So, I went to some fast food places (I won't say "restaurants", just "places"), and picked up burgers/tacos, so I could compare them with the ads. (I love little projects like this…)
I brought the "food" home (different stuff over 3 nights), tossed it into my photography studio, and did some ad-style shoots, with pictures of the official ads on my computer next to me, so I could match the lighting/angles/etc.
People around the world know fast food as one of the most reliable distributors of disappointment ever produced by the business world. We know that if we ever feel the need to complain about something, we can just grab a page out of a coupon booklet, adorned in pictures of juicy burgers, then go have a party. Why, the fast food places themselves usually plaster their walls with pictures of juicy burgers – often hanging right over your table – so that you need only open your eyes to find something to compare your food with, while you eat it.
Needless to say, the results of my little project were unsurprising… which shouldn't be a surprise.
The taco on the right is my life experience with Taco Bell. (best of two tacos that I bought)
Once upon a time, occasionally dropping in to Taco Bell was something I did, and I always held this grudge: I said, "If you have a company called TACO Bell… and you have this item on your menu called "Crunchy Taco" – you know, like your flagship item – let us hope that it doesn't look like THIS." (seriously… we've got 3 ingredients in here: lettuce, "meat", and cheese)
Since these tacos are pretty dry (and devoid of ingredients), I can only tolerate them with hotsauce, which, for me, is when they become good. Still, they're no match for Carl's Jr.'s Nacho Tacos, which I also got to try recently (the chicken ones). They cost a tad more (somewhere around $1.50), but are only sold at the locations with "The Green Burrito" inside (it's like a little Taco Bell inside the Carl's Jr).
As much as I like to bash fast food, bear in mind that I'm not going to make the common mistake of saying that just because I'm against something, it can't have ANY good sides, such as fast food actually tasting good. (I say this because it's important to understand the difference between extremism and rationality, and many people reading this – those who know that this site is about moving against the failures of man (but don't yet know my style) – might automatically expect me to be extreme in my judgment of fast food… to the point of thinking I'm going to cross my arms, and say, "What? Fast food tasting good? Puh! Why it's… it's disgusting!")
Since the human mind is a physical, matter-based part of your body, it has fixed tastes that can't easily be changed. My brain is programmed to accept western-world tastes, which are what I grew up on. This means, yes, I quite like the taste of fast food, and my saying so doesn't mean that I'm not pressing for fast food's demise as much as I should. (now, I could easily just leave out all positive mentions of taste, simply to keep from contributing ANYTHING to fast food here, but I think making this point is more worth the effect)
There are many things that the brain can't pick-and-choose its acceptance of, no matter who you are. Anyone part of a religion, for example, WILL laugh at a funny enough joke that insults their figure-of-worship – maybe even laugh a lot – even if they actually hate the joke so much that their skin starts to burn, and they feel the need to literally go out and kill somebody. You can laugh and hate at the same time. (the decision-making sector of your brain is completely separate from the part that perceives humor… and, unfortunately, there are SEVERAL parts of your brain that act completely on their own, in this way… like fear, to name one; you don't believe there's a monster there, but you still fear its actual presence)
So, fast food may be worthless garbage – and buying it may give life to a parasitic institution that sucks away man's longevity of life, health, motivation to resist the failures of society, and money – but if someone asks me, "But do you like fast food? I mean, does it taste good?" the answer is yeah.
I like how fast food tastes… I resent what it means… and I tell people that if the future of mankind means anything to them, don't touch this stuff with a 20ft pole.
Think about this. Be rational and balanced, not extreme. To be an extremists often means to be one-sided to the point of self-delusion, and, when the time comes to pitch your points – as extremists always feel the need – the unbending one-sidedness makes you look biased and desperate, reducing how much the other side feels they should consider what you're saying.
I really do hate Whoppers, though:
Burger King has had this a long time coming, and the Whopper I got the other night was a sight to behold; probably the ugliest Whopper I've ever seen in my life (though exactly the size I remembered them being). I'm certain it was just a collection of all the disappointment Burger King has ever served, manifest into a curse, which was now coming back to haunt them.
I had a childhood of eating these, but, back then, they were a buck… not $3.69 (they have the nerve to charge you extra for cheese).
Okay, let's give Burger King one more chance…
I decided I had to go back and see if the local Burger King could do better, and got the above. They need to fire the guy who does his cardio workouts on top of the Whoppers.
…while I was at it, I caught sight of a gargantuan Whopper Jr. photo on the menu, and couldn't resist:
Before we continue, there's something everyone should understand: burger size/presentation can certainly vary from location to location (just usually not that much). Example: once, when I was young, I went to a Burger King right next to the beach, and the Whopper I got was huge (comparatively), and had toasted buns! I never forgot that… though I later speculated it was probably because California is known for its great beach-side burger shops (REAL places), so, being next to the beach, this place had to compete.
MY nearest two locations, however, have issues. This is what I got when I asked them specifically for burgers as big as in the ads:
(the one in the middle has cheese. I forgot cheese on the one one the right.)
A fast food place can't turn down a request for a burger the size of the ones in the ads (they can't say, "I'm sorry, we aren't able to make one that big.")… so, I wanted to see if my nearest two locations would even honor the request (caring about size only. I certainly don't need my lettuce arranged like the crown on Caesar's head) For both orders, I pointed specifically at the giant Whoppers on the menus right behind the cashiers (very politely), and the cashiers both turned and took strangely long, careful looks (as if nobody had ever made that request before).
Well… I like the pile of onions I got on the second one.
(Note: I'm sure you can find SOME location where they'll at least TRY – it's surely just a matter of getting the right people – but, considering that my first two tries were misfires, I wonder exactly what the ratio is between employees who will try, versus ones who won't)
Back to price… things always get worse at McDonald$:
$4 now will get you one of these. ($3.99, to be exact, but that 99 is BS psychology that I think should be illegal… It exploits known holes in human psychology, and is intended exclusively to deceive (namely, to change the properly-informed, would-be decision of "not buy" into the misinformed decision of "buy"))
The size was actually pretty close to the ad. (though I'm still trying to determine the planetary origins of the lettuce I ended up with)
(that's actually a pickle in the upper right)
For those who don't know, Big Macs come in a little box. Looking down into the box, and lifting the top bun, you ask yourself, "What is this empty, dry thing?" Apple fans know of Apple's famous "unboxing experience" – when you open the gloriously friendly, won't-destroy-your-hands packaging of an iPhone/iPad/iMac/etc – but, well, Big Macs are still working on theirs. (they should come with little pink, polka-dotted bow-ties on top, or little top-hats… and, given the price, they should be made out of real fur)
Big Macs taste really good, though, at least to me… even coming out of the fridge, the next day. In comparison, a leftover Whopper, coming out of the fridge like a mushy old sock from a trash bin, is a completely different story.
After a little thinking, I realized something. I thought, "You know, actual Big Macs seem to fit in the boxes pretty snugly… as if the boxes were designed ONLY to house actual Big Macs. I wonder if the advertised ones would even fit in there…" So, I did a test:
My measurements are unscientific, but extremely carefully done, so I certainly hold my candle up to them.
Another $4 burger (mine was $4.29, plus tax)…
Well, I really liked the lettuce I got with this one. You'll certainly never see a Whopper or Big Mac with that kind of lettuce. BUT WHERE'S THE MEAT?! It seems to be on a diet, whereas the ad burger meat was only missing a cowbell…
Flavor-wise, for me, it's a pretty average burger. When trying to figure out what keeps these on the menu (for that price, at least), I think either some people out there really like them, or they sell as one-time-buys, intended for people who drop in late one night, and are deceived by the juicy picture… (and have a LOT of money).
This is another "served in a box" burger (a wider, bigger box than the Big Mac), so I had to test again:
Yes, what you're looking at could be the beginning of the end, for McDonald's. What I think we learn from this is that these two burgers not only don't look like the ads, but physically CAN'T.
I'm wondering if the other Third Pounder burgers don't fit in the boxes, and, for that matter, if there are other ways to show that ad burgers can't realistically be served at the fast food places, given their procedures. Examples I have in mind:
- Are some wrappers too small to be folded the way that employees are taught to fold, if carrying an ad-sized burger?
- Should you be able to call the "Third Pounders" that name if it's only a third pound of meat while frozen, not when it's served to you? (when buying meat, it makes sense to see the pre-cooked weight, because you mentally classify that differently… but, when you're being served something off a menu, if they say you're getting a "third pound" of meat, who actually realizes that you're supposed to be getting less than that? When they say you're getting a third pound of cheese, that's what you're getting… it's not the cheese's weight in milk)
- I'm fairly certain that many ad shots have all of the ingredients crammed up in the front. Is it legal to do this, if the human mind perceives that the thickness seen in front must be wrapping around the entire burger, equally? (and maybe it is, just with props holding up the buns in the back. Complete trickery.)
- Anything else? Please chime in here.
(the tacos come in 2)
I picked these up at a location not half an hour from Jack In The Box's corporate headquarters. Since I'm showing the largest tacos I could get, I can't show you how they like to seal themselves shut, exactly like a clam, so that you can't even see inside. The cheese acts as a perfect glue at the edges… I swear, if you had to use one as a snorkel, to save your life, you would die.
They taste a lot better than they look, but that's because I don't actually think they're tacos; they're just tragically mishaped and mispresented nacho pockets (or something). Pitching them as tacos is a crime against humanity, because we humans have standards of what a taco should look like. And not seal itself shut like.
Don't ask me how this advertising is legal. It seems that the law – at least in the US – is sometimes designed only to appease the God of Technicality, while insulting man's ability to perceive and judge.
The law for this stuff should take into account things like the "innards-to-bun ratio"… (in other words, if the ads show 70% innards, 30% buns, the real thing can't be 10% innards, 90% buns). Better yet, advertising should have to be able to stand up against an ordinary group of people, who can vote on whether or not something seems truthful to THEM. (It seems that today's advertising may SOMEHOW please the God of Technicality – don't ask me HOW – even though we people simply don't subscribe to his technical glory).
But, realistically, there are several different types of correctness, and I can't figure out which one is being met here, allowing these ads to exist… We have:
- Technical correctness
This is what is ACTUALLY correct, whether a person can perceive it or not. 99.99% of fast food locations will not serve you a burger that is technically as big as the ads, so there is virtually no technical correctness.
- Perceptual correctness
This is what we ordinary people PERCEIVE to be correct. It's most often the only form of correctness that has any meaning to us, whether something is technically correct or not. Fast food advertising is NEVER perceptually correct, in any way. 100% of the time, someone will look at a fast food ad and think it's just a flat-out lie.
- Plausible correctness (or occasional correctness)
This is a form of correctness that, outside of the courtroom, is almost unused by human beings in determining correctness of any kind. Plausible correctness would say that if even one fast food location COULD, in theory, serve you a burger the size of the ads – because the ad burgers are built with regular ingredients – then, plausibly, the portrayal in the ads is correct, because there isn't a natural force stopping a burger from turning out that big. (it can be argued that plausible correctness isn't actually a form of correctness at all, but rather just overemphasizing the possibility that correctness could eventually occur, because nothing's stopping it)
I happily pitch the idea that lawmakers are committing a crime against us people by allowing us to be continually insulted by this advertising, and consequently this pursuit of mere plausible correctness, in defiance of human perception and feelings.
I used a greenscreen, a rotating chair, and three wireless flashes (often only firing two). My camera is a Nikon D80…
This is what the original shots looked like…
(this is the Big Mac I got when I did the box test)
Behind me was this computer, where I had the ad shots on the screens…
I also shot this Jack In The Box "Jumbo Jack" (their flagship burger – attractive angle on the left), but decided to only give limited attention to US-only fast food chains (in fact, many parts of the US don't even have Jack In The Box). I also wanted to cover Carl's Jr. (aka Hardee's) – the eternal gods of false advertising – but, when thinking globally, they're just too little of a chain, so it would waste the time of lots of readers.
In all cases, I gave the items as fair a chance as absolutely possible, though I didn't take the time to buy multiples of anything except the tacos (whether that would've been to choose the BEST stuff I could find, or pick out an average). …though, you know, those Whoppers really are from Hell. I want to leave them, just so the Burger King people can enjoy a little, what, maybe disappointment?
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