Free food makes people crazy. We act irrationally when given the promise of a free sample bag of flavored popcorn or presented with orange chicken on a toothpick. We eat what we would never be willing to pay to eat, precisely because it is free.
So, while you might be tempted by a free meal, are you ever concerned about the price of a menu item? Will we ever see a backlash against the dollar and value menus of this world?
Last week, Taco Bell was selling its Crunchwrap Supreme for 88 cents. Granted, that was a limited-time promotion, but even at the regular price of $2.39, I'm not walking through that door until somebody figures out the exact nature of the chain's beef.
Value is a big buzzword in the restaurant industry right now. Every restaurateur who is still in business is preaching that he has to show his customers value for their money because he'll tell you that it is value that is bringing people back. However, in the quest to out-value the other guy, I wonder if price is substituted for value.
A dollar is clearly the magic number in fast food. Arby's won't stop trying to tell me that I need five roast-beef sandwiches for $5.95. Odd numbers aside -- am I going out to lunch with four friends? or three dogs and their trainer? -- I know what goes into making a roast-beef sandwich, and based on time and the cost of ingredients, that's a sandwich that should cost more than $1.
The idea is not to pick on fast food, but instead ask if the cost of food production should enter the discussion in choosing what we eat, in the same fashion that counting calories is suddenly in fashion. I have very few hard and fast rules about what I eat. Our world is simply too complex (and I would be too unhappy) attempting to control everything that's on my plate. But I do attempt to limit my consumption of food that is priced irrationally low.
Is a cheap lunch just a part of how you make ends meet, or are there some foods that simply shouldn't be that cheap?
[Image via Flickr: crossbow]
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