I have to hand it to Taco Bell for being both devastatingly brilliant and unforgivably evil. In a new campaign called the Fourth Meal, they’re pumping the fourth meal (yes…“the meal between dinner and breakfast”) with a dazzling disregard for health, ethics, decency and taste.
Normally, I tend to admire rebels and rule-breakers. I don’t exactly have best friends over at Big Pharma. And I understand Taco Bell isn’t in business to kiss babies and hug Aunt Sue. Taco Bell is in business for the same reason everyone else is: to make some cash. Hopefully, you can make some cash while doing something good. Not so with el Taco. To that end, their marketers are brilliant.
Running a late-night campaign obviously aimed at college kids, night owls and (let’s be frank) bar flies – and being so blatantly cavalier about – is smart business.
The website is so cool, it’s appalling. At the site, viewers can choose to enter as a hip young man or woman. Next up, you pick trendy threads to wear. You navigate a late-night, funky urban street. Via a glossy black virtual handheld device (of course), you can talk, make buddies, and play – you can become a “Fourth Mealer”.
That’s right: Taco Bell is pushing an entire online community a la MySpace, Friendster, Squidoo (and your very own Mark’s Daily Apple) devoted entirely to feeling cool about scarfing a late night meal complete with the Taco Bell version of the four food groups: Melty, Crunchy, Spicy, Grilled.
Hey, I was a college kid once; maybe you were, too. We’ve all had a wild night (or ten) at some point in our lives. I don’t hold anything against Taco Bell for wanting to make a buck. In fact, I advocate a fourth meal – in the sense that I advocate several small meals throughout the day to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels and keep the metabolism firing full speed ahead.
But let’s consider, just for a second, if Taco Bell could have done something different. Kids are smart. They also like to rebel against authority. Don’t we all?
What if Taco Bell had incorporated a few healthy items into their menu, marketed them as still being tasty (surely the food chemists can handle that order), and gone with the whole Fourth Meal campaign anyway. Only, instead of advocating the late-night consumption of complete garbage, pitching the healthy Fourth Meal as something only college kids and night owls would really “get”.
Taco Bell: “Hey, it’s late. The parental units are home in bed and feeling great about their three squares. Your boss thinks you’re still at the office and your professor thinks you’re studying for that exam. Right. All the nerds are probably reading and listening to Beethoven. But you need a little veg, a little protein, and a little taste – now. So you’re eating a cheap, fast, healthy meal because you have a life. You’re a fourth-mealer. You either get it or you don’t.”
Researchers at Orchard University are burning the midnight oil as they attempt to determine how a single slice of the Cheesecake Factory’s carrot cake contains more calories than any of the combo “pick a number” meals at McDonald’s.
A professor leading the study quietly admitted to our reporters that we are probably closer to an understanding of string theory than a conclusive answer to what has been dubbed the “Carrot Cake Conundrum”. The professor has asked to remain anonymous to avoid jeopardizing her standing in the scientific community. “It’s the elephant in the room. No one wants to admit that we may never have an answer.”
The slice of carrot cake, which at 1 lb. weighs a lot more than even the largest of carrots, contains 1,560 calories. That’s well within the range of satisfying most people’s daily caloric intake needs. And it’s over twice the amount of calories in the Factory’s Original Cheesecake (a mere 710 calories).
Further confounding to the researchers is the fact that the cake does not appear to contain much carrot at all. The main ingredients are corn oil, cream cheese, eggs, butter, palm oil, butter, and hydrogenated palm oil. With 84 grams of fat crammed into six inches of sweetness, this dessert truly takes the cake.
The Cheesecake Factory does not reveal calories willingly – you really have to dig. Fortunately, there’s Google. Search “Cheesecake Factory nutrition information” and you’ll find lots of Factory quotes that all boil down to some variation of the following:
“Thank you for your interest in The Cheesecake Factory. Because we change our recipes and menu often, we do not currently have nutrition information for our menu selections.
Guest Services for The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants, Inc.”
I think the more appropriate quote should be:
“Thank you for your interest in The Cheesecake Factory. Because we change our recipes and menu often, we [insert lie here].”
Here’s the Clickativity.
The Fuming Fuji is outraged at the marketing of toxic food, especially when it’s aimed at the small fry. This week, the Fuming Fuji has decided to have a serious problem with popcorn shrimp.
But, Fuming Fuji, you ask, isn’t popcorn shrimp rich in protein? I thought seafood was healthy! Aren’t we supposed to eat more fish?
The Fuming Fuji says no!
The claim: Shrimp are a low-fat, high-protein food, and we all know seafood is very good for you. So what’s a little bit of breading?
The catch: Popcorn shrimp are breaded in a chemical-bleached-flour concoction. Next, they are fried in trans-fats. Also, shrimp are disgusting.
The comeback: But Fuming Fuji, isn’t a little fat okay? It’s better than fried chicken, right?
The conclusion: Shrimp are very bad for you, especially when dipped in a sugary mess of flour and deep-fried. Shrimp are not your friends. They are not fish. They are sea-bugs.
The catchphrase: Do not eat fried bugs of the sea!
Disclaimer: Mark Sisson and the Worker Bees do not necessarily endorse the views of the Fuming Fuji.
If you haven’t already done so, make the switch to organic animal products (dairy, eggs, and meat). It’s a little more expensive, but well worth the cost if you can spare it. I see people insisting on organic produce, which is great, too. But if cost is a concern, organic animal products are the better health investment. Sure, regular veggies might have some pesticides, but regular animal products almost always contain those same pesticides, along with antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, infectious bacteria and pus. Yes. You read that correctly.
You can wash contaminants off a bell pepper. I’m not sure how to accomplish that with milk.
Go on, make the switch right now!
Why eat tuna when you could eat…Tuno? That’s what Peta is hoping you’ll want to do. They offer 10 reasons to eschew eating all our dear fish friends, from tuna to salmon (here’s the clickativity).
In actuality, they offer two reasons, five different ways (human health, fish feel pain). I get a little peeved by this kind of repetitive illogic. Just make your two reasons convincing!
That said, I don’t really have anything against Peta, or against vegetarians. My wife and son have both tried vegetarianism in different forms over the years. I’ve never really understood the people who have an actual problem with vegetarians’ motives. While I personally believe eating fish and meat is healthy and natural, and I think Tuno is just plain ridiculous, I’m stumped by the anger I see at times. Call vegetarianism sentimental or unnatural if you like, but think about it: “I’m gonna get really riled up about the fact that you’re trying to be…nice.” I just don’t see how vegheads are threatening, but then, I also know real men aren’t afraid of salad.
As far as Tuno is concerned, I do want to suggest that you avoid mock-meats or faux-fish in whatever latest incarnation you see. While mercury toxicity is a concern if you eat a lot of fish, particularly tropical-water fish, let’s think about the alternatives being prescribed. Eating a processed soy- or grain-based artificial food is hardly a reasonable alternative.
Here’s an incredibly easy rule of thumb: did the food start this way? An apple started as an apple. A filet of fish started as fish. Foods people typically think are “healthy”, such as fruit leather, protein bars, and now Tuno, really aren’t much better for you than what you’d find in your local middle school vending machine (now there’s another peeve!). Though there are a few exceptions, I will say that any food that is highly-processed and generally unrecognizable from where it started is not fuel fit for consumption. Really.
Two easy solutions to the mercury concerns:
1) Eat mostly cold-water fish, such as Alaskan salmon and Arctic cod.
2) Supplement with an Rx-quality, filtered fish oil.
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