Subway, Quiznos, Taco Bell, W.G. Grinder’s, & Sheetz take note…


https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169103504059797506

https://twitter.com/#!/FirehouseSubs/status/169104530632474624

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169104935043088385

Firehouse Subs, you’re awesome.  I’m just sayin’.

Other food places with no shellfish currently on the menu, pay attention here too.  You don’t need shellfish.

Places that have added it over the years, preventing me from going back…

Other places that don’t need to add it to the menu…

Got that?  Good.

Also, what ever happened to Roly Poly & Schlotzsky’s?  They were excellent shellfish-free places to dine.  Come back!  Also, we need McCalister’s Deli and Lion’s Choice to remain shellfish free and move to the ‘Burgh.  Maybe even Jack in the Box too.

To the rest of you, let’s stop these damn seafood lent specials.  Let the business go to Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, Long John Silver’s‘, VFD fish fry events, and Monterey Bay.  If you don’t normally do shellfish, stay away from it.  Please?  I ask of behalf of the seafood allergic and those who choose to eat kosher.

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs - my new food heroes.

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:

So, do you guys cater?


I recently had some correspondence with Panera Bread (The Great Panera Bread Swindle & Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…), and I still have no reply to my last email.  I assume they think I’m an idiot and will not continue any further correspondence.  The experience reminded me of being bombarded with catering advertisements when I’m already at a restaurant.  I called out a few other places, but Boston Market does the same thing with the catering barrage.  I have a long history with them & letters, pre-dating my WordPress blogging days even.

At any rate, it struck me that they both seem to be fighting (or at least nagging) for catering business.  If we’re already in the store, and signed up for your mailing lists… we probably know that you will cater if needed.  How about focusing the catering advertising on local businesses around each location?

Or, I have a more interesting solution…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: So, do you guys cater?
To: RCordova1@bost.com, isabella.contactus@panerabread.com

Ciao Colossal Catering Czars!

I can’t help but feel overwhelmed lately when I visit any of your fine establishments.  I just go there to get a meal, but you have mercilessly force-fed your catering services to me and throngs of other customers in the form of signage on the wall, window-clings, pamphlets, menus, table signage, place-mats, tweets, & emails.  I get it.  I feel like I’m in a giant commercial every time I walk into one of your previously welcoming establishments.  (Bob Evans is highly annoying with the take-out mantra too, but they’re not quite as relentless in their efforts.)  I applaud your tenacity, Panera Bread and Boston Market.  Despite your valiant and exasperating efforts, I have not yet used either of you to fill my catering needs.  In fact, I don’t have any catering needs.  I’m able to make a sandwich spread, some soup, a salad, & even prepare a holiday meal… all for less money than what you can offer, and it has the added bonus of being homemade.

Your incessant plugging of your catering service smacks of so much desperation, that it struck me with an idea.  You’re both figuratively fighting for my dollar, why not an actual fight for my dollar?  I’m not suggesting fisticuffs, although your frequency of mentioning catering services suggest that you may indeed jump right in.  I’m suggesting you each prepare a meal for a party, and I will only pay the not-quite-fast-food chain that makes the best meal.  Fight for my dollar!  Sorry, I can’t really contain my excitement at the prospect of such a tournament.  I bet we could get a reality TV show in on this.  If not, I could certainly get someone with a digital camera, and we could post the contest & the results on YouTube.  I’m sure it would go viral.  Can you imagine the bragging rights?

The judges would be those in attendance to my party.  You can certainly do your own background checks and interviews to ensure no partiality or preconceived bias.  I can even leave myself out of the proceedings, as I find you both equally annoying with the catering propaganda.  I could write up a review/summary at the end of the experience.  The only thing you would have to lose is the cost of catering a small party… but the potential to gain respect and more advertising for your catering services.  I’m enabling you, my friends.  I can feel the hunger dwelling deep within you.

I can assure you of my impartiality, as I have hosted several Chili Cook-off events at my home, and have photos to prove it.  I can provide you with copies of our ballots to show our proficiency in scoring food vs. food on several points.  We would of course have to devise a system to compare the proverbial Boston Market apples to Panera Bread oranges, but you can trust my ingenuity on the matter, and can employ a crack team of analysts.

This would be epic, my friends.  Imagine being  a pioneer in this type of event!  What would be next?  Qdoba vs. the Honey Baked Ham Co.?  The KFC bucket vs. your local grocery store’s prepared foods?  If you don’t like my idea, I may sign you up for my mailing list under the guise of getting coupons for my awesome letter-writing and ingenious idea services… only to solicit and re-solicit this very idea ad nasueam.  Using your own logic, you will have no choice but to comply!

Or, you could just have your CEO’s arrange a fist-fight in some parking lot, and I’ll literally give the winner a dollar.

Thank you for your time, I really hope that you give my idea serious consideration.  I will be ready when you say yes to the event.  We can work out the event and the details quite easily.  I actually have a “Batman movie night” coming up, and it would be great to cater that.  (Although, my wife may be making some Batman logo cookies… but we’ll make sure no one can vote for her catering services, she would most likely win hands-down with Batman cookies at a Batman movie party.)

May the best chain win!
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

Panera wrote back first…

Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: RE: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Waldo,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Panera Bread. We are sorry to hear about your disappointment with our catering advertising. The current promotion is simply one way to let our catering customers know that the option is available. We always strive to provide a wonderful meal, great service and a welcoming environment for our all our customers and hope that you will continue to enjoy Panera Bread. I will let our Marketing decision makers know how you feel, so that your opinion will be considered.

Thanks again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Sincerely,
Isabella
Customer Comment Coordinator

Oh yeah, Waldo?  With Google+ getting all crazy & stuff, I didn’t want to merge my “regular” Gmail address with the fake one, so I change the W(aL)D email name to Waldo Lunar.  So, my email comes as Waldo Lunar, but I still signed it “Eric AiXeLsyD”.

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Re: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: Isabella <isabella.contactus@panerabread.com>

Thanks Isabella,

I’m glad that you understand my frustration at being pummeled with advertising, and that you’re willing to pass the sentiment along to the appropriate parties.  I applaud you for your efforts, and the swiftness with which you replied!  I’m on the fence with Panera bread due to this whole “holding the dressing” thing, and the “healthy” chicken noodle soup debacle.  I mean, those homemade-looking noodles were awesome.  The little square things lying sparsely in the greasy broth are sad little stabs into my heart.  Perhaps I must move on to the broccoli soup.

Has anyone else written to you in regards to the barrage of advertising?  More importantly — Is Panera interested in the catering “battle royale” that I proposed?  If we can get Boston Market on board, I think this will be a stellar time.  You were much more expeditious with your reply.  I trust that you believe in your brand/product enough to put it to the test?  I can try to get some TV people on board once I get confirmation from the principal parties.  I’m sure you can see from my first email that I’ve already put much thought into the logistics.  The prospect of it all has me quite excited.

Thank you once again for your time and diligent response.  Have a great day, and I hope to hear from you again soon!

Hungry,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

I sort of got a response from Boston Market…

From: <sbrooks1@bost.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Boston Market suggestion response
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Good Afternoon

Thank you for submitting your suggestion to our catering department. We certainly appreciate the time you took to write and do value all customer feedback. Upon receipt of this information, I will create a report and forward your comments to the Market Leader for your region and our Marketing Department for consideration.

Again thank you for your feedback

Syrenia Brooks
Guest Contact Center Specialist

Huh?  I smell a standard “please don’t bother us” email here.  I still think my idea has merit, and I want a catering throw-down.  Think I can push it any further?  I’ll certainly try.

Thank You, Taco Bell.


OK, so I’ve messed with Taco Bell in the past with my Death Taco rant.  They actually sent me $25 in Taco Bell Bucks.  Today, strapped for cash, I used the last $5 taco bell certificate in my wallet.  I realized, you can get a ridiculous amount of food for $5 at Taco Bell.  (Or in today’s case, a KFC/Taco Bell.)

Check out my receipt…

#233 OUT
World Hunger – Now only $1!

I got change back, after using at $5 gift certificate, and $1 of Taco Bell’s money was used to donate to world hunger.  (Although, it looks like I bought world hunger for $1.)

It broke down like this…  There as a $2 meal that included a Double-Decker taco, a bag of Doritos, and a medium drink.  I added another Double-Decker taco (because I’m fat) for $1.59, & the girl asked if I’d like to donate $1 to world hunger, so I did… well, Taco Bell did.  It was their $1 in the first place.  Add in the tax, and I still got back 19¢… from money that I never had in the 1st place.  I know, little things amuse me.

Taco Bell has earned my respect, while their goofy cousin Pizza Hut (while also moving to lower menu prices) has not.  Where is my answer, Pizza Hut?

So Taco Bell, I would like to thank you for lunch, and world hunger would like to thank you for the dollar.

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!

May the Schwartz be with you, always.


Well, I still haven’t gotten around to sending the snail mail version of my Spaceballs Special Edition in 3D idea… but I did pop it off to a few other email addresses.  Of those, they did go to the dudes at Spaceballs: The Prequel.  Sadly, as I write this, that site is no more.  They seem so share my affinity for the odd, as illustrated by this excellent response…

from Aaron Dietz <aarondietz@gmail.com>
to Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
cc slave2moonlight@yahoo.com
subject Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?

Friends and mighty allies,

It gives me great pain to share that Dark Quino and I (Dark Aaron) will be closing down spaceballstheprequel.com within a month. We thought a lot about the decision and ultimately decided to move on to other projects. This is not because a prequel or other way of furthering the Spaceballs franchise is not merit-worthy! On the contrary, it’s still a fine idea, and it should be done.

However, after many years of fighting the fight, we have agreed to let the project rest.

Sadly, Arik, we were never able to get a personal reply from Mel Brooks, or even anything substantial from his studio. We do take partial credit in promoting Spaceballs enough that they created an animated series for it, but that’s as far as we got.

I wish you the best of luck with your idea, Arik. It is worthy of many exclamation points!!!!!

Love the R2D2 parody-character–yes, let’s put the soul back into the franchise with the most important piece! And Argbar–oh my, there’s no way that wouldn’t be on YouTube, and in people’s heads, and everywhere. Argbar is my new favorite uncreated character. Nice work!

Best to you all. And keep in touch about Spaceballs news at my other e-mail address: aarondietz@gmail.com (darkaaron@spaceballstheprequel.com will soon be going away).

May the Schwartz be with you, always.

Aaron (no longer Dark Aaron)

Heh.  That’s by far the best reply!  Although, the letter from Michael Winslow’s agent saying that Michale would be involved is funny on a whole different level…

Just in case you forgot….

Spacesalls Special Edition in 3D Character Designs

Spacesalls Special Edition in 3D Character Designs

I also wrote back to Rebecca Thornsberry at Chick-fil-A, you may remember that she suggested that I call corporate

Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>  wrote:

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for the quick & informative reply, even though this doesn’t have much to do with you!  Have you ever seen Spaceballs?  Are you a Mel Brooks fan?

I really appreciate the corporate phone number, but do you have an email contact there?  I prefer to communicate by email, as I have an intense fear of the telephone.

Good luck with your local Chick-fil-A, you’re consistently the most polite fast food chain, even via email!

Dink Dink, Dink Dink Dink… Dink. Dink. Dink,
Arik

And got another reply…

from Chick-fil-A South Hills  <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>
to Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
subject Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?

Hello Arik.  I do not have an email address for anyone because I am not sure who to send you to.  Just call that 1-800-CFA-CARE number and ask for someone in the marketing department.  That is what i would start with or they might be able to give you an email address. Since you are calling the corporate office, I was suggest actually calling at first.

Good luck,
Rebecca Thornsberry
Marketing Director

Chick-fil-A at South Hills
1620 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Store- 412-833-1165
Cell- 412-443-5534
www.chick-fil-a.com/southhills

They’re so polite, even in their replies to obviously insane emails.

Spaceballs Special Edition in 3D


So, if you’ve been following the Yum! Brands saga, you know that I’ve been messing with them for a while on both legitimate and goofy levels, and that I had this idea a while ago.  I finally acted upon it.  I had to set up an alias to do it, as I’m sure most of my contacts just cringe when email from me hits their inbox.  Mel Brooks either doesn’t have an email address, or it’s a closely guarded one… as it’s very difficult to find anything for him.  I may have to print this out & snail mail it.  I’m sure it has the potential to get a funny reply.

I see, your Shwatrz is as big as mine…

from: Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
to: [All kinds of people]
subject: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: gmail.com

Hello my friends,

At last we meet again for the first time for the last time.

I write to you today with a revelation regarding Spaceballs. It is my belief that something needs to be done before George Lucas releases Star Wars in 3D, Spaceballs needs to have a re-vamped special edition (like the Star Wars ones released in 1997), possibly even jumping in to 3D before Star Wars.

The reason that I’m writing to both “Yum! Brands” and MGM employees is because I can’t find a good email address for Mel Brooks. Does Mel have an email address?

MGM still owns the rights to the movie, correct? Also, I address “Yum!” because, as you well know, two characters that are parodies of “Yum! Brands” brands appear quite prominently in the Spaceballs saga. If you don’t know, here’s some help from Wikipedia:

  • Pizza the Hutt, named after the pizza restaurant chain, is a half-man, half-Pizza Mafioso and a parody of Jabba the Hutt. He forces Lone Starr to pay one million credits to him. By the end of the film, however, a “news segment” watched by Lone Starr and Barf reveals that Pizza got locked in his limo and ate himself to death, thus meaning Lone Starr and Barf won’t have to pay anymore. The voice of Pizza the Hutt is performed by Dom DeLuise.
  • Colonel Sandurz[8] is a parody of the leading Imperial Officers from Star Wars, such as Veers and Piett or Grand Moff Tarkin. ‘Colonel’ is his rank; however, ‘Kernel’ is his real name. His name is a pun on KFC‘s founder Colonel Sanders. (At one point, Dark Helmet taunts him into action, saying, “What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?“)

I believe that the Schwartz has aligned because at the time of the filming of Spaceballs, these were parodies of two wholly separate fast food companies. (Or were PepsiCo or TriCon in control at that point?) Now, they are just two of many systems in the “Yum!” galaxy, if you will.

The opportunity exists to film news scenes and digitally insert new characters… and in the spirit of the original; “Moichandizing! Moichandizing! Moichandizing!” I still never did get Spaceballs, the flamethrower. We are at a point in time with advertising and merchandising where a once preposterously offensive idea would now be considered almost normal.

This could be a huge cross-promotional tie-in empire, and may even save MGM from its current financial woes. I propose a set of new characters, new scenes, and new toys/products…

New Characters:

  • AN-UU (pronounced “Ay – en – double – you”), the fearless side-kick to Dot Matrix. After all, this is the most obvious glaring omission from the original Spaceballs movie. Yeah, you can combine Luke & Han, but you can’t drop R2-D2! He is the undeniable (albeit mechanical) heart of the Star Wars franchise. Imagine, he could be like a little root-beer bottle or vending machine shaped droid.
  • Tako Juan Bellobi, Lone Star’s other mentor, who gives him the Schwartz ring saying it was his father’s, then sends him to Yogurt to learn how to use it. Living in a desert, the Mexican tie-in, a colorful Mexican-styled blanket instead of the Jedi robe… a “Stinking Badges” Blazing Saddles reference, a cojones joke or two, this could be a comedic gold mine.
  • Long Jon Argbar, arguably one of the most recognizable internet memes of all time would be Admiral Ackbar’s “It’s a Trap!”. This simply cannot be ignored. Long John Silver and Admiral Ackbar would be a perfect mix given their similar aquatic nature. I see the character almost like Davy Jones from Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Also, if we want to get super nerdy, I have derived the name Argbar from (obviously) Ackbar and the Latin for silver, argentum. Tie in fictional pirates’ proclivity to exclaim “Argh” or “Arg” or “Arrrr”, and we have a win-win-win situation.
  • The Wing Fleet – Not a character per-say… but a play on Tie-fighters and X-Wings, a rebel alliance and empire (“Yum!”-pire?) ought to be created… legions of the Spaceballs’ fighters could be shaped like chicken wings and fly out of a large bucket on top of the ship.

(Please see my character design concepts in the attached *.jpg)

New Scenes/Bits/Gags:

  • To parody the interrogation scene from Star Wars: A New Hope and to tie into KFC’s new healthier image… Colonel Sandurz could “grill” Princess Vespa much like the “comb the desert” scene. Can you see the giant grill now? The lines on her back? Perhaps a smells/tastes like chicken joke?
  • In the “It’s a Trap” spirit… Long Jon Argbar’s shtick could be to exclaim “It’s a ___!” over & over again, perhaps stopping all the action and looking at the camera after a particularly bad one… and shrugging his shoulders before moving on with it. The blank could be many different things; Tap (in reference to AN-UU’s root beer tap perhaps?), Carp (an aquatic fish reference), frap (Mr. Coffee/Mr. Radar joke), or many, many more things… like Tarp, Part, Wrap, Crap, etc.

New Products & Tie Ins:

  • Yogurt – Perhaps most obviously, yogurt ought to be offered as a dessert item on all “Yum! Brands” restaurants’ menus… perhaps in collectible cups? Everyone’s into this health-food malarkey these days. Perhaps even frozen yogurt, as to not be so disgusting?
  • Toys – Obviously the toys associated with kids meals would be big hits with kids & collectors alike. The toys from all the chains could represent their parodied character and a few of his friends… needing to visit all of the chains to complete your collection… possibly even getting a part of the Spaceballs ship (Mega-Maid) at each chain that are all put together Voltron-style, much like the Transformers reference in the Spaceballs movie?
  • If you guys want to get crazy, we could reach out to Starbucks and infuse them into the Mr. Coffee scene, and replace all references to “spacebucks” as “starbucks”. Perhaps “Yum!” could acquire them before the release of the film?

As you can see, this is a no-brainer, and once you have had the time to review my email, and perhaps forward it to Mel Brooks and/or Brooksfilms Ltd., you will most assuredly be prepared to move along at ludicrous speed. There is no way to not make money with this.  Star Wars fans will rabidly go after anything remotely associated to the movie, and most are geeks who love Mr. Brooks’ style of humor.

If new scenes need to be filmed, I’m sure Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, George Wyner, Daphne Zungia, and the others would appreciate the work. Perhaps Barf could be wholly replaced by new hot funnyman Zach Galifianakis, as John Candy would be currently unavailable due to his deceased nature. You wouldn’t even need to add much fake fur to the costume. Have you seen the guy?

As far as my involvement, I expect nothing other than to be credited with the inception/inspiration of the project. I would just like to see it happen; perhaps a producer credit? From what I understand, those are mostly meaningless anyway.

I’d like to thank you for your time, and I’m sure you’re as excited about this as I am. These are the droids you’re looking for.

May the Schwartz be with you!
Arik

And, this was the attached photo…

Spaceballs 3D Special Edition Character Designs by Arik Cearbhall

I know, I have mad photo-editing skills.  You don’t have to tell me.

As an afterthought, I felt that all of the other fast food chains out there shouldn’t be denied, so… I re-sent the message with this as a forward:

Hello friends,

I write to you to present an opportunity that may titillate your funny bone.  I have recently written to Mel Brooks, MGM, and your competitor, “Yum! Brands” in the interest of putting together a “Special Edition” version of Spaceballs (perhaps in 3D) featuring new Fast Food related characters.  I have not yet received a reply, but after it was sent, I felt that I had been leaving out many other fine establishments.  Would you have any interest in participating in such a project?  I can certainly come up with new character designs as a parody of your brands.  I consider myself an expert on both Star Wars and fast food.

Please find my entire original message below, and see what you think as it pertains to you!

Hail Skroob!
Arik

Heh. This message actually got me the first few replies…

From a local Chick-fil-A:

from: Chick-fil-A South Hills  <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>
to: Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
subject: Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: gmail.com

Hello Arik.  My name is Rebecca Thornsberry and I am the Marketing Director for the Chick-fil-A at South Hills.  Each store is individually owned and operated, so this sounds like something that you would have to get permission from our Corporate Office in Atlanta to do.  If you feel like you’d like to pursue this, you could start with the 1-800-CFA-CORP.  Thanks for offering this to us, but I am sorry that I cannot help you with this.

Thanks,
Rebecca Thornsberry
Marketing Director

Chick-fil-A at South Hills
1620 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Store- 412-833-1165
Cell- 412-443-5534
http://www.chick-fil-a.com/southhills

From an irritable Quiznos employee:

from: Creative Requests <creativerequests@quiznos.com>
to: Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
subject: RE: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: quiznos.com

I’m only writing you back to say that it is very inappropriate to include all recipients in the “TO” field and not the “BCC”.  Not only is this SPAM mail – unwelcome and unsolicited – it allows anyone on this email to know the emails of all recipients.

Please DO NOT email this address again.

The first reply from anyone actually associated with the project:

from: roger paul <rogerpaulmgmt@aol.com>
to: arikcearbhall@gmail.com
subject: Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: aol.com

My client Michael Winslow would be up for the challenge

Roger Paul
1650 Broadway
Suite 1105
NY NY 10019
212-262-0008 Phone
212-333-5180 Fax
347-993-0939 Cell

Yeah, that’s actually Michael Winslow‘s management.  He’s “that Police Academy guy” relevant here as the radar operator in Spaceballs.  Dude is awesome.

Then we have…  Silence from everyone else, so far.  I can’t wait to get some more replies.  I just may have to send out some snail mail on this one to the actors & studios.  It is still early, hopefully more responses will pour in!

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.