The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 May 2003

No Whoppers please, we're British

Julie Burchill, in this Guardian piece, reports that Britain's warring factions can agree on one thing, and it's not Tony Blair:

Rightwing tabloids and leftwing broadsheets alike are forever scaremongering, and not just about genetic modification and pesticide residues, which may be proven to be unreservedly Bad Things; they also display anti-modernist, illogical hysteria to each new survey that shows — shock, horror! — that British people are eating what they like, when they want! rather than being forced around a table three times a day by some stand-in for Mr Barrett of Wimpole Street, eager for a regular opportunity to impose his anal retentive bossiness on his long-suffering family.

Not to mention having to feed that pesky Mr Browning who keeps popping in at all hours, no doubt.

[R]ightwing worrywarts hate fast/convenience food because it frees women from the kitchen and deprives the sort of man who thinks his home is his castle of another opportunity to flex his control-freak tendencies. Liberals hate it for two reasons: they don't like America, the spiritual home of fast food (tell that to the Earl of Sandwich and German Mr Hamburger), and, being self-loathing, they don't like England. In bemoaning our soulless grazing, they get a chance to compare us for the worse once more with France and Italy where, myth has it, family mealtimes and "good" food add to the quality of life. In some unexplained way, this is supposed to breed better people and a healthier society, mentally and physically — which makes me wonder why so many citizens of oh-so-civilised France and Italy have such a weakness for voting fascist.

"Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag," observed Mick Jagger many years ago, but you'd think by now instant cake and frozen steak would be staples, especially in a land given to foodstuffs called "stodge" and "spotted dick".

On this side of the pond, at least, the right wing doesn't seem particularly upset about convenience foods. Our leftists, of course, fume at the very existence of KFC and Mickey D and that sexist, plutocratic Burger King. Then there's Taco Bell, which has been criticized for worker exploitation, and I'm sure there's some anthropological critic somewhere who objects to the place because of its failure to reflect true Mexican culture or some comparable codswallop.

The real reason to abhor Taco Bell, of course, is because Michael Jackson likes it. And even the French have figured out the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, except for the name.

Posted at 12:02 AM to Worth a Fork


Want a million-dollar idea? Put a Whataburger over there and show them what a REAL hamburger is.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at 7:16 AM on 25 May 2003

Yeah, Scott, so why did we get a Burger King here instead of a Whataburger? (Glen Rose, TX)

Taco Bell* is one of those PepsiCo owned places, including KFC and Pizza Hut. All three began using cheaper ingredients and down-sizing portions over the last five or so years. Thinking that Micheal Jackson probably owns a substantial portion of PepsiCo stock or still has some contractual obligations with such company, it does not surprise me at all that he endorses one of their fast food franchises.

*I boycott Taco Bell. They were charging $.59 for a small cup of pintos & cheese, which likely had only $.02 to $.03 worth of ingredients, and changed to a cup size at least 33% smaller.

Posted by: Tiger at 7:46 AM on 25 May 2003

PepsiCo spun off its restaurant division in 1997 as a separate company, Tricon Global Restaurants, now known as Yum! Brands. (Yum! also owns A&W and Long John Silver's.)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:50 AM on 25 May 2003

They recently built a Del Taco across the street from our Taco Bell, and I am very happy about it. Taco Bell's (or "Toxic Hell" as a few people I know call it) tacos taste like dog food. Del Taco, on the other hand, has the big fat steak taco! Mmm.

Unfortunately, our local Whataburger is suffering from a crisis of poor service, which I hope it recovers from soon.

Posted by: Alexandra at 10:16 AM on 25 May 2003

Hey, Spotted Dick is all right. :) As is Toad in the Hole.

My biggest shock was that in England, at least in Chesterfield, Pizza Hut was considered a sort of posh place to go eat. Pizza Hut!

Posted by: andy at 5:31 PM on 26 May 2003

I seem to remember something to the effect that, long ago before Pepsico acquired it, Pizza Hut was Brit-owned. Hallucination?

Posted by: McGehee at 5:23 AM on 27 May 2003

There were Pizza Huts in the UK for at least three years before Pepsico became involved with the company, but I don't think the British owners also controlled the American branch.

Burger King was owned by the Brits.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:22 AM on 27 May 2003

Burger King has -always-, IMO, had a better burger than -anything- on McDonald's. I was unaware that Burger King was British-owned.

Posted by: Steve at 2:27 PM on 27 May 2003

The operative term here is was; UK beverage firm Diageo sold BK last year to a US-based venture-capital group.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:38 PM on 27 May 2003

I haven't noticed a change in their food, though. It's -still- (and has been since my first try) better than anything on McDonald's menu.

Posted by: Steve at 6:12 PM on 27 May 2003

Thanks for the heads up on the change in ownership CG. Actually, the best Taco place is Taco Bueno*, which was actually begun in Abilene, TX by a friend of my father's. Last I heard it was now run by the same outfit that controls Black-Eye Pea Restaurants, and I heard it was a British Company. So, if all these restaraunts are controlled by British interests, where are all the really good fish & chips?

*Since they decided to redo all their restaurants from stucco, to this California chrome look, they have put up these paintings in which a building that resembles the Alamo has a Mexican flag flying over it. That painting rankles me a bit, as we fought a war so that a Mexican flag did not fly over the Alamo.

Posted by: Tiger at 12:39 AM on 28 May 2003