Tag Archives: Menu

Yinzburg makes some tasty BBQ for y’all…


YinzBurgh BBQ on UrbanspoonLast night before the band played a show in Bloomfield, my wife & I stopped with some friends at Yinzburg BBQ on Baum Blvd. in Bloomfield.  Last time I was in that building it was a Roly Poly, and it’s certainly a different place now.

Yelp | Pittsburgh BBQ

Yelp | Pittsburgh BBQ

I’m a huge fan of BBQ and I have been reading great reviews about the place online, so I was very anxious to check it out.  (Also, I’ve been in a BBQ mood lately.)  Of course with the whole shellfish allergy thing, I took a look at the menu online before we went down.  My mouth was watering at all of the delicious prospects.  Thankfully, there is no deathfish present on the menu.  I’ve sadly gone to places before that have had daily specials or menu revamps that aren’t online… so I decided to send them an email.  I was met with a quick, friendly & inviting reply from owner & chef Richard.  His philosophy seems to be summed up in his email signature:

1. Barbecue is a cuisine; Barbecue sauce is a condiment!
2. The sauce is served on the side.
3. The love is in the rub!

When we walked in we were greeted by a woman with a sweet southern accent who asked us if we had ever been there before.  We indicated that we hadn’t & got a lesson in the 4 main & 2 hot barbecue sauces.  I liked the vinegar one & the signature red…  And, I liked that you could get 2 different ones with your meal.  Next time I might get the mustard sauce.

I had the brisket & pulled pork combo with the signature red & vinegar sauces (served on the side, so you can apply or dip however you like), the coleslaw, and a root beer from Natrona.  I tried both meats sans sauce, and they were incredible.  I found myself having a hard time deciding which sauce I liked better with which meat.  The coleslaw was creamy and flavorful.  I also had a sample of my wife’s mac n’ cheese (she got a delicious looking half chicken), and our friends’ collard greens.  The mac n’ cheese was nice & creamy and the collard greens were delicious.  I’ve sadly never had any until now.  We even had a very satisfied vegetarian in our midst who seemed to really like the smoked tofu wrap.  It’s not every day you find a BBQ place that serves vegan and vegetarian items.

There were two 2-seater tables outside, and 2 tables with standing room only inside.  We stood as we dined,negotiating around the mountain of food in front of us.  Halfway through the meal, I was already planning what to order for my next visit.  Next time it’s chicken & ribs… maybe the black eyed peas on the side.  Next time will also be soon!  They asked us to tell our friends… and if you’re reading this… you’re my friend, and you need to go check this place out!

I was so enamored with the food… I forgot to take a photo to upload to UrbanSpoon… oh well, maybe next time!

New BBQ Joints?


Pittsbugh BBQ Co. - Brisket Sandwich

Good BBQ helps to grow healthy sideburns.

Well, you probably know I like barbecue.  I’m a big fan, and I’m always willing to try out new places.  Well, new places that don’t have shrimp or other deathfish on the menu.  I’ve scoped out the web sites three places I haven’t tried… perhaps they’re rather new?  Can anyone tell me if they’ve been to any of these places & what they think?  (Or if they have any stuff on site that’s not listed on the online menu?)

Perhaps, like movie nights, I can organize a Pittsburgh (& surrounding area) BBQ tour?  Would anyone be interested?

I’d like to check out the following BBQ restaurants…

Of course we’d have to hit my favorites… Brentwood Express Rowdy BBQ, Pittsburgh Barbecue Co., & Clem’s Cafe!

Were else are the deathfish-free BBQ joints in in & around the ‘Burgh?

A wing tour has been suggested, but 95% of the places that fry wings also fry deathfish, so I’ll stick with Gooski’s.

My guest post on Ya Jagoff!!! | Who Designed The Fast Food Drive Thru?


I thoroughly & regularly enjoy YaJagoff.com.  The rants & raves remind me of my own lunatic ramblings, especially all the goofy yinzer parkers and things overheard on the bus.  I’d suggest adding Ya Jagoff!!! to your blog roll or news reader or subscribing via email or following on Twitter or Facebook or whatever you kids do these days.

One of the cool things about the site is that they occasionally feature guest blogs, and I was invited to send one in… so I did!  Check it out, and maybe even comment when you’re over there.  Take some time to poke around.

Ya Jagoff!!! | Who Designed The Fast Food Drive Thru?

Who Designed The Fast Food Drive Thru?

Who Designed The Fast Food Drive Thru?

My guest post on Ya Jagoff!!! | Who Designed The Fast Food Drive Thru?

Ernie and the Berts / Awful Waffles / Uke & Tuba – FRIDAY AT THE BBT!


If you didn’t catch us last night at the Fallout Shelter… and you probably didn’t… you have the chance to try again this weekend, and eat some pierogies!

July 22nd at the BBT with the Awful Waffles and Uke & Tuba! This promises to be absolutely ridiculous.  Peep the links.  Come out & get the best Polish food in the ‘Burgh in the corner of “Little Italy”. The Bands: Awful Waffles / Ernie and the Berts / Uke & Tuba – The Place: Th… Read More

via Ernie and the Berts

AllergyEats | Defining allergy-friendly restaurant survey results


So, a while ago I posted asking for you to help out Paul from Allergy Eats with defining “allergy-friendly” as it pertains to a restaurant.  I also took the time to post my own thoughts before I sent them on to be tabulated.

Well, now Paul has posted his summary & survey results to the still mysterious government body.  I enjoyed reading the results, so I thought I’d share:

AllergyEats | Blog Logo

AllergyEats Blog

The AllergyEats Blog | How do we define an allergy-friendly restaurant? A look at the survey results

It’s great to see the results, and I can’t wait to see where & how they’re put to use.  It’s also great that all of our comments were passed along with the report, so rest assured that your voice has been heard thanks to Paul.  Hopefully it lays groundwork for more gub’ment organizations to follow by example!  (Although, we need to push from a consumer level too.)

My take on the results… it looks like we’re all looking for everyone in the restaurant from kitchen to wait staff to managers to be trained in food allergies and cross-contamination and possibly even certified… which seems like a no-brainer.  Even if that’s all we get, it’s a great start.

Employee answering phone needs to be knowledgeable: 1

Apparently, I’m the only one who wants the person answering the phone to know what they’re talking about.  Ha ha.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to define shellfish on the phone, or ask if they have any only to get there after being told no… and they totally do.  Perhaps it’s shame on me for not asking to talk to a manager…  but the person answering the phone ought to be knowledgeable enough to hand-off such questions, so I stand by my statement.

Cross contamination: (42 responses)

Understands and avoids cross-contamination:  21

Separate and cleaned prep areas and cookware:  20

Should wash hands:  1

Who said they should wash their hands?  Seriously?  I hope they’re doing that anyway… and that they don’t really need those signs in the restroom as a reminder.

Treats ALL allergies the same, not just the Big 8: 1

Apparently I’m the lone theorist there.  Really?  Well, I’m in the Top 8 category, so I guess… yo hell with the rest of you!  Ha ha.

No nuts strewn about the restaurant: 1

This one agitates me.  If it’s part of the restaurant’s shtick/ambiance/personality… then just give it up.  I like being able to walk into Five Guys and grab a tray of peanuts.  I don’t expect (or want) to dine at Long John Silvers or Red Lobster any time soon.

Specific allergen menus available in-house (not just online): 13

Allergen symbol list on menus: 12

Online food allergy menu: 4

All excellent points.  I’ve blogged about the need for menu symbols before.  Let’s get this done, people!

Ability to print out all ingredients for customer / show labels to customer if necessary: 11

Great idea.  A representative from Bob Evans once emailed me a chart detailing where everything was cooked in the kitchen & what surfaces would be safe with my shellfish allergy while they has a seasonal Shrimp stir-fry dish.  How cool is that?

At any rate, read the Blog at AllergyEats, and leave some feedback whether you participated in the original survey or not… it’s still valuable.  I’d also appreciate any comments here.  I’m sure the peanut thing will get some people riled up.  Ha ha.

 

Defining Allergy-Friendly


AllergyEats.com

AllergyEats.com

So, quite a task has been put to the food allergy community by Allergy Eats:  Define what it means to for a restaurant to be “allergy-friendly”.

You may have seen it in a recent re-posting by me, or on your own.  I urge you to form your own response and send it to contact@allergyeats.com.  I figured that I’d use this blog to sort out my thoughts before I sent them on to Paul at Allergy Eats.  I don’t exactly how I’ve morphed in to a food allergy advocate of sorts, but I feel that it’s important to help out any way that I can, and encourage others to keep up work that moves us all in the right direction.  There are already some great comments on the blog, and I’m sure he’s got an inbox full of suggestions already… but it’s important to keep them coming so this can be looked at from multiple angles.

AllergyEats T-shirtI like bulleted lists for some reason, so that’s how I’ll try to organize my thoughts:

  • The restaurant has to have a policy that reaches to ALL levels. Too many times restaurants claim to have god allergy practices, but it doesn’t trickle down to the wait staff, the cooks, or anyone past management.  Having a policy is great, but it needs to be understood and respected through all levels.  I feel comfort in a place when the waitress has the manager or even the chef come out to discuss allergy & cross-contamination issues with me.  Training, some sort of certification, and re-training annually or semi-annually would be excellent.
  • Changing current thinking. This is a good one…  Today at Boston Market, I noticed a sign on top of the cash register that read something to the effect of “If you have food allergies, please talk to the manager before placing your order.”  It’s great they’re recognizing the fact that there are food allergies out there, but… the cash register is at the end of the counter, and only reached well after you place your order.  Also, I’d hope that someone with food allergies would already have a heightened awareness when going anywhere to eat.  (If not, please read this.) More thought needs to be put into place, not just “CYA” measures.
  • They have to exude reassurance. A poster is great.  An “allergy-friendly” menu is great.  A sign at the cash register or on your table or on the salad bar is great… but not enough.  In with the training on all levels, the sever (or whoever answers the phone) must bee confident with the answers that you want to hear.  No “I don’t think” or “not really” or “I’m not sure so you’d just better not order that” will do.  Have the right answers.  Know why.  Understand the severity.  Knowledge of the kitchen and where everything is cooked should be a must for servers and managers.  Nuts can’t just be “picked off”.  There’s no such thing as “oh a little won’t hurt” with butter.  The fryer doesn’t “get hot enough to kill anything you’re allergic to”.  It’s unsettling fr someone with food allergies to dine out.  Making them feel safe is a must for “friendliness”.
    • On a related note… especially the person answering your phone.  When dining out of town, I try to call ahead (or get my wife to call ahead for me).  My favorite response ever was an Amish place in Ohio where I asked if they had shellfish (“like shrimp or crab or oysters” I said)… the girl went on to say “No, we have oysters, but they’re in soup, and there’s shrimp… but it’s not in a shell.”  Needless to say, we didn’t go there.
  • All allergies are equal. It’s great to see “nut free” options, or “gluten-free” menus, but let’s treat all allergies with the same respect to cross contamination.  The top 8 are; Milk, Egg, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  But, there are others too!  I know of people with severe allergies to peppers, and have heard of corn allergies.  These people need to feel safe too!  Current government regulations don’t regulate the labeling of any allergens other than the top 8, so that’s all that people seem to pay attention to.  Special attention needs to be given to all kinds of allergies, not just one allergen or group of singled-out allergens.
  • Know what you’re serving. Are their anchovies in the Italian dressing or Worcester sauce?  Is this fried in peanut oil?  The server shouldn’t necessarily need to know off hand, but this information should be able to be provided upon request. Having it in written form would be tremendous.  (We could go into other special dietary needs here too… not an allergy, but I have an aunt with Diverticulitus who needs to know if there are seeds or nuts that may be ground up and hidden in things like dressing or soups or bread.) Listing all this on a website would be excellent.
  • Separate locations & utensils for allergy-free meal preparation. Cross-contamination is huge.  I don’t worry about a mutant lobster crawling into my mouth by itself… but I do worry (immensely) that some scallop juice might be on the grill where my steak was cooked… or that someone who just made a shrimp cocktail didn’t wash their hands before making my salad.  I’d love to know that the place where I’m dining has a fish or shellfish only fryer, separate grill spaces for different kinds of meat (even a vegetarian/vegan section would be cool), even separate cutting boards, prep areas, knives, and other utensils.
    • Keep the nuts off the salad bar… near their own station.
    • Hey Subway, don’t put the “seafood” sub stuff right next to the other lunchmeat, and don’t cut those subs with the same knife you use for all the other subs!
  • Ability to accommodate the unusual. Say someone has an inhalation allergy to peanuts…  Can you seat them somewhere so that the people at the next table are able to order some peanut-encrusted dessert without throwing them into an anaphylactic fit?  Can you do this without rolling your eyes, sighing, and making it a big deal?
  • Special markers/identifiers. I saw a commenter note this in the comments on the Allergy Eats blog post, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Something ought to be a literal red flag… in the system, on an order ticket, on the check, on even the plate itself.  Everyone knows that orange-rimmed coffee pots mean decaf.  Why not red for allergies?  Or get crazy & assign a color to each of the top 8 & one for “other” allergies?  Did I read that Legal Sea Foods does double-plating or something to that effect?  It’s genius.  I’d like to extend the symbols idea to the menu too… why not have some sort of system with easily recognized food allergy icons?

That’s my take for now, but there are already many other great suggestions in the comments section over at Allergy EatsPlease, take the time to send yours to contact@allergyeats.com before Feb. 2nd!

 

This is why Chick-fil-A is awesome.


These are individual promotions for the South Hills location, but I’m sure many others are doing things like this.

Got this in my inbox recently…

On Thursday, April 15th, you WILL NOT want to miss our Receipt Day 2010! In celebration of taxes being completed, we are hosting Receipt Day again this year! Come to any Pittsburgh Chick-fil-A on Thursday. Eat with us, save your receipt, come back any day in May and the SAME order is FREE! Your receipt will be printed on colored paper!

Lastly, on Friday, April 16th, join us again for Breakfast for Dinner. From 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm you can buy our normal breakfast OR dinner menu during our dinner time. We would love to see you in your pajamas!

We hope to see you sometime this week or maybe even every day! Thank you for being loyal fans and customers! This week is for YOU!

How awesome is that?  A free meal sometime in May?  Their little tiny nugget-filled breakfast sandwiches for dinner?  Genius.  It’s rare to see a grumpy Chick-fil-A employee too, at least in my experience.  I don’t know if they pay well, beat them into submission, brainwash, or what… but it works.

They’re always having ridiculous events.  I wonder if I can get a job as a Chick-fil-A cow?

EAt MoR CHiKiN

EAt MoR CHiKiN

Taco Bell has purchased my gratitude!


I got a letter in the mail today from Taco Bell.  You may be familiar with my emails to them concerning the death-filled tacos that they were recently peddling.  This is perhaps the best reply I’ve ever received to any of my either serious or goofy letters to any company.

I’ll dispense with the usual long-winded introduction and get right to it…

Letter form Taco Bell about Shrimp Tacos and Taco Bell Bucks!

You can see that along with the letter, I received five $5 Taco Bell Bucks certificates. That’s $25 in death-free Taco Bell food. That’s got to be the coolest thing I’ve ever received besides my T-shirt from Turner’s.  I’m not sure if they’re buying me off, rewarding me, if they make so much profit per item that it really doesn’t matter if they give this much away for free, or what.  This almost makes me want to write back to Pillsbury/Totino’s and make them feel ashamed for sending me three 35¢ coupons.  In fact, I may add that to the list.

The best, and I mean absolute best thing about this letter is that they’re forwarding my request to Pizza Hut.  Wow.  I trust you’ve seen my unanswered letters?  I can’t even express how hilarious and ridiculous and absolutely gratifying that is.


Death Taco


Death Taco. No, that’s not the coolest new metal or grindcore band, although maybe it should be.  It’s what I’m (of course) calling the newest Taco Bell menu item.  I have had some inquires as to why I hadn’t mentioned it yet.

Well, I did make a faint mention via Facebook or Twitter a while ago, but had declined to rant here as I’ve been relentlessly trying to contact Taco Bell.  You know how successful webforms are, so of course I got no answer from that, then I fished around for email addresses to send a full email, bugged them via Twitter for an address, and even posted an Ask Yahoo! question.  Out of nowhere, I finally received a reply, and I have no idea if it was in reply to the webform, my emails to random Yum! Brands and Taco Bell email addresses, or some other forum.

I’d like to share my original messages with you.  First the one via webform:

Hola, mis amigos de Titan Taco! Firstly, this isn’t about an incident at a specific Taco Bell, but the form didn’t allow room for general inquiries. I’d like to express my disappointment with a commercial that I saw advertising new shrimp tacos. Well, I guess my disappointment is not with the commercial, but with the product… and the main ingredient.  I don’t think I can express my thoughts in a box with a mere 500-character limit. Do you have an actual email address where I can contact someone?

…And this was to some email addresses that I found after some Googling.

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 4:11 PM
Subject: Taco Fail
To: webmaster@tacobell.com (and a bunch of other addresses)

Hola, mis amigos de Titan Taco!

I’d like to express my disappointment with a commercial that I saw advertising new shrimp tacos. Well, I guess my disappointment is not with the commercial, but with the product… and the main ingredient.

I have a severe shellfish allergy, and Taco Bell has been a shellfish-free dining safe haven for me for years.  It’s one of the few places where I never had to worry about shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, etc. ending up in my food, or worse yet… crossing paths in the kitchen somewhere.

I will sadly have to cross Taco Bell off of my list of places to dine… but I’d like you to know that there are many of us out here with severe shellfish allergies who have an increasingly difficult time finding safe places to dine out.  Fast food joints have long been a safe-haven for those of us with a shellfish allergy… as most fine dining and now even chain family style restaurants have several shellfish dishes prepared on multiple kitchen surfaces.  Formerly, as long as I stayed away from Long John Silver’s, I was OK.  Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, …were all safe places.

I guess I’ll now have to get my quick Mexican fix at Qdoba or Chipotle.

If you’d like to know what it’s like to dine out with a shellfish allergy, please read this blog post.

Here’s an excerpt…

If you know me in person, have dined out with me, or have ready any of my lunacy online… you most likely know what I have a severe shellfish allergy.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it means that I can’t eat any shellfish, or I go into anaphylactic shock.  Not only can I not eat the shellfish (that’s crustaceans & molluscs including but not limited to ,shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab, crayfish, oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, octopi, squid, snails, and probably even scorpions and pill bugs), but I can’t eat any food that comes into contact with it.  That means, if you cook shrimp on the grill, take it off, and put my steak on  without washing the surface, it’s the same as me eating the shrimp.

I certainly can’t expect the restaurant to clean the grill in between every meal, as that’s certainly not productive on their end… I just usually try to see where the shellfish is prepared, and eat from another cooking surface.  That seems easy enough, right?

I get that it’s my responsibility.  Yes, I’ve had an epi pen.  But I’d really love to not ever have the need to use one.  I’ve even considered getting Allergy Cards, but they seem a little pretentious or something… like my verbal reminder isn’t enough.

Well, getting me in to a place with shellfish is an issue in itself.  Why?  Well in with the aforementioned cooking surface issue…

I hope that this helps explain what people like me go through, and I hope that you re-consider selling death-filled tacos!

Running from the border,

-Eric

And, this is the reply, although I’m not sure if it’s the reply to one of the above messages, or in poking around on Twitter:

From: Poetsch, Rob (Public Relations) <Rob.Poetsch@yum.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Subject: Pacific Shrimp Taco Inquiry
To: “world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com” <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Cc: “Hunsaker, Brittany (Contractor)” <Brittany.Hunsaker@yum.com>

Dear Eric,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about Shellfish allergens concerning our new Pacific Shrimp Tacos.  We want you to know that we take these matters very seriously and that the business of our customers is our top priority.  We value loyal customers such as yourself and would like to take the opportunity to win your business back.

To ,  to our customers who might have Shellfish allergens, we have displayed information at multiple locations in our fish.  These include Shrimp allergen signs that are placed on our window and door clings as well as in our ads where orders are taken.  While the Pacific Shrimp Tacos are offered for a limited time only, all Taco Bell employees have been trained and certified to not have any food products come in contact with Fish and Shellfish during cooking and/or serving.

We would like to send you some Taco Bell Bucks as a token of our thanks, so please email me back with your mailing address.  We hope you will continue to “Think Outside the Bun” at Taco Bell, and appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

Sincerely,
Rob Poetsch
Taco Bell Public Relations

Rob Poetsch
Taco Bell Corp.
One Glen Bell Way
Irvine, CA 92618
O: 949-863-3915
F: 949-863-2252
rob.poetsch@tacobell.com

Of course, I needed to reply:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Subject: Re: Pacific Shrimp Taco Inquiry
To: “Poetsch, Rob (Public Relations)” <Rob.Poetsch@yum.com>
Cc: “Hunsaker, Brittany (Contractor)” <Brittany.Hunsaker@yum.com>

Hello Rob,

Thank you for the reply!  I was beginning to wonder if Taco Bell has a stand on the issue.  While I am pleased to hear about the allergen warning signs along with the employee training and certification, I must say that I still have some reservations about safety.  I am relieved to hear that the shrimp tacos are available for a limited time only.

It is great that you take responsibility in posting signs about allergy warnings.  Your fellow Yum! Brands organization, Pizza Hut, ought to take note.  They display allergen information on their website, noting that the pizza sauce may come into contact with shellfish… but there’s no shellfish on the menu.  When I asked where the contamination may occur (e.g. in the processing/canning facility?) they were unable (or I sadly suspect unwilling) to provide a detailed response.

Back to the subject of Taco Bell… the giant window-clings showing what I’m sure to many is a succulent appetizing piece of shrimp spilling out of a lovely soft taco shell looks to me like a giant Mr. Yuck sticker or the old-time skull & cross-bones “poison” logo that you’d see in cartoons.  They serve as an effective if not spine-chilling reminder as to the presence of shellfish allergens on the premises.  They would also kick my survival instincts into gear, not even letting me enter the presence.  Seriously.  I would wager that right now, it would be pretty difficult to physically get me into a Taco Bell restaurant. My Eustachian tubes are starting to itch just thinking about it.  I realize that this is also a highly personal mental health issue, but one that ought not be taken lightly, as it’s grounded in a very real fear.

Recently I read the blog of a man who almost died when he ordered a vegetarian Indian potato curry dish that he was assured was safe.  Apparently the dish was flavored with a shrimp brine… which ought to be disturbing to vegetarians, vegans, kosher folks, and people with shellfish allergies.  This is alarming to say the least.  I realize that simple cross-contamination may not seem as serious as flavoring an entire dish with shrimp-juice, but I can assure you that it is indeed just as deadly.  Our friends with wheat/gluten and peanut allergies seem to get a lot of attention lately, hopefully it will spill over to the rest of us with the “big 8″ and those who aren’t even covered by that umbrella.

Have you taken the allergen training, or do you know what’s involved?  I am finding it hard to tactfully express my concerns about the way that the message was conveyed to Taco Bell employees and the actual willingness of the employees to understand and comply.  We’ve all watched training videos on various subjects and rolled our eyes, promptly taken pamphlets and placed them in the trash, or been angered when someone who doesn’t do our job gives us a new or added process that we must adhere to when we’re sure that the person suggesting the changes has never been in our shoes.

While I mean no disrespect to Taco Bell or any fast food restaurant, have you been to a Taco Bell lately?  Sometimes I am concerned about the personal hygiene and motivation of the employees let alone the cleanliness and efficiency of the kitchen.  Sadly, the low quality and poor service of fast food establishments has become a passively accepted facet of 21st Century life in the United States.  For evidence, I give you the term “McJob“.

I have a theory that for so long now, it has been expressed to kids everywhere to get higher education so you don’t end up as a laborer, janitor, or fast food employee… that fast food jobs have garnered such a negative connotation, the only people left willing to take the jobs are the highly unmotivated individuals, people with no other options, or people using the part time jobs for extra cash with no real pride in their work since there’s no real fear of losing the job or striving to move up the chain of command.

I would invite you to imagine that in the Taco Bell kitchen where you are about to dine there are the standard (and innovative!) sour cream and cheese caulking-gun looking dispensers all loaded on the food preparation area… along side a caulking-gun-looking dispenser filled with a highly toxic pest-control chemical that looks interestingly enough like cheese or sour cream.  Would you still feel safe in eating there?  Sure.  The employees can read.  Sure, they know the difference.  Are they ever rushed in a fast food kitchen?  Do mistakes ever happen?  Of course.  I’m guessing you would at least think twice or watch closely before you dine.

I understand that this scenario is preposterous because I would hope that some sort of federal regulations would forbid any toxic chemicals from being stored in a food preparation area.  No such federal regulations exist for people like me, although Massachusetts is moving forward with this type of thing.

While I trust that your training an certification was put forth with the best of intentions, you must understand that I question its implementation, practicality, and how it’s received and practiced by what amounts to be the first line of contact with your customers… the Taco Bell team member.  What exactly does the certification say?  Does each employee have it, or does a certification apply to an entire restaurant or shift?

I challenge you to quiz the workers at Taco Bells in various locations… inner city, suburbs, malls, and the combo units, and see how much the workers really know about cross-contamination and allergy issues and how they’re observed in a Taco Bell kitchen.  (Hopefully, they fare better than Subway employees.)

All that said, I appreciate and applaud the considerable thought and effort that has already gone into allergen awareness.  Spreading knowledge is the first step.  Did you know that May 9th-15th 2002 is the thirteenth annual Food Allergy Awareness Week?  Now is the time to act and inform, my friend!

I would certainly appreciate some Taco Bell Bucks, if you’ll understand that I may hold on to them until well after the current Pacific Shrimp Taco promotion is over. (Pending reviews, it may not last all that long, eh?) Taco Bell had previously been a shellfish-free Mexican-ish fast food haven for me for many many years.  I can’t tell you how many tacos I ate at the mall nearby to where I grew up when I was a teenager.  A dollar went much further at Taco Bell than it did at McDonald’s, Burger King or anywhere else in the food court.

My address is…

Eric Aixelsyd
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Pittsburgh, PA  XXXXX-XXXX

I would like to thank you once again for your time and the thoughtful informative reply.  I look forward to perhaps what may be a continued dialog about allergy awareness issues in the fast food industry, and more specifically relating to Taco Bell and other Yum! Brands.

-Eric

Wow, do I hope they write back.

The Mythical Magical McGangbang


You’ve heard of the McGangBang, right?  For the uninitiated, there’s a world out there of fast food items not listed on the menu that are available for your dining pleasure (and most likely for your digestive displeasure) if you’re in the know, and if the employees are in the know.  This list from McDonald’s alone is pretty impressive.  There are many others out there.  My friend Andy used to apparently get a “Volcano” from Taco Bell, which was described to me as a burrito with everything in it.  Now that they have volcano tacos & burritos that are something else entirely, that might be an ordering issue.  If you’ve got time to kill or your interest is piqued, it’s definitely worth Googling.

At any rate, while I have raised a legitimate issue with McDonald’s, and I have gotten one response so far… I decided to use my W(aL)D email address to address a ridiculous issue with them.  So, off to the McWebform I went!  Sadly, you’re forced to pick a category… none of which exactly fits my query.   I think I posted to “McDonald’s U.S. Marketing, Promotions, and Advertising“, but it seems like my answer was brought about by the “Unsolicited Idea Policy“.  Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.  On to the emails…

My original submission (via McWebform):

Hello Friends,

I was wondering if you are aware of the mythical magical McGang-Bang, and if at any time in the future, you man be adding it officially to your menu?

I believe it to be a McChicken sandwich stuffed inside a Double Cheeseburger, the new 99¢ McDouble, or even a Big Mac.  The exact specifics are a subject of hot debate, as this is a rare creature, like Bigfoot, el Chupacabra, or the Unicorn.  There is also debate on whether to discard an extra bun or down it whole.

If you do plan to offer this in the future, what would the proper spelling be?  McGangBang, McGangbang, McGang-Bang, or McGang-bang?  I could see how all options would be acceptable?

I’m not sure where the name comes from, but it sure is catchy.  (Much better than “Arch Deluxe”, no?)

I’d like to be able to go into a McDonald’s and order a McGang-Bang without being looked at like I’m crazy when it’s common knowledge among certain circles.

Thanks for your time, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the matter!

-E.

Their “we got it, we’ll get back to you” reply:

From: McDonald’s DoNotReply@mcdonalds.com
Date: Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 10:38 AM
Subject: McDonald’s Web Site Comment or Question
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Thank you for visiting McDonald’s website. Below is your email which has been submitted to McDonald’s Customer Response Center. While replies to this e-mail cannot be received, should you need to contact us again, please feel free to contact us through mcdonalds.com. Thank you.

Title: Mr.
First Name: ERiC
Last Name: AiXeLsyD
Mailing Address: ____ _______ _____ ____ __
City: Pittsburgh
State: PA
Zip: _____-____
Day Phone: 412-555-1212
Evening Phone: 412-555-1212
Contact Time: None.  Email please.
Your E-mail Address: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Comment: [What you just read above...]

Their “real” reply:

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
Date: Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 5:08 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Hello ERiC:

Thank you for contacting McDonald’s recently with your idea for a product or service that you believe would be of interest to us. We appreciate your interest in McDonald’s, but it is our company’s policy not to consider unsolicited ideas from outside the McDonald’s system. We have retained an electronic copy of your submission solely for our records.

It’s not that great ideas cannot come from people outside of McDonald’s. Each year, however, McDonald’s receives thousands of unsolicited ideas and proposals for products and services from individuals as well as companies. Because of the volume of unsolicited ideas and the difficulty of sorting out what is truly a “new” idea as opposed to a concept that has already been considered or developed by McDonald’s, we must adhere to a strict policy of not reviewing any unsolicited ideas that come from outside the McDonald’s family of employees, franchisees and approved suppliers. We realize that we may be missing out on a few good ideas, but we have had to adopt this policy for legal and business reasons.

As a result, we must decline your invitation to review your submission and hope you understand the reasons for this decision.

Again, thank you for thinking of McDonald’s.

Jessica
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6525973

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:
[You just read it above...]

Well, apparently my idea went to the wrong department, or someone that’s absolutely no fun.  I didn’t submit an idea!  I asked about a secret menu item…  Hopefully, as we’ve learned with most other web-forms, we submit again, and we get a different person responding.  Although, this looks curiously like a form letter.  Perhaps I should try again in a different category?  Should I ask for the email address of a real live person?  Perhaps I need to Google some names of high-up important McPeople and try to figure out the syntax of the company email addresses.  This worked with great success for me in the past with Boston Market.  Ha ha ha.

Also, I wondered on the Beat if putting a “Mc” in front of everything could be construed as racist?  As an American of Irish and Scottish descent, perhaps I should be taken aback by the flippant use of “Mc” in front of everything?  (By McDoanld’s, and even my own shockingly casual use.) It is after all, listed in the Racial Slur Database and in Wikipedia’s list of ethnic slurs.  Perhaps this is an idea to addressed in the future.  Dave was quick to point out though, that nothing is more racist than 365Black.  Wow.  Just…  Wow.  (…or McWow?) Also… What about leap day?  Is that a day off?

Find any of this amusing?  What’s the next step?