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I decided back in February that this Easter season I would give up french fries for Lent. Not just french fries, but also french fry-related items like onion rings, tater tots, and even hash browns. That last one made Fridays even more challenging as we Catholics try not to eat meat on Fridays. So naturally, breakfast for dinner seems logical until you start removing key breakfast side items like hash browns and home fries. But I digress.

What did I learn? Giving up fries is HARD. Even I, a long time admitted fast food junkie, didn't realize how many places offer fries as the main side item. Dinners were relatively easy. I could have veggies, cole slaw, a side salad, or even a baked potato. But at lunch and especially at fast food restaurants, give up fries & onion rings and your options become severely limited. I found myself getting side salads a lot, the health advantages of which are debatable when you factor in dressing. In one case, while eating at McDonald's with friends, I ordered a side of apple slices. That was surreal. But more often, I just skipped the side altogether. That was a revelation. In an era of combo and value meals, it takes adjusted expectations to be satisfied with just a sandwich

Mexican food was great because I didn't count tortilla chips in my exclusion list. After a couple of weeks I settled into a routine where I got used to life without my fried friends. Don't get me wrong, I still missed them and counted down the days until Easter like a kid anticipating summer vacation.

So it's been a week since Easter. My first fries were from McDonald's. I figured one of the world's most popular french fries would be a good choice for the return from my fast food fried side fast. And ahhhh, it was good. But I took away something from this experience. Call it a better awareness of side item alternatives and a willingness to be content with skipping sides altogether on occasion. While not done for the health benefits, I can't help but think my cholesterol count benefitted from this experiment. All in all a satisfying experience, although it's too early to think about whether I would do it again next year!


Got an email from reader "Allie" who writes:

"I wanted to pass along a funny Carl’s Jr. video that features skateboarding superstar Rob Dyrdek doing various stunts in the "Happy Star" costume. Carl’s Jr. has teamed up with Dyrdek for in-store cup promotion and also charity – thanks to a generous donation from Carl’s Jr., The Rob Dyrdek/DC Shoes Skate Plaza Foundation recently opened a new skateboarding park at La Fayette Park in Los Angeles. It would be great if you could share this info and the video with your blog readers!"

Ok Allie. Consider it done. Check out more in this Carl's Jr. Social Media Release.



It was only a handful of years ago that the dollar menu (or "value menu," depending upon the restaurant) featured a long list of signature attractions. For a buck, you could get Whopper, so McDonald's retailiated with a $1 Big 'N Tasty. Over at Taco Bell, home of the ever changing pricing, a new line of sub-dollar items accompanied new creative combinations of beans, ground beef and cheese (how do they do it?!)

But as with shrinking cereal boxes and lighter bags of potato chips, so goes the fast food industry. Burger King replaced the dollar Whopper with a dollar Whopper Jr. McDonald's upped the price of the Big 'N Tasty and began pushing the $1 double cheeseburger. Taco Bell bumped the Beef Combo Burrito up from 89 cents to 99 cents to $1.29 and now, on a recent visit, an astounding $1.69. Back at McDonald's, even the aforementioned double cheeseburger was apparently too costly to offer at a dollar as last fall it was replaced with the McDouble, the exact same thing, only with one slice of cheese instead of two.

For years I have been watching the price of large fountain drinks drift teasingly toward the $2 mark. It's sort of a barometer for overall food prices the way the Big Mac index is a measure of exchange rates. There seems to be sort of psychological barrier as very few chains successfully push even their mega bucket-sized drinks above $1.99. For example, looking back at an old version of this site from way back in 2002, a large fountain drink at McDonald's was $1.59. Now it's $1.79. Of course, prices vary and I don't have portion size data, but the barrier is apparent. That's a 12.5% increase. Meanwhile, the regular cheeseburger went from .69 to .99, a 43% jump in the same period. And the same is true at other chains:


Item 2002 Price 2009 Price % Change
Burger King Large Drink 1.29 1.79 39%
Burger King Cheeseburger .49 (promo) .89 81%
Taco Bell Large Drink 1.39 1.89 36%
Taco Bell Chicken Soft Taco* 1.29 1.89 47%
* Rebranded as Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco

Despite the fact that fountain drinks are still a huge money maker for restaurants, how were the chains able to keep even these lower costs under control? With the introduction of self-service drink dispensing. Yes, the human cost in the time it takes an employee to fill your drink (when they could be taking the next order) caused chains to get creative.

So this begs the question: Could build-your-own-burger toppings bars be next? What about scoop-your-own-fries? Ok, maybe a bit far fetched. But barring any more creative cost cutting measures it is all but inevitable that the value menu will become "great items for under $1.25." And from there, the sky's the limit.


I was watching the 1979 movie Time After Time, starring Malcolm McDowell the other day and a thought crossed my mind when McDowell, as the fish out of water H.G. Wells, discovered McDonald's.

(c)1979 Orion Pictures Corp & Warner Bros.

No, it wasn't the overly perky cashier or the hustle of the pristinely-uniformed crew. No, it was this menu board:

(c)1979 Orion Pictures Corp & Warner Bros.

Take a closer look at the board and what do you see? Aside from the fact that a Big Mac was 95 cents, you'll note something big missing. Take another look. Can't tell? There are no combo meals. Ah, the golden age of the Golden Arches, when you ordered your Big Mac, fries and coke separately. Here's McDowell's character tasting his first french fry:

(c)1979 Orion Pictures Corp & Warner Bros.

He's not sure what to make of it. How did people ever survive not being able to order "a number one?" Of course, restaurants like McDonald's soon discovered that combo meals did the up-selling for them. And it wasn't long after this movie was shot that America saw its first combos and "value meals." Hot on the heels of that innovation: super-sizing, which lead to more profits along with the stigma of association with the nation's increasing waistlines.

I like looking at these pics from the innocent days. Here's another observation only a fast food geek would make. Wells places the same order as the man in front of him in line (actor Nicholas Shields, seated to McDowell's left.) They both order a Big Mac, fries, and a coke. Interestingly, McDowell gets what looks like a Filet-O-Fish foam box, while Shields' character has the proper gold-colored Big Mac container. I guess the prop guys weren't fast food geeks.


As you probably already know, restaurants hire these people called "food stylists" to pose food items as attractively as possible for photos. That is how you get beautiful pictures like this lovely Big Mac:

When was the last time you actually received a Big Mac that looked this good? Probably never. Instead, you're more likely to open the box to find something like what I found one Saturday:

Now I am obviously a fast food nut because the sandwich pictured above looks delicious! Still, you may be entertained by a recent article in the West Virginia Surf Report which shows a long line of fast food "styled" pictures and the "reality." Check it out.


Photo Credit Burger King Website

Those of you my age might remember the Burger King "Burger Buddies" from the early '90's. These were three- and six-pack slider-style mini burgers sold by Burger King. They were great as a snack or a small meal, especially when accompanied by a Pepsi (before BK's switch to Coke.)

Well, the buddies are back and have a new name. Burger Shots. Now available in 2 and 6 packs, there is a breakfast sandwich in addition to the classic slider burger. Woo hoo! Thank you Burger King for bringing back a real winner.


What is Fast Food Source?

Providing fast food blogs, menus, locations and other information for over80 major chains

Since 2000, Fast Food Source has been the premier independent site dedicated to fast food lovers, offering fast food restaurant menus, and nutrition information, as well as fast food blogs, articles, forums, and fast food industry news. We offer fast food location information for over 50 cities and more than 80 fast food chains.