The ICEE has often been imitated, but purists know that nothing compares with the blue-and-red-striped cup and the incredibly cold and sweet liquid ice. And the inevitable brain freeze.
Maybe this is just idyllic childhood talking, but didn't there used to be an ICEE machine on practically every corner? Or at least in every gas station? These days, the machines aren't
exactly rare, but it can be hard to find one. Especially when you need
an ICEE fix on 100-degree days like we've had this week.
Enter the ICEE location tracker.
Ed McMahon's death was sort of overshadowed by all the rest of the news in the world yesterday. But let's not forget the man who introduced, sat next to and laughed with Johnny Carson for three decades. McMahon also starred in his share of commercials, most famously for Publishers Clearing House and Cash4Gold. But back in the late '60s and early '70s, Ed McMahon was Mr. Budweiser, his everyman persona and friendly demeanor extolling the virtues of "America's greatest beer."
For better or worse, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank has seen his profile rise in the past year. He's chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and was one of the bailout's most vocal backers, urging fellow members to pass it. Then, after losing confidence in Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, he became one of the most vocal backers for putting restrictions on that same TARP money.
But when Frank is not saving the economy, he's got other things on his mind, specifically sweet, sweet bud.
Gone are the days when a menu was a simple piece of paper listing items and prices. Restaurants see it as the last piece of advertising a guest sees before ordering. So it's only natural that large restaurant chains have brought in psychologists and sociologists and lots of other professions whose titles end in "ologist" to make menus as effective as can be.
Certain little tricks can improve sales up to 10 percent, according to the National Restaurant Association. The adjective "marinated" increases sales while "fried" has the opposite effect. (Try pan-browned instead.) Daily specials should be highlighted in a different font or preferably a different color. Pictures and drawings help. The "power position" on the menu should be on the right page and just above center level. This is the spot for items with "high margin and appeal." Dollar signs are to be avoided.
Some good examples in Kansas City:
When I was younger, oysters were slimy things, often bought from the tin, and often smoked ... Now as I've aged (and have moved to a region of the country where oysters are plentiful), I find myself migrating to dishes that contain the mollusk, regardless of whether it's raw, cooked, or deep fried.Why and how do our tastes evolve? It's mostly a mystery. Of the five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), children seemed programmed to react positively to sweetness and adversely to bitterness. As people reach adolescence, saltiness starts playing a more important role and sweetness takes a back seat. (People remain divided on bitter.) It stays relatively the same for adults, though our sense of smell decreases with age, causing older people seek out stronger foods.
But it's not just oysters. Other foods that I have once disdained I've recently rediscovered. The ultimate test, I suppose, if anyone could make liver an interesting treat.
Pity the poor Hooter's waitress. Not only does she have to do the extremely demanding job of serving while wearing warning-vest-orange shorts, but lately rival chains have been swooping up loyal customers with cheaper food and even more scantily clad women.
As if that wasn't bad enough, she has to deal with a slew of corporate rules. Even down to the color of her bra.
German curator Mike Meire has put together a collection of street-vendor carts from around the world. His show, Global Street Food, is "dedicated to the fascination with improvised kitchens in public places. Urban fast food stations
navigating the contrast between pragmatic dilettantism and complexity in the smallest of spaces."
The collection focuses on the countries of Vietnam, Uganda, China, Sudan, Mexico, Argentina and the good ol' USA. The above picture is of a sausage and cheese cart native to Argentina.
Let it be said once and for all that when it comes to ketchup, no restaurant should mess around with anything but Heinz. Sure, it's all well and good to have premium house-made ketchup but if some people don't want that (and they won't) you better have that classic awkward-pouring glass bottle ready just in case.
There are only a few other food basics that merit such loyalty. Hershey's chocolate syrup, Oreo cookies, Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot Sauce and Sriracha, for instance. Yet in categories where there's no one correct product people still buy name brands over store brands. Is it worth it to spend the extra 50 cents on Jolly Green Giant spinach versus the grocery store's brand?
The financial Web site The Street looked into the question and came up with a surprising conclusion: As the difference in quality between name brands and store brands has declined, the social stigma of buying the cheaper store brand has all but disappeared.
The movie Food, Inc comes out later this week, promising to rip into Big Ag and all the evil it has done.
Big Ag, or Big Food as it's also called (really, anything with "big" in the title will work, the better to remind people of similarities to Big Tobacco) consists of a handful of companies -- Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Mars -- that control a majority of food products.
The companies have drawn the ire of green supporters for years, but it's only been recently, through the efforts of writers like Michael Pollan and books such as Fast Food Nation, that the public has come to understand the practices of Big Ag. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack happen to be two people influenced by the green movement and this has Big Ag worried.
But as Slate reports, Big Ag's worries go well beyond the government. The weather has been particularly unkind the past several years, with unbearably hot summers, late-season freezes and droughts. It's a catch-22 for the industry: Its model of cheap food is built on cheap fuel to bring water to plants, make fertilizer and transport products. But fossil fuels only exacerbate the problems of nature.
Last year's spike in oil prices quickly drove food prices higher, evenAlthough Slate doesn't mention it, what it's implying is that Big Ag will eventually lead us to a dust-bowl situation where a combination of Mother Nature and bad farming practices leads to disaster. Signs of another Dust Bowl have begun to appear in California, where a lack of rain for the last three years has led to permanent drought conditions and an abundance of wildfires.
contributing to food shortages in parts of the world ... And then there are the reports that the world is down to a few decades' supply of phosphorus,
a key ingredient in synthetic fertilizer. One of Big Food's favorite
refrains is the need for synthetics in order to feed the world. Yet it
continues to lack long-term plans for providing adequate, affordable
amounts of the stuff.
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