Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Strawberry Post

Place: Hardee's
1/3 lb Thickburger (no lettuce, no tomato), Bacon Cheddar Fries, Coke

Hardee's posted on their Facebook yesterday that Bacon Cheddar Fries were returning.  I didn't believe my local Hardee's would have them yet because they're always a couple of weeks behind on product roll outs.

But they did.

So the other day I was at the grocery store and, much to my surprise, they had strawberry Gatorade.  Not "Fierce Strawberry Gatorade"...just the regular variety.  Which is only sold in 12oz bottles and is next to impossible to find unless you buy the big multi-flavor packs at Costco, and even then only 1/3 of the case is strawberry.

Of course, it's my favorite Gatorade flavor.  So I took advantage and bought a couple of cases.

Then I passed by a big container of strawberry Pop Tarts on sale.  So I grabbed some of those too.  Then some strawberry Kool-Aid, and strawberry Haagen-Dazs (the greatest strawberry ice cream in the history of the world, save for maybe Frusen Gladje, but that brand is long since gone).

The one thing I didn't buy?  Actual strawberries.

Seems silly upon reflection.  Why buy artificially flavored products when the real inspiration for the flavor is right there, in abundance, and far healthier?

We do it all the time, though.  Strawberry Quik.  Strawberry milkshakes.  Strawberry yogurt.  Strawberry-banana yogurt.  Strawberry Starburst.  Strawberry Jell-O.  Strawberry Yogurt Burst Cheerio's.  Welch's White Grape Strawberry juice (which hasn't been around in awhile).  Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M's.

(Yes, Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M's really existed once.  And they were awesome.)

I love real strawberries, but they only seem to be sold in gargantuan packages that I'll never get around to finishing before they start to grow mold.  Not practical.  Unless I want to make myself sick.  Not advisable.  And I can't remember ever buying a package of strawberries without finding some had already started going bad anyway.  Life was far easier when I could just pick them out of my grandmother's garden.

There's a couple of Chinese buffets that have strawberries out for consumption.  I take advantage there.  One of them has the nicest strawberries I've seen outside Oregon.

The better fro-yo joints usually have sliced strawberries available, and I almost always use them.  A couple of fro-yo joints have strawberries in strawberry juice (or syrup or whatever that is).  Use that too.

I keep that stuff at home as well to make little mini strawberry shortcakes.  Or occasionally for topping ice cream.

Fake or real, I do love my strawberries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fake Wendy

Place: Wendy's
Lunch: The W (no tomato), chili, lime Fanta

The Wendy's down the street from the office now has a Coke Freestyle machine.  Weird since Wendy's is one of the last of the big fast food chains to offer self-serve drinks.  They've been pouring themselves from behind the counter prior to now, long after other chains offered you the ability to pour and refill your own cups.  I guess this is a chain-wide initiative, because they actually printed all the flavors on the cup.

(Trivia...Anybody know who pioneered self-serve drinks among the big chains?  Carl's Jr, apparently.  So there's one less thing you'll feel the need to Google today.  You're welcome.)

The whole 'fill your own drink' process completely screwed up my Wendy's order flow.  I walked off with the drink cup AND the tray before they brought the food out, so Smiling Counter Girl stood there holding my burger and chili in her hand when they were ready.  As opposed to using another tray.  Probably thinking she was making a point.  Which she was.  I hate her anyway.

This is my first time trying "The W", Wendy's answer to the Big Mac if you believe their commercials.  Way to be forty years late on that one.  I've heard nothing but bad things about it, but I don't think it's too bad.  Not great, but not bad.

Have you noticed that Wendy's is now using a cute young no-name redhead in their commercials?  They were actually using the real Wendy Thomas for the roll out of their mediocre "hot n' juicy" burgers, but now they have the youthful and cheerful Morgan Smith Goodwin pitching chicken sandwiches instead.  Wasn't sure how I felt about that, but then I saw another new commercial with Thomas in it, so I guess I'm just confused now.

Not the first time.  Won't be the last.

Anyway, Goodwin is young and adorable and skinny and everybody knows all girls on TV pitching food must be these things.  I don't personally believe that, and I think Thomas looks adorable in her own way anyway, but what do I know.

I suppose that applies to guys too with exceptions to celebrity.  You need look no further than Dave Thomas himself for that.  Or even the creepy Burger King character (who BK has discontinued in favor of food items targeted towards the elderly and pitched by...Jay Leno?  Seriously?)

I wonder if they'll do a commercial where Wendy and Morgan appear together eventually.  Maybe just a passing 'hello' in a restaurant, maybe where they have a big cat fight.

Cat fight would be awesome.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lazy Town

Place: Taco Bell
Lunch: Doritos Locos Taco Supreme (no tomato), Nachos Supreme (no tomato), Mug Root Beer

I FINALLY figured out why they put a card wrap around this taco shell.  It's so you can gradually slide the taco along without actually touching it as you eat it, so you don't end up with orange hands covered in Doritos seasoning.  Duh.

Twenty some-odd years ago in my North Dakota days, one of our local Hardee's was scheduled for replacement.  Thanks to some new "fast track" construction process, they were going to demolish the existing building (an old Sandy's that had been remodeled into a modern but small Hardee's) and replace it with a whole new ground-up building.  Which they insisted would be open for business exactly 30 days after the old one closed.

And it was.  A complete property short of landscaping.


Flash forward to today, where this old Taco Bell, which sits in an old Sambo's building that I've complained about here over and over, is FINALLY being replaced by an actual Taco Bell spec building down the street.  The first notices promoting the new location went up last October.  The franchisee bragged that the new building would be pre-fabricated and shipped.  So you'd think they could get this done fairly quickly, right?


Lot prep started months ago.  And the building actually went up pretty quickly...maybe a week.  Fully painted and everything else short of signage.

And then it sat there.  And sat there. 

For the past few weeks, the mud that surround it has started being paved.  (Yes, they put the building up without so much as grading the parking area.)  This has actually taken longer than it did to throw the building up.

All told, I wouldn't be surprised if from grading to opening took six months.  To put up a prefab fast food building.

Our new Whole Foods isn't moving much faster.  Construction started last October in an existing strip mall space once partly occupied by Best Buy (who moved into a smaller footprint next door).  Whole Foods took down two exterior walls and rebuilt them, expanding their footprint to what's expected to be a 30,000 square-foot space.  Small for them.

They got it all enclosed fairly quickly.  The storefront was the only thing that didn't look finished for quite awhile.

And it sat there.

And sat there.

Signage went up a couple weeks back and windows started to be placed in front.  So you could see in.  And now you can see that it appears not a whole lot has been going on since October, except for duct work.

A few weeks ago, I noticed the Taco John's down the street was being boarded up.  Kind of surprised me...they did a good business...until I discovered it wasn't closing.  Some idiot drove their car into the front of it.

So they boarded up the affected area.  And thus far have left it that way.  No sign of ever having intentions of fixing it.  As far as I can tell, the damage is limited to glass and framing.  And I've seen it up close from the inside...they're still open for business.

Really?  It's that hard?

I've lived in a lot of places.  I travel to a lot of places.  I just don't see construction taking this long elsewhere.  It can't be a code thing...QuikTrip is building their first local Gen 3 location right across the street from the old Taco Bell, and they're flying right along.

It's just not this hard, people.