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Beef it Up, Baby!

2003-02-09 - 11:06 a.m.



Tonight El Jefe and I had our third meal at a fast-foody in six days.

We went to Hardee�s, that great Midwestern joint whose very name forces you to think of Husky Boy jeans and big thick bowls of potato soup.

They don�t sell big thick bowls of potato soup, but they are starting something different: the super-honest approach. Or so it seems.

Inside the front door is an enormous poster with nothing on it but black text. No photos, no exclamation points, no promises of anything that will cost only a decimal point and two nines.

Throwing catchiness to the wind, it says, �We aren�t going to sell skinny burgers anymore like everyone else, so we�re going to have higher prices. In fact, we�ve stopped selling other things because we want to be great at one thing instead of good at several things. We�re selling big, thick burgers made from Angus beef. We�re sorry for any inconvenience.�

�Trying to be all things to all people just does not work,� Hardee�s says, and I wonder if this is aimed at me personally.

There is no one inside at 6:30 at night in a college town, where fast food is the chosen food of the people. It is the most empty fast food restaurant I have ever seen.

As we stand staring up at the wall menu, the blonde girl behind the counter says, in the typical rehearsed sing-song, �Hello and welcome to Hardees�s would you like to try/ one of our new Angus Beef Thickburgers?�

We stand silently for a moment and the girl, shrugging her shoulders, says somewhat apologetically, �That�s pretty much all we have anymore.�

Such honesty! And indeed, the pictures on the wall menu seem to depict four or five varieties of the same giant, somewhat soggy-looking hamburger.

By the time the blonde girl tells us to sit down to wait for our food, (!), and I notice the pink, gold, and silver streamers hanging limply from the ceiling, (celebrating what, exactly?), I begin to think I may be in some sort of strange dream.

It is eerie. Like we�ve stepped into a fast-food dimension that is invisible to everyone else, like that

magic-wand shopping district in the Harry Potter books. It is SO empty.

And yet there are voices coming from somewhere: all we can hear are the one-sided conversations between the blonde girl and the invisible drivers she speaks to through her Garth Brooks-style chin microphone.

�I�m sorry sir,� she keeps saying. �I�m sorry but we don�t have the Hot Ham and Cheese anymore.�


�I�m sorry sir. I�m sorry but we don�t have hot dogs any more.�


�I�m sorry ma�am. I�m sorry but we don�t have salads any more.�

And then I hear the drive-through window squeak open and a man shout, �What do you guys think you are now, White Castle or something?� Tires squeal.

Another enormous white poster apologizes to the non-existent crowd: �Introducing longer lines. It�s going to take us longer to cook our new Thickburgers. We apologize for any inconvenience.�

So, like, I�m getting the point.

But I�m noticing everywhere I look, on these posters and table tents and in the girl�s cheery sales pitch, that everyone is saying �bigger� and no one is saying �better.�

So if you�ve read �Fast Food Nation,� you can deduce that these are just bigger slabs of the same shitty meat that you get at McDonald�s, therefore doubling your risk of eating contaminated beef with each bite.

They�re sorry for any inconvenience.



So, only two operations, hmm Michael? The face of a generation:Pick YOUR favorite!


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