LIES ABOUT POTATO CHIPS


Today, I checked out a link on the Yahoo! site because it was simply titled “The Best Potato Chips“.  Well, I like potato chips… so I had to see what was up.  Well, the first annoying thing was that it said that there’s a list of 21 chips… but there are only 7 listen on the page… then the “Continue Reading…” link takes you to a slide show.  I hate slide show lists.  I want to see it all, right there in front of me, right away.  This isn’t a meeting, I don’t need a power point presentation.  These aren’t your vacation photos, I don’t need a slide show.

Turner Dairy | Chip DipThey did manage to recognize the awesome that is plain old ordinary Ruffles.  When I want to eat Turner’s chip dip, this is the chip that I must have.  Just ask anyone who works at the Rite Aid by my house.  I’m always there buying ruffles & Turner’s dip.  Really.  Just ask them…  “Is there a weird guy in here with crazy sideburns buying Turner’s Dip and Ruffles all the time?”  They’ll totally, be like “Yeah!”  I’m telling you.

As for the rest of this list though, it’s a lie.  Don’t believe it.  If the list had any credibility beyond being able to recognize the top of the line “ordinary” chip, it would have included Beer Chips or Snyder (of Berlin) Honey BBQ Chips.  There is just no excuse for these glaring omissions.  Shame on you, Shine From Yahoo!.  Shame on you.

BEER CHIPSI’ve written of Beer Chips before, here in my blog and at PittsburghBeat.com.  Why?  Because they’re awesome.  They’re next to impossible to put down.  I’m sure I could eat an entire bag without thinking about it, and probably have.  If we break them out when people are over, the bag disappears.  Kudos to the Beer Chips people on distribution, as I’ve seen them in places from Giant Eagle and Market District to Aldi.  You may have guessed that Beer Chips are chips somehow cooked with beer.  If you haven’t guessed this, then just stop reading, as all of this will be most likely lost on you anyway.  They’re sweet, they’re salty, and they do have a hint of a beer taste… but it’s ever so slight.  Of course, they also go great with a nice bottle of Yuengling, Straub, or Penn Pilsner in my experience.  Just writing this, I may have to stop at the store to get these next time I’m out.  They are that powerful.  I mean, I have beer in the ‘fridge, but how can I enjoy it now without Beer Chips?  I can’t.  That’s how.

Snyder of Berlin | Honey BBQ ChipsOn to the Snyder of Berlin Honey Bar-B-Q Potato Chips.  First off, I love honey BBQ in general.  Gooski’s Honey BBQ wings are one of my favorite foods ever.  You just  generally can’t go wrong with Honey BBQ.  I think my first experience with these was at camp.  They were out as a snack one night and I think I ate most of the bag.  I couldn’t stop.  Again, these have that incredible sweet/salty combination that is a win every time.  I know you can generally get them at most Sheetz locations, but it’s hit or miss if they’re there in Giant Eagle or wherever I happen to be grocery shopping.  If I see them, I just unconsciously grab them and only realize they’re in my hand or the grocery cart when I go to check out.  Now, one must beware of the Herr’s and Wise imitations.  Well, I don’t know who was really first… but for my own personal tastes, Snyder of Berlin is the standard Honey BBQ chip to which all others ought to be measured.  Actually, the Herr’s is an acceptable substitute if necessary, but the Wise ones are just inferior chips altogether.

Speaking of imitations, one of these days I need to get down to the Snyder of Berlin vs. Snyder’s of Hanover thing.  (There’s even a creepy Facebook group about the rift…) They each have that ominous and almost vindictive disclaimer on their packaging that they’re not associated with the other. Too weird.

Herr's | Ketchup ChipsThere are, of course, a few others worth mentioning…  Herr’s makes some bad-ass Ketchup flavored chips, some Salt & Pepper ones, and a bunch of other cool/weird flavors.  Utz makes a bunch of flavors and are quite decent chips.  (Is it “uhtz” or “ootz”?) Although, I see a “crab” flavor, and that scares me a little.  I may have to write to them about that.  Snyder of Berlin also has a ton of interesting varieties, another of my favorites being the kettle-cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper chips.

You may thank me that you’re now more informed on the subject of the best potato chips than the average Shine From Yahoo! reader.  I’d be interested to see if you agree with me or if you’re just wrong.  Please feel free to talk about your favorites in the comments section!

Dog Turds and Toothbrushes


Amused & annoyed by the lack of formal response from Subway, I decided to reboot (again with editing help from Dave).  I sent a new message via the webform (luckily this time it fell within their character limit), and also via snail mail:

Hello Friends!

This message is less about a specific Subway location, and more about Subway practices in general.

I hear from recent news reports that Subway has their cheese tessellation issues under control and will assert a more correct cheese placement this July.  Independence for dairy goodness!

Although I was worried about the cheese triangle issue, I am still more concerned about food allergen and cross-contamination awareness in Subway Employees and Sandwich Artists.

Are you aware of how many people out there suffer from some sort of food allergy?  I believe it’s 11% of the population.  Myself, I’m affected with a severe allergy to shellfish.  I can’t eat in your fine stores unless they’re the small ones in places like Wal-Mart that don’t serve the deadly dreaded seafood death sub.

Not only does the creamy death-inducing concoction reside right beside the other meat, the cheeses, and toppings; it often spews all over the open containers when it’s scooped out with that poor miserable ice-cream scoop.

Then we have the community knife.  If one were to cut someone’s seafood sub with that knife, wipe it off, then cut my sub, there are STILL allergens on that knife, enough allergens to kill me.  Do you want me to be thrown in to an Anaphylactic fit?  I doubt it.  Well, at least, I hope not.

Think about this – do you share your toothbrush with everyone in your household?  Would you with everyone in your office?  Would you share it with everyone that you pass on the way to work in the morning or with everyone who’s eating lunch with you at the same place where you’re choosing to dine?

Yes, it sounds gross, but those potential germs that you’re no doubt currently horrified of are the same as the very real allergens that will most certainly throw me into instant death.

If that didn’t do it for you, imagine I put a giant dried dog turd on the sandwich board, cut it in half, wrapped it, wiped off the knife, and then cut your sandwich.  By Subway’s current logic, that knife is clean and contamination free.  This is most certainly not a pretty picture to you, my friend.  Is it?

I really am looking forward to your thoughts on this issue.  I hope to have a continued dialog until the issue is brought to the attention of those in charge of such things.

I thank you in advance for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Blowing your mind,
-Eric

P.S. – I was wondering, when you work in an office for Subway, do you have an in-office Subway in which the employees receive (or make) their own lunch?  Or, is there a Subway nearby where you get free or discounted food?  Or, are you all too sick of Subway to eat there?

Letters to Subway

Letters to Subway

I had to resort to snail mail to see if I get a better response.  Emails are sadly all too easy to ignore.  Unless you’re persistent, I guess.  I did get a response from Paula Gomez again, this time in direct response to the above message sent via direct email, not the webform:

From: Paula Gomez gomez_p@subway.com
Date: Thu, Jun 24, 2010
Subject: Subway & Allergen Cross-Contamination
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr Aixelsyd:

Thank you again for your time and sharing your comments. We value the input of our customers and take this as an opportunity to improve our business and satisfy our guests.

The Company policy directs our independent restaurant owners / operators to take all necessary precautions to prevent the possibility of cross contamination. This includes the policy of washing all utensils and containers after each use. Each restaurant is independently owned and operated and is the responsibility of the franchise owner to implement and enforce the policy.

We will ensure that this important message is reiterated with each restaurant to ensure that proper procedures are followed.

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to contact us. SUBWAY® looks forward to your continued visits.

Sincerely

Paula Gomez

***DISCLAIMER***

The information contained in this e-mail and attachments, if any, is confidential and may be subject to legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not use, copy, distribute or disclose the e-mail and its attachment, or any part of its content or take any action in reliance of it. If you have received this e-mail in error please e-mail the message back to the sender by replying and then deleting it. We cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage arising from the use of this e-mail or attachments and recommend that you subject these to your virus checking procedures prior to use. Thank you.

Well, at least she remembers that I contacted them before… but I don’t think she remembers her previous responses.  I think I was assured that they all go through training.  I asked about the training, and didn’t get any solid replies.  Now, it seems to be all on the responsibility of each individual owner/operator.

Sadly but not surprisingly, my postscript about the in-office Subway situation went unanswered.  I’m guessing that’s what puts it over the top… even though I had previously mentioned the thought of a community toothbrush and a dog turd in a food prep area.

I’ll wait for some other responses (if I get any), and try to ratchet this up a notch or two.

Papal Participation in Lenten Lunacy


A while ago, I decided to write a goofy letter to the Pope about shellfish & Lent.  It was surprisingly very easy to find the Pope’s email address online.  I wrote an email, and again got some editing/revision help from Dave, and sent it off to the Pontiff himself.  Here’s that email…

from ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
to benedictxvi@vatican.va
subject My struggles with Lent & dietary concerns…
mailed-by gmail.com

Good Day Your Holiness,

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find your email address with a quick Google search! I find it fascinating as well as endearing that you make yourself so accessible to the world, and embrace this new technology. I’m not sure if this is monitored and directed by yourself, or your trusted staff, but either way… I salute your effort. Also, I’m not sure if this would need to go through translators, or not. Perhaps I should use Google translator and post the results after my message in English?

I’m sure you are quite a busy man, especially in preparation for the upcoming Easter holiday, so I will try to make my point as succinctly as possible.

I would like to express my frustrations with the Lent season and the proliferation of seafood specials on Fridays at nearly every restaurant where I would otherwise be happy to dine. You see, I have a severe shellfish allergy, this makes dining out an adventure under normal circumstances. During Lent, restaurants that normally have minimal or no shellfish selections seem to produce them out of nowhere. This really hampers my ability to dine out comfortably, if at all.

With any cross-contamination, I can go into anaphylactic shock almost immediately. This means if I have a steak or piece of chicken that touches a grill where some lobster was just cooked, or if I have onion rings from the same fryer that was also cooking shrimp; I would begin the process with an internal itching/burning sensation in my Eustachian tube and rapidly closing bronchi.

I would like to ask if you could perhaps add shellfish (and possibly even regular fish) to the list of recommendations of things that one ought to give up in observation of lent. They are part of the “big 8” allergens in the world today. It would really help out a lot of followers & non-followers out there, being able to dine during the Lenten season in complete comfort! I figured that as the Pope, you’re in the best position to propose and act upon a movement of such magnitude.

You might even be able to offer up an explanation at why people have been eating fish for the lent season for so long, now that it’s no longer really an inconvenience. This would be in line with your call to return to stricter Christian values, no? Perhaps it would dispel the rumors that the Catholic Church of yore was in league with a local fishmonger and pushed fish on lent solely (pun intended – would that pun translate well into German? See, “sole” is a type of fish, and is also the root word to “solely” meaning singular…) to raise profits for the fishmonger, who in turn would up the amount of his tithe to the church. I can only assume that this is a rumor, as I find different versions of the tale on the internet, and no real concrete evidence to back any of the allegations.

I’m not Catholic myself, but am a Protestant (United Church of Christ, more specifically). I would say that in recent times we’re “on the same team” though, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps Peter didn’t intend to include shellfish when he repealed the laws of clean and unclean animals put forth in Leviticus? Perhaps something was lost in translation?

I have one final idea. For Lent, all devout Christians ought to revert to a strict kosher diet. This would certainly strengthen ties with our Jewish friends and put more emphasis on the kind of Passover meal that Jesus would have had with his disciples at the last supper. I would think that this is wholly appropriate for this time of year, and it certainly helps me with my dining problem. Perhaps I ought to just convert and stick to kosher delis and grocery stores? Ha ha ha.

I would like to thank you for your time, and truly cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the subject at hand. I also look forward to a possible continued dialog about faith, shellfish, and allergies.

Humbly,
-Eric

Google translation:

Guten Tag Eure Heiligkeit,

Ich war angenehm überrascht, wie einfach es ist, Ihre E-Mail-Adresse mit einem schnelle Google-Suche finden! Ich finde es faszinierend wie liebenswert, dass Sie sich so der Welt zugänglich zu machen, und die neue Technologie. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob dies überwacht wird und von Ihnen selbst gerichtet, oder Ihren Mitarbeitern vertrauen, aber so oder so … Ich begrüße Ihre Bemühungen. Also, ich bin nicht sicher, ob diese müssten durch Übersetzer, oder nicht. Vielleicht sollte ich Google-Übersetzer zu wenden, und nach den Ergebnissen nach meiner Nachricht in Englisch?

Ich bin sicher, Sie haben völlig ein viel beschäftigter Mann, vor allem im Hinblick auf die bevorstehenden Osterferien, also werde ich versuchen, meinen Standpunkt ebenso knapp wie möglich zu machen.

Ich möchte meinen Frust mit der Fastenzeit und der Verbreitung von Meeresfrüchte-Spezialitäten am Freitag um fast jedem Restaurant, wo ich nicht anders ausdrücken würde sich freuen, zu speisen. Sehen Sie, ich einen schweren Schalentiere Allergie haben, das macht einem Dinner ein Abenteuer unter normalen Umständen. In der Fastenzeit, Restaurants, die normalerweise keine oder eine minimale Auswahl Muscheln scheinen zu ihrer Herstellung aus dem Nichts. Dies behindert wirklich meine Fähigkeit zu speisen sich behaglich, wenn überhaupt.

Mit eine Kreuzkontamination kann ich in einen anaphylaktischen Schock gehen fast sofort. Dies bedeutet, wenn ich ein Steak oder ein Stück Huhn berührt haben, dass ein Grill, wo einige Hummer nur gekocht wurde, oder wenn ich Zwiebelringe aus der gleichen Friteuse das war auch das Kochen Garnelen, ich würde den Prozess mit einem internen Juckreiz begin / Brennen in meiner Tuba und schnell schließen Bronchien.

Ich möchte fragen, ob Sie vielleicht könnten Muscheln (und möglicherweise sogar regelmäßig Fisch) in die Liste der Empfehlungen der Dinge, die man aufgeben, in der Beobachtung der Fastenzeit soll hinzuzufügen. Sie sind Teil der “Big 8” Allergene in der heutigen Welt. Es wäre wirklich sehr helfen, von Anhängern und nicht-Anhänger gibt, in der Lage, die während der Fastenzeit im kompletten Komfort zu speisen! Ich dachte, wie der Papst, Sie in der besten Position zu schlagen und die Reaktion auf eine Bewegung von solcher Tragweite sind.

Man könnte sogar in der Lage sein Angebot bis auf eine Erklärung, warum Menschen wurden Verzehr von Fisch für die Fastenzeit so lange, jetzt, da es nicht mehr wirklich ein Nachteil. Dies stünde im Einklang mit Ihren Anruf, um strengere christlichen Werte zurückgeben, nicht wahr? Vielleicht wäre es die Gerüchte, dass die katholische Kirche von einst wurde in der Liga mit einem örtlichen Fischhändler und schob Fisch auf nur geliehen (pun intended zerstreuen – wäre das Wortspiel auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen? See, “allein” ist eine Art von Fisch, und ist auch die Wurzel Wort “ausschließlich” bedeutet Singular …), um Gewinne für die Fischhändler, der seinerseits würde die Höhe seiner Zehnten der Kirche zu erheben. Ich kann nur annehmen, dass dies ein Gerücht ist, wie ich verschiedene Versionen der Geschichte im Internet zu finden, und keine wirkliche konkrete Beweise vorzulegen, um die Behauptungen zurück.

Ich bin nicht katholisch mich, aber ich bin ein Protestant (United Church of Christ, genauer gesagt). Ich würde sagen, dass in der letzten Zeit sind wir “auf der gleichen Mannschaft” aber nicht würden Sie zustimmen? Vielleicht Peter hatte nicht vor, Schalentiere, wenn er aufgehoben den Gesetzen der reinen und unreinen Tieren setzte sich weiter in Levitikus enthalten? Vielleicht etwas in der Übersetzung verloren?

Ich habe noch eine letzte Idee. Für die Fastenzeit, die alle gläubigen Christen sollten eine strenge koschere Ernährung zurückzukehren. Dies würde sicherlich zur Stärkung der Beziehungen mit unseren jüdischen Freunden und legen mehr Gewicht auf die Art des Passah-Mahl, das Jesus mit seinen Jüngern beim letzten Abendmahl hätte. Ich würde denken, das ist ganz angemessen für diese Zeit des Jahres, und es sicherlich hilft mir bei meinem Esszimmer Problem. Vielleicht sollte ich erst konvertieren und halten Sie sich Feinkostläden und Lebensmittelgeschäften koscher? Ha ha ha.

Ich möchte Ihnen für Ihre Zeit danken und kann wirklich nicht warten, bis Sie Ihre Meinung zu diesem Thema an die Hand zu hören. Ich freue mich auch auf einen möglichen weiteren Dialog über den Glauben, Muscheln und Allergien.

Demütig
-Eric

Yes, that’s a crudely copy n’ pasted Google translation, and I have no idea if it made any sense at all in German.  Judging by some of the bounce-backs that I received, it may have been stopped by some SPAM filters.

As expected, it went a couple of weeks without a response, so I looked up some other addresses at the Vatican, and for national & local Catholic organizations, and wrote this little forward to send to a bunch of them, along with the original email…

Hello Friends,

I recently sent an email to Pope Benedict XVI regarding some allergy concern issues that I have surrounding Lent, and possible modification of policies on the Church’s policy of not eating meat on Fridays.

I realize that the Pope is probably the busiest man in the world.  He is the head of an organization that transcends many country, political, and cultural borders… and he has many important duties, most especially in this holy time of year.

I was wondering if you would perhaps be able to direct me to someone who would be better suited to open a dialogue about my concerns noted below?

Thank you for your time, and thank you in advance for your help!
-Eric

Finally, we have a response, and not surprisingly, it’s from someone at a local level…

from Gretz, Rev James R <jgretz@diopitt.org>
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
cc “Bielewicz, Vy Rev Harry R.” <hbielewicz@diopitt.org>,
“Wagner, Laura L” <lwagner@diopitt.org>
date Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM
subject My struggles with Lent & dietary concerns…
mailed-by diopitt.org

Eric,

Peace and greetings to you.  Your letter sent to many in the Diocesan Offices eventually came to me as the Director of the Department for Worship.  I will attempt to answer your concerns as best as possible.

It is wonderful that our Holy Father is accessible via the internet.  He did recently challenge priests and the Church to better use electronic media for reaching out to people.  Thus my email response to you!

While I am not in marketing, I do see the proliferation of restaurants attempting to make a profit with the “target audience” each Lenten Season.  I guess that’s how business works.  At the same time, I do sympathize with your allergy plight.  Personally, I do not suffer with allergies, however, my late mother had one to lactose and it was very difficult to take her out to dinner.  I know of others who suffer with “celiac-sprue” – the allergy to gluten and wheat products.  That too is a horrible cross to bear.  My mother and the others solved it by frequenting only the restaurants that would gladly serve their needs.  I would suggest the same.

The discipline of abstinence, refraining from meat products, actually has an ancient history.  I too know of the truly legendary stories of fishmongers and their unions, if you will!  However, the discipline goes back to an extant document of the early Second Century known as the “Didache” or “The Lord’s Instruction to the Twelve Apostles”.  You mentioned the kosher diet.  So, yes, when we think of Jewish people, that dietary style comes to mind.  That was the intent of the Didache.  The early Church wanted to have their own dietary laws to make them distinctive as well, hence abstinence, especially on Friday, the day our Lord died for us, so that we too might suffer a little with Him.  That is our mark on the world, if you will.  I seem to recall that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops back in the 1990’s was discussing this discipline and perhaps returning it to all Fridays of the year.  The objection was that since many are refraining from red meat in general and more people are vegans, what does abstinence mean to the modern world?  Of course, the discipline remains for the Lenten Season, however, it is good to dream as to what the modern version of abstinence might be….

Which, then, leads me to your final thoughts about adopting the kosher diet for Lent.  Actually, if all people really embraced the meaning of the Lenten Season – a time for conversion and returning to the Lord – we would definitely have a much better world.

If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to contact me.  Until then, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. James R. Gretz

Rev. James R. Gretz, M.Div., M.T.S.
Director, Department for Worship
Diocesan Master of Ceremonies
Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

2900 Noblestown Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA  15205
voice: 412-456-3041
fax: 412-456-3163

+++++++++++

Someone took this letter quite seriously!  I wonder if I’ll hear from anyone else… and I’m wondering how to continue form this point on.  It certainly is fun to see my W(aL)D insanity taken seriously.  It is fun to know that I got a response.  No offense intended here, but I always viewed the Catholic Church as a little “stuffy”.  Maybe they’re mellowing out in this digital age?

Pandora’s Lunchbox


Heh.  Twitter is fun.  So, you may know that I have my W(aL)D Twitter account, and I use it to be goofy.  I think I re-opened the Subway door here.  Mayhaps this time I’ll get some sort of resolution?

Today, Subway Freshbuzz tweeted the following…

Does anybody else out there try to save half of their $5 Footlong for a 2nd meal, only to be called back by its delicious siren song?

So, I posted this in response…

@subwayfreshbuzz Nope. Not when 1 bite is a potential trip to the E.R. thanks to cross-contamination in the food-prep area.

Tonight, I have this in my Direct Message box…

subwayfreshbuzz Thanks for the feedback. It would be great if you could let us know more about this incident on our cust. service page  http://bit.ly/bhSAn

Well, at least I have someone paying attention!  I sent them a link to my original complaint to Subway, but I’d like to list the whole saga here… in case I need them to refer back to the message trail at some point…

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.

• October 28, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

Subway Customer ID: 1918316

• October 29, 2009 • 7 Comments (Edit)

Quiznos writes back before Subway!

• November 12, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

So, we have a response from Subway! – Not really a response, if you ask me…

• November 13, 2009 • 2 Comments (Edit)

The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ and the diminutive hand model…

• November 17, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

“You never told me you spoke my language, Doctor Jones.”

• November 18, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½. – No doubt.

• November 20, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

Subway®: “First, allow me to apologize.” – Again, this really wasn’t a nice response, or a response at all…

• November 24, 2009 • 4 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance.
– I had to take it somewhere else.

• November 25, 2009 • 6 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Annoyance, Alliteration, & Acceptance

• December 21, 2009 • 1 Comment (Edit)

A little background on my shellfish allergy before I write my next rant of a blog…


Note: I started writing this the other day, and got to a point tonight where it’s so wordy that I’d like it to simply serve as a background to the next blog to show you where I’m coming from, or as the first part to a sort of “To be continued…”


So, Sunday night we had just come home from our 3rd day of Christmas celebration in a row.  Needless to say, we were in a great mood, but pretty tired.  I got online to check my email and see what was up in the world of Facebook, and Yahoo! pointed me to an interesting article from Reader’s Digest that made me wretch in horror and disgust.  This also pointed to several other articles and blogs around the web that divulge the disgusting inexcusable practices of the people who handle your food daily.

Granted, the actions & situations described are certainly not representative of the majority of your wait staff, servers, managers, cooks, chefs, etc. out there… but I find any number of this kind of attitude and described behaviors to be unacceptable.  I was so flustered, I decided to pop some things up on an old message board just so I could sort them out later.  I’m not even sure I’m at a point where they’re all sorted out, but I wanted to get writing while this was still somewhat of a fresh topic to me.  This was initially just an allergy issue to me, but several other side issues have popped up upon further review.  Please, bear with me if I jump form subject to subject before I try to reel it all in.

Generally, I’d like to think that my blogs are mostly amusing… any complaining is usually done within the context of humor, and only marginally serious.  I have used this & other platforms to comment on the state of customer service in the food industry before… generally at the “bottom rung” of fast food places as this is where I usually end up due to dietary needs (no shellfish) and budget issues.

This one, however, is serious to me… and I hope I don’t come off as just ranting, and that the seriousness of these issues is conveyed.

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… there’s just all kinds of stuff that can run through one’s head.  Like not washing a knife when it cuts one thing then another, shares spaces in refrigerators where things may drip on to other things, places where you might grab pizza toppings like crab meat or shrimp without washing your hands before dipping into the next topping, a friend of mine has even told me he had a piece of shrimp show up in his scrambled eggs at an IHOP once… and I believe the same friend even told me that they had a long and heated argument with the servers at a Chinese place where the ‘vegetarian’ eggs rolls contained crab because “crab is not meat”.  Oops… Death!  (Usually I sadly avoid any Chinese places anyway because of the shared cooking surfaces & probably delicious sauces that can be made with oysters or ground brine shrimp.) This basically makes me never able to completely relax in a restaurant where I’m supposed to be out enjoying myself… it’s an odd paradox.

Generally I can find a safe dish if pressed, and especially if I call ahead… but I need to be in an adventurous mood.

Dining out is an important social activity… a very common social activity that brings with it high levels of anxiety for someone like myself.  Not only from the aforementioned game of Russian Roulette Kitchen Edition, but from explaining my allergy to people.  Yes, anxiety from explaining to friends, family, business associates, your server, and anyone else who may inquire as to why you don’t want to try a great new seafood place or even Red Lobster or Long John Silver’s.  Not only can it be embarrassing where it really shouldn’t be… but it inevitable goes down something like this…

Not me:  “Let’s go to T.G.I. Friday’s”

Me:  “Well, I can’t really eat much there besides a salad or a baked potato.”

Not me:  “Huh?” [Looking at me like I’m an alien.]

Me:  “Well, I have a severe shellfish allergy.  I can’t eat anything like shrimp or lobster, or any cooking surfaces that it touches”

Not me:  “Oh, well just don’t order any.”

Me:  “Well, that’s not enough.  I’ve had a trip to the hospital just from eating onion rings fried in the same fryer as shrimp.  If they have grilled shrimp, I can’t get anythign off of the grill… if they have fried shrimp, I can’t get anything out of the fryer.”

Not me:  “Well, can you get steak?”

Me:  “No, they probably make that on a grill.”

Not me:  “Well, can’t you get chicken?”

[Mind you, I have ad this conversation with seemingly intelligent reasonable people.]

Me:  “Well, no… if it’s grilled, well… we covered that, and if it’s fried… that’s a no go either.”

Not me:  “Well, that sucks.  What about … [Names 400 other restaurants, all with prominent shellfish dishes on the menu]… I don’t think they have any shellfish.”

Me: “No.  No.  No.  Nope.  Unh-uh.  No.  No. Nope.  No… ” ad nauseum.  I suggest somewhere else, usually less “classy” because let’s face it… those are the places with no shellfish.

Not me:   “Sigh, OK.”

[I look/feel like an idiot.]

Then sometimes, one of these gems gets tossed in…

Not me:  “Well, that’s just stupid.  I’ve never heard of that.” or “There’s no such thing as food allergies.”

Yes, because you have never heard of it, I must be wrong.  Off to Joe’s Crab Shack!

Not me:  “My uncle Jim’s wife’s neighbor’s cousin’s roomate’s gerbil’s vet’s dry cleaner’s podiatrist was allergic to jelly beans, and he ate a quarter of a jelly bean and swelled up and went to the hospital and stuff and just kept eating bigger pieces until he built up a tolerance”.

Not me:  “Have you tried it lately?  My mechanic’s wife’s niece’s ex-husband had a neighbor who outgrew his allergy to strawberries.”

First off, this type of behavior is stupid… even if the story is real.  It is possible to build up tolerances (allergy shots), and to outgrow allergies… I am well aware of my limitations and have been told by more than one allergy doctor that my allergy is to great to attempt allergy shots and that I’ll never outgrow it.

My favorite comes from family & old friends…

Not me:  “You used to eat at Long John Silver’s!  You can’t be that allergic.”

I know. It’s WEIRD. I get it. Believe me, I get it.  I ate shrimp like a madman when I was young, and each exposure to shellfish since I discovered the allergy kind of seems like the bee sting thing to me, each “attack” gets worse.  After the last one… I don’t want another one.  But science seems to lean toward this being more random and not a straight road to a deadly end.  I really don’t want to be the guy to solve/prove that one.

And, please… if I do go to a restaurant to eat out with you… don’t orders shrimp or lobster and ask me if it’s OK.  Every fiber of my being is screaming “No, it’s not OK.  What are you, a psychopathic masochist that’s into mental torture?” while I tell you it won’t bother me.  Again, clearly my own demon to wrestle with… but really, do you want to be that person?

Still, I feel pressure all the time to just go with the flow, deal with it, and order a salad.  Believe me, a salad more often may be a good idea in my case.  It’s still just not an enjoyable or relaxing thing for me at that point.  We may be conversing, but I’m obsessing over every unidentifiable piece of everything in the dressing and really not processing much of what you’re saying.  Imagine that I told you there’s a box of rat poison in the kitchen right on the shelf between the flour and the sugar, they’re all in identical unmarked jars and there’s only one scoop used in all of ’em.  Do you wanna eat there?

This is really just to show you where I’m coming from.  I realize that it’s not your problem.  I realize that I have some real issues to deal with surrounding my problem.  I realize that this is not a terminal illness or anything that serious.  I’m not trying to get a pity party going for myself.  This is simply to let you know what’s bouncing around in my mind.

It hopefully won’t be long until my next not-unrelated blog… basically pulling quotes form the aforementioned articles and responding one by one.

I’d really like to hear everyone’s opinions of my rant here… am I out of line?  Over-dramatic?  Illustrative?  Insane?  Do you think like me?  Do you have an allergy?

Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance.


I didn’t like Subway’s response, so the issue has been passed along to the allergy people. I forwarded the entire conversation along with this explanatory note…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:55 AM
Subject: Allergy Concerns & Subway Restaurants
To: Info@aafa.org, info@worldallergy.org, info@aaaai.org, t.wirth@sfaft.org, webmaster@foodallergy.org, help@allergysupport.org, help@foodallergyadvocate.com, niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov, jlieu@aanma.org, mszegedy@aanma.org, info@faiusa.org, lmitchell@kidswithfoodallergies.org, nicole@allergicchild.com

 

Aloha Allergy Afflicted Amigos,

Please see my experience with Subway’s lack of concern for allergens and cross-contamination highlighted below, surrounded by their ensuing lack of customer service/respect. Their final unapologetic apology can be viewed on my blog.

I find their lack of concern quite disturbing. What can be done to make companies like this more aware of these issues that can be deadly for a certain percent of the population?

While shellfish is surely simple to sidestep, what about my peeps that are petrified by peanuts, terrans that are terrified by tree-nuts, friends that are fearful of fish, my mates that are mired by milk, my sidekicks that are scared of soy, or my well-wishers that are weary of wheat?

Thank you in advance for your time, and I hope you have a safe & happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Always Anti-Anaphylaxis,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½.


Wow, amazingly… Quiznos is still on the job, and Subway is still not.

The W(aL)D inbox was empty today, save for this…

From: HelpDesk <HelpDesk@quiznos.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 2:36 PM
Subject: FW: The Quiznos Toasty TorpedoT ads?
To: FO Marketing <FOmarketing@quiznos.com>
Cc: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Thank you for your response back. Greg is currently out of the office so I will forward your comments on to our marketing team for you.

Rebecca Chamberlain

Help Desk Associate

QUIZNOS®

Subs • Soups • Salads

Our friends at Subway have still not written back… even though I was told by Mack Bridenbaker that Paula Gomez from Customer Care would address my concerns.

We also have another Quiznos email address to add to the collection.

If you need to catch up, here’s a time-line on this one:

  • I write to Subway about allergens, cross-contamination, hygiene, the $5 footlong campaign and Jared:  $5 Foot Up Your Ass. [Oct. 28, 2009]
  • Subway (Anna Seely, Customer Care) sends back a form letter that I in turn reply to: Customer ID: 1918316 [Oct. 29, 2009]
  • I send it to Quiznos to get a comment, and they (Tony Jones, Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region & Gregory Boudreaux, Help Desk Lead) do:  Quiznos writes back before Subway – To put this in perspective I also tried to get comments from Sheetz, Jimmy John’s, & Jersey Mike’s – w/o so much as even a form letter generic response (wtf? seriously.) …and re-sent the concerns to Subway noting that it had been a while since they’d received my mail with no reply. [Nov. 1o & 11, 2009]
  • Response from Subway (Mack Bridenbaker, Subway Spokesperson) saying someone (Paula Gomez, Customer Care) will address my concerns:  Sort of a response from Subway [Nov. 13, 2009]
  • Since I have a good already open dialogue, I write to Quiznos about the little hands in the Toasty Torpedo Ads:  Are those midget hands? [Nov. 17, 2009]
  • Quiznos (Tony Jones, Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region) writes back, amused:  Have you ever thought of getting into an independent consulting capacity… or maybe franchise news journaling? [Nov. 17, 2009]
  • Today, Quiznos (Rebecca Chamberlain, Help Desk Associate) writes back, to tell me that she’s passing on my email, and that someone else from the marketing team will get back to me.  Awesome.

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½(The responses saying you’ll get a response are only worth ½ in my point system, OK?)

So there you have it.  Quiznos is awesome.  Subway is not.

What is “FO Marketing” though?

At any rate, please let me know what you think of the insanity… and where I should go from here.

 

 

 

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.


So last night, I snapped. I have finally seen and heard my fill of Subway commercials.

Granted, there are certainly more annoying ad campaigns out there right now, and there will be in the future. But this snap sparked the ignition of the realization that I used to love Subway, and now I hate it. There’s no one reason, or even a real reason. There’s nothing that a rational person can do to change any of it or for it to make any difference or have any significance.

That’s where World (and Lunar) Domination steps in.  You may have seen my letters to companies on past message boards or blogs… maybe not.  From time to time I get goofy, and take it out on corporate America.  Sometimes the responses are serious, boring, nonexistent, intentionally funny, or unintentionally funny.

I have been encouraged to keep these rants somewhere, hence this WordPress blog.

I submitted the following (with some editing help from my friend Dave) via webform at Subway.com:

Hello Sandwich Art Dealers,

I’d like to start out by saying I find that web submission comment forms are generally a letdown. As the submitter you’re usually sent a ‘form letter’ type of reply that doesn’t address any specific issues, and thanks you for the input. Less often, it’s followed up by a seemingly more caring missive that really doesn’t address anything specific, and sometimes attempts to placate the sender with some coupons, a T-shirt or something to that effect. It’s also generally a letdown, because I can’t cc myself a copy of what I sent, and it’s a 50/50 shot of whether my original comments are to be included in any future correspondence. Then there’s the issue of the dreaded “Your message exceeds XXXX characters” error message. When did someone’s opinion become relegated to a set limit of letters, numbers, and punctuation, my friends?

At any rate, I should move on to the point of my web form submission, as I’m sure you’ll agree by this point. I write to you today to express my general dissatisfaction with the state of Subway as it stands today.

At the top of the list: the inclusion of the seafood sub on your menu. This has plagued me for years. I have a severe shellfish allergy, and will go into anaphylactic shock if any food that I ingest were to come into contact with crab, lobster, shrimp, oyster, etc., or even the same food prep area. I have seen more than a few Subway employees who aren’t exactly sanitary in their sandwich artistry, flinging microscopic bits of crab (or imitation crab) meat all over the adjacent meats, cheeses, vegetables, and cutting board area. The last time I had this discussion with a slovenly employee at the Subway in the Kuhn’s Plaza on Banksville Road in Pittsburgh, PA… as I explained that my sandwich must not touch any shellfish or remnants of shellfish she touched the eternally-damned-to-the-wrong-function ice cream scoop that had been sitting in the red and white pile of mushy death and swung it all around spewing certain doom to the immediate food prep area and all the while exclaiming something to the effect of “Well, that’s OK, no one ever orders this stuff anyway.” I just stared blankly in disbelief as a reply. If she didn’t already know what her sandwich-baggied hands had just touched and distributed the contaminant that I had previously noted was a toxin to my system, then there was no way I was going to be able to impart this wisdom to her. I found myself having to exit on that occasion, to never return to that location.

Are sandwich artists trained in the ways of sanitary work stations, cross contamination, allergens, and general good hygiene? One would hope, but the question has been raised.

How can I complain about Subway if I never eat there, you ask?

— Message 1 of 2 — To be continued

Hilariously enough, their webform did only allow 3000 characters, so I had to split the message into two parts…

— Message 2 of 2 — Continued from previous message

I did discover that I could get my Subway fix due to the limited-menu Subway located inside the WAL-MART in Heidelberg, PA. After all, as I’m sure you know… the smell of your bread baking is intoxicating. Sadly my friends, that is where the romance ends. I used to applaud the meatball sub from Subway, and held it as the standard to which all meatball subs were to be measured. This was once upon a time when the bread was doughy, the triangle was removed from the top, and replaced… keeping the meatballs secure in a blanket of cheese to ensure safe delivery to my digestive system. I know, this was a lifetime ago, but it still burns, amigos. It still burns. (I even remember the waffle fries that went through their own tiny toaster oven which have sadly gone the way of the Dodo.)

Have you seen the Left-Handed Cartoon about Subway, cheese tessellation, and soul-crushing disappointment? A friend of mine posted the humorous drawing on a message board a while ago… and sadly it rings true of the current state of Subway. (It’s located at http://www.lefthandedtoons.com/77/ for your reference if needed.)

Lastly, I find the current crop of five-dollar foot long commercials to be among the most annoying in the world… especially the one with Jared and the football players. What advertising company actually took money for that? Hopefully it was an in house idea. If not, then you were played (as they say in the streets).

As noted in my opening paragraph, I understand that is customary to include a trite reply and coupons in apology for dissatisfaction. If so inclined… please make sure they’re for Jersey Mike’s, Quiznos, or Sheetz. (FYI, Sheetz touts a far superior foot-long sub for only $4… This reminds me of when you guys started toasting subs after Quiznos moved to town.) I would include W.G. Grinder’s, but they recently started serving a crab-cake sub, so they’re also on ‘the list’. Perhaps a Jimmy John’s coupon would work? They’re fairly new to the Pittsburgh area, and I’ve yet to go to one… I wouldn’t mind trying them out! Jersey Mike’s is by far my favorite though. They’re not the cheapest, but worth the price in quality! Being a national chain, you may not be familiar with local Pittsburgh area heavyweights Carhops or Uncle Sam’s. They would be sandwich makers to emulate!

If you’re not comfortable providing a coupon to a direct competitor, I understand completely. I would also appreciate any discounts from Qdoba, Chipotle, or the Pita Pit.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to your personally tailored reply, and perhaps a continuing dialog on Subway’s sandwich artists, advertising, and overall quality of the name brand.

Best Regards,
-Eric AiXeLsyD
W(aL)D

I hope the emails go to the same person, and aren’t split across some you-take-this-one,-I’ll-get-the-next-one kind of automated system.

Thanks again to Dave for the editing and re-arranging help, the chaos needs reigned in every once in a while.

Can’t wait to see if we get a reply to this one!