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Spoke
03-25-2015, 09:52 PM
This thread was prompted by a new Domino's TV ad, in which I was informed that it is no longer "Domino's Pizza," it is just "Domino's," because they have soooo much more to offer than just pizza now (at which point I was treated to a visual display of their many varied menu options).

When I was a kid, I remember the menu at McDonald's being pretty simple. You could get a regular hamburger (with or without cheese). Or a Big Mac. Or a Fish sandwich if you were feeling adventurous. And...that was about it for entrees, as I recall.

You look at a McDonald's menu now, and there are dozens of menu items available for lunch and dinner. And it offers a similarly wide range of breakfast foods now.

This sort of gradual menu expansion seems to happen at all fast food chains over time, which leads me to wonder a couple of things:

1) How/why does this happen? Is it the result of generations of pencil-pushers at corporate HQ feeling compelled to prove their worth with bold new menu ideas? Are these restaurants taking suggestion boxes or customer whining about limited menus a little too much to heart? Or what? What drives these changes?

2) How annoying is it to work at one of these places now and have to master so many different menu items?

It seems to me wrong-headed for every fast food restaurant to try to be all things to all people. (Taco Bell now offers a "biscuit taco" for breakfast, for pity's sake.) I would think a better approach would be to do one thing but do it very well.

Thoughts?

kunilou
03-25-2015, 09:59 PM
When we were kids, McDonalds pretty much owned the market. There were smaller, regional chains, but McDonalds still had "Over X Million Served."

Fast forward. More chains offer more choices. People get tired of stopping at McDonalds for lunch and decide to try Burger King, or Roy Rogers, or Chicken Delight. So the numbers crunchers at McDonalds figure out that they can grill chicken patties as easily as hamburgers and get the "tired of hamburgers, how about chicken" crowd.

Then Burger King follows suit and McDonalds has to come up with something else, like breakfast. Then Hardees comes up with a breakfast item, so now everyone needs to come up with a salad item. On and on ad infinitum.

Duckster
03-25-2015, 10:12 PM
It seems to me wrong-headed for every fast food restaurant to try to be all things to all people. (Taco Bell now offers a "biscuit taco" for breakfast, for pity's sake.) I would think a better approach would be to do one thing but do it very well.

Olive Garden now sells hamburgers (http://www.eater.com/2013/12/2/6320991/olive-garden-adds-burgers-and-fries-to-its-menu). It's all about staying in business by dropping to the LCD*.






*Lowest Common Denominator

Spoke
03-25-2015, 10:18 PM
Yeah, but is anybody really saying, "I'm going to Olive Garden for a hamburger"?

Or more to the point, "I'm not going to Olive Garden because the don't have hamburgers"?

Seems to me that if people go to Olive Garden, it's because they want Italian food. No?

jz78817
03-25-2015, 10:23 PM
1) How/why does this happen? Is it the result of generations of pencil-pushers at corporate HQ feeling compelled to prove their worth with bold new menu ideas? Are these restaurants taking suggestion boxes or customer whining about limited menus a little too much to heart? Or what? What drives these changes?

"If we offer more things, we can sell more things!"

"Sell ALL THE THINGS!"

running coach
03-25-2015, 10:23 PM
Seems to me that if people go to Olive Garden, it's because they want Italian food. No?

No. :D

Spoke
03-25-2015, 10:28 PM
"If we offer more things, we can sell more things!"

"Sell ALL THE THINGS!"

But wouldn't it get expensive trying to keep so many different menu items available?

Spud
03-25-2015, 10:46 PM
I think it is interesting that two of the chains that always are at the top of any burger poll... In 'n Out, and Five Guys have probably two of the simplest menus out there.

Spoke
03-25-2015, 11:01 PM
Looks like maybe McDonald's is beginning to re-think: McDonald's is simplifying its menu. (http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/12/16/at-long-last-mcdonalds-is-simplifying-its-menu.aspx)

The rising wait times and worsening customer service at McDonald's have been well-documented. As McDonald's released more complex menu offerings, it suffered in its ability to complete orders in a timely manner. As fast-food industry publication QSR stated in its Drive-Thru Performance Study last year, McDonald's had sunk to its slowest average speed of service in the history of the survey, at just over three minutes.

The "speed of service" issue is yet another problem with a vast menu, I guess.

jz78817
03-25-2015, 11:21 PM
But wouldn't it get expensive trying to keep so many different menu items available?

eh, I wasn't saying that it works, only that it's what I guess is the mentality which drives it.

I think it is interesting that two of the chains that always are at the top of any burger poll... In 'n Out, and Five Guys have probably two of the simplest menus out there.

never been to Five Guys, but IMO In-N-Out is massively, massively overrated. Their burgers are decent (but still a fast-food burger) and their fries are garbage.

Jophiel
03-25-2015, 11:24 PM
Yeah, but is anybody really saying, "I'm going to Olive Garden for a hamburger"?
Probably not. But if it's you and three other people, one of them might drop their objection to Olive Garden based on "Well, I can always get a burger" when they didn't want pasta.

running coach
03-25-2015, 11:35 PM
never been to Five Guys, but IMO In-N-Out is massively, massively overrated. Their burgers are decent (but still a fast-food burger) and their fries are garbage.

It's your fault you took the time to return to your seat before starting on the fries. :D

jz78817
03-25-2015, 11:40 PM
It's your fault you took the time to return to your seat before starting on the fries. :D

yeah, whatever. you can't cook fries in a single step. either they're underdone and mushy, or overcooked and greasy. look, In-n-Out is a fast food joint. It ain't great food, no matter how much you west coast types want to deify it.

Red Barchetta
03-25-2015, 11:44 PM
yeah, whatever. you can't cook fries in a single step. either they're underdone and mushy, or overcooked and greasy. look, In-n-Out is a fast food joint. It ain't great food, no matter how much you west coast types want to deify it.

Ash for them crispy.

I actually love In n Out Fries, and the burgers are great too. Though Shake Shack is still king

Spoke
03-25-2015, 11:48 PM
We've lost the plot.

jz78817
03-25-2015, 11:50 PM
Ash for them crispy.

no. why?

1) I don't live out west, so there are no In-n-outs near me
2) "Crispy" as it refers to fries cooked in one step means "greasy and overcooked."
3) after being underwhelmed multiple times by In-n-out's offerings, I've no real desire to seek them out again.

It's just a fast food burger.

nearwildheaven
03-26-2015, 01:38 AM
Yeah, but is anybody really saying, "I'm going to Olive Garden for a hamburger"?

Or more to the point, "I'm not going to Olive Garden because the don't have hamburgers"?

Seems to me that if people go to Olive Garden, it's because they want Italian food. No?

I wasn't aware that you could get Italian food at Olive Garden, either.

When I lived in the St. Louis region, I went to a Five Guys a couple times, and I think it's called that because it would take five guys to eat one of those meals.

panamajack
03-26-2015, 01:40 AM
i think the only interesting relevance of In-n-Out to this thread is that it was founded at almost the exact same time and place as McDonald's, and yet followed a much different pattern of growth (both economically and menu-wise). They are somewhat famous for their 'hidden'/off-menu offerings, but they've maintained a simplicity in presentation that has allowed them to remain in business and earn them a reputation for quality.

On the other hand, McDonald's is a massively more popular and well-known brand.

Red Barchetta
03-26-2015, 01:41 AM
2) "Crispy" as it refers to fries cooked in one step means "greasy and overcooked." [/i]

Not at In n Out in my experience

It's just a fast food burger.

We get it--you don't dig it. Cool. Many do. It's not a big deal

Max the Immortal
03-26-2015, 01:57 AM
I thought it was a stroke of genius for McDonald's to break into the higher-end coffee market. They already had a ton of prime locations. The additional space needed at each location for the coffee-related equipment and storage is probably small compared to the extra profits they can earn. Granted, I haven't tried any of their coffee offerings, but it's just because I haven't gotten around to it; I've heard that they're quite good by the standards of what various coffee chains sell.

TheChileanBlob
03-26-2015, 02:20 AM
2) How annoying is it to work at one of these places now and have to master so many different menu items?



I work at a fast food place where we have a lot of different menu items. There are some things that come around seasonally each year, but most of our new offerings are just recombining ingredients that we use anyway.

JpnDude
03-26-2015, 03:23 AM
For a limited time earlier this year, KFC Japan was selling "hamburger steak" sandwiches using patties made with ground beef and pork. No chicken in sight. :-))

http://gigazine.net/news/20150202-kfc-bistro-hamburger-sand/

Alessan
03-26-2015, 03:29 AM
I have a rule when it comes to pizza, and it's served me well so far: I never buy pizza from a place that makes anything other than pizza. Pizza requires specialization. It can't be just another thing on the menu, it has to be the only thing on the menu.

Mijin
03-26-2015, 04:56 AM
More importantly, with such a big menu, why isn't the mcrib on it?

Mijin
03-26-2015, 05:09 AM
I have a rule when it comes to pizza, and it's served me well so far: I never buy pizza from a place that makes anything other than pizza. Pizza requires specialization. It can't be just another thing on the menu, it has to be the only thing on the menu.

If I kept to such a rule I would never have eaten pizza, because I don't think I've ever seen a pizza place that didn't at least have a few pasta options.

Mean Mr. Mustard
03-26-2015, 05:58 AM
I remember Taco Bell, back in the day, had literally six items on their menu.

Now I look at the drive-through (excuse me, drive thru) board and I get dizzy.

They fixed something that wasn't broke.


mmm

Alessan
03-26-2015, 06:15 AM
If I kept to such a rule I would never have eaten pizza, because I don't think I've ever seen a pizza place that didn't at least have a few pasta options.

Really? Because most pizza places here just sell pizza.

Left Hand of Dorkness
03-26-2015, 06:36 AM
I have a rule when it comes to pizza, and it's served me well so far: I never buy pizza from a place that makes anything other than pizza. Pizza requires specialization. It can't be just another thing on the menu, it has to be the only thing on the menu.
My rule is broader but less strict: it's the core competency rule. I figure if a place has pizza in the name, but also sells burgers, their burgers are sitting in the walk-in freezer in a 2-year-old carton, waiting for that rare moron who walks through the pizzeria door hankering for a hamburger. I won't order it. Similarly, the pizza on offer at a burger joint is going to be nasty frozen pizza.

If I go to a pizzeria but I'm kind of in the mood for a burger, I order the damn piza, because that's the restaurant's core competency. It's better to get well-made food that I'm not exactly in the mood for than to get shitty food that superficially matches what I want.

Odesio
03-26-2015, 06:41 AM
Really? Because most pizza places here just sell pizza.

A lot of the good ones here sell things like sandwiches and pasta dishes but I have no doubt there are some that only sell pizza. It used to be that national chains like Pizza Hutt, Domino's, and Papa John's only sold pizza (and in the case of Pizza Hutt included salad if you ate at the restaurant) but in the last two decades they've really added a lot of non-pizza items to their menu like chicken wings and sandwiches.

Tibby
03-26-2015, 06:58 AM
Really? Because most pizza places here just sell pizza.
I used to order from a pizza joint within walking distance of my apartment in West Philadelphia long ago. It was a small, dirty Pop shop (No Ma &; just Pop). The owner/pizza tosser was a wiry Italian who always wore a sweat-stained wife beater shirt and smoked while tossing his product. There were always small fruit flies buzzing around, with many stuck on the pizza stones. There was one Formica table-for-two off to one side of the lobby, I guess for any adventurous couple wanting a romantic dining experience, but I never saw anyone ever sit at that table. This was a take out joint.

No one ever asked the proprietor to wipe the flies off the stone before he’d plop down the dough, because, well, for one thing, we’re pretty sure he was connected, and, for another thing, he didn’t appear to speak English. Actually, he didn’t appear to speak anything at all except, "whaddaya want?" when you were placing your order and “four bucks!” with his greasy hand extended, when you were checking out. Legend has it that someone did once ask him to wipe off the flies, but that guy left the neighborhood very quickly afterward without even saying goodbye.

Anyway, all this pizza guy sold was pizza, just pizza, and none of that crap with feta cheese or avocado bits—just pizza with manly toppings, like pepperoni and anchovies…anchovies as big as your fist. If you wanted something to drink, he had a coke machine next to the cash register (it didn’t work most of the time, but it gave one hope).

And on your walk back to the apartment with the warm pizza box in your hands, you’d wonder to yourself why you keep coming back to a place that sold pizza with flies stuck to them.

When you saw a black fleck or two stuck on the creamy,tangy hot mozzarella as it strung between the slice and your lips, you had to use your imagination and convince yourself they were just specs of pepper. And then as you swallowed, you remembered why you kept ordering pizzas with flies stuck to them—because his pizzas were just that damned good, that’s why.

Business must have been pretty good for that one-trick-pony pizzeria, because the pizza-tosser drove a cherry, top-of-the-line black Cadillac.

Mijin
03-26-2015, 07:24 AM
Really? Because most pizza places here just sell pizza.

Really.
Granted, I'm living in China...but more specifically in Shanghai, where there are quite a large number of pizza chains and individual pizza restaurants.
And the situation was the same when I lived in England. Pizza places do 90% pizza and 10% "other".

And it makes sense IMO. If you want your restaurant to cater to groups, well, there's often one person in the group who's not quite as into pizza as the rest, and would appreciate another option. Even if that other option is some microwaved piece of crap because the chef super-specializes towards only pizza.

Quimby
03-26-2015, 09:39 AM
Really? Because most pizza places here just sell pizza.

Here every Pizza place is either also an Italian Deli, Italian Restaurant or both. They will always sell Sub sandwiches and Italian food. At very least things like Chicken Parm and baked Ziti.

In fact I can't think of one that doesn't.

Cayuga
03-26-2015, 09:52 AM
Here in the NE US, every pizza place I've ever been to offers at least salads, calzones, and a couple of pasta dishes.

If I think "nothing but pizza," I think "maybe at places like Pizza Hut," but I see now that I'm wrong about that.

Sam Lowry
03-26-2015, 10:01 AM
This thread was prompted by a new Domino's TV ad, in which I was informed that it is no longer "Domino's Pizza," it is just "Domino's," because they have soooo much more to offer than just pizza now (at which point I was treated to a visual display of their many varied menu options).


I think it's just a different way to get attention. The commercial for "Try our new Cheese-Z Bread with Bacon and Sriracha!" will get more attention than "Order our pepperoni pizza that you've probably had before!" A lot of people will see that commercial for the new Domino's menu item, and think it sounds good or weird or disgusting, but it will be more memorable and stick out more than just a usual commercial for pepperoni pizza. And some of those people will then think about Domino's the next time they want to order some food. Some might order the new menu item, but that doesn't matter too much, as long as they are ordering from Domino's.

Smapti
03-26-2015, 10:10 AM
2) How annoying is it to work at one of these places now and have to master so many different menu items?

I used to manage a Jack in the Box, and it was a pain in the butt - Jack likes to roll out a new menu item about once a month, and more often than not, it'll include a new ingredient that employees have to learn how to prep and prepare with little notice. They do delete poorly-selling items from time to time, but the menu just gets larger and larger over time - when I left, we had three different sizes of hamburger patty, six kinds of chicken, ten different kinds of buns, two kinds of eggs, about two dozen different foods that cooked in the deep fryer, and all kinds of vegetables, salads, and setup bowls that had to be measured out in advance. I envied people who worked at places like In-n-Out or Dick's where they only had to worry about two or three different things.

stillownedbysetters
03-26-2015, 10:16 AM
God love 'em, they are catering to our ADD tendencies, the fact that we are overfed and don't really crave anything specific with much vigor, and to families with the type of children who pout because they only thing they'll eat is a hamburger and the family just can't stand another hamburger night.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the over-sized menus. I'd rather they do it the way Wendy's used to do it back in the day where you ordered the basic burger - single, double, or triple - and then asked for whatever additional items you wanted a la carte. Kept the menu simple, yet still allowed for customization.

And I don't need a big splashy menu board full of dozens of pictures of combo meals. Everyone knows what a combo meal is now. It's a sandwich, fries and a drink, with sizing options. List your numbered combos with one picture, not 10 or 12 pictures.

In a way, those big menu boards intimidate me. With so much to choose from, I want to take my time and read the choices, which is so not appreciated by the umpteen cars in line behind me nor the bored teenager at the order microphone. So basically, held hostage by the giant menu, I choose the same thing ever time I go to one of the fast food places anyway. Yes, I fear the fast food megamenu. You may shame me now.

pulykamell
03-26-2015, 10:19 AM
It's just a fast food burger.

Indeed. A burger in its perfect form. :)

amaguri
03-26-2015, 10:36 AM
Any publicly traded company is challenged to outperform previous years. One way to do that is through expansion, but in reality for a lot of established chains they've just about reached the point of saturation. Another way is to try and find that blockbuster item that will sell $zillions.

Sometimes it's weird even walking through a grocery store nowadays. We survived many years with just one type of Oreo, now there are at least a dozen varieties. Same for wheat thins, same for m&ms, varieties of coke, even varieties of milk (dairy and otherwise).

bump
03-26-2015, 10:57 AM
Here in the NE US, every pizza place I've ever been to offers at least salads, calzones, and a couple of pasta dishes.


Same in Texas, although I suspect that a lot of ours are either apeing the northeast originals, or were started by northeast transplants.

Most of them do make most of their money from pizza but they do usually offer other dishes- salads, some sort of baked pastas, and usually desserts.

Even the high-end pizza places have a few other things on the menu (http://www.doughpizzeria.com/our-menu/category/dinner/), even though they're VPN certified (verace pizzeria napoletana, or something like that).

nearwildheaven
03-26-2015, 11:42 AM
Really.
Granted, I'm living in China...but more specifically in Shanghai, where there are quite a large number of pizza chains and individual pizza restaurants.
And the situation was the same when I lived in England. Pizza places do 90% pizza and 10% "other".

And it makes sense IMO. If you want your restaurant to cater to groups, well, there's often one person in the group who's not quite as into pizza as the rest, and would appreciate another option. Even if that other option is some microwaved piece of crap because the chef super-specializes towards only pizza.

I know a woman who recently adopted two children from China. She and the rest of the family (husband and 4 biological children) ate at Pizza Hut because they are strict vegetarians, and knew they wouldn't be eating meat by accident if they went there.

Tread
03-26-2015, 11:52 AM
you look at a mcdonald's menu now, and there are dozens of menu items available for lunch and dinner. And it offers a similarly wide range of breakfast foods now.

This sort of gradual menu expansion seems to happen at all fast food chains over time, which leads me to wonder a couple of things:



2) how annoying is it to work at one of these places now and have to master so many different menu items?
.

Thoughts?

bwahahahahahah

WOOKINPANUB
03-26-2015, 11:56 AM
I have a rule when it comes to pizza, and it's served me well so far: I never buy pizza from a place that makes anything other than pizza. Pizza requires specialization. It can't be just another thing on the menu, it has to be the only thing on the menu.

I agree with this and would add that there is a certain "Jack of all trades, master of none" aspect to it. Diversify too much and you end up with a whole lot of mediocre items.

Also, fast food places tend to have their own pervasive <del>funk</del> aroma.
McDonald's food, no matter what you order, has a certain McDonaldy taste that is present in everything. I can't imagine eating a salad from there (though I know lots of people do). Who want a pizza with that underlying fried food taste? Every time I see a commercial for Papa John's and their pan cookie I picture someone sticking a blob of cookie dough in one of the deep dish pizza pans and letting it bake in the old pizza grease. Bleccccch.

Spoke
03-26-2015, 12:02 PM
Sometimes it's weird even walking through a grocery store nowadays. We survived many years with just one type of Oreo, now there are at least a dozen varieties. Same for wheat thins, same for m&ms, varieties of coke, even varieties of milk (dairy and otherwise).

Hadn't occurred to me, but yes, that's another example of the same phenomenon.

jz78817
03-26-2015, 12:14 PM
More importantly, with such a big menu, why isn't the mcrib on it?

I read something where the McRib patties are made from pork trimmings, which are only seasonally-available or something.

bienville
03-26-2015, 12:19 PM
I have a rule when it comes to pizza, and it's served me well so far: I never buy pizza from a place that makes anything other than pizza.
I just wanted to join the Alessan Pile-On.
Your rule sucks or Israel sucks or both. All of my favorite pizza places in the Philadelphia area also happen to make some of the best hoagies you can get. They also make excellent Cheesesteaks, maybe not the absolute best compared to specialty Cheesesteak places but excellent nonetheless.

Other places in the Northeast U.S. that have excellent pizza also have excellent full menu Italian food offerings.


The Northeast U.S. probably even has better Jewish food than Israel. ;)

joyfool
03-26-2015, 12:25 PM
bwahahahahahah


Would you like to share with the rest of the class?

On topic, I've often wondered how this menu "spread" affects drive-thru times. I know that's important in fast food, so I bet that really screws with how quick they can be when it takes your average customer forever just to find anything they're interested in amongst a sea of a billion items.

On the other hand, I'm probably the target audience for this kind of stuff. I love to try different crap, especially with weird ingredients. I'm sorry. :(

Procrustus
03-26-2015, 12:38 PM
Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
yeah, whatever. you can't cook fries in a single step. either they're underdone and mushy, or overcooked and greasy. look, In-n-Out is a fast food joint. It ain't great food, no matter how much you west coast types want to deify it.

I've never actually cooked fries, but I assumed there was only one step: put fries in hot oil until cooked. What are the other steps?

Procrustus
03-26-2015, 12:39 PM
Originally Posted by Alessan
I have a rule when it comes to pizza, and it's served me well so far: I never buy pizza from a place that makes anything other than pizza.

I've had excellent "flat bread pizza" is several relatively high end general menu restaurants. Granted, it's not traditional pizza, but it can be quite good.

bump
03-26-2015, 01:09 PM
I read something where the McRib patties are made from pork trimmings, which are only seasonally-available or something.

Supposedly it's made from pork shoulder, but that its seasonal appearances correspond pretty closely with low points in the pork price.

I don't know if that means that McDonald's waits for pork to be cheap, or if the introduction of the McRib causes pork prices to rise by itself though, and that's why it looks like it's always introduced in cheap pork times.

pulykamell
03-26-2015, 01:19 PM
I've never actually cooked fries, but I assumed there was only one step: put fries in hot oil until cooked. What are the other steps?

The traditional method is to parcook them in a slightly lower temperature oil (usually around 325F), then finish them off in a hotter oil (375-400F).

In N Out fries are, indeed, a bit lackluster. Even ordering them well done doesn't help. I don't think it has that much to do with frying and double frying. I've had great single-fried potatoes. It's just, I dunno, maybe the potatoes they use are just bland, or something. That said, I just skip the fries there, anyway. I go there for the what is to my tastes, my favorite burger. Fortunately for my waistline, I live hundreds of miles from the nearest one.

bump
03-26-2015, 02:56 PM
The traditional method is to parcook them in a slightly lower temperature oil (usually around 325F), then finish them off in a hotter oil (375-400F).


The issue tends to be that if you just fry them single-stage oil at a temp hot enough to make the outside crispy, you end up with either perfectly crisp outsides and raw innards, or overcooked/burnt outsides and cooked innards.

If you cook them first in the 300-325 oil, you effectively cook the potatoes, and then set up the outsides in a sort of gelatinized layer that later, when you fry them the second time, crisps up and browns very nicely.

Here's an article describing it in a lot more detail:

http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/01/the-burger-lab-why-double-fry-french-fries.html

Spoke
03-26-2015, 03:18 PM
No. :D

Fine. People go to Olive Garden for Italian-ish food. :D

Smapti
03-26-2015, 03:28 PM
Fine. People go to Olive Garden for Italian-ish food. :D

Insert relevant Mad TV sketch here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKZS4Jn6gRM)

Tibby
03-26-2015, 03:35 PM
Olive Garden is as authentic Italian as my dog is an authentic Jew (hint: Daisy doesn't eat Kosher Kibbles & Bits, or Snausages®).

Spoke
03-26-2015, 03:47 PM
Point is, what people don't go there for is hamburgers.

aruvqan
03-26-2015, 04:06 PM
Personally, I'm not a fan of the over-sized menus. I'd rather they do it the way Wendy's used to do it back in the day where you ordered the basic burger - single, double, or triple - and then asked for whatever additional items you wanted a la carte. Kept the menu simple, yet still allowed for customization.
.
Really works for me. I seem to remember you had to specify which condiments as well, it was not automatically catsup, mustard, pickle.

I am a proponent of minimalism - I don't want a burger with truffle catsup, a slice of foie fras, japanese black footed pig bacon hand cured by some monk in Timbuktu. Give me a good half pound patty, grill it to medium, good classic bun, catsup, slice of pickle, whole leaf lettuce and a slice of tomato as long as it is not one of those plastic hothouse tomatoes. Maybe seasoned with a sprinnkle of salt and pepper.
I've never actually cooked fries, but I assumed there was only one step: put fries in hot oil until cooked. What are the other steps?
Most commercial fries are precooked slightly - so all they are really doing is thawing and finish frying. Makes for a soft fluffy interior and a crispy outside.

I will say that I have tried 5 guys, in and out and the ones we have here in CT [McD, Wendys and Burger King] and I really am not thrilled with any of their fries but I really did like McDs back when they used whatever it was before they went vegan and healthy. I have a sensitivity to canola oil that gets used in most commercial salad dressings and fry oil blends at fastfood places so it really limits what I can eat. On road trips we take a cooler and sandwich makings, and our own salad dressing.

Smapti
03-26-2015, 04:13 PM
The best fast food fries I've ever had are the one's at Dick's in Seattle.

Which is surprising considering that their burgers are sub-McDonald's in quality.

Tibby
03-26-2015, 04:38 PM
Point is, what people don't go there for is hamburgers.
The hamburgers are on the menu for when little Billy looks his mom square in the eye and says in a low whisper, “if you make me eat this crappy Italian food, I’m putting Tigger in the microwave when we get home.”

Red Barchetta
03-26-2015, 04:40 PM
The best fast food fries I've ever had are the one's at Dick's in Seattle.

Which is surprising considering that their burgers are sub-McDonald's in quality.

That just means you weren't intoxicated enough ;) Their burgers are heavenly at 1:50am on a Friday/Sat night

DrCube
03-26-2015, 04:50 PM
Someone posted a mid-1970s picture of a McDonald's menu on Facebook recently and I thought it was interesting enough to download. It was so short I can retype it here:

1/4 Pounder w/cheese - .70
1/4 Pounder - .60
Big Mac - .65
Filet-O-Fish - .48
Cheeseburger - .33
Hamburger - .28
Large Order Fries - .46
French Fries - .26
Hot Apple Pie - .26
Milk - .20
Coffee - .15
Hot Chocolate - .15
Shakes (Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla Coffee)
- .35
Coca Cola Rootbeer Orangeade
- .15 and .20
Triple Ripple Ice Cream Cone
- .20


That's it. No combo meals, not a single item over a dollar. No chicken, salads... this must have even been before Happy Meals. Coffee shakes surprised me, though. I could go for one of those right now.

Spoke
03-26-2015, 05:04 PM
Yes, that list looks very familiar.

Thudlow Boink
03-26-2015, 05:04 PM
It seems to me that one reason a fast food restaurant adds new menu items is that it gives them something to advertise. They can run commercials that say "Come in and try our new ..." instead of "Come in and have the same crap we've been serving for the past two decades." And I'll admit that, on me, these kinds of ads do sometimes work: I do sometimes go to a fast food place I wouldn't otherwise go to just to try the new thing they're offering.

stegon66
03-26-2015, 05:05 PM
The "speed of service" issue is yet another problem with a vast menu, I guess.

I can vouch for this, having worked in a restaurant for many years. Complicated menu + obsession with keeping labor low + low wages (meaning you're not going to get the best people) means a clusterfuck. :smack:

swampspruce
03-26-2015, 05:06 PM
I have this issue with Tim Horton's in addition to what has been talked about above.
I'm in Timmys for a coffee and a doughnut, maybe a bowl of soup and a sandwich. I most certainly am not there for for effin' lasagna or bacon and eggs.

Tibby
03-26-2015, 05:18 PM
The hamburgers are on the menu for when little Billy looks his mom square in the eye and says in a low whisper, “if you make me eat this crappy Italian food, I’m putting Tigger in the microwave when we get home.”
Or, to put it in more simple terms:

Dad: Hey gang; let’s go out for dinner tonight!
Mom: Great Idea, honey, how about we get Italian? The Olive Garden’s just down the road!
Daughter Sally: Gee, that’s swell mom and dad, I’m raring to go! Let’s go put some revenue in Olive Garden’s maw!
Little Billy: Screw that; if you make me eat Italian, the cat gets it, capish?.
Chief Marketing Officer for Olive Garden (probably not Roman Catholic, but a Wasp): Hold on there, Billy boy, how’d you like something All American to eat? Huh? Like a hamburger! Get your clueless family in the station wagon and c’mon down to the Garden, we’ll even through in some fries for ya, son.

Spoke
03-26-2015, 05:59 PM
Oh, I'm sure that's the "thinking." I'm also sure there's not a kid out there who doesn't like spaghetti.

Tibby
03-26-2015, 09:05 PM
Oh, I'm sure that's the "thinking." I'm also sure there's not a kid out there who doesn't like spaghetti.
Well, sir, I wouldn't bet too heavily on that assumption if I were you. As a wee lad, I hated spaghetti. For one thing, I couldn’t pronounce it. ”B’sketti” was as close as I could get. But, more importantly, I, along with every other non-communist kid in the world, hated tomatoes, including anything made from tomatoes, including tomato sauce (I, of course, made an exception for ketchup, because, y’know…who doesn’t like ketchup?).

The only type of pasta I would eat as a child was “wagon wheel pasta” (http://everybodylikessandwiches.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/mac.jpg), smothered in salt and butter…lots and lots of butter. No tomato sauce (aka Satan’s blood), just butter. If I was a good boy (which I nearly always was), I’d be rewarded with even more butter dolloped onto my wagon wheels. Life was good for boys that were good.

Which brings me to a very serious question worthy of its own thread: where the hell did my wagon wheels go?

Wagon wheel pasta (aka “wheels”) is, without a doubt, the most perfect pasta shape known to mankind. Wheels are the perfect shape and size for negotiating into ones mouth, and incredibly, being able to do so with only one hand (none of this fork and spoon twirling nonsense). But, most importantly, "wheels" are easily “caught” by stabbing the wagon wheel spokes with the tines of your fork. Why the hell torture yourself trying to spin wiggly spaghetti, or linguini, or fettuccini onto your fork; or stab shells, or tubes, or whatever other ghastly shape there is in the vast world of pasta…when there are perfectly shaped wagon wheels available? It defies logic.

A world with no wagon wheel pasta in it is an abomination of nature. This type of mass pastacide is the type of semolina extermination only someone like Hitler would engage in. Yes, I said Hitler…or perhaps Attila, or maybe Vlad, the Impaler (although, I’m sure even Vlad would enjoy impaling wagon wheel pasta with his pikes for lunch).

I used to eat wagon wheel pasta with salt and butter very often as a child. It was my comfort food. When I turned (fighting and screaming) into an adult, I didn’t eat "wheels" as often, maybe once or twice a decade, when I was sick, with the flu or black plague. But, I was always assured that all was well in the world when I walked past the pasta section of the grocery store and saw my cherished wagon wheel pasta sitting, seductively, on the second shelf from the bottom, next to the spiral pasta (what kind of idiot likes spiral pasta?).

And then, one day, I didn’t see my wagon wheel pasta any more. Not in the grocery store I normally shop at, nor the 13 other grocery stores I scoped out in a desperate attempt to find my beloved wheels. Oh, sure, I can still find them for sale from Amazon. com, but, c’mon, do you really trust Amazon to deliver authentic wheels? Answer: nope.

Question 1: Why did wagon wheels disappear from the shelves of my grocery store?
Question 2: Do you have wagon wheels for sale at your grocery store?
Question 3: If you have wagon wheel pasta at your grocery store, would you be willing to trade a few boxes of it for, I dunno, a dog and a guinea pig? How about a 10 year old girl who can do heavy lifting?

actualliberalnotoneofthose
03-26-2015, 09:20 PM
Yeah, but is anybody really saying, "I'm going to Olive Garden for a hamburger"?

Or more to the point, "I'm not going to Olive Garden because the don't have hamburgers"?

Seems to me that if people go to Olive Garden, it's because they want Italian food. No?

I'm not the most social person or a fan of chain restaurants, but even I have gone to a restaurant with family and/or friends a few times in my life.

If my father-in-law or my mom or whoever invites me and my kids to the Olive Garden or Cracker Barrel or wherever, it might help if they have options.

My daughter doesn't eat pizza but sometimes can't avoid pizza joints for certain things- So it helps if she can order chicken tenders or whatever.

As far as the OP goes, and this has been discussed here frequently recently, McDonalds has been in the process of cutting back their menu. Menu expansion was one of the things blamed for their recent struggles.

Lasciel
03-26-2015, 09:21 PM
Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/DaVinci-Pasta-Short-Wagon-Wheels/dp/B00186ZO42) is your friend, yo.

actualliberalnotoneofthose
03-26-2015, 09:24 PM
I have this issue with Tim Horton's in addition to what has been talked about above.
I'm in Timmys for a coffee and a doughnut, maybe a bowl of soup and a sandwich. I most certainly am not there for for effin' lasagna or bacon and eggs.

Yet I don't consider any of those dessert pastry food things to be breakfast in any sense. My wife/kids do. So, when my kids ask for donuts I like to be able to get some sort of egg sandwich. (I would consider the soup and sandwich to be more odd in a donut place. Except for, you know, egg sandwiches).

actualliberalnotoneofthose
03-26-2015, 09:27 PM
I am a proponent of minimalism - I don't want a burger with truffle catsup, a slice of foie fras, japanese black footed pig bacon hand cured by some monk in Timbuktu. Give me a good half pound patty, grill it to medium, good classic bun, catsup, slice of pickle, whole leaf lettuce and a slice of tomato as long as it is not one of those plastic hothouse tomatoes. Maybe seasoned with a sprinnkle of salt and pepper.

A 1/2 lb patty is pretty exotic for a fast food burger. I can't think of any. Of course, medium isn't "allowed" either.

actualliberalnotoneofthose
03-26-2015, 09:29 PM
To add to the fries debate:
I cook mine 3 times.

StarvingButStrong
03-26-2015, 10:29 PM
Question 1: Why did wagon wheels disappear from the shelves of my grocery store?


They've been taken over by Hitler, Attila, and Vlad, Inc?

Question 2: Do you have wagon wheels for sale at your grocery store?


Yes. I have a box in my cupboard right now. In fact, I used some in the minestrone I made over last weekend. (I share your distaste for shell pasta. The damn things always end up 'nesting' like limpets, which leaves the innermost surfaces uncooked. Yuck.


Question 3: If you have wagon wheel pasta at your grocery store, would you be willing to trade a few boxes of it for, I dunno, a dog and a guinea pig? How about a 10 year old girl who can do heavy lifting?

Nope. You got a parakeet maybe?

Shagnasty
03-26-2015, 11:14 PM
"If we offer more things, we can sell more things!"

"Sell ALL THE THINGS!"

There was a decrepit looking restaurant somewhere in the middle of the country that prided itself on being able to make any dish a customer could order on demand. They were so sure of that fact that they made $100 guarantee that, if you ordered something they couldn't make, you got the cash handed to you personally by the manager.

One day, a feisty old couple travelling the country by RV stopped by and noticed the sign. They thought about it for a while and the husband ordered two dozen oysters on the half shell as an appetizer even though there was no seafood on the menu. The waitress curled her eyebrows and the couple felt victory was at hand until she asked them to clarify their order. Their are many different types of raw oysters and they had them all. Sure enough, she brought out a sampler platter a few minutes later for them to try and followed it up with their full order once they knew what they really wanted.

The couple was both astonished and irritated because two dozen raw oysters are not cheap so they decided to double down on the entree order. The husband ordered a water buffalo steak cooked perfectly medium rare and the wife ordered an elephant ear on a bun. They waited and waited until they saw the waitress getting frantic. Finally, the manager came over and handed them a $100 bill. They exclaimed "Hah, I knew you didn't have water buffalo steak or elephant ears". The manger replied, "No, it sin't that. We just ran out of buns".

Tibby
03-27-2015, 12:11 AM
Shag, baby, that reminds me of a rule I developed and imposed on myself after 5 unfortunate experiences (hey, some of us are slow learners) and that is: do not order raw oysters from any eating establishment that advertises “fresh caught seafood” if they are in a podunk nowhere-burg with no airport, rail line or major highway, and are more than 1000 miles from any sea.

Alessan
03-27-2015, 06:29 AM
I just wanted to join the Alessan Pile-On.
Your rule sucks or Israel sucks or both. All of my favorite pizza places in the Philadelphia area also happen to make some of the best hoagies you can get. They also make excellent Cheesesteaks, maybe not the absolute best compared to specialty Cheesesteak places but excellent nonetheless.

Other places in the Northeast U.S. that have excellent pizza also have excellent full menu Italian food offerings.



I stand by what IO say I've eaten enough crappy pizza at "dairy" restaurants and buffets to come to the conclusion that to make pizza right, a place has to be first and foremost a pizza place. My rule may be a bit draconian, but it's served me well so far (and besides, Israelis aren't that big oon sandwiches that don't involved pitas)


The Northeast U.S. probably even has better Jewish food than Israel. ;)



That's probably true, because what American define as "Jewish food" - deli sandwiches, bagels and whatnot - is actually American Jewish food, born on Delancy Street, not the Polish shtetle. To an Israeli, Jewish food means falafel and burekas, not the Ruben.

pulykamell
03-27-2015, 08:01 AM
The issue tends to be that if you just fry them single-stage oil at a temp hot enough to make the outside crispy, you end up with either perfectly crisp outsides and raw innards, or overcooked/burnt outsides and cooked innards.

If you cook them first in the 300-325 oil, you effectively cook the potatoes, and then set up the outsides in a sort of gelatinized layer that later, when you fry them the second time, crisps up and browns very nicely.

Here's an article describing it in a lot more detail:

http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/01/the-burger-lab-why-double-fry-french-fries.html

Heh. I almost linked to that myself in my post. If you're making a small serving of fries for yourself and maybe a friend or two, there's a single fry trick that works really well. I believe I got this from Cook's Illustrated. Take your freshly cut up spuds and put them into a pot of cold. Set it on medium high on the burner and pull when brown and crispy. They taste and feel very much like double fried fries.

Quimby
03-27-2015, 08:08 AM
Someone posted a mid-1970s picture of a McDonald's menu on Facebook recently and I thought it was interesting enough to download. It was so short I can retype it here:

1/4 Pounder w/cheese - .70
1/4 Pounder - .60
Big Mac - .65
Filet-O-Fish - .48
Cheeseburger - .33
Hamburger - .28
Large Order Fries - .46
French Fries - .26
Hot Apple Pie - .26
Milk - .20
Coffee - .15
Hot Chocolate - .15
Shakes (Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla Coffee)
- .35
Coca Cola Rootbeer Orangeade
- .15 and .20
Triple Ripple Ice Cream Cone
- .20


That's it. No combo meals, not a single item over a dollar. No chicken, salads... this must have even been before Happy Meals. Coffee shakes surprised me, though. I could go for one of those right now.

Interesting. FWIW $0.70 in 1975 is worth $3.05 now which means Quarter Pounders (which are apparently $3.79 now according to Google) only rose a little faster than inflation.

I also would love a Coffee Shake. I think they do sell a Coffee ice cream type drink which is probably almost the same thing.

pulykamell
03-27-2015, 08:11 AM
Take your freshly cut up spuds and put them into a pot of cold.

That should read "into a pot of cold oil."

bump
03-27-2015, 08:49 AM
Heh. I almost linked to that myself in my post. If you're making a small serving of fries for yourself and maybe a friend or two, there's a single fry trick that works really well. I believe I got this from Cook's Illustrated. Take your freshly cut up spuds and put them into a pot of cold. Set it on medium high on the burner and pull when brown and crispy. They taste and feel very much like double fried fries.

Never would have thought of that, but it sounds like it would work really well!

swampspruce
03-27-2015, 09:42 AM
Yet I don't consider any of those dessert pastry food things to be breakfast in any sense. My wife/kids do. So, when my kids ask for donuts I like to be able to get some sort of egg sandwich. (I would consider the soup and sandwich to be more odd in a donut place. Except for, you know, egg sandwiches).

I realize that sounds inherently contradictory that I would rail against breakfast sandwiches and not "regular" sandwiches but I still remember when Timmy's was pastries, coffee and soup/sandwich items. Their misguided attempt to be all things to everyone has resulted in an overall decrease in what made them good in the first place. Cost cutting measures like premade frozen dough and this plethora of items has made them shittier, not better, with time.

FWIW, I think even the coffee at McDs is better now than T-Hos , as are the breakfast items, and this is coming from someone who generally avoids the Clown whenever possible.

That Don Guy
03-27-2015, 10:49 AM
never been to Five Guys, but IMO In-N-Out is massively, massively overrated. Their burgers are decent (but still a fast-food burger) and their fries are garbage.
I see it the other way around - the burger is good, but overpriced, but the fries are some of the best fast-food fries I have ever had (probably because they aren't crispy).

I used to manage a Jack in the Box, and it was a pain in the butt - Jack likes to roll out a new menu item about once a month, and more often than not, it'll include a new ingredient that employees have to learn how to prep and prepare with little notice.
When I saw this thread, the first thing that came to mind was JITB - especially the commercial from a few years ago:
A customer walks into a generic competitor's fast food restaurant.
"Breakfast?" "Burger"
Jack then goes into a short spiel about his breakfast menu.
"Lunch?" "Burger"
Another spiel about the lunch options - "not just burgers."
"Dinner?" "Burger"
Yet another spiel, this time about larger items for dinner.
In other words, the varied menu was a selling point for JITB.

pulykamell
03-27-2015, 12:21 PM
Never would have thought of that, but it sounds like it would work really well!

I found a more detailed link here. (http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/easier-french-fries-cold-oil-method-cooks-illustrated-415262)

Smapti
03-27-2015, 12:35 PM
In other words, the varied menu was a selling point for JITB.

Oh, it definitely was a selling point. How they expected us to execute that menu with a speed of service goal of 3 minutes and 30 seconds from when a car pulls up to the order box to when they leave the drive-thru, and cook everything to order (when most products have a cook time of 2-3 minutes), they were a little more vague on.

No umlaut for U
03-27-2015, 11:24 PM
Have to get on the McD's coffee bandwagon. Best idea ever. Now, if they'd just bring back the chicken biscuits.
Didn't the original McD menu expansion come from the Lenten fast, when burger revenue would just tank?

Today I just don't think of the hamburger as the one item every kid will eat. Seems like it's chicken fingers/nuggets instead. And I'm really one with the wagon wheel pasta with butter deal. Butter only was the only way I'd eat pasta until a light came down from the heavens, and alfredo sauce hit the US midwest.

RTFirefly
03-28-2015, 06:32 AM
I work at a fast food place where we have a lot of different menu items. There are some things that come around seasonally each year, but most of our new offerings are just recombining ingredients that we use anyway.Reminds me of Taco Bell's Five Ingredients Combined In Totally New Way (http://www.theonion.com/articles/taco-bells-five-ingredients-combined-in-totally-ne,3781/).

RTFirefly
03-28-2015, 06:54 AM
Well, sir, I wouldn't bet too heavily on that assumption if I were you. As a wee lad, I hated spaghetti. For one thing, I couldn’t pronounce it. ”B’sketti” was as close as I could get. But, more importantly, I, along with every other non-communist kid in the world, hated tomatoes, including anything made from tomatoes, including tomato sauce (I, of course, made an exception for ketchup, because, y’know…who doesn’t like ketchup?).

The only type of pasta I would eat as a child was “wagon wheel pasta” (http://everybodylikessandwiches.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/mac.jpg), smothered in salt and butter…lots and lots of butter. No tomato sauce (aka Satan’s blood), just butter. If I was a good boy (which I nearly always was), I’d be rewarded with even more butter dolloped onto my wagon wheels. Life was good for boys that were good. Comparing with the Firebug, currently age 7:
Likes spaghetti.
But eats it the way you ate your wagon wheel pasta - just with butter and salt.
Pronounced it ”P’sketti” (definitely more of a 'P' sound than a 'B', but otherwise right there)
Hates tomatoes and tomato sauce
Loves ketchup

But good question about the wagon wheels, because I remember them from way back, but can't remember when I've seen them last. The Firebug is a bit of a messy eater with spaghetti, so I'd like to try them out on him, but I'd want to see if he reliably liked them before ordering 12 bags through Amazon per Lasciel's link.

But in response to this:
Why the hell torture yourself trying to spin wiggly spaghetti, or linguini, or fettuccini onto your fork; or stab shells, or tubes, or whatever other ghastly shape there is in the vast world of pasta…when there are perfectly shaped wagon wheels available?
I've almost never seen anyone do the twirling thing in real life. I've always assumed that maybe native Italians, and some Italian-Americans, did that, and maybe a few of us Anglos did it as an affectation. But pretty much everyone I know uses the edge of their fork to cut a bite-sized chunk of spaghetti and sauce, then slides the fork under it to get it into one's mouth. No muss, no fuss, occasional dangling spaghetti, but not much when it happens.

Spud
03-28-2015, 04:27 PM
I've almost never seen anyone do the twirling thing in real life. I've always assumed that maybe native Italians, and some Italian-Americans, did that, and maybe a few of us Anglos did it as an affectation. But pretty much everyone I know uses the edge of their fork to cut a bite-sized chunk of spaghetti and sauce, then slides the fork under it to get it into one's mouth. No muss, no fuss, occasional dangling spaghetti, but not much when it happens.

That is funny... my experience is the exact opposite. The only ones I see cutting the spaghetti are Moms doing it for their kids.

silenus
03-28-2015, 07:07 PM
That is funny... my experience is the exact opposite. The only ones I see cutting the spaghetti are Moms doing it for their kids.

Exactly. People who cut pasta would probably jack-light deer or take 17 items through the "15 or fewer" lane at the grocery store.

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