Chick-fil-A’s response: “It’s not you, it’s me.”


Chick-fil-A wrote back to me, and sadly I predicted that they’d give me the “no unsolicited ideas” speech which is equivalent to the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.  Shenanigans, I tell you.

From: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM
Subject: Chick-fil-A Response
To: <me@my.email.address>

Dear Valued Customer:

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A.  You are very important to us, and we appreciate your suggestion regarding the cup holders.  We hope the following information will be helpful.

Chick-fil-A is fortunate to have many loyal customers. Many of these fans take the time and effort to inquire about sharing their own ideas about ways they wish to see us improve – whether it is adding a specific new product, service or feature. We are grateful for our customers’ intent, and this motivates us to work even harder to keep improving.

Unfortunately, it is our corporate policy not to accept or consider any unsolicited creative ideas. This is a difficult decision because we realize that by following this policy, Chick-fil-A may miss out on some great ideas from our customers. We would rather miss out on some of these ideas than to risk any potential future misunderstanding should Chick-fil-A develop or already have developed a product, service, or feature that may seem similar to a customer’s idea.

We hope you will understand the reasons for our policy. You can view our Unsolicited Ideas Policy at www.chick-fil-a.com/Legal (under Submissions) for more information on this issue. Beyond this policy, we gladly welcome customers’ feedback about their restaurant experiences.

We appreciate your family’s loyalty, and we look forward to serving you all at Chick-fil-A for many years to come.  Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A.

Sincerely,

Cheala
Chick-fil-A CARES
Chick-fil-A…We Didn’t Invent The Chicken,
Just The Chicken Sandwich.
On the Web at www.chick-fil-a.com

P.S.  Please retain your ticket number.  This will help us locate your information should you need us again.

{ticketno:[8002084683]}

So, of course I wrote back…

From: <me@my.email.address>
Date: Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: Chick-fil-A Response
To: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>

Hello Cheala,

Any idea how I can get my idea solicited?  I’m honestly not interested in monetary compensation, I just don’t want to spill my drinks.  Has anyone run this by Mr. Cathy?  He’s responded to my emails before, and I understand that he’s a shrewd business man as well as a great family man.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want drinks spilling on anyone… and that he’d like to pick up a free idea.

Thanks once again for your time & help!

My pleasure,

-Eric

Wonder if I’ll get a reply?  I just want a good cup holder.

Dear Chick-fil-A, I have an idea for you…


I plan to send this to Chick-fil-A, and we’ll see where it goes.  I just realized, I’ve written about Chick-fil-A several times here before.

Dear Chick-fil-A,

I have an idea for you.  I realize that as a giant corporation you probably don’t accept unsolicited ideas, but please don’t let that stop you from considering this idea.  I don’t expect monetary payment, maybe just free Chick-fil-A for life?  (Maybe a limit to once a week?)  Well, I guess I should present my idea before we start talking payment or barter.

This past Saturday I went to the Chick-fil-A in South Hills to grab some of those ridiculously delicious Chick-n-Minis™ for breakfast.  I went into the store to order take-out so I could grab some mayo packets, ketchup, straws, & napkins at the little condiment station.  I got two drinks because I was taking breakfast home to share with the wife.  I opted for your highly addictive sweet tea, and the wife had a Hi-C Fruit Punch.  The always courteous employees offered me a drink carrier, and I accepted.  I thought it would make life easier on the ride home.  I saw wrong.

I set the drink carrier on the floor of the passenger’s side of my truck.  As I backed out of the space, it fell over on to the long side.  Your drink lids are thankfully quite tight, but sadly not entirely waterproof.  I leaned over and placed the carrier & drinks upright again, this time turning the drink holder 90 degrees the other way thinking I had outsmarted the laws of physics and that it would stay put.  I could not have been more mistaken.  As I turned up a hill to go out the back of the parking lot, it fell again.  I believe I uttered something using vocabulary that you may not approve.  At the stop sign, I had to pick up the cups and give up by putting them in the truck’s drink holders.

As I drove home trying not to think about the drops of Hi-C & iced tea soaking into my floor mats, I wondered if there was a better way.  I certainly like your drink carriers much better than the egg-crate 4 space things that just let cups lean over all willy-nilly.  I came to think that your drink carriers just need feet.  I thought the feet may take some extra cardboard, and wondered i something could be done with the existing design.

At home, my thoughts were fueled by poultry protein.  I pulled out my pocket knife and started cutting as my wife looked at me like I was a crazy person (as she does quite often).  I explained what I was doing and why and she actually also thought it was a good idea.

You already have some nice sturdy cardboard.  Two well-placed quarter-circle cuts & maybe even a fold mark in the middle of the carrier would create some nice sturdy feet or “wings” or your drink carrier box without the need for a complete redesign or any additional material.  I tested it by trying to rock the mostly empty drinks back & forth on the kitchen table.  We had no spills.  I am willing to try some field tests if you’d like to move forward with this idea.  My truck’s floor mats can handle it.  Perhaps I can even use water instead of red & brown sugary liquids.

I’m sure we could talk to your box people & find out if this is doable for a reasonable price.  I think it will be as important & innovative as the new Heinz® Dip & Squeeze® packets!  I have some photos attached that I’m sure you will agree are quite illustrative of my design ideas.  Sadly, my pocket knife is a cheap dull one, so the cut looks more like a rip.  I believe you’ll see my intent though.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and am excited at the opportunity that lays before us.  It would be my pleasure to help make this dream a reality!

Eat Mor Chikin!
-Eric

And the attached photos:

So, there we have it.  I mean, most of my letters are plain goofy, and this has a goofy tone, but really… don’t you think this would work? Now, we wait for a response.

 

The first official Ernie and the Berts interview?


<shameless plug>

Check out this interview with Ernie and the Berts from AZ Productions!

</shameless plug>

Fun with virtual guitar builders…


This is why I don't design guitars.

This is why I don’t design guitars.

Screenshot of the 1986 IBM PC versionThis is my new Tetris (Thankfully I’ve never had a phone cool enough to play Angry Birds.)  Online guitar builders are popping up like mad, and now there’s a contest for making the ugliest one over at Joe Gore’s Tone Fiend blog:

Go try your luck at making the worst!  There is some serious competition over there.  Sadly, I like some of the “bad” color schemes.  I guess I do like goofy guitars after all.  (You may remember the mutant beauty pageant.)

I even used one of the guitar builders to help plan out my Turner’s Iced Tea guitar idea.

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Matt at Guitar WTF has also posted a great list of virtual guitar builders in the past.  Some are great, some are not so great.  They all seem to have some bugs as well as some great qualities.

I’ll list the ones I know about:

Are there any glaring omissions?

I’m fully expecting one of these to pop upon the Guitarz blog one day.  None are as crazy as the Tom Bingham stuff or Bertram’s, though.

NES Guitar 15

I still haven’t seen a virtual guitar builder that can do this though. I did a Google image search for ‘Tetris Guitar’ and came up short. This was the next best thing. It would be cool if it still worked to play video games.  Really though, $190 is a very reasonable price.  If I had $200 to spare, I’d get one of these.

This is one of many reasons why Turner’s is awesome…


Turner Dairy Farms rules.  Turner’s Iced Tea slays Galliker’s, Coteryahn’s, United, Schneider’s, or any other crappy brands you may try to throw into the mix.  Turner’s is also an incredible company.  Need proof?

There's only one tea in Pittsburgh.

...Dig?

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169160575132241920

https://twitter.com/#!/TurnersPremiumT/status/169447359351242752

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169450238686400513

https://twitter.com/#!/TurnersPremiumT/status/169453280408248321

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169473361628504064

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169473643062104064

This is what I got in my email:

From: Nicholas Yon <Nicholas@turnerdairy.net>
Date: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Subject: Turner Dairy Farms
To: Eric <me@my.email.address>, world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Eric,

Thank you for the reaching out via twitter regarding your recent diagnosis with GERD.  Thank you also for tweeting us (and about us) often and your continued support of Turner’s products.  I hope you’re still enjoying our Charlie’s Old Time Buttermilk when you can make it to the Brentwood GE and have had a chance to try our Blue Bug Juice.

 Listed below are the caffeine contents of our premium iced tea products.  It doesn’t look like there’s any that have no lemon/citrus and/or no caffeine.  Depending on your threshold for the amount of caffeine you’re allowed our Green Tea might work because it’s sans lemon and has “low” caffeine.  It does however contain citric acid.  Our Southern Style Sweet Tea and premium flavored teas, while having no lemon, have a higher amount of caffeine per serving.  They also contain citric acid.

 Thanks again for the “tweet.”  Have a great afternoon!

 Premium Iced Tea – 26mg-39mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving.

Diet Iced Tea – 25mg-38mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Diet Decaffeinated Iced Tea – < 5mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Peach Iced Tea – 24mg-35mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Diet Peach Iced Tea – 13mg-17mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

 Raspberry Iced Tea – 15mg-19mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Lime Iced Tea 14mg-18mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Orange Iced Tea – 13mg-20mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Green Tea – 6mg-12mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Diet Green Tea – 6mg-12mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Southern Style Sweet Tea – 28mg-41mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Nicholas Yon

Marketing Director

Turner Dairy Farms

www.turnerdairy.net

From Local Farms to Local Families

Follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/TurnersPremiumT

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TurnerDairyFarms

Nicholas is the man.  Armed with this, I can go to the Gastroenterologist and figure out exactly what I can drink & how much.  Now, if only all Giant Eagle locations would carry Turner’s & not just the rebels in Brentwood & Murrysville, and Rite Aid would carry more than the regular tea & the chip dip… we’d be rockin’ hard.

G.E.R.D. is fun.  If by fun, I mean “an incredible pain in the dietary ass.”

Again, this is why I want Giant Eagle & Market District to carry Turner’s, why I dig the Tea-Bird, why I want a Turner’s guitar, and why I dig bug juice.

Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/136910586947715072

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/137169033266077696

http://twitter.com/#!/bostonmarket/status/137212008138424321

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

New Catering Advertisement Opportunities! (for Boston Market & Panera Bread)


I’m just sayin’.

Panera Bread  - vs. -  Boston Market

Panera Bread - vs. - Boston Market

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 4, 2011
Subject: New Catering Advertisement Opportunities!
To: & Cc:  A bunch of Panera & Boston Market Employees

Hello friends at Boston Market & Panera Bread,

I assume that the lack of response to my last email about an all-out catering battle at my house was ill-received.  I didn’t get any interest from either camp, or even any kind of acknowledgement of my email.  Not even a coupon.  Isn’t that the typical response?  “Throw ’em a coupon!”  Color me disappointed.

No reply is rather rude, don’t you think?  Batman movie night has come & gone.  We dutifully provided a favorable dining experience to our guests thanks to an incredible local pizza shop.  Roasted red peppers as a pizza topping?  A hit all around, I tell you!  Subs with a homemade feel cut in to bite-size appetizers were also quite delicious.

I’m not sure why neither Panera Bread or Boston Market was willing to enter my catering battle royale.  It would have been an exciting opportunity for both of you.  I realize now… that you need help with forward thinking.  You missed this opportunity to advertise your catering and fight for my dollar.

I believe that I may have come around to your way of thinking.  Perhaps I need to fight for your dollar.  I previously saw advertisements on the pop machine and all over the windows as borderline obscene… but why stop at the border, friends?  Let’s trample the border, deface it on our way through, and not look back!  I have some ideas that you may find attractive.  I really look forward to your feedback.  (Don’t give me any shenanigans about unsolicited ideas and what-not, we’re all friends here.)

  • Advertising on the napkins.  You already do it on the receipts, walls, & windows.  Subway uses their napkins for nutrition information.  Show them up, advertise!  Think of all that clean wasted ad space ripe for the slinging of your delicious wares.  Were one ambitious, this could extend to the “to go” sandwich wrappings, the fancy new plates that you’re both using, and even the trays.  Hell, why not the drink cups?
  • Guerrilla advertising. You could have employees go into your parking lot at regular intervals, and put flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.  If you really wanna get crazy, try bumper stickers!  People would love decorations on their autos.
  • Me.  Send me a T-shirt that advertises your catering services.  I play in a band.  I’ll wear it to shows.  The throngs of bar patrons who rock out with me on a regular basis will be sure to flock to the nearest Panera Bread or Boston Market location.  I might be able to convince my band-mates to do the same.  If we’d like to get really crazy, may I offer to sell my forehead as a billboard?
  • Paystubs.  Your employees get paid right?  Get that money back!  Advertise your catering services on their pay-stubs, and any communications that you need to send.  There’s room on that W2 envelope for a 10% off catering coupon.
  • Right on the food itself.  This is the one that excites me the most!  You’ve seen the toasters that produce an image of Darth Vader, and the irons that brand your initials on to a steak, right?  There are also printers that print right on things like rice paper & cakes.  Why not take advantage of this technology?  Think about it.  Full color printing on wraps?  Toasty images on buns, bread, & bagels?  Delicious meat branded with confidence, demanding that you pick up a catering menu.  It’s never been done.  It’s opulent.  It’s genius.  (If I do say so myself.)

So, what do you think?  Can I help in this new advertising adventure?  These are the next steps in the evolution of promulgation.  Let’s move onward and upward, into uncharted catering promotional territory.  It will be an onslaught to the senses, and an influx in revenue for all involved.  I’m excited for this venture, and especially excited to get some feedback from everyone involved.

Excelsoir!
-Waldo Lunar
[ -YOUR AD COULD BE HERE- ]

incessant emails / incessant advertising

incessant emails / incessant advertising

Further Reading:

I want a Turner’s guitar…


Turner's Premium Iced Tea

So many delicious options.

I grew up loving Turner’s tea.  It was the thing that I bought nearly every time I went to the general store by my house.  In fact, I can probably say every time, without the “nearly”.  There was always Turner’s in the ‘fridge when I was growing up.  It’s still the drink of choice at family get-togethers.  The other night, we had a pizza delivered from A’Pizza Badamo, and I had them bring a gallon of Turner’s with the pizza & sub.

I have blogged about Turner’s before. I even wrote to them when I was much younger, asking what the “secret ingredient” was in their tea that made it so addictive.  They wrote back.  I didn’t get an answer but I did get a sweet Turner’s T-shirt (Tea-Shirt?), and a label from one of the little jugs to stick on my guitar case.  I’ve written to Giant Eagle and Market District multiple times asking them to carry Turner’s products.  I get the Moos-letter.

Turner's Tattoo

Turner

I’m not quite as hardcore as the guy who got a Turner’s tattoo, I guess.  But, I think we have successfully established that I enjoy Turner’s quite a bit.

So, do you think I can get Turner’s to endorse an Iced Tea themed guitar?  Honestly, I was just thinking to myself that I’d like a guitar that’s painted like a Turner’s iced tea carton.  It looks cool on that guy’s arm, and looks really cool on the Tea-Bird, makes a rockin’ T-shirt… so why not on a guitar?

The TeaBird is just awesome.

The Turner's Tea-Bird

The Turner's Tea-Bird

I voiced my opinion via Twitter…

http://twitter.com/#!/ErnieAndTheBert/status/108569045674110977

And on Facebook…

Seeing a Turner's Guitar Would Make Me Thirsty for Turner's!

Yhe people have spoken: Seeing a Turner's guitar would make them thirsty for Turner's!

(I had cut up a half gallon carton a long time ago to scan, render sort-of blank, and make a show flyer.  More evidence of my affinity for Turner’s?)

And got this reply on Twitter…

http://twitter.com/#!/TurnersPremiumT/status/108624210741575680

Hmm.  Possible encouragement?  Perhaps.  Who wouldn’t like one that had a tank to a backpack… like a camelbak that shot iced tea at the crowd.  Or, I could just get a beer helmet & drink Turner’s myself while on stage.

At any rate, I used KISEKAE Virtual Image Modeling System (one of the most fun online toys ever) to hastily throw together some designs:

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Poorly Thrown Together Iced Tea Guitars

Yes.  They’re ugly.  But, the colors are awesome.  Why the Les Paul shape?  Well, I have a perfectly good Epiphone that I hardly ever play… and it’s got a big chip out of the paint anyway.  It needs repainted… why not stripped & done up like this?

Well, sort of like that.  I’d like to take apart the different elements & move them around…  Maybe even get a scan of a gallon jug label or little jug label.  A tea-colored guitar with that little label in the corner might be cool.  If money were no object… I’d go for a jug or carton shaped guitar… or maybe even a Telecaster-type kit guitar that could be called the (wait for it…) Tea-Caster.  Well if money were really no object, I might even try out an Evertune bridge.

People get sponsored all the time, right?  Why not me?  Can’t hurt to ask, right?  I figured I’d present my case here, then fire off an email to Turner’s, hit them up  on Facebook, Twitter (beware the imposter!), or wherever else I can… and ask if they’d be interested in helping me fund a Turner’s guitar.  Maybe I can just cover my LP in some Turner’s stickers then throw a clear-coat over it?  Ha ha.  That’s a lot of stickers…

The next step is to find someone that does this type of work around here.  Is there a guitar “body shop” anywhere that would tackle a custom paint job like this (& do a good job)?  Any business or artist that may know what they’re doing?

Then, it’s time to get serious with design.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?  Please, submit some pictures of ideas!  At the very least, describe ’em!  What do you think?  Would a Turner’s guitar be fun?  I need something goofy to match the square guitar & the backwards guitar, right?

Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…


So after my last Panera-related post, I went a little goofy. I put a post on their Facebook wall

http://www.facebook.com/panerabread/posts/124723480954835

Found this part of that amusing:

…the corporate office (or in your case the corporate office for our franchise partner who operates bakery-cafes in the Pittsburgh area) reviews your email before contacting and working closely with the general manager to try to resolve the issue.

I also tweeted a few times…

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96920982714990592

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96949713940643841

…and got this DM from them:

Panera Breadpanerabread Hey, thx for sharing feedback through website. Sorry about your disappointing experience, our CS team is looking into & will be in touch.

Heh.

I got this email from the local general manager…

From: 3497 <panera3497@covelli.com>
To: [me]
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 10:50 AM
Subject: Contact Us

Dear Mr. Carroll,

I would like to introduce myself as Carrie Janota, the General Manager at the Greentree Panera Bread. I appreciate all your feedback and coaching. Your response will definitely help us with current and future training to associates, especially this time of year. The company has made several changes with menu items that you expressed in your comments. First, our turkey is now presliced so the consistency is different than when we sliced it in house. We also changed the recipe of our chicken noodle soup, which makes it all natural. Another healthy initiative we have taken is the removal of sauces on all cafe sandwiches. We offer packets of mayo and mustard at the condiment bar or you are welcomed to inform the cashier that you would like the condiments on the sandwich and we will gladly put them on for you. The “no onions” is our mistake and I would like to compensate you for a free meal next time you visit a Panera Bread. If you could please send me your address, I will gladly put the coupon in the mail for you. Again, thank you for your input, I use all issues as a learning tools for our associates.

Carrie Janota
General Manager

So, this is what I wrote back to them…

-餧馕馒-

Thank you Ms. Janota,

You certainly can address me as “Eric”, not “Mr. Carroll”. I appreciate your incredibly rapid and well-stated response to my experience yesterday. I was going out of my mind in disbelief. I would suggest that Panera spend more time asking/telling customers about changes, and less time advertising your catering services. I mean, really… on the pop machine, you’re advertising the catering service? What about a nice big poster that says… “WARNING: WE CHANGED THE TASTY NOODLES IN THAT SOUP THAT YOU LIKE, THE MEAT ON OUR SANDWICHES, AND HAVE DECIDED TO FORGO MUSTARD.” (Or even a nice traditional Coke or Pepsi logo?)

Boston Market is annoying/obnoxious with advertising their catering too. I get it. You guys cater. I know this. I’m here for dinner. You don’t need to advertise for a place that I’m already in. Imagine going into Walmart & seeing a sign in every aisle that advertises the stuff in the next aisle. This could get quote old quite quickly.

  • Attn: Panera – I don’t host any lunch parties or have a need for sandwich rings.
  • Attn: Boston Market – I can cook my own Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.
  • Attn: Bob Evans – I can handle making my own lasagna or meatloaf.
  • Attn: Chick-fil-A – The only thing I’d do with a tray full of nuggets is eat them all myself.
Since you took the time to write, and you’re obviously concerned and well-written, I’d like to address my concerns & the new issues raised more specifically.

The Onion
– This is not a big deal. I generally don’t even say anything & just take the onion off myself. This is the first time I was ever asked “Lettuce, tomato, & onion?” in a Panera. So, I said “Lettuce & tomato, no onion please.” This is the only reason I took note. It also said on my receipt “NO ONION” – so the cashier took the effort to note it, and the sandwich-maker had to read & ignore it. Just odd. Again, this is nothing that should ruin one’s day.

The Turkey – I call shenanigans. Any foodie will tell you there’s a world of difference between lunch-meat turkey and the freshly-sliced real thing. Why would Panera decide to sacrifice quality like this? Does it save time? Does it save money? Certainly it can’t be healthier… isn’t pre-packaged lunch-meat loaded with salt & preservatives? Imagine my surprise upon looking at my $6 half-sandwich full of lunch-meat where I had expected (and previously received) actual turkey. Where was my warning of this upon ordering? I certainly didn’t get the proverbial memo here. At least there’s no confirmation of turkeys with gold nuggets in their gizzards and fine wine in their gullets. Although, I didn’t get a staunch denial.

The Lettuce & Tomato – Are Panera employees encouraged to look at the ingredients before placing them on sandwiches? Really, that’s all that would be needed to prevent the placement of brown lettuce & green tomatoes. A general rule of thumb could be “If you were going to make yourself a sandwich, would you use this?”

The lack of any condiments – Again, list this in the “things that would be nice to know before I placed my order, or at the very least as I was placing my order” category. I liked the previous dressing/sauce whatever you want to call it, and it was certainly different from the straight mayo or spicy brown mustard available by the drinks (& catering advertisement). Is this really a “healthy” option or a money-saving option? I’m reminded of the “removing one olive from every salad” story with American Airlines. It saved them a rumored $40,000. I imagine all of this no-more-condiments stuff adding up to a HUGE savings for Panera… but my sandwich didn’t get cheaper, did it? No passing along the savings? (I think Steak ‘n’ Shake has done this too… their salads used to be nice-sized with cherry tomatoes… now they’re small & have tomato slices.)

The mysterious thumbprint – The noted lack of condiments has me even more concerned about the yellow thumbprint that was on the top of my sandwich. I had just assumed it was some of the condiment that was supposed to go on the inside. I ripped this portion out of the top of my sandwich before eating, to the bewilderment of my eye-rolling yet tolerant-to-my-neuroses wife. This leads me to wonder what the yellow stuff on my sandwich was… if not mustard, was it some of her broccoli cheddar soup? If so, this is incredibly alarming because it could have easily been clam chowder… and I’m highly allergic to shellfish. How is soup on the sandwich board or my sandwich when it wasn’t even my soup? I suggest you educate your employees on allergens & cross-contamination. Barring all that… it’s just a little gross. That could have been a big yellow booger for all I know.

The healthy soup – Pardon me if I laugh at the “all natural” expression. While I understand the meaning, visions of a supernatural soup come to mind. Was the prior soup possessed by demons? The noodles certainly were homemade-looking and delicious. Were they the result of a tasty pact with the devil or an ancient spell? Did the ingredients float into the bowl themselves? I don’t know what the tiny paper-thin pasta squares in the new soup are, but they are a Ford Focus to the previous soup’s BMW 7 Series. They’re not whole-grain pasta, are they? I hate whole-grain pasta. If this soup was a state, the broth were the land-mass and the chicken bits & noodle-like squares were people… it would be Alaska or Wyoming. Do you see what I’m saying? (Actually, the noodles might be the people, and the chicken may be an endangered species living within that state… but I’ve already pushed that metaphor too far.) I’m not entirely sure if this is the fault of the soup-ladeler or the soup recipe. As far as healthy vs. tasty in soup, I suggest you look up news articles related to Campbell’s. They’re putting salt back into soup to boost sales. I see from your corporate Facebook page that this is apparently an issue that has ruffled some feathers. Perhaps a shift back is in order?

The rusty knife – Poop happens. Have the dishwasher look over some stuff. I’d throw out the rusty ones. This rust was quite prominent on the handle of the butter knife, in the details of the design.


Thank you for your time, I hope you can use my input to your advantage… for your team, and perhaps passed on to a corporate level. I’d like to respectfully decline a free meal. I don’t write these sort of emails in order to get free food… and I’m skeptical of any coupons/certificates flagging me as “oh, here’s that guy”. I may even be done with Panera bread for a while. Bedsides the potentially scary cross-contamination and general utensil-cleanliness issues, our philosophies don’t seem to mesh well. I don’t need you to make health decisions for me, I need you to give me quality meals at the prices you demand. Your new more healthy less tasty soup and lack of condiments disturbs me, and apparently your quality standards aren’t the same as mine at your current menu prices.

I’d suggest taking some of the money saved from condiment rationing, smaller noodles, & catering advertising… and funneling it into a survey system to find out what your consumers want, or at the very least making signs or T-shirts that say “We’re holding the mustard unless you tell us not to!” or “New soup! Less noodles & chicken, but no ghosts!” It would also be money well spent on allergy training or buying new non-rusty silverware. Do you have any corporate contacts whom with I could perhaps take up this discussion?


Supernatural soup supporter,
-Eric

?sretac arenaP taht wonk uoy diD .seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

-餧馕馒-

I for one can’t wait for a reply.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on Urbanspoon

EAT MOR CHIKIN? My pleasure.


I hate to sound like a commercial, and I know I’ve gone on & on about this before; but Chick-fil-A is consistently the best fast food chain around, without fail. I signed up for the Chick-fil-A of South Hills mailing list a while ago, and I’m always getting coupons and emails about specials and post-cards in the mail. One great recent one was that if you went in on Tax Day (April 15th for those anarchists out there) & saved your receipt, you could get the same meal for free on any day in May just by handing over the receipt! How cool is that?

The most recent cool promotion is that I got an invite in my email to request an invitation to try their new spicy chicken sandwich before it’s widely available next week. (The invites seemed to pop up all over Twitter & Facebook too, so they were readily available if you knew where to look!) I made the reservation, and printed an invitation with a custom barcode. I signed the wife up, so we could both enjoy a new sandwich.

Tonight we went & redeemed the coupons in the midst of some other errands, and the sandwiches were excellent… but the service (as always) was top notch. It was busy, but we were in & out of line quite quickly. We were greeted with a smile by the young girl at the cash register even though it was obviously a crazy work night. We even received beaded necklaces with a hot chili pepper charm to go along with our sandwiches. Of course, it’s always “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” when you thank them for anything. Our food was out in a reasonably quick time, and seconds after we seated ourselves another young man in the dining area politely asked if we had everything that we needed.

About halfway through our meal, another young man came out with an envelope, on it was handwritten “Eric and Bethany Carroll”, and inside was this…

Thank you for coming to the Spicy Premiere Week!

Chick-fil-A | Thank you for coming to the Spicy Premiere Week!

Spicy Premiere Week - Free Milkshake

Free Hand Spun Milkshake

…yeah, it looks like the employees on duty tonight actually signed the postcard/coupon thing!

Apparently, it’s working because I’m blogging about it, and spreading the word, and I’ll be talking about it, and I’ll be crazy by working it in when anything remotely related comes up in conversation.

Before I was halfway to the garbage can on our way out this evening, the young man from the dining room took my tray & dumped it, this is usually a regular occurrence here too… just imagine it happening at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, or Taco Bell. You can’t, can you?

These guys know how to get me to keep coming back, and how to get me to talk about them. Genius, I tell you. So if you’re into Spicy Chicken, try the new sandwich out. If not, check out Chick-fil-A anyway, for the best fast food experience you’ve had in a long time.

So I’m not completely biased… Chick-fil-A, if you’re listening, add baked potatoes to the menu! That’s the one thing you’re missing. I know I had one at a CFA in Florida… we want them in PA too!