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Rick Bayless and Burger King - Part 3


mtdew
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Who is more subverted by the success of the chicken sandwich, RB or BK?

Is it a success?

Does anyone know if any real money is coming out of this (other than the financial arrangement proposed by Bourdain to Bayless, of course)?

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I wasn't saying it is a success, only asking that if it were a success, who would be more subverted, BK or RB? It's a little ironic to think that if all the people complaining about fast food and RB's support of this sandwich would eat the sandwich, it might actually make a difference -- at least more than the bitching. (Well, honestly, it wouldn't make a difference either way, but if people in general were to buy this sandwich, showing BK that moving towards a healthier and a fresher product makes business sense, it might make a difference.)

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It's a little ironic to think that if all the people complaining about fast food and RB's support of this sandwich would eat the sandwich, it might actually make a difference -- at least more than the bitching. 

No, I don't think so Extramsg. I haven't seen the Rick commercial for quite a while now. I don't think it "made a difference" in BK's sales which would be the only reason they'd continue to show it.

BK and other fast food places have been selling salads, chicken, and veggie burgers for years to supposedly promote "healthier" foods but in my opinion to grab more of the market share. They didn't need Bayless' help to do that.

Many of us have tried the sandwich (if you page back about 35 pages). Most people thought it tasted pretty crappy, but that's not the point.

I have never said that I never eat at fast food joints. Many EG folks on this thread enjoy a good greasy burger on occasion.

I would rather spend my $6.00 on an incredible bowl of Pho, rather than at BK. There's also the atmosphere at the tiny Vietnamese place which smells so good, is warmer, cleaner, and more appealing to me than cold, antiseptic BK.

But then there's those days when the buck is tight, I'm in a real rush, or in most cases, my son is with me! Last night he wanted McD's so we did (for car ride home). He's learning about food a little at a time. At one point he said "these nuggets have chopped up lips and assholes in 'em don't they?" So cute! I said "Well, they could, but I think the new ones are all white meat at least"(and about 100 other ingredients).

Hey, I'm NOT a board member of the CC, NOT a well known chef who promotes whole foods, sustainable gardening, local community farms and their workers. I don't have a reputation to live up to (well, maybe, but that's a different story!)

I've told my son of this topic and he got it right away when I said "You know how Shaq does the BK commercial? Well, I think that's OK, because he's not known as a famous chef who loves organic food. But this chef Rick does a commercial in which he's shopping for fresh local ingredients in a great market and then he's at a table in BK and says something like "Hey, it's already here at Burger King, and then bites into the sandwich" which could mean: "Why bother making it fresh at home?, Eat at BK". :sad:

This thread has given examples of a few "what's next?"commercials like maybe Alice Waters for Kraft Foods, or The Pope for Trojan condoms, or my personal favorite A. Bourdain for "The Patch". :smile:

Y'know?

I think Bayless made a big mistake.

JANE

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What I'd like to know is--has any other food media entity covered this story, and Rick's "mistake," to the extent that the Washington Post has? How has Bayless been treated by his hometown press? Is he still on the masthead of Saveur? Has he been excised like a bad tumor from the Chef's Collaborative?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Of course they didn't need Bayless. And I have no idea whether it actually has been a success. But it seems almost self-evident that if a better product (assuming the sandwich is a better product) were to do well at a fast food place, it would encourage them to try making or introducing other better products.

There is the possibility that they're trying to nose in on the Red Robin/TGI Friday's lunch and dinner business, but I kind of doubt it. They're probably trying to steal each other's business more than anything, get a leg up on the competition. It's much like the change that has happened at the sub chains over the last 10 years. They all used to have very mediocre bread, just very bland white and wheat. But now they're all making it in-house (at least the national chains I'm familiar with around here -- Subway, Blimpie, and Quiznos) and they've got whole grains and other more interesting and flavorful offerings. Quiznos even freshly toasts each sandwich.

I think if this sandwich were to do well, you'd find McD's, Carl's Jr, Jack in the Box, and other burger chains trying to compete, first following BK's lead and maybe providing freshly baked (or finished) buns, and then maybe taking the lead and roasting peppers in-house. As fast food, they'll always need to balance costs, service, and quality, leaning more towards the first two than the third, but maybe the success of such a sandwich would show them that the third does have merit.

If you look through the thread you'll see that I too tried the sandwich and so did my wife. I thought it was okay. The peppers were nice and the bun was nice. Mine was fairly crusty. The chicken wasn't bad; a step up from most of the deep-fried crap out there. And I tried it at the LAX airport.

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Has he been excised like a bad tumor from the Chef's Collaborative?

No. I imagine they are in an emotional bind about it, because he's their friend. You know? Very likely the same with hometown press.

Are any members of CC members here at eGullet?

Yes, Michel Nischan is. He's made comments earlier on in this thread.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Bayless himself says the biggest problem with the sandwich "is that some [burger King] outlets are not baking the baguette enough to make it crusty." 

Ha! This statement is a parody of his own self! Can you imagine some pimply faced teenager caring about the crustiness of the baguette? Quality control is not one of BK's finer points. How about that the biggest problem with the sandwich is that the chicken meat in one sandwich is most likely a conglomerate of chickens from corporate owned farms, from 5 different countries, chemically processed and congealed back into one nasty patty?!

Spoon!
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One person's nasty patty is another person's pate.

It's also pretty clearly a piece of chicken breast. That would be one hell of an assembly process if it were a conglomeration of several, 'cause it sure fooled me.

And I don't know where you are, but the BKs where I live aren't operated by "pimply-faced" teens. Almost every fast food place around here, not just BK, is owned by immigrants and staffed by adults.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I think the stats I've seen were pretty clear that fast food is primarily staffed by young people. In bigger cities, my experience is that these young people are usually minorities. I think Fast Food Nation points out that (and my experience trying to get a job while in college at a couple fast food places confirmed it) such restaurants generally don't employ people full-time either (or, I think FFN's point was that even if they employ them full-time, they're only showing them as part-time often). But I'm going by memory here. I'm sure someone could find statistics on this.

What's the demographics of fast food workers? Anyone have a good source?

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I think the stats I've seen were pretty clear that fast food is primarily staffed by young people. In bigger cities, my experience is that these young people are usually minorities.

I live in the Washington DC area. It's probably a combination of factors, the job market here, the number of immigrants, and the relative affluence of the area, that force the fast food places to rely on adult workers. I've found while trying to find babysitters that most of the suburban teens here have no interest in working because their parents give them money.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I think we would all be better served by redirecting the conversation back to topic instead of engaging in gratuitous obscenity-dropping as has been the case here.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

Soba

EDIT BY Jason Perlow: I've just had to delete a lot of these offtopic and completely unneccessary end-run type posts by MatthewB, Al Dente and others. Please don't make me have to do it again. Thanks.

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Granted--in the grand sweep of human events, maybe the "BK Incident" is small beer. Certainly, the question of whether Rick Bayless has in some way "betrayed" either his principles or his public (and to what degree) is more sport than burning issue.

But I think the issue has real traction. Bayless, I think, is unfortunate in that he's inspired a lot of people to start asking the difficult question: "Is American fast food as we know it an inherently destructive force?" I happen to believe it is--that the answer to that question is painfully apparent to any who care to look around. Which is why I react so badly--and instinctively to Bayless's (in my view) self-serving and disingenuous explanations.

When measuring the positives and negatives, the pain/gain meter on almost anything-- policy, music, cultural development, whatever, one asks oneself: Is the world a better, or prettier, or healthier or kinder or more enlightened place AFTER X? Or worse?

I can't see how anyone who walks American streets--or the streets of places where American fast food has spread--can say they've made those streets anything but uglier, less healthy, less enlightened, less kind. The short term advantages, the convenience of these industries is inarguable. But are they--for lack of a better word, "evil"? If you view evil as uglifying and destructive, then the answer is yes.

Bayless suggests that it's a few crackpot "elitists" who'd bother to be upset by this issue. Which, to me, is as insulting a suggestion as my blunt solicitation of oral gratification. It's simply wrong to say those who are disgusted by the chain fast food business model are elitist. Nor is it some fringe contingent of earth-first loonies seeking to return to some pre-war agrarian Valhalla who protest loudest and longest. "Mickey D--friendly clown? Or destoyer of worlds?" IS a fairly serious issue--and one that's going to get more and more prominently discussed.

If Bayless finds himself hung out and twisting slowly in the wind on this issue it's not because he himself is a central offender--it's that food writers and chefs and others feel perhaps that we thought of him as someone we admired--a comrade--who suddenly and without warning slipped us a shit sandwich and gave public comfort and succor to our perceived enemies..

There's a biiig difference, in my view, between that--and flogging Butterballs or toothpaste.

Most jarringly, this whole incident has made Bobby Flay appear much wiser and cooler than I ever gave him credit for. And I'm beginning to think nice things about Jamie Oliver. Bayless has a lot to answer for.

Edited by bourdain (log)

abourdain

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Granted--in the grand sweep of human events, maybe the "BK Incident" is small beer.

Tony, you make many good points. Many points that I agree with.

But continuing to discuss this on the Web is simply a "Tempest In a Teapot."

Why not work toward change rather than just belly-aching about this particular situation?

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But continuing to discuss this on the Web is simply a "Tempest In a Teapot."

Why not work toward change rather than just belly-aching about this particular situation?

Well, I've wavered on this issue -- my libertarian half says, "Bailfull has a right to make money any legal way he wants, and so does BK... If you don't like it, don't eat there...". My commie half says, as usual, "Arrest him without a warrant in the middle of the night." But bourdain's point about everything contributing either to the good or the bad in the universe is an undeniable truth (one which the ancient Hebrews were mindfull of, as well), and forms a sturdy basis for a moral code. In that light, everything is a moral issue. You can choose to ignore it, but it's there: RB did a bad thing. He contributed to the ill, rather than the good. He should be called on it by his peers.

So, by discussing this situation on the web, bourdain settled the issue in my mind, which is certainly working toward change.

--

ID

--

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When measuring the positives and negatives, the pain/gain meter on almost anything-- policy, music, cultural development, whatever, one asks oneself: Is the world a better, or prettier, or healthier or kinder or more enlightened place AFTER X? Or worse?

The problem is that few things would bring about the answer "yes". Calvin realized this and essentially said "screw it" it's not in our hands, you'll do what you'll do, either you're saved or you aren't. An attempt at an ascetic lifestyle was viewed as arrogance.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to do good, or make the world a better place, but I think it's ludicrous to set the standard you present. We'd probably miss out on a lot of things most of us find quite appealing. Some are obvious. Toss out cars. Toss out cigarettes, alcohol, high calorie foods and drinks. What about time wasters like TV, professional sports, and movies. How do they make the world a better place? To many there's nothing uglier than a skyscraper and think of all the resources involved in their creation. Books -- all those trees.

There are very few things in this world that a) don't have a destructive side to them, b) aren't ugly to someone. And the extent of these is always contingent.

Fast food makes quick and cheap products that a hell of a lot of people apparently like. And judging from the nostalgia associated with places like McDonald's, for things like Coca-Cola, and the ferocity with which people will defend their honor against the likes of Burger King and Pepsi, I think it's fair to say that many people think they're not so "ugly". And if you extend this to include places like In-n-Out Burger and soda with cane sugar, you'll find that passion even on places like eGullet.

Well, I've wavered on this issue -- my libertarian half says, "Bailfull has a right to make money any legal way he wants, and so does BK... If you don't like it, don't eat there...".

As a libertarian you can, as I do, recognize a right while demeaning its particular uses. And often, I would say, as a libertarian you should take on a greater obligation to make the world a better place, because you don't expect anyone else to....

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"Real change" in this case, will--if it ever occurs--be the result of a general change in perception not of a change in policy.

I don't, by the way, think it's either deserved or appropriate to boot Bayless off any board--or do anything (like picketing) which might hurt his business. Before this imbroglio, Bayless--and his works--were (and remain) positive contributions to his community and to the general level of cooking and discourse.

Ridicule is not only appropriate--but enough in this case.

People will stop going to the Clown and the Colonel for the same reasons that they stop going to any small independent: Cause they decide they don't "want" or "need " it..because it has been determined--for whatever mysterious reasons that it is no longer"cool" or "desirable"--that it is somehow "over."

As much fun as it might be to suit up in black pajamas and set off stink bombs in fast food outlets--or chain oneself to the clown with a sign saying "Exploiter of Children!!", I just don't think that's what's right or called for. This is a hearts and minds issue---not something that should be settled in the courtroom or the boardroom. The outcome will be decided in the media, on the web, on a person by person basis across the world. If it's settled at all. In the end, it's about one individual after another deciding " You know? I just don't want to eat this shit again!" or " I think I'll walk a few blocks, wait a few minutes longer, deny the kids their denuded chicken parts in batter-even if they bitch." More likely, it will be decided independently of all our efforts, in the schoolyards--when kids (the target demo of all these noxious groups) start teasing their friends who still frequent the feed lots. That, let us hope, might well be the tipping point.

abourdain

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"Real change" in this case, will--if it ever occurs--be the result of a general change in perception not of a change in policy.

I don't, by the way, think it's either deserved or appropriate to boot Bayless off any board--or do anything (like picketing) which might hurt his business. Before this imbroglio, Bayless--and his works--were (and remain) positive contributions to his community and to the general level of cooking and discourse.

Ridicule is not only appropriate--but enough in this case.

People will stop going to the Clown and the Colonel for the same reasons that they stop going to any small independent: Cause they decide they don't "want" or "need " it..because it has been determined--for whatever mysterious reasons that it is no longer"cool" or "desirable"--that it is somehow "over."

As much fun as it might be to suit up in black pajamas and set off stink bombs in fast food outlets--or chain oneself to the clown with a sign saying "Exploiter of Children!!", I just don't think that's what's right or called for. This is a hearts and minds issue---not something that should be settled in the courtroom or the boardroom. The outcome will be decided in the media, on the web, on a person by person basis across the world. If it's settled at all. In the end, it's about one individual after another deciding " You know? I just don't want to eat this shit again!" or " I think I'll walk a few blocks, wait a few minutes longer, deny the kids their denuded chicken parts in batter-even if they bitch." More likely, it will be decided independently of all our efforts, in the schoolyards--when kids (the target demo of all these noxious groups) start teasing their friends who still frequent the feed lots. That, let us hope, might well be the tipping point.

Well said.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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" I think I'll walk a few blocks, wait a few minutes longer, deny the kids their denuded chicken parts in batter-even if they bitch."

Actually did exactly that last night. My daughter was clammoring for BK and instead, we went to a new Thai place (4 tables, mostly take out) literally down the street from BK.

We shared cellophane noodle wrapped shrimp with carrots, sprouts, and some other vegetables, chicken satay (real chicken) and sauteed jasmine rice with mixed vegetables. Grand total $20 sharing a large fruit drink. We were comped a sweet rice dessert with Thai custard.

"These pretzels are making me thirsty." --Kramer

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"Real change" in this case, will--if it ever occurs--be the result of a general change in perception not of a change in policy.

I don't, by the way, think it's either deserved or appropriate to boot Bayless off any board--or do anything (like picketing) which might hurt his business. Before this imbroglio, Bayless--and his works--were (and remain) positive contributions to his community and to the general level of cooking and discourse.

Ridicule is not only appropriate--but enough in this case.

People will stop going to the Clown and the Colonel for the same reasons that they stop going to any small independent: Cause they decide they don't "want" or "need " it..because it has been determined--for whatever mysterious reasons that it is no longer"cool" or "desirable"--that it is somehow "over."

As much fun as it might be to suit up in black pajamas and set off stink bombs in fast food outlets--or chain oneself to the clown with a sign saying "Exploiter of Children!!", I just don't think that's what's right or called for. This is a hearts and minds issue---not something that should be settled in the courtroom or the boardroom. The outcome will be decided in the media, on the web, on a person by person basis across the world. If it's settled at all. In the end, it's about one individual after another deciding " You know? I just don't want to eat this shit again!" or " I think I'll walk a few blocks, wait a few minutes longer, deny the kids their denuded chicken parts in batter-even if they bitch." More likely, it will be decided independently of all our efforts, in the schoolyards--when kids (the target demo of all these noxious groups) start teasing their friends who still frequent the feed lots. That, let us hope, might well be the tipping point.

Tony, you should know as well as anyone that any mentions of picketing, etc were *satire* addressed to those who simply piss & moan about this situation.

Quite seriously, why don't you offer to appear in a PSA that encourages people to eat non-fast food?

Or something along these lines?

You've the clout & the status to take action on this issue.

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