Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: That time France ran out of Whoppers

(Originally written January 4, 2013)

Here in Toronto, people line up for lunch at gourmet burger joints, taco shacks in Parkdale and all kinds of fancy restaurants in the financial district.  But in Marseille, the second-largest city in France, the new hot spot that has people waiting in line for over an hour… is Burger King.  I kid you not.  According to Europe 1, « le restaurant Burger King, le premier de la chaîne américaine de fast-food à rouvrir ses portes en France, attire jusqu’à 2.000 clients par jour. » (Translation: “The Burger King restaurant, the first reopening of the American chain in France, attracts up to 2,000 clients per day.”)  At that pace, they’ll have fed the entire city in less than 12 years!

In fact, les Marseillais are hitting the King so hard that the restaurant’s running outta Whoppers.  A manager told Europe 1 “Nous sommes victimes du succès, il n’y a plus de Whoppers dans les stocks ! Le camion est là mais il faut le temps de monter la marchandise.”  (Translation: “We’re victims of our own success; there are no more Whoppers in stock!  The truck is here but it takes time to unload the merchandise.”)  But hey, the BK chicken sandwich is not too bad, either…

And here’s the craziest thing: the Burger King in question is located in the Marseille-Provence airport.  People are actually driving all the way out to the airport to eat at BK!  As one client admitted to Europe 1, « c’est “complètement bizarre” de venir manger un hamburger dans un aéroport. “Mais comme il venait d’ouvrir et que les amis ont dit qu’il fallait au moins goûter…” » (Translation: “It’s completely bizzare to go eat a hamburger at an airport.  But since it just opened, my friends said I at least had to try it…”)

I guess this is what it feels like to be reunited with a loved one.  Burger King used to have 39 restaurants in France, but they pulled out of the country in ’97.  And while French Women Don’t Get Fat, it seems the French do enjoy eating fast food.  According to a 2010 survey of 10,000 Frenchmen and women, seven out of 10 meals served outside the home were purchased at burger barns, pizza places, Halal huts and other fast-food joints.  I guess you can’t have coq au vin every night, eh?


Throwback Thursday: Brandon bans Wendy’s biggest burger

(Originally written June 13, 2013)

Twas a sad day for burger fans as the only Wendy’s in the college town of Brandon, Manitoba announced that it would be discontinuing its dinosaur-sized burger.  As The Canadian Press reports, “Barb Barker, an administrative assistant for the Wendy’s outlet in Brandon, said Wednesday night that they have stopped selling their T. Rex burger, consisting of nine quarter-pound patties held together by nine pieces of processed cheese and a flimsy bun.”  Unfortunately, this occurred before I could pay a visit to Brandon.😦

“For obvious reasons, Wendy’s of Brandon neither condones nor promotes the idea of anyone consuming a nine-patty hamburger in one sitting,” said Barker, reading from a prepared statement.  Wait, she means that it’s not fair to charge $21.99 for a sandwich, right?  And what if I were to consume it in two sittings?  Would that be OK?


If I was a strict adherent to any kind of diet, the answer would be no.  The CP reports that with “around a whopping 3,000 calories, the T. Rex burger had more calories than many people consume in a day. To the dismay of dieticians, it also contained roughly 200 grams of fat — triple the daily allowance — and an eye-watering 6,000 grams of sodium, enough to last the average adult four days.”  So I won’t put any salt on my fries.  No Biggie.

But not surprisingly, human nutritional science professor Carla Taylor is not amused.  “Food is something I don’t think we can treat in this way,” she told The Canadian Press. “We need to get appreciating good food … of appropriate portion size.”  (Hey, it’s appropriate to me!)  Rather than take the nine-patty challenge, Taylor offers an alternative: “I think the better challenge is to look at how to eat healthy every day and think long term about how the foods you’re putting in your mouth are impacting on your health.”

Yeah, but where’s the beef in that?

THROWBACK THURSDAY: That time I ate poutine at McDonald’s

(Originally written December 19, 2013)

Now, one sign of a good poutine is a thick, meaty fry, so when McDonald’s announced it was adding poutine to its menu–following in the footsteps of Wendy’s, Burger King, and most other fast-food franchises in this country–it seemed like pretty much the worst idea ever.  After all, McDonald’s renowned salt-rockets are about as thin a fry as you’ll find in a cardboard pouch.  Dump a small bag of cheese curds and some not-warm gravy on top, and you get this:

mcdonalds_poutine (2)

You’ll notice that the curds aren’t remotely close to melting.  That’s cuz they took ’em straight out of a sealed plastic bag and pumped some cold gravy on top.  I mean, I wasn’t expecting sauce en canne, but at least Burger King keeps its poutine sauce warm enough that it actually melts the cheese.  All this stuff did was make my thin, yet deadly, fries soggy–which is kinda gross.  In any case, the curds had good flavour, but they didn’t exactly squeak in my mouth.  And what was up with that gravy!?  Man, I’d even take KFC’s artery-busting lumps of doom over this.  You can really tell that McDonald’s has never used gravy on any other menu item before, put it that way.

Of course, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish; I was really only trying it in the name of science.  Cuz hey, there are really only three types of people who buy McDonald’s: students, the homeless and parents of small children.  Let’s just say that if this serves as your kids’ first taste of poutine, they’ll probably never want to eat it again…

…which just means more crise cardiaque sur une assiette for the rest of us.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Maple bacon beer comes to Canada

(Originally written May 30, 2012)

Yes indeedy, Rogue brewery’s infamous Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale is now available at the LCBO!  Picked some of this stuff up last nite, as a matter of fact.  The clerk thought I was crazy, but you know what?  It’s actually pretty good.

The first thing you notice is the maple flavour.  You can both smell and taste it on the first gulp.  It’s kinda like going to a cabane à sucre in Quebec where they leave a big vat of maple syrup at your table and the idea is to pour some on everything.  Hey, when in Rome, right?

There also is a subtle hint of smokiness, but truth be told, even if it was brewed with real bacon, this beer doesn’t taste like piggy.  It’s got a smoky, wood aftertaste that reminded me of Sam Adams, and while I’ve only had Rogue Dead Guy ale once when I was in Portland a couple years back, I recall its colour being similar to this stuff.

Although listed as a “strong beer,” at 5.6 per cent alcohol, it’s not enough to knock you out.  A 750 ml bottle, while listed as one pint, was also enough to fill two of those glasses pictured above.

Final Verdict: I gotta say, even if it didn’t taste like bacon, this brew wasn’t too bad.  I might buy another bottle to have with dinner on a hot summer night, or maybe bring a couple of these to be the toast of a party.  BTW, I must say this stuff paired nicely with the evil concoction I threw together for dinner:


That’s bacon poutine from Smoke’s Poutinerie, with some Hostess Hickory Sticks on top for that extra smoky kick.  Mmm, bacon…

Throwback Thursday: The Flamin’ Hot Cheetos epidemic

(Originally written October 17, 2012)

In America’s War on School Lunches, one particular product has become the prime target: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  The spicy cheese snack, first introduced in the early 90’s, apparently has such devastating consequences to kids’ health that it’s been banned in several school districts.  No, not unhealthy snacks, or Cheetos in general, just the Flamin’ Hot variety.  “We don’t encourage other chips, but if we see Hot Cheetos, we confiscate them — sometimes after the child has already eaten most of them. It’s mostly about the lack of nutrition,” a California principal told the Chicago Tribune.  Oookay, but what makes them less nutritious, or more confiscatable, than other chips?

According to CBS News, “One ounce of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos — about 21 pieces — is about 160 calories, including 17 percent of the daily suggested serving for fat and 8 percent of serving for saturated fat. It also contain (sic) 250 mg — or 10 percent of the daily value — of sodium.”  That’s not very healthy, granted, but it’s got nothing on a humongo chicken shawarma!  However, it appears that the most harmful substances in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not found on the nutritional guide.

As per the Tribune, “processed salty, fatty or sweet foods of any kind — also called ‘hyperpalatable foods’ — can trigger brain responses similar to those created by controlled substances in addicted individuals.”  Or, as one high-school sophomore put it, “Personally I have been eating them for years, and I cannot stop. I just have this urge to eat them.”

Even Frito-Lay, the company that makes said spicy snack, seems to treat ‘em like a controlled substance. “Frito-Lay is committed to responsible and ethical marketing practices, which includes not marketing our products to children ages 12 and under. We also do not decide which snacks are available on school campuses and do not sell snack products directly to schools,” Ricky Ray’s former employer said in a statement.  Still, rumours that the spicy seasoning contains crack dust have yet to be confirmed…

Throwback Thursday: Burger King puts bacon in a sundae!

(Originally written June 13, 2012)

CTV News is reporting that Burger King is set to introduce the bacon sundae, a tasty treat comprised of “rich and creamy vanilla Burger King soft serve ice cream, drizzled with chocolate fudge, caramel and topped with bacon crumbles” with “a thick-cut, hardwood smoked bacon garnish.”  Seems to me that someone at CTV really loves him some BK—or they simply cut-and-pasted from the company’s press release.

This “sweet and savoury dessert” is also good for your health—if you think that being fat is a good thing.  “The sundae clocks in at 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar.”  I think that’s more than Nicole Richie ate all day…

And while this mecca of bacony goodness goes for a mere suggested retail price of $2.49, it looks like you’ll hafta cross the border to get it.  For the moment anyways, the bacon sundae is only available in the States.  Hey Rob Ford, instead of letting city council pass more “dumbest things they’ve done,” how about ramming through a bill to make the bacon train stop in Toronto in time to beat the summer heat?


Throwback Thursday: The great New Jersey fake booze caper

(Originally written May 24, 2013)

When you order booze in the Garden State, you could be getting less than you bargained for.  As The Associated Press reports, “At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water — and apparently not even clean water at that.”  Jeebus Crest, if you’re gonna serve me a water-water, at least make sure it’s clean water!

The news of this fake-drink escapade comes at the conclusion of Operation Swill, a crackdown launched by the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.  According to the AP, “As part of Operation Swill, investigators collected 1,000 open bottles of vodka, gin, rum, scotch, whiskey and tequila from the wells of the bars, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said.”  Or rather, bottles of water, rubbing alcohol, caramel colouring and Gotti knows what else!

Although 29 establishments were charged, your chances of drinking dirty water are greatly diminished if you don’t dine at T.G.I. Friday’s.  According to the AP, 13 of the Fraudulent 29 think it’s always Friday in here.  “We want every assurance possible that our guests can continue to feel confident in the great food and drink they order at our T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants,” Rick Barbrick, president of The Briad Restaurant Group, told The Associated Press.  Let’s hope they get it, too, lest we find out that’s not really Jack Daniels in their Jack Daniels barbeque sauce…