A friend recently gave me a topic to expound upon: The Current State of Fast Food in the Ocean State. While at first I was a bit hesitant, after some thought, there are several things I would like to bring up.
It Ain't What It Used To Be: There was a time when you could go and eat at a fast food restaurant, or take it away and not feel as though you were not getting hijacked both financially and nutritionally. Those days seem to be long gone. Has anyone noticed the combo meals, originally designed to, “save time and money” are not really of any value? What kills me is that on the menu, with pictures of exquisite food items, never to reach your hands, the “value meals” are always crowded with that little blurb saying something to the effect of, “get the sandwich for $5.99 or the COMBO FOR $23.99!!!!” It's almost as if these companies are betting on the fact we've become such lazy, non-thinkers, so entrenched in an instant gratification society, that we won't take five seconds to do the math, because those seconds don't come with freedom fries and enough soda to make three small children piss their pants. Corporate America is betting on the fact that we as consumers are going to feel good about shelling out hard-earned cash for something dressed up in bright colors, with tons of exclamation points and cool graphics. “HOLY SHIT!!! THIS IS A GREAT DEAL!!! DON'T MISS OUT BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS BUYING THIS GARBAGE!!!!!” Honestly...
I remember a time when you could get two bean burritos and a drink at Taco Bell for like $2.25. Now I know I sound like Grampa Grouch, someone's dad or just a crotchety old bastard typing things like this but on a recent drive thru experience, not at Taco Bell, I ordered one of the aforementioned “value meals” and my total was something like $9.50. After thanking the squawk-box, drove around muttering to myself, “WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST GET THAT'S $9.50? FUCK THAT RED-HEADED WHORE AND HER FUCKING SQUARE HAMBURGERS!!!” Honestly, I hate the taste of the meat at Wendy's and feel that it's on par with what I think aardvark shit would taste like. If it's Wendy's for me, its chicken. But enough about the economics...
Our Discriminating Pallets: I found out about ten years back that RI is used as a test market by many companies, especially those in the food and beverage industry. Think I'm kidding, go to a Dunkin Donuts outside of the North East and see if you can find the menagerie of bullshit sold at your local Rhody Dunkin'. Flatbreads, pizza, toasted submarine sandwiches, bagel sandwiches, smoothies, kooladas, and generally anything void of any nutrition. There was a time when the double D, sold coffee and donuts, that was it. I can remember being a kid and sometimes accompanying my dad, on his Saturday coffee run. The selection of donuts was wall to wall, but back then, stores were not the size of warehouses to accommodate a million different types of products. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not the selection nazi and I don't think our choices of coffee should be black or not black nor plain or sprinkles for donuts, but the cynic in me does believe we are assaulted with so many choices, that we can be goaded into the more expensive, “tastier, more bang for you buck(wink-wink) options.”
Anyone remember Crystal Pepsi? Probably not since it was an abomination against God and all his children, but I bet the person who pitched it to Pepsi remembers. They probably remember very well because it more than likely ruined their career and they never worked again. My reason for bringing Crystal Pepsi up was that back in 1992, it was test marketed in three cities: Dallas, Denver and you guessed it Providence. Why little Rhody you ask? Due to the fact we have such discerning tastes and also that we don't stand for bologna. Anyhow this seems relevant to me as the quality of fast food nose-dives for the basement. When Domino's pizza first opened up the pizza was not Casserta's but it was good and quick. Now when I hear Domino's, I think Turd in a Box. The same of Papa John's , they were great out of the gate, but now their pizza is of questionable quality. Why pay for the name and get screwed when I can get a pizza exponentially better from a local merchant? If you live in the Providence or North Providence area, two words, GOLDEN CRUST.
Target Market: My friends and I often talk about nothing. We've elevated it to an art form higher than Larry David could ever hope to achieve and food often comes up, as we all enjoy eating. Recently, the airwaves have been inundated with commercials from fast food companies, NOWHERE NEAR HERE, more specifically SONIC. When I went to college in the Mid West, I was introduced to Hardee's and Carl's Jr. basically the same place with a different name. Anyway, back then, coming from an area where Rockdonald's, BurgerSchwing and the aforementioned red-headed whore were our only burger options, Hardee's was a breath of fresh air. I fell in love and maybe it was like being attracted to the punk rock girl in high school, when all of your friends were young republicans or maybe it was just the fact that greasy shit tastes awesome at 3 in the morning, even if it still greasy shit. Long story short. I love drinks. I have always been a drink guy, trying the new Snapple flavors as they came out, the extreme drinks, the fuels, the NO FEARS, basically anything I could get my hands on. Last summer, after about a year of hearing about all of Sonic's 12,000 different drink combinations, I couldn't take it any more. I googled the nearest location: Ephrata, PA 290 miles South West of me. One night, beginning of my weekend, I fueled up the F1 and made the pilgrimage. The food was of great quality for fast food, but the drinks were awesome. I love the fact you can get any drink you want in slush form. Being a diabetic, I also appreciate the fact there is more than one diet/sugar free drink option on the menu. Not only could I get Diet Coke, but Diet Dr. Pepper (FUCK YEAH!!) and an assortment of other non-syrup-laden choices. I went with a Diet Cherry Limeade and to be honest, I've never been much of an -ade fan, but that drink was delicious. I bring this story up only because the commercials nearly drove me fucking insane. Now, I'm seeing commercials for Red Robin, Chick-fil-a and a whole host of bullshit. It's enough to make me throw my television out the window.
So, in conclusion, until we stop paying for shit, we will continue to eat it. Yeah the drive thru is easy but what are you really getting? If you are really after something truly horrible for you, there nothing better than a stop at the N.Y. System for a few, all the way.
I hope you all are well.