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Category Archives: Burger King

10 gross reasons why fast food needs robot workers

taco-bell-licking

The other day I wrote about how surprising it was that robot Zambonis aren’t yet widespread. Even more amazing is the fact that fast-food joints aren’t yet entirely staffed by robots.

It seems like a new tale of fast-food employee grossness emerges weekly, with the latest involving a KFC worker in Wales who claimed on Facebook to have inserted pubic hair into customers’ meals. KFC said it had investigated the incident and found it to be untrue, but the damage was already done.

Such incidents, many of which turn out to be real indeed, are almost a form of corporate terrorism. While it’s highly unlikely that the average customer will ever get a meal contaminated with pubes, boogers, spit or other bodily fluids, hearing about such isolated cases is enough to sour perceptions and put a person off fast food entirely.

With employees of such chains around the world expressing anger over their low wages, it’s also likely these incidents will continue and possibly even increase in frequency. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Burger King, domino's, food, mcdonald's, robots, taco bell, wendy's

 

2013: The best (and worst) in fast food

wendys-pretzel

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger: Yes, please.

It was a fun year for fast-food, if quirky new menu items are your idea of fun. In their never-ending quest to outdo each other, the big chains kept customers guessing with a steady raft of new concoctions, some better than others.

I sometimes get asked why I write about fast-food, since technology is my main purview. I generally give one of three reasons. For one, it’s something of a holdover from Sex, Bombs and Burgers, the book I wrote about how the military, pornography and fast-food industries are technology leaders. I don’t write as much about the other two businesses these days, but fast-food has strangely proven to be a popular topic with readers. I can also justify it with the notion that all these new products come through similar research and development pipelines as smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Mostly, though, I write about fast-food as the occasional diversion – it’s nice to take a break from the routine every one in a while. As such, I’ve made it my mission to try the big new releases. I’m happy to report that I got to most of them this year.

McDonald’s had a busy year, especially here in Canada. The company finally gave vegetarian Canadians something to eat this summer with two veggie wraps. Coming in two flavours – spicy Santa Fe or garlicky Mediterranean – the wraps are sizable and pretty tasty (my vegetarian wife, normally a harsh critic of such things, approves). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Burger King, burgers, food, mcdonald's, taco bell, wendy's

 

Review: BK’s pulled pork and sweet potato fries

BK-pulled porkOnce again, it’s fast food Friday here on the blog. In my ongoing quest to try new fast-food creations so that you probably won’t have to, this time around I tried Burger King’s new pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries. Here’s my review.

The sandwich: south of the border, this bad boy is called the Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, but the geographical descriptor has been dropped here in Canada. Apparently not enough Canadians have been to Memphis to make that a selling point.

If you compare my photo above to Burger King’s official glam shot, it’s clear as mud that the reality is very different from the fantasy. My first impression of the actual thing was that it looked thoroughly unappetizing. While pulled pork sandwiches are usually a goo of barbecue sauce, the ooze dripping from this one was actually the cheese-like stuff on top. The bun and onions appeared a little tired while the pork itself was rather generic looking. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Burger King, food

 

Fast-food going upmarket: what about the bottom?

Sbarro: Home to what is possibly the world’s worst pizza.

There’s a fascinating trend going on in the junk food world. Whether or not you eat at burger and pizza joints, it’s one that’s worth paying attention to because it’s likely to have ramifications on how food is bought and sold everywhere.

Sbarro is the latest to go upmarket, the Wall Street Journal reports, following a trend started a few years ago by McDonald’s. The “Italian food” chain (I use the term loosely so as to avoid offending Italians, who doubtlessly find Sbarro’s food as repugnant as I do) is looking to raise the quality of its offerings thanks to “technological changes.” Outlets will now be able to make fresh tomato sauce and shredded cheese on site, rather than relying on prepackaged goods. That might actually result in pizza that doesn’t taste like the bottom of someone’s shoe.

Taco Bell has been doing the same thing for much of this year, with a new, fancier menu featuring better ingredients designed to compete against Chipotle, not to mention a revamp of restaurant locations that’s already under way. They’re all following McDonald’s lead, which has seen improved financial results on the backs of “premium” burgers, smoothies and salads, plus a massive revamp of restaurants.

With better profits based on premium products beckoning, there seems to be a big hole opening up at the bottom. As the WSJ puts it, who will be left “to champion the cause of good old fashioned junk food, sold at junk prices?” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Burger King, food, mcdonald's, robots

 

Burgers with black buns? No thanks

McDonald’s is selling black and white burgers in China.

In their ongoing efforts to get media attention, fast-food chains are turning from crazy concoctions – like bacon sundaes – to something a little more simplistic: different coloured foods.

Burger King will this week begin selling a new burger in Japan with a black bun. The Kuro burger (kuro means “black”) gets its colour from the bamboo charcoal mixed into its bun. Mmm… bamboo charcoal. It also features black ketchup, which is coloured by squid ink. Mmm… squid ink.

Burger King isn’t the first to try this. Earlier this month, McDonald’s rolled out a pair of burgers in China – one with a black bun, another with a white bun, with each being topped by sesame seeds of the opposite contrasting colour.

This is probably not something either company is likely to try in North America, where fast-food chains of all stripes are under considerable pressure to prove their products are natural. McDonald’s in particular has of late embarked on a PR campaign that seeks to remove the mystery from its food production process, while Taco Bell last year fought charges that its taco meat isn’t really meat.

As such, nothing says “unnatural” better than a coloured bun. There’s also the fact that humans are hard-wired to avoid foods of certain colours – especially black.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Burger King, burgers, food, mcdonald's

 

Burger King flames out in Romania

It’s a sad time for Whopper fans in Romania, what with Burger King officially shutting down operations in the country.

The chain entered the eastern European country (home of Dracula) four years ago through franchisee Atlantic Restaurant System. Try as they might, the owners just couldn’t make a go of it, despite the growth of McDonald’s and KFC and the recent arrival of Subway. The franchisee closed its last two restaurants earlier this month.

Otherwise, Burger King has been doing relatively well of late, its horrible bacon sundae notwithstanding. The company recently returned to trading on the New York Stock Exchange and is also doing well in terms of social media presence.

Perhaps Burger King’s poor performance in Romania can be explained by the television spot below, which seemed to suggest that customers are both slobs and adulterers:

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Burger King

 

BK’s Bacon Sundae a bad, bad idea

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the war started between fast-food chains over which could gross customers out more with new monstrous food creations. I’m inclined to say it was KFC with its notorious Double Down back in 2010, although it probably goes back further than that.

There’s little doubt that the “sandwich,” to use the term loosely, garnered KFC a ton of media attention wherever it was released. Most of that attention wasn’t of the good kind – just about every story noted how incredibly unhealthy the DD was – but like Ozzy Osbourne used to say, any press is good press.

Since then, other chains have followed KFC’s lead by creating their own nasty concoctions in hopes of grabbing some headlines, which they ultimately hope will lead to some new customers.

The latest of these is Burger King with its Bacon Sundae. Yup. It’s an ice cream sundae, with bacon.

The chain announced the new offering last week and, predictably, the media ate it up. Many even condemned it without trying it.

As luck would have it, I was in New York on the weekend (the sundae is thus far only available in the U.S.). As a self-appointed arbiter of good fast food from bad, I felt a duty to try it.

Usually, I’m quite excited to try new fast-food abominations. I get psyched at creative new attempts to repackage the same old stuff in slightly different ways. I was really jazzed, for example, to try the Doritos taco at Taco Bell, which features a shell made out of Doritos chips. (It was excellent, by the way). I must admit, however, to a certain level of trepidation when it came to the Bacon Sundae. Yes, I love bacon and yes, I love sundaes. But I also love skiing and drinking beer, yet those two don’t belong together. The same goes for some foods. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Burger King