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Log In / Register | Jul 21, 2018

Fat times for fast food

Forget the talk about eating healthy food. Americans are back in a big way to chowing down on fast food. And they are not just eating more deep fried chicken and burgers, but more donuts, larger burgers, and much more snacks of every kind! I remember when the burritos of my youth evolved to grande burritos and now they are wonderful el macho grande burritos. I'm waiting for the six pound burrito. We could call it the Supreme Macho Grande Muy Gordo Burrito. Hamburger outlets served over 500 million more customers in 2004 than in the previous year. Doughnut shops served about 150 million more people last year than in 2003 We are eating out more at fast-food restaurants too.

Fast-food going self-service?

automated orderingThe fast-food chains including McDonald's, Burger King and Subway are field-testing machines that allow consumers to order and pay for their meals without any human contact (registration needed). Although no company has announced a systemwide launch, word on the street is that they are looking mighty hard. Growing use of self-service at the grocer and the gas pump has chains thinking more seriously of joining the do-it-yourself generation. It seems fast-food chains are always looking for temporary high-school workers. This is one way to reduce such challenges and overhead. Now, I'd like to see some bright marketing guru at corporate figure out a way to convince customers to cook their own burgers too. And while we are at it, how about bringing their own grills.

KFC clean bird commercials waiting in the wings

It seems KFC has taken a lesson from the Boy Scouts -- "Be Prepared". The Wall Street Journal (subscription needed) reports that KFC is now preparing stand-by commercials to reassure we Americans that their chicken is safe to eat should there be an outbreak of bird flu. The commercial will be released should there be an outbreak to help quell customer fear. With any luck, they won't need to use the television spots.

Drive-through getting slower

We are a nation that wants quickness now and in our quest for convenience, we even keep a list of the fastest to slowest. Unfortunately, this year our quest for fastness will have to wait. Service at drive-through restaurants is getting slower.  Wendy's comes in as the fastest service for two years in a row, with an average time to fill an order of 135.7 seconds in 2004. (I know in my head that is fast, but when I'm a customer, that's still two times too slow.)  Unfortunately, that time is 11 seconds slower than last year's. 

Fast-food Restaurants Going Small

Two of the biggest burger chains -- Wendy's and Burger King -- are developing restaurants with smaller kitchens and seating areas , costing less to build and fitting into cheaper parcels of land. Popeye's is looking to follow suit, and even Applebee's, a sit-down restaurant, is looking to reduce square footage in rural area restaurants.

Burger King discovered in a study that the seating areas of their restaurants were way too large. For a franchise, that means one has to pay for more land and more layout space that has no additional revenue. That's bad. It means a longer return on investment because non-producing space drags returns down. Smaller, better utilized restaurants means return on investment for franchise owners go up.

Ronald McHottie!

Ronald McHottieMcDonald's long-time mascot Ronald McDonald has been replace in Japan by a slim, sexy female mascot. Is this the wave of the future? Did McDonald's Japan take notice of Carl's Junior sexy Paris Hilton ads and realize that it is the beginnings of things to come?

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Fatness

Capital DomeWhew! This is a relief to the industry and none too soon. Talk about frivolous law suits. Someone decides to eat a giant portion burger, monster size premium ice cream, or a frequent cheeseburger. They then sue fast-food chains because it can make them fat. Go figure! Fortunately, the U.S. House served up a super-size serving of relief for American fast-food purveyors Wednesday and a clear message when it voted 306-120 to bar overweight civil litigants from suing over the health aspects of burgers, fries and milk shakes. Republicans voted in near unison for the pass of the bill that banned liability of obesity on restaurants. The House decided that every American still has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of fatness... or slimness, if they so chose.

The OTHER drive-through!

A 78 year-old man struck the glass entryway of a downtown Burger King with his car on Friday as he backed up. He calmly parked his car right there, went inside, and promptly ordered himself a meal. This was one hungry man who thought very highly of the food in that establishment. How do you think the general manager of the restaurant handled this? Restaurant managers, take note...

4,000-Year-Old Noodle Dish

Italians are known for them and theories suggest they may have originated in the Middle East but scientists said Wednesday the world's oldest known noodles, dating back 4,000 years, were made in China.

I could have told the world that for free, as could all of my Chinese friends. History books there say that Marco Polo brought back noodles from his journey to China. In other words, although modern Italians might like it, Romans didn't eat or have spaghetti. Any Chinese school kid knows that. Duh!

Carl's Jr. plans Seattle expansion says that burger chain Carl's Jr. plans to bring its trademark smiling yellow star to the Seattle area next year. Owned by Carpinteria's CKE Restaurants, Carl's has only a handful of restaurants now in Washington, all on the eastern side of the state. That's about to change. Carl's franchisee Trani Food Group of Modesto, California plans two dozen stores around south Puget Sound over the next eight years.