCRM is just a front for PETA (aka Ingrid's cult). So not only are they abusing our legal system with this lawsuit, but they're doing it under false pretenses.

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