Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fast Food Madness

I've eaten a lot of fast food in my life. And I've enjoyed it much of the time. There I said it.

So I am not usually a fanatic about such things. I like to say that there's a time and place for everything.

For perspective, I hark back to a story I heard about 20 years ago on the beach at Koi Samui in Thailand. My friend and I met an American recently returned from a long trip to "Mainland" China, as we then called it then. This was shortly after China opened its doors to foreign travelers, and it was far from the economic powerhouse with ever-rising prosperity that it is today. It was still an incredibly primitive and backward place. In contrast to today, a universal complaint from travelers to the country was the incredibly bad food. People told horror stories about greasy chicken backs and feet atop tasteless piles of rice.

After enduring weeks of horrible food, our friend described a joyous visit to McDonald's shortly after his arrival in Hong Kong.

"I'll never run down McDonald's again," he told us, his voice dead serious.

But now I have to reconsider my somewhat nuanced position. No it's not Fast Food Nation, although that superb book made me far more skeptical about the industry. It's this, which my friend Eleanor highlights on her blog. Burger King searched the world for "Whopper Virgins" -- people who had never had eaten a Whopper or a Big Mac -- to conduct a "blind" taste test. The company will make commercials with the results.

Watch the video. Words fail. Diabolic? Horrific? Sick? If I didn't know better, I'd swear the footage is from the latest Borat movie or a Saturday Night Live fake film. As Tony Bourdain would say, this is so wrong on so many levels.

No wonder the world hates us.

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