Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Place: Hardee's
Lunch: 1/3 lb Most American Thickburger, chicken tenders (w/ranch), orange cream shake

Hardee's and Carl's Jr posted a really tacky teaser image a couple of weeks ago featuring lips painted blue around the upper (with stars) and red and white around the lower, with the lower red and white dripping.  A tongue was sticking out licking the upper lip.

The teaser turned out to be for the "Most American Thickburger", a standard Hardee's 1/3 lb Thickburger with the addition of a split hot dog and kettle chips.  And no mayo.  They skipped the mayo, making me wonder what the dripping white from the lips is supposed to represent.

Who doesn't like hamburgers?  Who doesn't like hot dogs?  Who doesn't like potato chips?  But does that mean mutating them into a single menu item is a good idea?  For example, I like baked potatoes, but I don't like mashed potatoes.  My grandmother used to argue that they're the same thing, just mashed up.  I would argue back that her mashed potatoes had milk in them to make the potatoes creamier, and that completely changed the flavor profile into something gross.  This argument always, without fail, ended with her rolling her eyes.

(For the record, I was probably not using the phrase "flavor profile" back then, at the age of six.)

When the sandwich was revealed on the Hardee's and Carl's Jr Facebook feeds, I posed a question..."Wouldn't it make more sense to put a hot dog on the chili cheeseburger?"  Think about it, a chili dog cheeseburger.

I know, right?

Nobody cared on the Hardee's page, but the Carl's Jr faithful were TOTALLY behind this.  I got more likes and comments than pretty much anything I've ever posted on my Facebook page.  People want that burger.

Of course, Hardee's hasn't offered a chili cheeseburger in years, and Carl's Jr apparently discontinued theirs, so I guess it's up to you, Wienerschnitzel.

So how is the "Most American"?  It's not very good.  I removed the chips about two bites in and finished maybe half the thing.  The split hot dog doesn't even cover the patty...a good third of it has no hot dog on it.  It just made me wish I had a pastrami burger.

The chicken tenders were great, though.

And the orange cream shake was a total bonus.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Place: Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen
Lunch: Three blackened (formerly known as "naked") tenders (w/ranch), one spicy thigh, Fanta Lime Rickey (1/4 Fanta Lime, 3/4 Fanta Grape from the Coke Freestyle thingy)

Smiling Counter Guy, a manager, rings up my order on their cash register (which is literally an iPad), and it's quite a bit cheaper than normal.  "I gave you the pop," he said.  No particular reason.  He just did.

"No complaint from me," I said.  He laughed.

Didn't make me any less grumpy, and I am grumpy.  It's rainy and 50 today.  Again.  It's like I live in the Pacific Northwest again.  I shouldn't have to be grumpy about this kind of weather in the Midwest.  I should be grumpy that it's too hot and humid.  It's not fair, Mother Nature.  Or global warming.  Or climate change.  Or whatever the hippies are calling it these days.

I'm probably actually grumpy that tonight is Letterman's last show.  The last of the great broadcast talk show hosts.  End of an era.

It's true that David Letterman hasn't exactly been relevant for years, but I'd still watch him before I'd watch Fallon, Kimmel, Meyers, or the dreadful Corden (any bets on when they just let Reggie Watts take that show over?) .  This Fall, Stephen Colbert takes over for Letterman, leaving Jimmy Kimmel of all people the elder of late night broadcast talk.

(Sorry, Conan.  I don't have cable.)

So why am I bummed about Dave leaving?  I don't know.  He does have some great interviews on occasion in between the ones I find so painful that I flip to Perry Mason reruns...those interviews where he comes off as a senile old man berating celebrities for advice on raising his son, and when his show comes off as a blatant political infomercial.  Still, I like his laid-back style, and he does have the ability to pull a joke out of the air.  He does have some great musical guests.  There's been more than one occasion that I've gotten on my computer and ordered music from a guest artist before they've even finished their song on his show.  Esperanza Spalding and St Vincent are two such examples.

Maybe it's because he's the last tie to Carson in the business, and I still miss Carson.

Not that many people take the time to watch the full shows anymore anyway.  Apparently the kids just stream the highlights on their phones.  Five minutes of an hour show and on to the next viral video sensation.

Yay for them, I guess.

But my generation's era of late night talk shows is done.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Place: McDonald's
Lunch: Steakhouse Sirloin Burger, fries, Hi-C Orange Lavaburst

Here we go again.

McDonald's is in a state of woe.  Historically, McDonald's has responded to states of woe in two ways...a new value menu, or a new premium burger menu.  We are now in the "premium burger menu" cycle.  McDonald's is rolling out a line of 1/3 pound sirloin burgers.  There's the Lettuce & Cheese version, the Bacon & Cheese version, and the most unique of the bunch, the Steakhouse Sirloin, which has grilled onions and sauteed mushrooms.

All of these have processed white cheddar cheese, which McDonald's has been putting on LTO burgers and breakfast sandwiches for a few years now, making me think somebody locked McDonald's into a long-term contract for this stuff that their lawyers have yet to find an out for.  It's a very boring tasting cheese.

So how is the Steakhouse?  Terrible.  Possibly the worst McDonald's burger I've ever had.  Really really bland.  The white cheddar is no substitute for a slice of Swiss, the traditional paring for a mushroom burger, making the highlight of the meal the room temperature fries.  No, actually, the orange drink.  That was the highlight.

The Sirloin line is just another example of McDonald's trying to be something it's not.  Much like the McDLT, Arch Deluxe, and Angus burger line.  Let's face it, the last "premium" burger McDonald's ever launched that actually stuck was the Quarter Pounder.

So what does McDonald's really need to do here?

Streamline the menu to the basics and cook it all to order.

McDonald's (and Burger King) assembles food to order.  That means they pre-cook the cooked ingredients, keep the ingredients in warming trays, then assemble the sandwiches when they're ordered.  At least we're past the days of pre-assembled sandwiches that sit in the big warming bin for who knows how long before being instantly handed to the customer upon ordering,  That was fine (well, not really) when there were just a few major players dominating the market and stores were always busy.  But guess what?  That's no longer the case.  A growing list of competitors are taking the time to cook to order.  And I'm not just referring to premium outlets like Five Guys, Steak n Shake, or Shake Shack.  Culver's cooks to order.  Freddy's cooks to order.  In-N-Out cooks to order.  Carl's Jr/Hardee's cooks to order (or very close to it).  Whataburger cooks to order.  Even Jack in the Box cooks to order.  Jack in the Box is my go-to place for chicken nuggets for that very reason.

(Not all of these examples cook fries to order.  If they did, I'd probably order fries more often.)

I don't care if it takes longer.  I want hot fries.  I want hot McNuggets.  I want burger patties that are still juicy.

Actually, what McDonald's REALLY needs to do is take every penny of its profits and use it to buy back its stock and go private.  These irrational reactionary moves they make are really designed to keep the stock price from collapsing.  McDonald's really needs to get out of the stock market.

That...and cook to order.