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.”
Just when I think I’ve seen it all, along comes fried Coke. Earlier this year I saw a major Southern California “quick service” food chain promoting their deep-fried fries. That’s right – fries that are breaded and … fried.
I barely had time to recover from that one before fried soda burst onto the scene in several versions. There are fried Coke rings, in which the corn-syrup liquid is frozen, breaded in some variation of corn starch, and deep fried in (of course) corn oil.
The article linked below highlights what appear to be deep-fried Coke bonbons. Fortunately, they are drizzled with syrup and powdered sugar, thereby accelerating consumers from mere obesity, diabetes and heart disease to plain old death. I’m glad to see that science and the spirit of innovation are alive and well across our great land. Of that, we can be proud. Besides, next year, plans are in the works for a version that really keeps your health in mind:
“Next year’s fair-goers can look forward to fried Sprite or — for those watching their weight — fried diet Coke.”
Here’s the clickativity for the above quote and the story.
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.
The Harvard School of Public Health has announced the results of a painstaking 20-year study: fat does not make you fat, or sick, or anything else we’ve been taught about fat. In fact, a high-fat, high-protein diet does not contribute to heart disease. This is a mammoth issue in health right now, but the debate has been building behind the scenes of the drug, medical and food industries since the 1940s. I’ll be addressing it frequently.
For now, bear in mind, I have to stress that I am talking good fats (fish, avocados, nuts and the like). This is not a license to gorge on bacon (though I don’t think saturated fat is the health monster it’s been made out to be).
For those who have a hankering for some clickativity, the article as printed in Time this week.
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