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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Life + Arts

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Greasy delights lack originality

Let’s face it – food can get boring after a while.

Fast food burgers usually look nothing like the quarter-pound, lettuce-and-tomato-addled behemoths we see advertised today.

Every once in a while, restaurants add something new to their menus to spice things up.
These new products are often given in-house changes and undergo rigorous market testing before they go from the minds of a cook or chef to the official menu.

How did the inventor of the Big Mac realize that Thousand Island dressing tastes good in a burger? What was it people came up with before settling on a combination of chili and cheese on a hot dog? Who thought of boiling poisonous raw bamboo shoots before eating them? Someone had to figure these things out before eating such foods became commonplace.

Take the McGriddle, a breakfast sandwich served at McDonald’s. Did some demented East Asian engineer set out to create a complete breakfast that’s smaller and more efficient than others? Where on Earth does someone come up with a sandwich comprised of two maple syrup-flavored pancakes with sausage, egg and cheese?

This little wonder was test marketed in the great state of Texas. Despite having one-third of the recommended daily value of fat concentrated in one breakfast item, the McGriddle was a hit. McDonald’s now serves the McGriddle in Germany, Japan, Guatemala and even Singapore.

As cringe-worthy as it sounds, the McGriddle was at least an original idea. Some middling amount of thought was put into its creation.

Nothing grinds my gears more than some lazy idea or concept that a restaurant will use to make money. Look no further than the latest menu item slated to appear on Taco Bell menus soon ? cupcakes.

That was not a typo; Taco Bell may be introducing cupcakes to its menu.

Several online blogs reported that cupcakes, as well as fruit smoothies, are being test marketed in Southern California. A picture from The Orange County Register’s Fast Food Maven blog (http://fastfood.freedomblogging.com/2009/10/07/taco-bell-testing-cupcakes-smoothies/35977/) of the Orange County Register shows the cupcakes in question, with one shown inside a Taco Bell container.

For what it’s worth, cupcakes are tasty. However, when they’re for sale at a restaurant that encourages paying for food with dimes in its advertising, something is not right.
What possesses a multi-million dollar restaurant chain to begin selling goods more fitting of a church bake sale? Who is getting paid to come up with these ideas, and how much are they making? It can boggle the mind.

Cupcakes aside, one item out there right now is equally as guilty when it comes to lazy product inspiration ? the snack wrap.

At first, the snack wrap was just the novel idea of replacing a bun with a tortilla. The result made food smaller for more manageable portions, healthier options and quick on-the-go eating. Admittedly, a grilled chicken snack wrap was a nice option at the time.

Since then, the snack wrap has become a dumping ground for whatever combination of ingredients they can fit onto a tortilla. Again, we go back to McDonald’s and their expert test marketing crew. Not to be outdone by the creation of the McGriddle, the wizards did it again with the Big Mac Snack Wrap.

How lazy is it of McDonald’s to take their most popular burger of all time and just replace that signature sesame seed bun with a tortilla? Moreover, the creators negate the wrap’s purpose by incorporating the same nutritional value of its bun-topped brother.
In other words, the Big Mac Snack Wrap is less of a little brother to the Big Mac and more like an illegitimate child.

The value menus of fast food restaurants are not broken, so they don’t need any fixing. If the cupcake and the faux taco are the latest trends in fast food, what’s to prevent the addition of fruits and vegetables to the menu?

Oh wait, they’re already present. Behold, the fast food menu – where food creativity goes to die.

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