Fall 2010, I challenged myself to go the entire semester without consuming a single thing from Wendy’s. Why Wendy’s? Well, they seem to have a geographical monopoly on my campus, with three locations all within a short walking distance. The amazing part is that all the stores have great customer traffic, but they serve different clientele.
Triad of Wendy’s at the University of Texas at Austin
After completing the No Wendy’s Challenge last semester, I thought I would go out to eat to celebrate. So… I went to Wendy’s! I wanted understand why the fast food experience can be dangerous from a non-nutritional/environmental stand point. I want to bring your focus to the misleading language used to promote gluttonous consumption (of not just food), and how the convenience leads us to eat mindlessly.
I don’t particularly like Wendy’s “Old Fashioned” take on fast food, but because of its convenience –and 99 cent menu– many of us students find it a “real value” to fill our gut here. What I find interesting as Language Major is the the vocabulary used to sell the satisfaction of Wendy’s products. The words they use are misleading and promote mass consumption in order to satisfy a lustful never ending hunger. That a “Hot ‘n Juicy” Baconator or Triple with Cheese are “Satisfaction on a bun”. The idea of meat is melt in your mouth pleasure held true in my most recent dining experience. I went to go have a bacon deluxe cheeseburger; the same thing I ordered when I was a kid just except now it came with another patty. Back in the days, I used to order them “dry” (like many college kids still order it) with just a slab of meat, melted cheese, stuck in a bun; but Wendy’s “premium toppings” sounded so satisfying that I couldn’t. To be honest, I was hoping the vegetables would help me digest the half pound of meat on the burger.
After unwrapping my burger, here was the language found on the wrapper:
- 100% Fresh, Never Frozen Beef (you know… that actually scares me, coming from a huge chain like Wendy’s)
- Apple Wood Smoked Bacon (interesting how adding the words “apple” and “wood” make it sound so hot!)
- Hand Leafed Lettuce ( To leaf: to turn the pages of a book, as to glance quickly. Leafed inspection?)
- Thicker, Hand Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes (mmm thick red juicy meaty… tomahkalee workers?)
- Butter Toasted Bun (everything thing is suppose to give you this idea of melt in your mouth)
Also there was bunch of language about oils, etc for the health conscious but I was more interested in Wendy’s descriptions of the ingredients since “quality is their recipe”.
The fast food experience is pretty amazing, shocking people who actually cook food, because it flows so smooth. I got in line to order my celebration meal and was slightly thrown off because they changed the combo number I always ordered when I was a kid. My favorite bacon burger aka “a #4” was replaced with the bigger “better” Baconator! Thinking my body would hate me if I ate that, I ordered my classic bacon burger, now “a #5”, and was surprised again when the worker asked me how many patties I wanted. I always remember my #4 –I mean #5– having one patty but now they had new options for a double, or even triple layer burger! I choose the double assuming many people order it, the middle option, thinking it was a better deal without feeling too piggish. With my “small” 20 oz cup (a real “cup” is 8oz), I went to fill up my drink from a fountain of soda, then off to the next station to get my little pails of ketchup, then off to the next to gather more paper– “#55! Your order’s ready!” My meal was ready before I even finished collecting my napkins and straw. In total, it was just under two mins.
To me, I see this as a smooth criminal, where the fast food experience attempts to distract your hunger for few minutes so you won’t become upset waiting to eat. I am amazed at the society we have allowed to be created where people become almost furious when their food doesn’t come instantly.
After I collected my food, I went and sat outside (usually not an option). It felt pretty ironic eating this ugly food (pictures. LIES!) in a beautiful outdoor setting. The food also didn’t feel beautiful on my stomach either. Only after 14 mins my gut started to hurt. Normally, I would have already ate the entire meal and have left, after getting a refill of soda of course, but I was taking so many notes that I was forced to eat slower. I stuffed myself for the experiment since that is what most us do instead of “wasting” food.
Fast Food is considered ugly, poor, and bad by many in the US. Even with the negative connotations, we still eat the stuff for many reasons. But instead of thinking of it as a “bad” food, maybe we should think of it as a work of art. The food has been highly designed to draw in, then distract your attention; and the language they use to entice your emotions can subconsciously satisfy you in ways you never thought. We can change our relationship with Wendy
’s by respecting her cooking more, just like we would for other forms of art. How many times do you go to a fine arts event a semester? When you eat at a fine restaurant, you don’t go “Biggie”. You enjoy the food, the experience, and eat the right amount. If you like fast food, don’t be afraid to admit it, but don’t eat it mindless because you will end up eating more than what is healthy.
So, I challenge my fellow schoolmates to go the entire Spring Semester 2011 without eating at Wendy’s (or pick some other fast food restaurant), not because I am trying to be anti-fast food but, to raise more consciousness on your food patterns.