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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Truth in Advertising

I was at a Burger King the other day, which was unusual because I've pretty much sworn off all fast food type places. Not all, as there are a few --mostly local places with no franchising options-- that are quite good, and the whole "fast casual" franchises aren't bad. But I have no use for the McDonald's, Wendy's, KFCs, Taco Bells, Burger Kings, Arby's, Subways of the world.

No, it's not the Trans fats or the evil cooking oil. It's the soggy lettuce, the squashed tomatoes, the poorly mixed fountain drinks, the fact that the fries are often overcooked and oversalted, the hamburgers mashed together with all the care that a minimum-wage employee can muster in five seconds.

I'm not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination, but that shit is nearly inedible. It's poor quality food with poor quality preparation and the truth is that it's not much cheaper than real food from a place that gives a shit.

The only reason I went to Burger King on this day was that I had my niece with me and I didn't want to go to McDonald's. My niece, it should be said, doesn't like the food either, but she does like toys. Getting her to eat her chicken nuggets, though...good luck.

At any rate, on the wall of this Burger King was a photographic mural of a group of racially diverse, upwardly mobile young people, model-types of course, sitting at a Burger King enjoying their meal. Only instead of paper cups and messy wrappers, their food came on plates, their drinks in glasses. The fries? They looked magically delicious. The Whoppers on their plates? Looked like they got them at Red Robin, all big and fat and gourmet. 

The saddest thing about this mural was my emotional response:  It pissed me off.  Where's that Burger King?  In France?  Can I pay extra and get a good Whopper on a plate?  Why am I sitting here trying to nibble at this crap when I could be having the awesome experience the people in the mural are having?

And you know, I get it.  It's advertising.  Coors Light doesn't summon a frozen train.  Axe Body Spray doesn't cause random make-outs.  And Whoppers don't come on plates.

And while Coors could never deliver actual frozen trains and Axe isn't truly a pheromone, no one says that Burger King couldn't serve a decent hamburger, plate or no plate, except for, well, the honchos out at Burger King corporate.

Everything in life has a trade-off.  Like most fast food places, Burger King traded quality for quantity.  It was more important to them to have thousands of crappy restaurants than half as many good ones.  And they're probably sitting in their boardrooms, telling themselves no one is willing to pay for a decent burger, which one glance at the restaurant industry as a whole would tell you is a complete and utter lie.  People are more than willing to pay for a decent burger.

It's just that Burger King and their ilk are unwilling to provide one.

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