May 9, 2006
Yum! I Say
I was mainly there because, while flipping through channels on Saturday, I noticed that the Kentucky Derby is no longer the Kentucky Derby. Instead, it is officially "The 132nd Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands!" While mourning the creeping commercialism in today's society -- how could something as pure and American as gambling on horses be sullied by marketing? -- I wondered exactly what the hell are the Yum Brands! anyway. And so I did some searching on that vast repository of both information and balderdash called the Internet.
I must have typed something in wrong the first time, because my first search result from Google was "Yum CEO doused with fake blood by protester." That didn't sound so good, but with some better typing, I soon discovered that the Yum Brands! were spun off from Pepsi in 1997 and encompass the KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, A&W, and Long John Silver brands.
Surprisingly, you learn a lot at corporate web sites for fast food restaurants. For example, I would have never known that Long John Silver's is "the world's most popular quick-service seafood chain." I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be the only major quick-service seafood chain, but that should in no way diminish the accomplishment.
I learned even more when I checked out their press release section. There, I found this gem from February: "Taste the Good Life! Long John Silver's brings Buttered Langostino Lobster Bites to America just in time for lent." Because there's no better way to honor the memory of Christ than with fried buttered lobster balls on a Friday! In case you're wondering, "Buttered Lobster Bites are bite-sized pieces of real langostino lobster prepared in a buttery breading." With butter on the side! The Lobster Bites cost $2.99 for a Snack Box, or they come in a $4.99 combo meal, which includes "Lobster Bites, one piece of [fried] Fish, fries, hushpuppies and a 22-ounce drink." It would seem that the only reason the company is called Yum! is because the name Coronary! must have already been taken.
Incidentally, I hear that next lent they'll be offering a special Fried Buttery Batter Sandwich for those who are abstaining from fish for lent. Actually, I'm not that far off. Their main page screams an advertisement for Veggie Bites -- fried balls of broccoli and cheese in a buttery breading. Frankly, I admire any restaurant with the audacity to sell fried vegetables with the slogan "Eat Your Veggies!"
Their home page also features a "petition" for the politically active. Apparently, now that lent is over, the fried lobster balls have been tossed back into the freezer until next year. Luckily, though, if you're still craving lobster, you have options. You can always sign a petition at their site to "Bring Back my Lobster Bites!"
Setting aside the fact that Long John Silver's could just bring back "my lobster bites" on their own and not bother me with a stupid petition, it is at least nice to see that they are encouraging political activity amongst the electorate. It's never too late to learn about democracy. Who knows? Those petitioning for lobster balls today may well be the same people petitioning for civil rights or the environment tomorrow -- unless, of course, Long John Silver's stops making fried veggie bites, in which case all bets are off.
If that happens, the People will no doubt rise up as one in order to fight the good fight and bring back the fried veggies. Civil rights can always wait. Not quite all our arteries have hardened yet.
©2006 Joe Lavin
December 14, 2004