The past year was a titillating one for fast-food trends. Yes, 2012 brought us healthy on-the-go, as well as sticky, cheese-covered drive-thru fodder that will linger in our colons well into 2013. We've seen the fast-food versions of the good, the bad and the ugly -- good things like healthier kids' meals, bad things like recycled items ("Looky! We added barbecue sauce to our regular burgers!") -- and the ugliest of uglies: fast-food restaurants making bacon weird.
Here are our five fast-food trend fails of 2012. And here's to hoping that fast-food chains knock this off in 2013...and every year after that.
5. Downsizing dollar menus It's common knowledge that fast-food restaurants offer discount or dollar menus in the hopes that customers will order off of them but upgrade themselves into spending more. So restaurants will swap out menu items like a mad, mad game of "mindf*ck the customers who saw fries on that there menu last week."
In the new year, don't downsize value menus, and for the love of toss buckets, don't play rousing games of musical items. Shaving dollar menus down discourages people who are cash-strapped but loyal from loading up on spicy chicken whatevers, and dropping expected menu items makes customers confused and frightened -- so frightened that they make say f*ck all and start saving their expendable income to blow at any number of the ever-growing fast-casual restaurants.
4. Artisan, my ass! The dining public can be bamboozled into believing a lot of crazy shit: Fast food is nutritious, ketchup is a vegetable, and the American dining public would NOT like pizzas with tiny cheeseburgers for crust. But something that's much harder to swallow is all the fast-food buzz calling items and ingredients artisan and/or homemade.
Artisan, my ass! Unless by "artisan" the purveyors of fast food mean the food is picked, plucked, washed, legally adulterated, pressed, breaded and deep-fried, then spat out by big, scary machines that make loud noises and probably have lasers attached to them, then sure -- the food is artisan.
And the homemade designation is just as disingenuous. Here's a hint: Homemade food is made in homes. Chicken a la Crock Pot with canned cream of mushroom soup is homemade. Beanie weenies are homemade. On occasion, paella and mutton chops are homemade. McDonald's lust-inducing fruit- and/or custard-stuffed pies and Taco Bell's titillating grilled-potato-cheesy-Doritos-crunchy things are delicious, but they are not anywhere close to homemade. Forget the lying labels and just call the food something more realistic, like "pseudo-homestyle-sorta-crapoofalah," or just bring out the real-real and freely advertise food that is "not anywhere close to being produced by people, but you will still cram it into your suck-holes."
Seriously, fast-food restaurants: If you start using the word "heirloom," the masses will turn on you.
3. St-st-st-stealing Thieving is a time-honored, traditional pastime, with certain sets of standards and non-ethical obligations, but even the slickest, smuggling-diamonds-up-the-ass robber will tell you that when you steal things, you can't be obvious about it, and you gotta lie low for a while after so as not to get cheesed. This past year, fast-food restaurants stole from each other, in broad daylight, and then advertised all about it like it wasn't both skeevy and apparent.
And the skeevy part comes in when the thievery doesn't even benefit the thieves. Even moderately marketing-savvy folks understand that when one restaurant has a hot idea like, say, a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and earthworms, then after the public rollout, several other restaurants will offer cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, mayo and earthworms. The mayo is fooling no one, corporate raiders -- you straight up stole the earthworm idea. Customers appreciate and respond to original ideas with fast food, especially if they do not include earthworms.
2. Breaking breakfast I have no clue which Taco Bell corporate executive woke up one morning after a night of drinking, drugging, stripping and slathering farm animals with fire sauce and "exploring," and then decided that dumping Mountain Dew into a bottle of orange juice was a revolutionary plan to bring back breakfast beverages, but chances are it's the same peener who created Taco Bell's abhorrent breakfast menu.
Mountain Dew A.M. is f*cking gross.
And this frankenasty drink is a symptom of food-trend fail from 2012 that turned the most important meal of the day into a circus with no tent. Introducing breakfast where there was none before is fine; rolling it out with a few kinks to work out is normal. But if a fast-food place has both no experience with breakfast items AND can't make them taste nice AND can't get basics like eggs right, then it's time to find the idiots who green-lit the breakfast cattle drive, fire them, and go back to the test kitchen and start with something simple like turning bread into toast.
1. Making bacon weird I never thought in a frillion years that bacon could be weird. I was oh-so-wrong when fast-food year 2012 saw the emergence of bacon-garnished ice cream desserts in fast-food restaurants like kraken from a deep, dark sea of commercially overexposed culinary concepts.
Fast-food restaurants: Let us pretend for a moment that corporations are people, and I'll explain to you what you did. You took the terrible, half-rubbery, half-burnt, chilly, grease-smeared, precooked bacon that you get in bulk and whacked it into uneven pieces and applied it liberally to your machine-made, freakishly colored, usually melted, fake-flavored soft serve, dumped fudge and caramel sauce on the whole affair, and unleashed this monster as a bacon sundae. You even blended this atrocity into a shake and garnished it with your abysmal bacon and a straw.
You should not have done this. You made bacon weird, and that's damn near impossible to do. Please stop doing this, and don't ever, ever do it again.
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Do you need some time to purge these from your stores? It's cool...I'll wait.