Friday, February 23, 2007

Rats invade NYC KFC/Taco Bell

Rats have invaded a KFC/Taco Bell combo restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York City and it's the talk of the town. Local news stations have shot video of a virtual horde of rats running around the restaurant.

The restaurant has been cited in the past for rodent problems.

I can't really do the video justice with a description, so, if you've got a strong stomach, watch the video.

UPDATE: The restaurant has been closed until the rat problem, and any other health code violations, are solved (see 2nd video below).

Watch the rats (Fox 5 New York):

Watch Yum! Brands' response (parent company of Taco Bell & KFC):

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

KFC asks Pope to bless their fish

For the first time KFC is going to serve fish. The KFC Fish Snacker is "An Alaskan Pollock fish filet breaded and fried to golden perfection, then topped with tangy tartar sauce and served on a warm sesame seed bun.

Just in time for Lent, KFC says the new sandwich "is ideal for American Catholics who want to observe Lenten season traditions while still leading their busy, modern lifestyles."

"People can enjoy the flavor of the new Fish Snacker any day of the week, but we believe it will be especially popular on Fridays," said James O'Reilly, Chief Marketing Officer for KFC.

In a PR move to promote the new fish sandwich, KFC has concocted a publicity stunt that at least borders on sacrilegious: they've officially asked the Pope (yes, the one in Rome with the big hat) to bless their new sandwich.

According to KFC's press release: "The company has asked the Pope himself for his blessing, with KFC President Gregg Dedrick sending a personal letter to the Vatican... The company has turned to Pope Benedict XVI, beseeching him to bestow his Papal blessing for this innovative new menu item."

It is unlikely they will hear back from Pope Benedict unless the Catholic Church somehow doesn't realize when they're being used for cheap publicity.

The KFC Fish Snacker has 280 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 42 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 5 grams sugars, and 13 grams of protein.

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Del Taco adds to seafood menu

Del Taco has decided to capitalize on the popularity of their crispy fish and shrimp tacos by adding more seafood menu items.

The new items are "Fish and Papas" and "Shrimp and Papas." Shrimp and Papas comes with 10 shrimp and an ancho chili sauce for dipping. Fish and Papas (pictured) comes with two fish fillets and a new tasty jalapeno tartar sauce. Both are priced at $2.99.

“We’re bringing together into one dish two of our most popular menu items,” said Sharon Fogg, Del Taco senior vice president of marketing. “For years, we’ve been known for our world-famous crinkle-cut fries. What we’re doing now is combining those fries with our newest and fastest-growing line of offering – our fish and shrimp products.”

The 2 new menu items will be available at Del Taco this week, just in time for Lent, and will be promoted with television and radio ads.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Carl's Breakfast Burger

Somehow I hadn't noticed this Carl's Jr. breakfast item before... the Breakfast Burger. With a mere 830 calories and 47 grams of fat you can get your morning's supply of beef, egg, bacon, cheese, potato and bread.

By comparison, Carl's 'Big Burger' has 520 calories and 18 grams of fat.

The Breakfast Burger is "a charbroiled all-beef patty, fried egg, crisp bacon, american cheese, hash brown nuggets and ketchup on a sesame seed bun."

It has 830 calories, 65g carbs, 37g protein, 47g fat, 15g saturated fat, 275mg cholesterol, 1580mg sodium.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Fatburger goes trans-fat-free

They seem to all be falling in line with the trans-fat-free movement. Now, burger chain Fatburger, has now gone trans-fat-free, too:
"On January 1st, Fatburger began eliminating trans fat from its menu items. The plan includes transitioning to trans-fat free frying oil in all 83 locations. The new soy bean-based oil will be used to prepare fried offerings, including Fat and Skinny Fries and homemade onion rings."
"Our goal is to provide our guests with the high quality and great taste that they know and love from Fatburger," said Elaine Patel, vice president of marketing for Fatburger.
Fatburger is also promoting the lean, safe beef that they use in their burgers:
Fatburger also uses lean beef. The fresh, 100 percent pure lean beef is ground fresh daily and USDA inspected. All Fatburger beef is tested for toxins and other containments. Each patty is also tested to ensure it is only comprised of approximately 18 percent fat, proving that the “Fat” in Fatburger refers to the size of the burgers.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Taco Bell to test lettuce at the farm

Taco Bell lost $20 million last fall when they had an outbreak of e. coli at some of their restaurants in the northeastern US. 71 people in 5 states became ill. The CDC said Taco Bell's shredded lettuce was the likely source of the outbreak.

Taco Bell has now announced that they will begin "on-the-farm" testing of their lettuce.

"We have rapidly put in place farm ... testing of our lettuce supply to add another level of testing," David Novak, chairman and chief executive of Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc..

Taco Bell is one of the first companies to conduct such tests, but they have not yet announced details of the on-the-farm testing program.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

DQ updates their logo

Dairy Queen has updated their logo. But not by much. And some might say it's not much of an improvement... or that you really can't see much difference at all.

from DQ:

During 2007, a new master brand logo will be introduced to more than 5,600 locations worldwide. The traditional logo is the foundation for the new one, a more symmetrical ellipse enhanced with gold and blue curved swishes signifying food and treats. The DQ lettering also has been updated to a font that is more current, adding greater personality. This is the first time in company history that a new logo will be brand-centric for all of the concepts.

"Our original DQ logo is one of the most revered in the quick service restaurant industry," said Michael Keller, chief brand officer for International Dairy Queen, Inc. "The new, modernized version encompasses the tried and true DQ ellipse with modifications made to show our growth as a brand and to reflect the fun and enjoyment associated with our food and soft-serve treats."
"Most revered in the quick service restaurant industry?" Okay, whatever you say!

Monday, February 12, 2007

BK will help farmworkers find a job

A couple years ago a boycott directed against Taco Bell convinced Taco Bell to agree to a penny-a-pound increase on tomatoes and a code of conduct that will help to penalize suppliers that abuse workers.

The same group that organized the Taco Bell boycott, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, has recently been working with Burger King on similar issues.

Burger King said it won't help boost wages for Florida farmworkers by paying more for the tomatoes on its Whopper, but it will send recruiters to help the workers find a job at one of its restaurants.

more at NewsMax

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

CA bill seeks nutrition posting

Looks like California might be the first state to require the posting of nutritional data in fast food (and other chain) restaurants. A bill as been introduced in the California Senate by Sen. Carole Migden.

from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Migden, D-San Francisco, introduced legislation Tuesday that would require chain restaurants to post calorie counts for their food in plain view -- that is, on menus and menu boards. The legislation defines chains as restaurants that have five outlets in California, or have one in the state but at least 10 nationwide.

Citing the nation's high obesity rate -- 30 percent of adults over age 20 are obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics -- Migden argued that consumers should be allowed to make informed choices.
This won't be much trouble for the big chains (except Quizno's, since they won't tell anyone what's in their sandwiches), but it might be hard for the smaller chains that will have to spend the money on laboratory fees (to calculate the data) and signs. It might be more reasonable to limit the requirement to chains with 20+ locations. Just as important might be to require disclosure of those items that have trans fat or high fructose corn syrup.


Monday, February 05, 2007

McDonald's coffee ranks high

Coffee snobs be warned: according to a survey outlined in the March issue of Consumer Reports magazine, McDonald's coffee was rated higher than Starbucks.

McDonald's coffee was "decent and moderately strong," while Starbucks' was "strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water," the magazine said.

McDonald's introduced coffee made from 100 percent Arabica beans, the kind used at Starbucks, a year ago.

The coffee from Starbucks, meanwhile, was determined to be "strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open."

The testers also ranked coffee from Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts, which claims to serve nearly a billion cups a year. Neither stood up to the competition, the magazine said.

Burger King's brew 'looked like coffee but tasted more like hot water,' the report states, while Dunkin's 'was inoffensive, but it had no oomph.'

McDonald's was not only the best tasting, but was also found to be the least expensive cup, the magazine said.


Friday, February 02, 2007

BK Breakfast value meal

Burger King will roll-out the BK Breakfast Value Menu on Feb. 19. The value menu will include two new menu items, the Hamlette sandwich and Cheesy Tots.

The value breakfast menu will include 10 offerings, starting at $1 each. Offerings include: Cheesy Tots; three-piece French Toast Sticks; Sausage Biscuit; small Hash Browns; Cini-minis; small BK Joe coffee in regular, decaf and turbo-strength; white or chocolate 10-ounce milk; 16-ounce soft drink; orange juice; and the Hamlette.

The new Hamlette sandwich has thinly sliced ham, melted American cheese and egg, topped with honey butter and served on a sesame seed bun. Another breakfast addition is Cheesy Tots, bite-size portions of melted mozzarella and cheddar cheeses inside a crispy potato crust. Cheesy Tots will be available all day in six-, nine- and 12-piece portions.

BK fans might also want to check out the BK Super Bowl bobble heads and the bobble head game. 8 different BK Superbowl bobbleheads are available in BK Kid's Meals.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

BK begins trans-fat-free testing, too

Following just days after McDonald's announced their limited introduction of a new trans-fat-free cooking oil for their fries, Burger King has announced their own "in-restaurant testing with several trans fat-free cooking oils."

"We have been working for more than two years to identify trans fat-free cooking oils," said Schaufelberger. "Our goal has been to identify trans fat-free oils that allow for the same great taste and texture quality."

BK wants to ensure availability of the new oil before rolling it out in all their restaurants: "Before making promises to our consumers, we want to be certain that we could deliver the taste, texture and quality that our restaurant guests expect from the Burger King brand," he said. "We also wanted to ensure that the oils were a healthier alternative."

BK says they will meet New York City trans fat-free requirements in advance of its national rollout.

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McDonald's trip planner

Derrick Lang at the AP has a short piece on McDonald's Trip Planner here and here. The 'trip planner' shows all the McDonald's along the route between an origin and destination that you enter.

I'm quoted in the article and Derrick made a good point when he interviewed me: Why is it necessary to have such a feature on McDonald's website when you can't drive very far anywhere in America without seeing a McDonald's or at least a billboard telling you where the next one is.

His article concludes: "There's one question the McDonald's Trip Planner doesn't answer about its listed locations, something many travelers wonder about: Just how clean is the bathroom?"