Wednesday, July 30, 2008

California trans-fat and fast food laws

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a law that bans trans-fat from all items served in restaurant. California restaurants must comply by 2010 and bakeries by 2011.

The Fast Food Maven has a great local breakdown of how the various fast food chains are coming along with their trans-fat reduction program.

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Once the mayor approves a ban sent to him by the Los Angeles city
council, no more fast food chain restaurants can be built in low-income areas
of Los Angeles. (more from the LA Times).

This might encourage local restaurant ventures, which would be great, but is it right to prevent companies from giving people what they want? The fast food chains wouldn't want to build there if the people didn't want their food. Maybe a city-wide nutrition education program would be a better idea. Is the day approaching when the government tells us what we can and cannot eat?


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

McDonald's to power Manila's police cars

from CNN
Police in Manila are looking to convert their patrol cars to run on a mixture of diesel and used cooking oil from McDonald's (MCD), officials and the company said Tuesday.

With oil prices at crippling highs, the project would convert cars in the Makati financial district to run on a combination of 40 percent diesel and 60 percent cooking oil, said police Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz.

Used cooking oil will be donated by Makati outlets of the U.S. fast food giant, said McDonald's franchising manager Buth Salaya.


All Bennigan's restaurants closed for good?

I know, it's not fast food, but it is a sign of the economic times in the food industry.

Evidently, all 800 310 Bennigan's restaurants closed last night...for good.

According to several media reports, employees at numerous Bennigan's restaurants say the chain has ceased operations. The Plano, Texas based Bennigan's is responding to calls with a "no comment."

More at Dallas, Texas NBC-TV affiliate, Channel 5.

Granted, it isn't a big loss to the culinary world, but after 617 Starbucks closings planned and an 800 restaurant chain shutting down, what's next?

UPDATE: Bennigan's and Steak & Ale have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. All stores are closed and will be liquidated. see WSJ

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Carl's Monster Breakfast Sandwich

Have you got a big mouth and want a quick 730 calories and 47 grams of fat first thing in the morning?

Then Carl's Jr. has something new for you. The Monster Breakfast Sandwich. Yup, 47 grams of fat. That's the fat equivalent of 5 glazed donuts or 5 McDonald's hamburgers. Take your pick!

The Monster Breakfast Sandwich has two eggs, two strips of bacon, a sausage patty and Swiss and
American cheeses between grilled sourdough bread.

"As we looked for compelling ways to make Carl's Jr. breakfast menu
stand out from the crowd, our consumer research revealed that many
people felt that typical fast-food breakfast items really didn't fill
them up, so much so that they often ordered two sandwiches at a time to
get enough food," said Brad Haley, executive vice president of
marketing for Carl's Jr.

Thanks for thinking of us Brad! But we would have to eat four, yes 4, Egg McMuffins to get the amount of fat your offering us in your new breakfast sandwich!

Don't get me wrong, it's not Carl's Jr.'s fault...artery clogging menu items like this ARE what American's want!

The Monster Breakfast Sandwich has:
  • 730 calories
  • 420 calories from fat
  • 47 grams of fat
  • 17 grams saturated fat
  • 530 mg cholesterol
  • 1210 mg sodium
  • 39 g carbs
  • 2 grams fiber
  • 5 grams sugars
  • 37 grams protein.
If you feel you've spent enough time in this crazy world (with these crazy, gluttonous sandwiches) and want to hasten your departure you can get a coupon for $1 off the Monster Breakfast Sandwich (thru 9/30/08).

The Monster Breakfast Sandwich is $2.89 a la carte or $4.49 as part of a combo.

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McDonald's product placement IN the news

McDonald's has found another way to get in our heads. And they're doing it during the morning news!

2 cups of McDonald's iced coffee have been sitting on the news desk on the set of Las Vegas' Fox 5 TV News for the past few weeks.... just sitting there... no one ever touches them (because they're not filled with coffee but with something else that will hold up under the lights.

McDonald's is really making the push for part of Starbucks market, now that Starbucks is closing 617 stores in the US. And you've already read here that McDonald's coffee strategy is hurting Starbucks.

Maybe subliminal marketing like this is why. And what a revenue boost for the TV news.
Fox is starting its day with a “nontraditional revenue source,” KVVU news director Adam P. Bradshaw says.
But is it ethical... putting ads, not between the news, but IN the news?
Kelly McBride, the ethics group leader for Poynter Institute, the nonprofit journalism training organization, isn’t convinced. Product placement in a newsroom, she worries, represents the “slippage” of news into advertisement, a descent into a dark world where conglomerate companies control coverage.
quotes excerpted from an article in the Las Vegas Sun where you can read more.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flickr Group: Frightening Fast Food

I've come across some pretty frightening photos of fast food on Flickr, so awhile back I started a Flickr group called "Frightening Fast Food." Here's a slideshow of what's been collected there so far:

Click on any photo for more info.

And, please, if you have any frightening photos of fast food, add them to the Flickr Group.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Jack's Cheesy Macaroni Bites

Jack in the Box has introduced Cheesey Macaroni Bites. They are "wedges of macaroni noodles and real Kraft® cheese enveloped in a crunchy tempura-style coating."

"Mac 'n' cheese is an American classic that's universally loved," said Teka O'Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box Inc. "Our new Cheesy Macaroni Bites offer the same great flavor of the original dish, but in a unique, finger-food style that's very convenient and portable."

Okay, okay, that's all well and good, but they just look scary. I'm sure Jack hired a professional photographer for this press release photo, but, wow...what are those!?!? And take note... they are high in trans fat and loaded with sodium. (see the nutritional info below)

Jack's Cheesy Macaroni Bites are available for the suggested price, excluding tax, of $1.69 for three pieces and $2.99 for six pieces.

By the way...the above description of these Macaroni Bites is the second time I've noticed "tempura" being used to describe the batter on fast food this week. From McDonald's official Q&A site: "McDonald's Chicken McNuggets® are made from white meat chicken coated in a light tempura batter." Is "tempura" the new food industry catch-phrase for "batter fried"?

Nutritional Information:

Jack's Cheesy Macaroni Bits, 6 pieces, has 440 calories, 230 calories from fat, 25 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 4 grams trans fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 1220 mg sodium, 21 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams sugars and 6 grams protein.

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Giant Egg Signals Breakfast at McDonald's

McDonald's and their ad agency Leo Burnett have come up with another creative way to advertise and in this case announce when breakfast is being served. (Remember McDonald's sundial billboard and their living salad billboard?) This giant 3D robot egg cracks open from 6am to 10:30am...the hours that McDonald's is serving breakfast.

from a+.29:
"Leo Burnett Chicago created this awesome beyond words Giant Egg billboard for McDonald’s. It was installed last week across from Wrigley field in Chicago. The giant egg billboard starts cracking and opening up in the wee hours of morning. By breakfast time, the egg has already hatched, and you can see “Fresh Eggs Daily” written on the egg’s yolk. The egg stays open from 6:00AM till 10:30AM, to indicate the availability of fresh eggs during that time. Once the breakfast time is finished, the egg billboard shuts and stays closed as a whole egg till the next morning. The mechanical engineering of the billboard was handled by Prop Art Studio."
see more photos of the egg at A+.29
via psfk and DVICE

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fast Food Snatch prank video

A new phenomenon? Probably not, but I saw my first video of a Fast Food Snatch just today.

The concept: Hide near a fast food drive-thru and be ready to sprint when the hand starts passing the fast food out the window to the waiting driver/customer... and grab that bag of food and keep running.

The video I just saw is below, but there are more on Google Video.

Reminder: This is a crime! Don't do it!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Top 10 Obese States

CNN reports: These are the 10 states with the highest levels of adult obesity, according to a 2007 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1. Mississippi, 32.0 percent
2. Alabama, 30.3
3. Tennessee, 30.1
4. Louisiana, 29.8
5. West Virginia, 29.5
6. Arkansas, 28.7
7. South Carolina, 28.4
8. Georgia, 28.2
9. Oklahoma, 28.1
10. Texas, 28.1

I'm telling you... HFCS is at least part of the problem!

FYI: Obesity is based on the body mass index, a calculation using height and weight. A 5-foot, 9-inch adult who weighs 203 pounds would have a BMI of 30, which is considered the threshold for obesity.

You can calculate your BMI.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

McCain's daughter loves Sonic

"On Wednesday, we traveled from New Orleans to Baton Rouge where Dad conducted a townhall with the Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal. After the townhall, we traveled to Tampa, Florida for a finance event. The girls and I ended the day going to one of my favorite restaurants, Sonic. I am obsessed with their burgers and cherry limeade." -Meghan McCain
via A Hamburger Today
photo from


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vivanno: New smoothie from Starbucks

Starbucks began serving their new Vivanno "Nourishing Blends" (aka Smoothies) today (15 July 2008).

The Vivanno currently comes in 2 flavors: orange Mango Banana Blend and Banana Chocolate Blend.

The Orange Mango Banana Blend is made with a whole banana blended with all natural Naked® Juice made exclusively for Starbucks, proprietary whey protein & fiber powder, 2% milk and ice.

The Banana Chocolate Blend Vivanno is prepared with a whole banana, bittersweet cocoa, 2% milk and Starbucks' proprietary whey protein & fiber powder and ice.

from Starbucks:
With customers looking for healthier options to fit their on-the-go lifestyles, the new Vivanno™ beverage line is one way Starbucks is meeting requests for great-tasting, good-for-you offerings while furthering its commitment to food and beverage selections that support a healthy lifestyle. The simple ingredient list for both beverages includes:
• one whole banana,
• a proprietary whey protein and fiber powder,
• choice of milk,
• and ice (in the Orange Mango Banana Blend, Naked® Juice is also added).
Nutritional information:

Good news: neither of the drinks has any artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)!

Orange Mango Banana Blend Vivanno has 250 calories, 15calories from fat, 2 grams total fat, 1 grams saturated fat, zero grams trans fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 47 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 32 grams sugars, 16 grams protein and zero mg caffeine.

The Banana Chocolate Blend Vivanno has 270 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, no trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 44 grams carbs, 6 grams fiber, 28 grams sugars, 21 grams protein and 15 mg caffeine.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Dancing at McDonald's

Something a little different has been going on for the past 12 years at a McDonald's restaurant in New Britain, Conneticut (outside Hartford).

Live music and dancing!

Every Wednesday night for the past 12 years Sam Kimble and his ad hoc Stardust Band have been performing at the McDonald's on West Main Street in New Britain.

The band and the dancers are area senior citizens out for a night on the town at the McDancehall.

And, oh yes, the McDonald's is open and serving while all this is going on.

Video journalist Carolyn Moreau put together a video of the weekly event.

Photos and video and story at the Hartford Courant.


Friday, July 11, 2008

DIY: Custom Brunch at McDonald's

[Warning! The language in this video is NSFW. We try to keep things family friendly here at Fast Food News, but this video drops the F-bomb quite a few times.]

The guys over at Internet Celebrities have produced a video demonstrating their solution to McDonald's policy of serving breakfast only before 11am and lunch only after 11am (these times may vary by location.) After expressing their displeasure over this policy, they create their own McDonald's "Brunch" by ordering just before and just after 11am.
"You have just traveled to the future. It is a place where eggs come together with premium LUNCH chicken meat as well as Swiss cheese, Canadian bacon, French fries and a marvel of American engineering… Syrup-injected bread. This my friends is how you travel on an international spaceship. Don’t forget to add the premium honey mustard sauce to keep all the parts well lubricated and don’t you dare let anyone ever tell you how to eat your food."

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Free Slurpee at 7-11 on 7-11

7-Eleven stores are again offering free Slurpees tomorrow (Friday, July 11).

This is the 7th year that 7-Eleven has run this promotion.

The first Slurpee was first served 41 years ago in 1967. It wasn't until two years later that 7-Eleven named it a Slurpee.

Free 7.11 oz Slurpees will be available until the Slurpee birthday cups run out at participating 7-Eleven stores tomorrow (7/11/08).

more at


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

McDonald's coffee strategy hurting Starbucks

We know Starbucks is in trouble. They've already announced they'll be closing 600 stores. And it is understandable... with gas prices over $4 a gallon, Americans are having to make many tough financial choices. Skipping their $4 latte is one of the easy choices.

But there's another source of trouble for Starbucks: McDonald's!

from Financial Post:
"As McDonald's Corp. tries to become a "beverage destination" for thirsty North Americans, the fast-food giant's approach is going far beyond just a "coffee clash" with Starbucks Corp.

Not only has the restaurant chain's launch of its premium coffee been a success on the back of rave reviews from taste-testers, but it is adding many more specialty coffee drinks at McCafe locations later this year, including vanilla lattes, cafe mochas and caramel cappuccinos.

It has also begun gradually adding iced coffee and iced tea to menus, and is expected to offer smoothies and energy drinks by 2010. McDonald's is also going green with its coffee push, promising that all its beans will be grown in environmentally-friendly conditions by next year."

read the rest of the article at Financial Post.

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Denny's "B-FST 2GO" fast food breakfast

Denny's has come up with something that really looks like it can compete with other fast food breakfasts. They call it "B-FST 2GO"and the bonus feature is the "portability factor." Denny's proprietary container (or Dome) keeps the breakfast items separate and warm for up to 30 minutes. So if you like Denny's breakfasts better than fast food drive-thru breakfasts in a clamshell container or a soggy wrapper, this just might be the b-fst ticket for you.
"The dome is designed to carry a full breakfast....pancakes, sunny-side up eggs, hash browns, or any other Denny's meal, in one container while maintaining overall quality. The base of the Dome is divided into a ventilated area to keep crispy foods like hash browns, french fries and bacon crisp, and a closed area to keep moist foods like eggs and sausage, moist. On top of the base, an insert plate holds French toast or pancakes in an ideal environment, while sealing in the foods below it. Topping it off, a clear lid allows customers to see their order at a glance."
'With Denny's B-FST 2GO in our proprietary Dome, consumers don't have to settle for fast food in clamshells or wrappers anymore,' says Mark Chmiel, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer. 'We know that Americans love breakfast....all day long.... but it has not been an easy meal to carry out. Who wants cold eggs, a soggy biscuit in a wrapper or wilted pancakes from fast-food restaurants? We know that the demand for our signature real fresh breakfast is there. The challenge has been perfecting the portability factor that our competitors haven't been able to do."


Monday, July 07, 2008

Move over Frosty! New frozen drinks at Wendy's

Two years ago this month, Wendy's finally began offering a variation on their 36 year old "Frosty." The original Frosty was chocolate... in July of 2006 Wendy's started selling a vanilla Frosty.

Now Wendy's has a whole new collection of Frosty variations.

These new variations include sippable ones. The original Frosty was served only with a spoon.

The frozen drinks now available at Wendy's include:
(Click the links above for descriptions and nutritional info from Wendy's.)

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Jack's Nacho Cheese Value Menu

Jack in the Box has 2 new 'value menu' items for sale this summer: the Nacho Cheese Burger and Nacho Cheese Chicken Sandwich.

From Jack's press release on these 2 sandwiches: "Some truths can't be denied the earth revolves around the sun, water boils at 212 degrees at sea level, and everything, absolutely everything tastes better covered in cheese...Jack's new Nacho Cheese Burger and Nacho Cheese Chicken Sandwich feature a choice of a beef or chicken patty topped with cheddar cheese sauce and spicy, sliced jalapenos."

Both sandwiches will cost you $1.29 (pre-tax) at most Jack in the Box restaurants.

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Sonic's Banana Split Blast

For National Ice Cream month (July), Sonic is now serving a "Banana Split Blast" for a limited time.

The Banana Split Blast includes bananas and strawberries blended into vanilla soft serve and drizzled with chocolate syrup, whipped topping and a cherry.

The 14 oz. Banana Split Blast has 560 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 10 grams saturated fat, .5 grams trans fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 98 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 76 grams sugar, 7 grams protein.

The 20 oz. Banana Split Blast has 790 calories 190 calories from fat, 21 grams fat, 13 grams saturated fat, 1 gram trans fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, 141 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 109 grams sugar, 9 grams protein.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dress like a cow for free food at Chick-fil-a

For Chick-fil-a's "Cow Appreciation Day," on Friday, July 11, Chick-fil-a will be giving a free combo meal to anyone who comes in dressed as a cow "from head to hoof."

Visit Chick-fil-a's Cow Appreciate Day site ( for more info.

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McD's Big Mac chant remix promotion

McDonald’s USA has launched a national casting call inviting all consumers to submit a video or audio remix of the popular Big Mac chant. The winning remix will be featured in a new McDonald’s Big Mac commercial that will air at the end of July. Semi-finalists will be selected by a panel of judges and the winner will be chosen through an online voting system July 22.

The only requirement is that you use the famous phrase “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” They have even prepared an audio kit with beats, loops and sounds you can download and use.

Visit to learn more and get started.

Here's an example of one by Christina Milian:

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