Monday, December 13, 2010

Encouraging the fast food world to bring us better fries

About four years ago, I heard a piece on NPR wherein the NPR journalist attempted, but failed, to create a stir by interviewing a Sierra Club muckety-muck about Walmart's green initatives.  Everyone (who can afford to shop elsewhere) likes to get moralistic about how Walmart doesn't treat its workers very well and Walmart buys from manufacturers that use child labor and Walmart is killing the environment and Walmart eats babies. 

So when Walmart said, "Look everyone, we're implementing green initiatives," everyone was skeptical.  Said NPR journalist called up said Sierra Club muckety-muck for comment.  The woman at Sierra Club surprised us all by saying, "Well, great!  Let's encourage their commitment to corporate greening by spending some money there."  The rationale was that irrespective of whether Walmart's green initiatives were motivated purely by their desire to stop harming the environment or for marketing purposes, it was important to encourage their green initiatives with our pocketbooks, so that they would continue to engage in them.  If we doubt their green efforts, then they have no motivation to engage at all.

That point stuck with me.  I think about my consumer power often, when it comes to shopping, eating, and spending money in any way.  And so, when Foodbuzz was offering gift certificates for Wendy's new natural cut fries, I was skeptical, because as a supposed foodie, I'm supposed to snub fast food joints.  But then I thought, "Sure, why not?  If fast food joints start making better fries, I should partake."  I signed up, and as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received two gift cards for Wendy's and I headed out to try these fries.  It also didn't hurt that there was a chance to win $500 for participating.  [Pick me, please.]


Last Friday night, I stopped in at a Wendy's and ordered a small natural cut fry with sea salt.  Sure enough, Wendy's was serving up fries with the skin still intact (my favorite kind) and they actually tasted like potatoes in the very first bite.  I wouldn't say that they were at all comparable to frites of steak et frites or moules et frites, but they were definitely a step up from your standard fast food fries.


Since I've been comparing them to some sort of fine food, I'll share with you Mr. Rose's take, when I brought him to a Wendy's two days later.  "When you dip these fries in a Frosty, the salty and sweet is kind of like that melon-prosciutto carpaccio thing you get at fancy restaurants."

Note to Wendy's: I don't, personally, think your fries and Frosty combo rises to the level of melon-prosciutto carpaccio, but I like the fact that your fries taste like potatoes.  And thanks for the gift card.  Mr. Rose will be back to taste test your fries dipped in all your other menu offerings.

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