C’mon McDonald’s, of all the products and deliciousness you’re known for, salad isn’t one of them. Spend your advertising dollars on something like a Happy Meal, or the Big Mac. I can’t speak with certainty about anyone else, but I have never intentionally made a trip to McDonald’s to get a salad. But kudos to them for trying I guess, as they stated their case in this ad to try and reel in the health conscience crowd of 1987.
Right there on the advertisement, it says these are safe for children of all ages. Well, I’m a thirty-something kid at heart, so I want these in my life again.
As a kid, it was a big deal to me to see these advertised in commercials, and wait anxiously for the day my Mom would take me out for a Happy Meal and I could get one. Once she saw them, she thought the bucket itself was an incredible value, so we went each Saturday until we had two of each design. And that wasn’t just for this one year, that was every year they had these things available. Even the original run that were all jack-o-lantern themed with different faces on them.
I used them to trick-or-treat with, and then they would spend the rest of the year as storage for various toys and gadgets in my room. My Mom used them to store clothespins in for taking laundry out to hang on the line. I used to think that was such a waste for such an awesome bucket, but now as an adult (somewhat), I think it’s cool that she kept the Halloween theme on parade all spring and summer long as she took the laundry out.
What about you? Did you have these too? What kind of use did you put them to when Halloween had come and gone?
Man, that Coleco Football game took up a lot of hours of my youth, and I know I’ve eaten more than my fair share of Hostess Cakes through the years. This ad from 1982 combines both of these wonderful treats in a nostalgia overload! Seeing the old packaging for the Twinkies, Suzy Q’s, and Cup Cakes really takes me back. And even though you can find ways to replicate the Coleco games today, nothing beats having that old game in the palm of your hands. It makes me want to call up my cousin Tim and see if he wants to come over for an afternoon of football and Ho Ho’s.
One of the best things about fall, and the Halloween season in particular, is all the cool Halloween food that comes out this time of year. Some you can always count on seeing, while others are only on the shelves for a year or two, and some we may never see again. That’s why it’s important to know when and where to find all the various tasty treats of the season. This is probably only the first of many posts of this type for me this year, as I’m sure I will keep finding stuff as we get closer. For today though, here is what I found while out at my local markets. Oh, and be sure to check out all the cool stuff Dinosaur Dracula has found so far at 2017’s Best Halloween Junk Food, Part 1.
Halloween PEZ Dispensers
PEZ always seems to come out with cool dispensers for various occasions, and this Halloween is no exception. We’ve got the usual suspects like The Mummy, Dracula, and the Jack-o-Lantern, but I’m not exactly sure what the third one in line is.
If you can’t find these at you local store, don’t worry, Amazon has them here.
Reese’s Spooky Eyeballs
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is another candy you can find in various shapes for various occasions, and they’ve not disappointed this Halloween season with these peanut butter filled eyeballs.
Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream Skulls
Not to be outdone or left out of the Halloween goodies frenzy, Hershey’s has these delectable Cookie ‘n’ Cream Skulls.
Sorry, I couldn’t find these on Amazon yet. Better keep a check at your local stores.
Milky Way Caramel Apple Mini’s
Not so much a Halloween offering, but more of the special treats for the Fall season. However, these thinks sound really good. I guess Caramel Apple is the new Pumpkin Spice, because it seems to be popping up everywhere.
Amazon has these here
Fall Flavored Granola Bars
Again, not really what you think of when you think Halloween, but these fall flavors of granola bars look pretty good anyway. Of course we have the ever-present Pumpkin Spice, as well as Apple Spice. It’s not really Caramel Apple, but I think I like the thoughts of Apple Spice better anyway.
Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars are on Amazon, but the Apple Spice is not.
Little Debbie Fall and Halloween Food
It wouldn’t be a holiday season full of treats here in the South without Little Debbie being right in the middle of it all. Their yearly selection seems to already be in full stock at the stores including the Fall Party Cakes, Chocolate Fall Party Cakes, Brownie Pumpkins, Bat Brownies, Pumpkin Spice Rolls, and the best of the all, the Pumpkin Delights.
Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights on Amazon
Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls on Amazon
Little Debbie Bat Brownies on Amazon
Little Debbie Brownie Pumpkins on Amazon
Little Debbie Fall Party Cakes on Amazon
I know this isn’t a treat of the food variety, but when I was a kid, as soon as my Mom saw these things, she would pick some up for me to use at school. Anybody who was anybody had pencils like this leading up to Halloween. Even those really cool kids that used mechanical pencils reverted back to the classic wooden #2’s for the time when the could be gotten with Halloween designs on them.
Well that’s what I ran across at my latest trip to my local Walmart. I’m sure I’ll be posting more as I find it, so keep an eye out for 2017 Halloween Food Finds, Part 2.
After I sat down and put together the post, Back When Pizza Hut Was an Experience, that got me to thinking about several other food establishments that just aren’t what they used to be. The happy, friendly, and tasty places I remember from when I was a kid growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s no longer exist in the form that we loved back then.
In this post, there is another old favorite of mine in a cross-examination of just where they’ve went wrong through the years, and that old favorite is Wendy’s.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, when my old man would come home each from weekend from working out-of-town, he would always take the family out to eat on Friday or Saturday night. Places like Western Steer and Bonanza were frequent favorites, Pizza Hut was a rarity, and when we weren’t going to one of those places, the destination was Wendy’s. So it’s fair to say that I visited Wendy’s a lot in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what set it apart from its competition back then, and what made it stand out.
So let’s get to it, and take a look at how much Wendy’s has changed since those days, and not really for the better.
Their Commercials Are Not Near As Good As They Used to Be
So first up, let’s take a look at what brings an establishment to people’s attention, and makes them want to visit in the first place, the television commercials advertising the place or products. For years, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas was a fixture in commercials for the chain. He looked like he could be your own grandpa, and put forth a welcoming personality that seemed to not feel like an over-produced commercial, but rather an invitation to dinner from an old friend.
These days, we get this young yuppie girl they call “Red”, where the commercials focus more on trying to be funny (and failing), or hip, and don’t do much to get a vibe across to the viewer as to the core values of the restaurant. Heck, they barely focus on the food they are promoting. With the Dave Thomas commercials, you got a little humor, but he almost always put forth his philosophy of making good, old-fashioned hamburgers. Check out the two examples below, and see the difference in the way they go about their advertising these days:
Man, there’s something about an old Wendy’s commercial with Dave Thomas that really takes me back.
The Logo and Signs Have Changed
One change you may not have noticed, is that they have dropped their old slogan of “Old-Fashioned Hamburgers” from their advertising. It’s gone from their logo now, and more and more of their location’s signs are being changed to the newer logo. This is a small change, but it’s symbolic in that they are trying to get away from their past, and what made them unique in the first place. The fresh hamburgers. They still make them like this, so why not use that fact in advertising?!?
Their Tables Inside Their Restaurants Are Boring
One of the coolest features in the old school Wendy’s locations were the tables that featured printed pages from old Sear’s catalogs from the early 1900’s. Sitting there as a kid, I would marvel at the antique products featured on the table while I chowed down on my burger and fries. Today, they’ve joined the rest of the fast food fools by using plain-looking, boring tables. Compare the two below. Which one enhances the dining experience a little? If you said the plain one, you can just stop reading this article now.
Their New Menu Offerings Have Gone To Hipster
Back in the day, Wendy’s was the home of great tasting, old-fashioned, fresh hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. When they added a new menu item, it was usually a larger version of an existing item, or small tweaks that were usually only available for a limited time. You could always count on the Classic Single, the Classic Double, and the Classic Triple. Want bacon on one of those? Sure, why not. I would like to believe that if you asked Dave Thomas for some avocado on your burger, he would look at you like you are a moron. Avocado don’t belong on an old-fashioned hamburger. Sautéed onions? Absolutely.
Today, they are always trying to hit that magic ingredient that will maybe spark a sale, when all they really need to focus on is quality burgers with quality burger condiments. A flatbread instead of a bun? Get out of here with that noise!
They Done Away With the Biggie Size
Now I’m all for health conscious eating, but if you’re going to Wendy’s, you know what you’re in for. So why take away the iconic “Biggie” size? Those who don’t want it, don’t have to order it. But for those of us who do, it’s no longer available. Their Biggie Sweet Tea was awesome, and being able to upgrade your large fries to Biggie size should be protected under the “Freedom of Choice” provision in the United States Constitution.
Their Kid’s Meals Are No Longer Fun For Kids
A lot of the major fast food chains are suffering from this one these days. Due to pressure from multiple organizations, the chains have relented and started changing their kid’s meals to feature healthier options. Wendy’s now feature a burger or nuggets, with apple slices, and a box of juice. Now, you can still get the fries and a soda, but their advertising features the former options. They don’t even like to really advertise special tie-ins with their kid’s meals any more. It’s extremely rare to see a cool box for the kids meal’s like they used to.
Look at that awesome old school kid’s meal below! A fresh Junior burger, golden fries, and a Frosty….all packaged in a cool Disney’s Gummi Bears box for maximum fun!
They Changed Their French Fries
This one sadness as much as any other on the list. I was a huge fan of their french fries for years. They were thicker than the fries at McDonald’s or Burger King, a little less crispy, but so good. They tasted like french fries we used to make at home. Being that they tasted home-made, they fit perfectly alongside their old-fashioned hamburgers.
Now days, they have the Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt. They made the change around the time that sea salt was all the rage, and have yet to revert back. Their fries of today always taste a little burnt to me. They are thinner, the ends are crisper, and they aren’t a great tasting french fry. Add to that the fact that they don’t taste nearly as good dipped in a Frosty as their elder counterparts.
Man, that used to be the absolute best part about going to Wendy’s….dipping your french fries into your Frosty.
There Should Only Be One Flavor of Frosty
For many, many years, ordering a Frosty at Wendy’s meant you were getting a rich, chocolatey, ice cream treat. A while back, I ordered a Frosty, and the young lady at the counter asked me what flavor I wanted. I gave her what I’m sure she though was a dumb look, and said, “I just want a Frosty.” She again asked me the flavor, and had to explain to me that they are available in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. I politely corrected her saying, “No Ma’am, there’s only ONE flavor of Frosty, and that’s chocolate. I’m not sure what those other two things are, but if they aren’t chocolate, then they aren’t Frosties.”
Why mess with such an iconic menu item? As a kid, you hoped you went to Wendy’s because you could get a Frosty. You didn’t need multiple flavors, all you needed was a Frosty. This is just another example of how they continue to mess with their classic menu that made them successful, profitable, and famous.
They Changed the Taco Salad
On those weekends when my Dad wasn’t able to come home, my Mom and I would go out on Saturday afternoon and eat at either McDonald’s or Wendy’s. When it was Wendy’s, that meant it was Taco Salad for lunch. It’s what she like, so it’s what I got as well so we could enjoy the same thing.
The Taco Salad was unique, but quite simple. You got a platter of lettuce with some diced tomatoes, a cup of their chili to pour over that, some shredded cheddar cheese and some taco sauce for topping, and a small bag of taco chips to enjoy with it. We would mix them up and talk as we ate, and I have a lot of fond memories attached to the classic Taco Salad.
So about 10 years ago, they decided to change it. No longer were there taco chips…they were replaced with tortilla strips. The pack of taco sauce was replaced with salsa. The diced tomatoes went away. Their sales of the Taco Salad also went away. Once again, they tried to “modernize” one of their menu offerings and appeal to a small segment of the market with what they considered a “fancier” version. There was never anything wrong with the original version, but they gave it the ax anyway.
They Got Rid of the SuperBar
Of all the things Wendy’s tried through the years, the Superbar may have been the best idea they had. It was a set of three food bars that expanded their dine-in options several times over, and was a big hit. One bar was a salad bar, with normal salad bar options, as well as some jello and pudding for dessert. The next bar was the Mexican Fiesta bar, which had all the things you needed to make tacos and burritos. There was chili, taco meat, melted nacho cheese, hard and soft taco shells, and other goodies.
The last bar was the Pasta Bar, and featured spaghetti noodles, fettucine noodles, spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, and garlic bread that was made by flattening and grilling their hamburger buns with garlic salt and butter. It was delicious. You could also order a baked potato, and top it from the SuperBar. That’s what my old man did, so it’s what I done as well. We’d fill the potato with the chili and nacho cheese.
The SuperBar was our go-to order while they had it in their stores. A lot of Friday night’s were spent eating from it and talking and laughing as a family before Mom would do her shopping for the week. To me, the Superbar is one of the most iconic things that comes to mind when I think of Wendy’s, and it’s a shame they ever got rid of it.
Well, there you have it. Why Wendy’s Just Isn’t the Same Anymore….at least in my opinion. I have a lot of nostalgic memories tied to Wendy’s, so maybe I have stronger feelings on the subject than others, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and memories as well.
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