Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE!

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meowzart
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Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 11:31 AM
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I have created this topic in an effort to contain the quite passionate discussions that arise around the mention of this book. Please put your frustrations and/or support for this book here in this topic and please let's try to leave it out of the other topics.

Also, since passions do run high, let's try to keep the discussion somewhat cerebral and let's not lower ourselves to veiled or overt insults. Please understand that some people think the book is life-changing and others think that it is bunk. Don't criticize people because they choose to eat or not eat in fast food restaurants!! Nobody wants to be preached to on the boards...I think that thought is unanimous!

Meowzart

meowzart
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 11:35 AM
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Below is a post from AndyNYC1 that appeared on the Breakfast Burrito thread to get things started.--Meowzart
quote:
Originally posted by AndyNYC1
It is my opinion that McDonalds food, in particular the breakfast burrito, is poison. I derived my opinion from the ingredient list:

Flour Tortilla: Enriched bleached wheat flour (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, folic acid; may contain malted barley flour), water, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed with citric acid and mono and diglycerides added), glycerin, salt, baking powder (may contain sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), whey, or nonfat dry milk*, dough conditioners (may contain sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium sulfate, L-cysteine), corn starch, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate (preservative).
Sausage Scrambled Egg Mix: Pre-cooked scrambled eggs [whole eggs, nonfat milk, soybean oil, modified food starch, salt, black pepper flavor (potato starch, spices, mixed triglycerides, flavoring, silicon dioxide, gelatin, carboxymethyl cellulose, sodium benzoate, citric acid, gum acacia), black pepper extract, xanthan gum, citric acid, artificial butter flavor (butter (cream) lipolyzed butter oil, medium chain triglycerides, artificial flavors, soybean oil, flavors, annatto extract)], pre-cooked sausage crumbles [pork, water, salt, dextrose, spices, corn syrup solids, sugar, monosodium glutamate], vegetables (tomatoes, green chilies, onions, calcium chloride, citric acid). Sharp Pasteurized Processed American Cheese: Cultured milk, water, cream, sodium citrate, salt, sodium aluminum phosphate, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, cheese culture, artificial color, acetic acid, enzymes, lecithin
.


Here is Merriam-Webster's definition of poison: 1: a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism 2: something destructive or harmful. It is my OPINION, that many of the chemicals and additives listed above ARE poison to the human body by that definition. They have no place in food. By eating at local, independant restaurants as opposed to monolithic fast food factories, you will cut down on the chemicals used in commercial food processing ten-fold.

As for their labor practices, I distinctly said "ACCORDING TO SCHLOSSER". He did his research, and it is my opinion that what he reported on is despicable. This is a forum for food lovers, and if I'm not mistaken, everyone's opinions are welcome here, whether you agree with them or not.

wanderingjew
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 12:15 PM
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Jane and Michael point of Road Food Books was to save Road Food from extinction. As expressed earlier, unfortunately contrary to opinions on this site this is a losing battle. I've lived in several different parts of this country and have been everywhere around the country and I see it. It's right in front of you. I saw a nice cafeteria in the Dupont Circle section of Washington DC that had been around many years turn into a Mc Starbucks. I saw a diner in Portland ME called the exit 8 diner which served classic New England Breakfasts with Baked Beans turn into a Friendlys. Where are those mom n pop restaurants in the Minneapolis area serving classic homestyle scandinavian food...THERE AREN'T ANY!!!! The last one left, Crabtree's Kitchen turned into a hay barn...Ok not a fast food restaurant.

I don't understand why a critique on Mc Donalds or Waffle House as in my case is perceived as a personal attack. I know many New Yorkers who would have been taken offense to the thread that trashed Sylvia's. Many New Yorkers truly believe that this is the best Southern Cuisine in the country. I'm sure many Southerners think that's a joke. Just the way many New Yorker's feel about Italian Food in Tennessee. Here in Rhode Island there is a BBQ chain called Smoky Bones and many here believe their BBQ is just as good if not BETTER than BBQ served in North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas combined. And believe me many Rhode Islanders would be highly offended if you disagree.
In my opinion Road Food 101 on a bare bones level defines independent Mom and Pop REGIONAL CUISINE. If I recall Jane and Michael indicated in their earlier publications that you would not find Texas Chowder Houses or New Hampshire Chili Parlors in their book, although they have loosened their requirements over the last few editions.

Lone Star
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 5:53 PM
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Generica - Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions. Used as in "We were so lost in Generica that I forgot what city we were in."

Generica is Wal-Mart. It's KFC, and McDonalds, and Wendy's. It's Olive Garden, and Shoney's, and Red Lobster. It's the Home Depot and Office Depot. It's every exit on every interstate highway, and every planned suburban subdivision:

Or, as folk-songwriter Malvina Reynolds wrote:
"Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one, and a pink one,
And a blue one, and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky,
And they all look just the same."
Some folks were talking around the campfire one night, and one RVing couple was bragging how they planned their trip every day so as to be near a Shoney's at mealtime! Wouldn't want to take the chance of eating in a strange place now, would we! Now, I like the food at Shoney's, but every day?

Road food is part of any enjoyable two-lane road trip. Oh sure, you could drive the interstate highway, where every exit is the same; as if rubber-stamped there. You could gulp down fast food at one of the national food chains found at those highway ramps, and be back on the road in 28 minutes.

Or, you could take the slow road, and enjoy a home-cooked meal at a mom-and-pop diner. It's your choice!

taken from www.two-lane.com

EdSails
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 5:58 PM
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Right on, LoneStar!

M&M
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 6:22 PM
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We're not fans of fast food in general but we do make an exception for Popeye's fried chicken and Waffle House (if WH's offerings fall into the fast food category.)

Adjudicator
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 7:38 PM
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What gives here I started a post on FAST FOOD NATION in the HAMBURGER topic board several months ago and I got TRASHED for expressing my opinion...

EdSails
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 7:44 PM
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What does give, Adjudicator? I don't see anyone trashing you or your opinion.........
I think you would be happy that way back when you started a stimulating topic. Keep up with the interesting ones----whether we agree with them or not!

Bushie
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 7:45 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Adjudicator

What gives here I started a post on FAST FOOD NATION in the HAMBURGER topic board several months ago and I got TRASHED for expressing my opinion...


That was me. Since then, I've wished I'd have expressed my opposition differently. I just don't think obesity is the fault of fast food; sendentary lifestyle and over-eating is. It's called personal responsibility.

Adjudicator
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 7:50 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by EdSails

What does give, Adjudicator? I don't see anyone trashing you or your opinion.........
I think you would be happy that way back when you started a stimulating topic. Keep up with the interesting ones----whether we agree with them or not!


Thankx for the support. If you read through the threads of that topic then many people assumed I had an "axe" to grind with the FF industry. Well, in reality, perhaps I do, perhaps I don't...

Regardless, stay posted...

Adjudicator
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 7:52 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Bushie

quote:
Originally posted by Adjudicator

What gives here I started a post on FAST FOOD NATION in the HAMBURGER topic board several months ago and I got TRASHED for expressing my opinion...


That was me. Since then, I've wished I'd have expressed my opposition differently. I just don't think obesity is the fault of fast food; sendentary lifestyle and over-eating is. It's called personal responsibility.


Can I accept that as a truce, then

Bushie
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 8:03 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Adjudicator

Can I accept that as a truce, then


Believe it or not, I never really considered that there was a "war". But, yep, Pax.

RubyRose
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/5/03 11:28 PM
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Since you asked, meowzart, I’d be glad to rant a bit. It’s all well and good for one of Schlosser’s answers to the fast fooding of America to be to support Ma & Pa eating establishments. This forum does the same thing but which one of you wants to make the commitment to be that Ma or Pa that everybody keeps talking about?

It means that you can’t go on roadfood trips like other posters here report because you have to be there for your customers every day. It means that you can work your butt off to send your kids to college and expect them to continue the family business but they don’t always want to do that. It means that offspring who do commit to continuing the business have to marry someone who knows that their spouse does not have a 9 to 5 job, or even a nice 10-hour-a-day job and will probably have to help out when it’s a slow season. It means that you’re constantly competing with chains and can’t afford to pay as much as they do but some employees stay because they share the pride in what you’re trying to do. You don’t have a ‘corporate’ to grease the palm of the local health inspector the month before his inspection or to handle your tax reporting.

You don’t want your kids to have to work six days a week and pay bills on the 7th when you’re closed. You’ve got money saved up but no time to spend it. Sometimes you say, “Why in the he!! am I doing this?”

So now I’ve ranted but the real question is the same as at the beginning: Why in the world would anybody want to own a Ma & Pa place just to satisfy the cravings of a bunch of folks who would never even seriously consider opening up one? Ma and Pa are not some fading cultural icons. They are real people.

And that, wanderingjew and others, should give you something to consider this evening.



Lone Star
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 2:23 PM
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Why you ask Ruby Rose? Well, I cannot speak for every mom and pop business, but I do know that my grandparents, who ran a fishing camp with a little cafe on Lake Buchanan did it becuase it was easier for my grandfather than running a pulling unit on the oilfields in West Texas. Yes, it was hard work, believe me I had my share of cabin cleaning, but they loved their clientele, my granny loved to talk to anyone, and like my grandpa used to say, "Where else am I going to go to work where I get to fish in such a pretty place every day?".

I don't think they felt like slaves to their business, and they had a very nice life.

If individuals running these types of businesses do not like it, or do not feel they can continue, most small established businesses have no problem finding a buyer.

wanderingjew
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 2:57 PM
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I agree with Lone Star. It sounds like my rant struck a nerve with Ruby Rose. I never asked to own a mom and pop restaurant, just the same I never asked to be an Accountant, Carpenter, or 7/11 Clerk, however just the same we need these people as much as we need the mom and pop restaurant owners!

RubyRose
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 5:59 PM
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Sorry, guess I did get a bit overly ranty, and in the process didn't even make the point I wanted to make. I have regretted seeing many small businesses close, some because of refusal to change with the times or poor business practices but many because their children refused to take over the business or had moved away from the area on a different career path. That part of it doesn't have anything do do with McDonalds.

P.S. I'm not the Mom of a Mom & Pop but know many who are.


Mayhaw Man
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 6:55 PM
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There have been some great points made on all sides of this discussion (I almost called it an argument, but that sounds unfriendly and surley we are at least friendly, if nothing else), but I think something about modern progress and inevitability should be said before this goes any farther.

Humm Battle Hymn o the Republic while reading

The first clear damage done to the Mom and Pops did not start with Mc DOnalds or Howard Johnsons, it started with a guy named Fred Harvey. He is the guy that instituted food service along the Santa Fe Railroad and later on the Santa Fe trains themselves. This was truly the first real fast food of any consequence in the US. Trains would stop along the way and (before dining service came along)passengers would bolt off of the trains and grab the first thing they could find. Usually this would be locals vending snacks (Mom and Pops if you will) of varying degrees of quality and economy. Regular passengers were unhappy with the service and the railroads were unhappy because the passengers were, so a guy named Fred Harvey set up a string of large coffee shop type restaurants, serving basic food and drink, of the same quality from one station to the next. He also hired a whole slew (a slew in this case is app. 5000) of young women (Harvey Girls) to man the counters in these establishments, moving them out West and supplying himself with workers and prospective husbands with prospective wives and mothers. THis system proved to be a sucess exactly because of the sameness of the food and atmosphere and price from one whistle stop to another. It has not stopped since. People in a mobile society, in a hurry, want to knoe that when they spend money on a product (particularly food) they are going to get something familiar of the same quality they are used to elsewhere. This is not because they lack taste or a spirit of adventure, it is because people are comfortable with what they know, even if it is bland, dull, tasteless, and even though Ma Kleischmidt next door is selling the finest roast and potatoes on earth.

My point is this....people get used to sameness. Yesterday, today, whenever. And as people have traveled farther from home, in more and faster vehicles, the need for sameness has not changed. If it had, airports would not have TGI Fridays and Bennigans etc. etc. If I need to make it any clearer think about this. Want to meet an American in Paris or Moscow or Timbuktu...got to a McD's. The place is lousy with them. Even in France, foodie capital of the Universe, they are still in there chowing down on Big Mac's.

THe community on this site, and egullet and chowhound is not representative of the world at large and I personally would like to thank each and every one of you for being the way you are. Excepting my children and my wife, I love to talk about food, think about food and cook food more than anything else (it is a wonder I am not as big as that guy in "History of the World....I'll have the lot, and a case of porter"). You people pride yourself on seeking out the different, not the same, the best not the average. And I do not think that you will ever run out of places to go. We don't eat at McD's. THere is a profit to be made off of us and some entepreneur is going to set up shop and make it (oh lord, I sound like a republican). On top of all of that, in reponse to comments made earlier about how much work it is to run places...yes it is a lot of work, but there is not other business in the world with an instant gratification factor like restaurants. Whether you run a BBQ joint in Muleshoe, TX, a sausage plant in Breaux Bridge, LA, or the toniest dining spot in NYC, there is nothing like having someone pay you for the privelige of eating your food, and then having them turn around and fawn over it. People will always to be willing to take a chance for a serious chance of constant pats on the head and a decent profit.Mom and Pop will be there tommorrow. So will McD's. hooray for them all. Something for everybody in this Land of Ours.

Sorry for running on in this stream of conciousness editorial, but I read this all day at work and finally couldn't stand it anymore. Gotta go cook. Kids are starving. Boiled shrimp, Butter lettuce, avacado and grapefuit salad w/poppyseed dressing (recipe credit to Joe's Dreyfuss store in Lawtell LA)

Bushie
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 8:28 PM
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Mayhaw, I've always loved reading your posts. You know what you're talking about, and you take the time to THINK.

Thanks for the history and the insightful analysis.

chezkatie
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 8:57 PM
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I take pride in the way I look at restaurants. I would never go into a chain restaurant unless I was really desperate. Privately owned restaurants are more and more becoming a thing of the past and I want to do everything I can to preserve them. Roadfood restaurants are not about grease, fat, high calories and junk food. Roadfood restaurants, to me, are those wonderful places that serve a great product for the price, whether it be a clam shack or someplace like Peter Luger's. Too many Americans look at McDonald's or Olive Garden as being the places to go but there are those of us who are more discerning and want to preserve the better things in life.

seafarer john
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 9:16 PM
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My son with a great interest in food had a yen to start a restaurant - Mom and Pop type. An older friend with years of restaurant experience told him,"Jeff, if you want to spend a whole lot of money to buy yourself an 18 hour a day job with maybe three days a year off - go right ahead, I'll sell you this place". Jeff works regular hours for corporate America
and says maybe someday when he retires....

God bless the Mom and Pops who sacrifice so much to feed us so well !

CCJPO
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Wed, 08/6/03 9:20 PM
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I remember the automats in the late 50's and early 60's when my Father would take us to New York and Philadelphia for history lessons. He was from Norway, but realized thathe was now an American and that his kids needed to know about our country. the automats were my first exposure to "fast food". A bunch of nickels was all that seperated us from mac and cheese, chocolate pudding, swiss steak, mashed potatoes, and other sundry delights. I think is was Horn Hardarts (sp.), I just remember being a kid and being in hog heaven. Does anyone else have any memories of these kinds of places? I do know that they were around for a long time, my last visit as a kid was in 1964 when we went to the World's Fair in NYC. Also ate there in the late 60's early 70's as a college student.

wanderingjew
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Thu, 08/7/03 7:39 AM
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Well, it happenned again. I went to my favorite local coffee house today and was shocked to find out that today is their last day. Why, because they cannot compete with Dunkin Donuts or McStarbucks. This coffee house actually offered organically grown coffee and even their decaf is absolutely fantastic, probably some of the best this side of the Cascade Mountains. And to think they couldn't compete to Bland Dunkin Donuts or the Burnt aftertaste of Mc Starbucks.

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again....Another One Bites The Dust!

meowzart
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Thu, 08/7/03 9:53 AM
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Damn Mayhaw!! Now that was righteous! I think I almost got teary! Beautiful, thoughtful stuff. Thanks a lot!!

Lone Star
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Thu, 08/7/03 10:42 AM
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Excellent editorial Mayhaw.

Oneiron339
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Thu, 08/7/03 10:50 AM
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Here's my two cents worth of broth in this porridge: Most of the previous thoughts are right on the money as it relates to Roadfood and FFN. When you really think through this, Roadfood is really a state of mind, a collection of memories of tastes, smells, noises, etc., of our past experiences with in most cases, a love of unique food and eating experiences. We are distinguished (not in all cases) from the other species by being able to remember the things which give us pleasure. And as Freud said, most of us have a peculiar oral fixation, it only makes sense to relate to those eating and tasting pleasures. We also distinguish those pleasures by the uniqueness of the experience; we remember the giant pastrami or the best hot dog, because we associated these instances with what our brains said, "This is good!" So we then want to return to those types of experiences. Sex is like this too, but I digress. You just can't get those neat tastes and experiences from bland, cookie-cutter restaurants. In fact, not too many of them really have that unique item that we search for in these postings. They make for the masses and that is what they are programmed to do - to each his own. I, on the other hand am constantly looking for that special dish, that huge hamburger, the thickest millkshake, the best french fry, etc. This site has helped me in that cause more than anything else. Even the Sterns' books, while helpful, can't be expected to have the last-up-to-the-minute info which has been offered here. I enjoy the local info and charm offered here by all the contributors, and am so glad I have been able to find the types of places I wouldn't normally have found without it. Roadfood will always be here despite the McD's of the world, you may have to look harder, but that's where you guys and this site have helped tremendously. Perhaps with more influence through these forums we can stave off the demise of some of the Roadfood favorites. I'll continue to do my part.

Liketoeat
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Thu, 08/7/03 11:10 AM
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I love the "mom and pop" type businesses as much as anyone; in fact grew up in one (tho country general merchandise store rather than restaurant) and have my parents and their (and my) hard work in it to thank for giving me the start in life (college education) which they never had. Also, I know from personal experience the loss of the "mom and pop" type businesses (their store plus every other old country general merchandises store in these parts and most such stores in small country towns) due to population and economic changes and more so to the advent of the giant commercial ventures (best currently typified by WalMart), in which I hate to shop but find required in order to obtain necessities of life. Have also over years personally known many local mom and pop restaurant operators, many too who are no longer with us (its "up in the air" right now as to whether either of our two restaurant in this small town will be in business much longer). From my experience and knowledge, I'm afraid many of us fail to adequately recognize, understand, and appreciate the work, demands of all sorts, personal sacarifices, economic risks of those who do devote their lives to all the various types of "mom and pop" establishments which remain, and which have been so well expressed above by RubyRose and seafarer john.

Bushie
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Fri, 08/8/03 9:54 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by wanderingjew

Well, it happenned again. I went to my favorite local coffee house today and was shocked to find out that today is their last day. Why, because they cannot compete with Dunkin Donuts or McStarbucks. This coffee house actually offered organically grown coffee and even their decaf is absolutely fantastic, probably some of the best this side of the Cascade Mountains. And to think they couldn't compete to Bland Dunkin Donuts or the Burnt aftertaste of Mc Starbucks.

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again....Another One Bites The Dust!


WJ, I’m sorry to hear about your coffee house. I’d like to throw something out for consideration, though. I’m not intending to stir anything up here, just giving us something to think about.

There are many reasons why businesses of all types fail, and although it may appear that it’s the fault of a competitor, many times there are simply other reasons.

My grandfather opened a burger joint in 1952 in Springfield, MO. He and his family worked long, hard hours to make it work. I remember helping clean, peeling potatoes, etc., when I was in elementary school. He’d buy meat, potatoes, onions, lettuce, etc. in bulk and we made everything ourselves.

Over time, it became very successful. People from all over the area would drive to eat his food, and to this day, I can still taste the wonderful burgers and other sandwiches he was known for. I still meet people in places like Kansas City and St. Louis who remember.

When McDonald’s came to town, naturally it affected business. It was really more of a novelty in town at first, but as we all know it caught on. By this time, our family business was being primarily run by another family member. Decisions were made to try to compete with McD’s, and I still believe that was the real problem.

They started using pre-pattied meat, frozen potatoes, and buying other sub-par ingredients. Cooking methods were changed to save time. By the mid-70’s, the food barely tasted like the food that had made my grandfather successful. Business declined, and finally the business was sold to another local business, and it all closed within a year after.

It all sucked, but can we blame McDonald’s for that? I don’t think so. Although McD’s was certainly a factor, that’s not the reason it went under.

While I don’t know anything about the coffee shop you loved, it seems to me that if a local business can’t compete with Dunkin’ Donuts, then there is probably something else wrong with the business plan.

We have a local coffee shop that does just fine against the 4 Starbucks in Round Rock (there are also 3 or 4 other independent coffee shops here). Our local donut shop sells more than the Krispy Kreme here, and again, there are 3 or 4 other independent donut shops here. They survive by sticking with what made them successful; providing great food with good service.

I’m not saying that in every case a local business will survive. I’m just saying that there are many reasons, and you can’t “blanket blame” large business chains.

I admire your commitment to patronizing local and other small businesses around the country. I do the same, and I think every member of Roadfood does the same as much as possible.

jpatweb
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Fri, 08/8/03 10:36 AM
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The September issue of Bon Appetit has a nice article by David Scribman that is somewhat related to this topic. In addition to looking back fondly at roadfood-typed meals he has enjoyed, he ponders the future of such places.

I don't think the article is available online as of yet, but it is short and could easily be read at the newstand without having to purchase the magazine.

Mayhaw Man
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Fri, 08/8/03 11:08 AM
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When McDonald’s came to town, naturally it affected business. It was really more of a novelty in town at first, but as we all know it caught on. By this time, our family business was being primarily run by another family member. Decisions were made to try to compete with McD’s, and I still believe that was the real problem.

They started using pre-pattied meat, frozen potatoes, and buying other sub-par ingredients. Cooking methods were changed to save time. By the mid-70’s, the food barely tasted like the food that had made my grandfather successful. Business declined, and finally the business was sold to another local business, and it all closed within a year after.

Bushie,
Great Point. Places like you family's restaurant cannot attempt to compete with the giants. Places like Wal Mart, McD's etc. do not go out and shop for products and the best price, they dictate to their suppliers what they are willing to pay, how they want it packaged, and all other logistics involved in their supply chain. Mom and Pop's can't do this.

What they can do is serve something unique, better than McFood or Walvittles, and serve it with style, friendliness, and applomb. There is a burger stand in the town I grew up in (Monroe, LA) that has been through at least three name changes that I can think of(Frank Walker's, The Brown Bag, Melvin's), but the menu has remained the same. They have been open since the early 60's. When the Golden Arches came to town they set up shop about 600 yds. down the street, we all went to McD's because it was new, because there were a limited number of places to try, and because (humorously, in retrospect) they were unique. No one had ever seen a fast food joint or a chain up to that time. Kids had birthday parties there, we watched them cut their own fries (which, incidentally, were great and it is a shame they stopped doing that years ago) and they made burgers on an assembly line.

The old burger stand down the street never changed a thing (although they did get a beer permit 10 or so years ago). Good food, good prices, nothing made on an assembly line. They made a big deal out of supporting local high school football (wildly popular in my part of the South), guaranteeing they would get these kids in and keep getting them as they grew up and had children of their own.

My point here is this, these guys have survived exactly because they chose not to directly compete with McD's in price or substance. They charge substantially more for a burger than Mickey D's, but you get a real hand hewn patty, on a real bun, with fresh veggies (purple onions, leaf lettuce, thick tomato slice, etc.). Home cut fries (thin ones, skin on, fried crisp) come with it and you get a great slice of pickle to boot. This is different than down the street where you get a micro thin 4 oz. patty, onion chips, a squirt of ketchup and mustard (annoyingly piled in one spot and not spread out. I really hate that), and some warm lettuce.

Sure, lots of places have closed because of giant, out of town competition. Hell, Sam Walton's first store was on the square in Fayetteville, AR. He killed his own downtown. After he built his first box on the edge of town and other giant marketers starting moving in , the square in Fayetteville looked liked a ghost town (now recovering nicely thank you, albeit 40 years later). Every little town in the South has horror stories about Wal Mart coming to town. Retailers have a very hard(if not impossible) time surviving. Restaurants are not retailers in the sense that they do not have to buy EXACTLY the same thing from the same guys the big boys are buying from, goods retailers do. . Mom and Pop's can buy from smaller local guys (and brag about doing it), serve it better (and bigger if they want to), mark it up more BECAUSE it is bigger and better, and still make a decent profit.

I feel like this discussion gets bogged down in "Mom and Pop's can't make as much money as the big boys do". Well, that's right, they can't. But if the business is run well, Mom and Pop's Burgers and Fries can provide a decent, honest living for a family and for future generations of the family to come. And, in the case of almost all small business owners, rest. or not, this is all they are looking for. It is the way the business is run that kills it (in most cases)not the competition from giant out of town corporations. Nothing can overcome a bad business plan and/or poor management (except a rich Daddy, but that is another topic).

O.K., I have managed to waste another valuable twenty minutes of my company's time and your's too. Now, I am going to go start a topic in this same category. "Longest surviving rest. in your area". You will then get to tell why they are still there, if they are locally owned, and in your opinion if they will be there in twenty or so years. I will let you make my point over and over. It should be fun for you and satisfying for me.


Mayhaw Man
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/10/03 1:22 AM
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http://www.nola.com/business/t-p/index.ssf?/base/money-0/106040859945540.xml

This is a link to the Times Picayune business section on Saturday Morning. Now I ask you, would McDonalds be opening up an "upscale" place is their business was not hurting? People, even sheep looking for something confortable and familiar, will still go to the comfortable and familiar place with the best of the bland and tasteless, and this indicates to me that people have been going elsewhere. So now they are going to be serving po boys and muffellettas and ettouffe and "cheesesteaks" (#&%&^%&^%#)(hey cheesewit, come on down, we got your cheesesteak right here). They cannot compete with Mothers, Johnnys, Palace Cafe, etc. (this place is in the 400 block of Canal and is in walking distance of myriad world class dining in every prce range). This one is truly bizarre. I would have thought it was a joke, but I got on the net and found out they were dead serious. Let's say you have a choice and only one lunch while you are downtown....Mothers or McDonalds? Duhhh. This place is doomed

CheeseWit
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/10/03 2:01 AM
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A McDonald's that serves cheesesteaks, let alone muffellettas, po boys, and etouffe is doomed. You can't be everything to everyone. It won't work. It doesn't work. I understand McDonald's doing salads and bottled water-it's to give someone who doesn't eat fast food fare, and is going out for lunch with officemates, another choice. This attempt to be the "be all" looks like Mickey D's grasping at straws. Oh, and by the way, when I'm in N'awlins, I want a po boy or etouffee or a muffelletta from a genuine restaurant that makes them. Not McDonald's. I won't even eat a cheesesteak outside of the NYC to Wash., D.C. corridor-and that's stretching the boundaries of cheesesteakdom, so no cheesesteak for me down there.

EdSails
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/10/03 5:57 PM
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Everyone----just take a step back for a minute. Are you working for a big corporation-----or a family held (even if it's a sizable) business? I for one, work for a small company. Yes, I could work for a major company (as I did when I worked for Disney Studios and Sony Pictures). I learned the hard way that we need to support the "mom and pop" companies of all types. I think that's what impresses me most about this group here-----they are actively involved in supporting them. Small business is still the backbone of our country. And nothing still beats a family owned food place!

Bushie
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/10/03 7:06 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by EdSails

Everyone----just take a step back for a minute. Are you working for a big corporation-----or a family held (even if it's a sizable) business? I for one, work for a small company. Yes, I could work for a major company (as I did when I worked for Disney Studios and Sony Pictures). I learned the hard way that we need to support the "mom and pop" companies of all types. I think that's what impresses me most about this group here-----they are actively involved in supporting them. Small business is still the backbone of our country. And nothing still beats a family owned food place!


Ditto; small businesses ARE the backbone of this country. Precisely why I buy from a local business in my town whenever possible.

CheeseWit
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/10/03 7:52 PM
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I wholeheartedly support small business owners. I'm currently with a large company that depends on business from small businesses. I don't like being with the company and am in a jobsearch and am trying to land a position with a small company. One that doesn't have CEOs cooking the books, one that doesn't swallow up smaller competitors and let those employees go, one that doesn't have broad layoffs to please Wall Street, and one that actually cares about its employees.

yumbo
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Mon, 08/11/03 9:31 AM
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My $0.02 - The M&P establishments that I patronize are the ones that DON'T try to compete on the commodities market that McD's and others are trying to create. As Bushie and others have put it, the survival of M&Ps depends on their ability to stand out against the landscape of same-ness, but their survival also depends a knowledgeable customer base that cares about regional cuisine.

wanderingjew
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Mon, 08/11/03 9:45 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by Bushie
WJ, I’m sorry to hear about your coffee house. I’d like to throw something out for consideration, though. I’m not intending to stir anything up here, just giving us something to think about.
There are many reasons why businesses of all types fail, and although it may appear that it’s the fault of a competitor, many times there are simply other reasons.
I’m not saying that in every case a local business will survive. I’m just saying that there are many reasons, and you can’t “blanket blame” large business chains.
I admire your commitment to patronizing local and other small businesses around the country. I do the same, and I think every member of Roadfood does the same as much as possible.


Bushie,

Thanks for your condolences. Correct, there are many reasons. In this case there were two. The first which we have no control over was that the owners were looking to sell the business open up a bar on the waterfront. The second reason which is a sad commentary was that business was slow. The reason being is that here in Southern New England the Donut Shop is king. There is a Dunkin Donuts or Honey Dew Donut shop literally every mile, no exaggeration here. Both are packed to the rims every morning with lines out the door consisting of robots ordering their extra large iced coffees half of the cup filled with half and half even in WINTER! Coffee houses don't do well in Rhode Island, people here are not used to change, especially here in the suburbs, however on the Eastside of Providence where the local yuppies and college kids live, coffee houses do seem to thrive. However overall, donutland (southern new england) is not too receptive to new and different

Mayhaw Man
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/17/03 12:36 PM
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Once again, more info on the McDonalds (Mac Deauxneaulds) Cajun Rest. These guys are even less intelligent than I thought.







Cajun cookin' adding spice to McDonald's

By David Leiva
The Associated Press




NEW ORLEANS — It won't smell or taste like or resemble McDonald's.

And that's just what the fast-food company is banking on to bring customers to its Cajun-style restaurant coming here.

McDonald's will open a new venture, Chef Mac's, on the first floor of an office building across from New Orleans City Hall and the Louisiana Superdome in September. Modeled after a similar eatery in Orlando, Fla., the new restaurant will have chandeliers, leather couches, stylish tiles and upgraded restrooms.

McDonald's director of operations, Bill Garrett, describes it as "upscale, quick gourmet casual."

New Orleans is an interesting testing ground for the restaurant. In this city, where people live to eat, there are 3,088 po-boy, Creole, Cajun, seafood, ethnic and soul-food restaurants, few of which are part of a chain. And the lunchtime crowds are only minutes away from the French Quarter.

That has not deterred McDonald's, suffering from a two-year slump and seeing innovation as the key to its long-term success. The company has tested a number of new concepts in recent years, including diners, coffee shops and self-service kiosks.

Not all concepts are likely to survive, particularly under a new management that has slowed expansion and capital spending and taken a back-to-basics approach at U.S. McDonald's, where speed and service have lagged.

Ed Strong, a marketing professor at Tulane University, said the idea of looking into diverse areas makes sense when traditional restaurants no longer put out the numbers Wall Street craves.

The rest of the industry is doing the same, said Greg Sanders, editor and associate publisher of the quick-food-service trade publication, QSR Magazine.




"American taste has changed," Sanders said. "Speed is important, but quality is now as big."

McDonald's, the world's largest fast-food operator, is trying to regain momentum after a disappointing performance in 2002. Last year, sales exceeded $15.4 billion, but problems with overseas restaurants and companywide spending led to a $743 million, or 45 percent, drop in earnings from 2001.

McDonald's said the Big Easy restaurant will present an upscale menu that locals will recognize.

Walter Grote, a New York native who worked five years in a Cajun restaurant in Houma, La., has been hired as the executive chef. The local-flavored menu will include Louisiana shrimp, po-boys, muffulettas, barbecue chicken, chicken cordon bleu and margarita pizzas. All will be served on plates, not plastic dishes.

Specialty coffees will be sold, along with desserts including praline cheesecake and bread pudding.

Garrett said customers will order and pick up at a 30-foot circular counter. Table service is still under consideration. Prices are expected to be less than $10 per entrée.

"A lot of this is still in development," said Debbie Vice, regional marketing manager.

McDonald's traditional foods will remain on the menu.

Vice said the restaurant will try to appeal to the downtown business clientele.

The average McDonald's does about $1.5 million in sales annually. Garrett said the new restaurant will beat that figure, and Tom Weatherly, of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, agreed.

"The food industry in New Orleans is very diverse," Weatherly said. "Each one of those segments have their own needs and niche."

But Sanders, of QSR Magazine, doesn't share the optimism and says entertaining ideas outside of burger and fries only means one thing.

"They're throwing darts at a board."


Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company


mayor al
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Sun, 08/17/03 6:23 PM
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I think that perhaps some of you are taking a bit to narrow a look at the foodie situation. Business trends would not be successful if the whole core of our culture were opposed to the concept of 'bigger-larger-faster-more generic'.

We build freeways to get more people farther and faster than we could on two lane roads. We wall in those freeways so the masses who use them will not rear-end the guy in front of them while looking at the scenery instead of concentrating on driving safely. The people who make use of those roads do so for a reason. They want to get from Point A to Point B. Except for their 2 or 3 weeks of Summer Vacation or a weekend now and then, they don't drive for pleasure...they drive to get where they are going. This is a very visible alteration in the basic culture we live in.
Take that to the employment area (to include the Mom and Pops) and you see an expansion of the Hurry up and Keep us moving attitude. We used to be able to say that if you wanted to see what you would be doing 25 years in the future, look at your Parents. If you wanted to see your life 50 years in the future you looked at your Grandparents. In both cases the implication was that those people were still alive, still within sight, and still playing the role of parent or grandparent. That simply is becoming less true now than it was a decade or two ago. The family structure is NOT what it was in the Post- WW II days. Ozzie and Harriet and the other media images of family life then are gone...and the reality of what families really were are disappearing also. Today's family IS different from those of the 50's and 60's. We use TIME as currency...to be spent to gain a maximum return. We don't drop what we are doing to gather at a dinner table together for a meal (except at special holiday times...and that can become a nightmare of decisionmaking for families where divorce has created a new set of rules)
The latest numbers in the university literature that I follow a bit shows that the average college freshman will change major areas of study AT Least 3 times durin his/her undergraduate study. For almost 40% of those undergrads the career area they will follow for most of their working years hasn't been invented when they enter college.
Combine these two concepts...The family structure is changing and becoming a series of short-term relationships rather than ONE Start-to-Finish road to follow thru life...and the Technological explosion that is changing How we live and work...and you come up with this summary---
Ain't Nuthin' Permanent AnyMore !

I don't like it, but I also realize that the changing life around me is something I must deal with...be that to sit and bitch about it, or do business with those who do more to fulfill my personal needs rather than following the general flow. BUT that will not stop the changes from happening. I find that I compromise often to suit my desires at the time.
I may use a drive-thru at fast food place if my time is limited. That doesn't happen often now that I have retired...but it used to quite a bit when we were part of the working world. I drive the freeways and the two lane roads with equal care-or lack of it. I try not to get impatient when my dial-up computer connection is extra slow compared to the sat.-broadband connections in our former location. AND most of all I am trying at my senior-citizen age , to cope with the changes that really mean something to me.
Now to wrap this all up with a Foodie example.... We all know that BBQ means LOW and SLOW cooking for a long period of time....but apparently there is a market for those in the usual hurry...If there wasn't there would not be a section in the frozen food section of most markets that offers varieties of HEAT and EAT BBQ ready to satisfy the most demanding BBQ-Fan.
Now I am done...Thank you for your undeserved patience.[|)]

lleechef
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Mon, 08/18/03 3:19 AM
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Have to agree with all of you that McD's is stretching it.....but...just like the first one that hit Paris (I was there) and we all said just NOBODY would go there to eat........well, it became an overnight success. That's why they do lobster rolls in New England and are attempting to do NO food in LA, because there's always ALWAYS going to be a LOT of folks pulling in there and just ordering up their food (can we really put it in the category of food??)
I don't know how many of you fellow Roodfood aficionadoes have worked in kitchens or even been chefs or owned restaurants, but let me tell you......God bless the Moms and Pops of the world because it's the worst job on the planet, at the same time the biggest ego trip! Anybody ever read Anthony Bourdin's book Kitchen Confidential? You think this is fiction? Think again. All that AND MORE happens in a restaurant kitchen on any given day. I trained in Paris and was an Exec. Chef for 22 years. Oh yeah.....GREAT reviews in the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, etc. In the mean time I blew through a marriage and was committed(by my own standards) to working 90 plus hours a week, all nights, all weekends, all holidays. Fabulous salary, no life. Period. It gets old. That's why I REFUSE, REFUSE to buy even a diet Coke at a McD's or any other fast food establishment. I'd rather buy it bottled at the local food mart.
Whether traveling throughout the US, South America, Europe, Asia, I'm either eating in a cafe, a trattoria, chirrua guosto, an outdoor Japanese food market, a diner, a trucker's roadstop, or it's going to be full blown fine dining.
Living well, after all, is the best revenge.

Oneiron339
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Mon, 08/18/03 3:54 PM
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He's a liberal, that's why.

Cosmos
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Mon, 08/18/03 4:46 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Mayhaw Man



Cajun cookin' adding spice to McDonald's



I imagine the guys in New Jersey will be working overtime comming up with chemical combinations to taste like peppers, onions, celery, and okra. Just a few drops and you can do away with all that time consuming saute'ing.

Mayhaw Man
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Mon, 08/18/03 11:13 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by oneiron339

He's a liberal, that's why.


I can't resist. Is this like the Johnny Carson Show? Karnak reads out the punch line first? Whom or what is this about? Inquiring minds are being driven crazy.

Oneiron339
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/19/03 8:53 AM
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Mayhaw - this is a response to something which was posted - since deleted, about Schlosser and his books - and I just threw the comment in as a dig. Since we're inquiring - the folks who are not from the South want to know what a mayhaw is. Just like if you're from he south, you want to know what a buckeye is up north.

Sundancer7
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/19/03 9:13 AM
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This southern boy knows what a mayhaw is. It is the fruit from the hawthorne that is harvested in May, thus Mayhaw. I have had the jelly in Louisiana. Very tasty and unusual.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Mayhaw Man
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/19/03 10:01 AM
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One Iron,
The buckeye line seems to be about mid state in Louisiana. THey grow wild all over the place, but they don't get very big. They do make buckeyes however. I have been carrying one in my pocket for years (good luck according to my Grandfather).

Sundancer nailed the mayhaw thing. It makes incredibly delicious jelly and even better syrup (if you have tons of juice to cook).

You know what Lee Trevino said about Jack Nicklaus? " Jack can play golf better than God. Even God can't hit a one iron".

CCJPO
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RE: Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: RANT HERE! - Tue, 08/19/03 5:22 PM
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Actually Jack Nicklaus is a Buckeye.

A Buckeye has 80 to a 100 teamates and a legion of fans, as well as a whole states' population. They were also the # 1 ranked college football team in 2002. Go Ohio State, GO BUCKEYES.