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Food and Beverage

Burger King Japan Brings Back the Strangely Popular Black Burger

BN-EM432_bkingj_D_20140911023522Well, if Dr. Seuss taught us anything, it’s that strangely-colored food just tastes better (and can be eaten on a on a train, in the rain, in a boat, with a goat…).

But it isn’t green eggs and ham that have won the hearts of Burger King Japan‘s customers — it’s a black burger, complete with black bun, black cheese and black sauce. And while we, personally, may think the sandwich more closely resembles industrial waste than a viable lunch option, we are in the minority.

The black burgers, now called The Kuro Pearl burger and Kuro Diamond burger (“kuro” meaning black), were first introduced for a limited time in 2012. They became so popular that they outsold all other new products the company offered that year. Due to high demand, the burgers were temporarily brought back again in 2013. Now, the burger chain is hoping for an equally-warm welcome the third time around. Read more

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Lesean McCoy Holds a Press Conference to Deny Being a Bad Tipper

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Lesean McCoy is a very talented running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is also a complete tool.

How so? McCoy is in the middle of a six-year, $45.615 million contract, so it’s easy to think the dude can spare a dime every now and again. So, there he is, shoving a cheeseburger down his gullet at local fave PYT Burger. (I’ve been…it’s legit!) He receives his bill of $61.56 and doesn’t forget about the person that served him.

And that’s when he drops 20 friggin’ cents! The outrage went viral, the restaurant manager blasted McCoy, and Captain Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen stepped in to make everything right.

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Banning Ketchup: Chef Knows Best or Bad Foodie PR?

keep-calm-and-hate-ketchupIt was just another day at Mad Fresh Bistro in Fort Myers, Fla., when a nine-year-old kid decided to ask for ketchup on a burger. Suddenly, skillets went flying out of the kitchen — along with an impressive array of expletives.

You may ask: why all this hullabaloo over ketchup (aka catsup, ketsup, catchup, or however the hell they are spelling it these days)?

For some inexplicable reason, this story about a chef refusing to offer the fruit/vegetable to kids has sparked a national debate over the number two condiment in America. And Chef Owner Xavier Duclos is just fine with that because press.

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What Will Starbucks ‘Express’ Stores Mean for the Brand’s Culture?

I24905278_BG1f you’re addicted to your morning cup of Starbucks but are sick of waiting in long lines of giggling tweens ordering ten-word-long beverages before homeroom, the cafe chain has some good news for you.

In an effort to cater to busy commuters, the company plans to launch smaller, express-style stores with reduced menu items, mobile ordering, and digital payment systems, all with the aim of getting you on your way faster. This move comes as the coffee chain looks to further strengthen its already-successful drive-through stores, which make up about 40% of its US locations and already have a higher sales growth than its stores without drive-through windows.

Starbucks also plans to open at least 100 new stores in the next five years dedicated solely to its Starbucks Reserve small-batch arabica coffee line.

But if you don’t have to wade through a sea of aspiring novelists typing furiously on their iPads or listen to the Dr. Seuss-esque tongue twisters that are the epitome of drink orders, then are you really part of the Starbucks culture?

Well, in a word, yes; you’re just part of the other Starbucks culture. Read more

The Olive Garden Seven-Week All-You-Can-Eat Pass Sold Out In 45 Minutes

 

Olive Garden gets a lot of grief for being, shall we say, less-than-authentic Italian food. But there are a few people out there who are big fans.

In the face of softening profits, the restaurant chain offered up a limited number of all-you-can-eat passes. Good for 49 days, the passes cost $100 and offer unlimited pasta, salad, bread and Coca Cola beverages. The chain made 1,000 available starting at 3pm ET, which sold out in 45 minutes.

These all-you-can-eat stunts have become a popular PR measure at casual dining restaurants. And while this might provide a nice temporary fix, this isn’t really the way to improve a business that’s stumbling.

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The Power of Packaging: Same Old Miller Lite ‘Tastes Better’ in Retro Cans

newmillerlitecan_fullsize_story1One way to revive sales of a product is to revamp the recipe, improve the taste, and bump up the quality. But why go to all that trouble when you can just change up the packaging and sell the same old swill in a shiny new — or in this case, old — can…and watch your profits climb?

It’s precisely this branding move that’s had Miller Lite patting itself on the back — the beer had been sold in blue cans since 2001, but as a promotional tie-in with “Anchorman 2” at the tail end of last year, the brand brought back its retro white labeling from the 80′s. As soon as the throwback cans hit store shelves, sales increased across the US.

Were people nostalgic for their drinking days of yore? Did the white can simply make Miller stand out in a sea of blue-labelled light beers? Maybe it was some combination of the two. One thing, though, is for certain: the label change caused a measurable shift in consumer opinion and demand.

“A lot of people said, ‘I think the beer even tastes better,’” Ryan Reis, senior director for Miller’s family of brands, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

That’s right — consumers even felt the resurrected can made Miller Lite, which hasn’t actually changed in the least, taste better. The power of packaging, people: don’t ever doubt it. Read more

Chipotle Co-CEO Turns His Nose Up at ‘Cheap, Irrelevant’ Fast Food Chains

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It’s difficult to hate on the rollers of the edible fatties, Chipotle. It tastes great, it’s “all natural”, and it’s good for you (as long as you only consume 25% of a given burrito). Even if you didn’t dig the food, the company’s advertising and CSR work is splendid (good work, Edelman).

If anything could possibly damage Chipotle’s sterling reputation, it would be perceived snobbery.

For example: “My food is better than your food. And now, let’s make fun of your diabetes.” Stressing the quality of your ingredients should not be a big deal; Papa John’s Pizza tries to do the same thing.

So guess what happened?

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Smartphone Breathalyzer Startup Partners with…Heineken?

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At first we thought that a partnership between one of the world’s largest beer brands and a startup using technology to prevent drunk driving would make for an awkward pairing.

Yet, earlier this month, an Israeli company called Alcohoot whose product turns smartphones into breathalyzers joined forces with Heineken and won a bit of corporate coverage in the process. How so?

The company’s founders pitched the product as something that would help the company more fully embody its own “drink responsibly” message.

Their backstory was fairly compelling too.

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Good PR Averts the Sriracha Apocalypse

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For L.A. cool kids, the hottest ticket in town this weekend was a tour of the Sriracha hot sauce factory in Irwindale, California, which kicked off its grinding season with an open house (and much fanfare).

There, the company’s once-reclusive and sometimes-combative CEO David Tran greeted guests amongst red, green and white balloons next to an Instagram-ready cardboard cutout of himself.

Tran didn’t just set up a party to combat his company’s recent problems stemming from a bad reputation and an insurmountable odor: he opened the doors and let the world smell his spices.

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NYC Celebrity Chefs Hold Court During U.S. Open’s Taste of Tennis Week

Celeb Chef Tennis Players Behind Net FinalThis year Taste of Tennis has grown into a feast, expanding from a one-night culinary party into a week of food experiences leading up to the U.S. Open, which starts today. Indeed, associations between food and tennis have evolved greatly since the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza was caught on camera, face smeared by an ice cream sundae, while eating at the National Tennis Center’s food court during the Grand Slam tournament.

The 15th annual Taste of Tennis gala was the signature offering, featuring small plates prepared by several top local chefs, musical entertainment along with appearances by elite tennis players and celebrities. Among the surrounding events was the Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge, held at the Midtown Tennis Club. The round-robin style mixed doubles tournament paired chefs and restaurateurs with local players. At another fete, Party with the Pros, guests enjoyed food, signature cocktails and live music, while they mingled with top names in tennis.

We spoke with Penny Lerner, CEO of AYS Sports Marketing, the event management company that organizes Taste of Tennis, about the strategy behind the new weeklong ‘food fusion’ program, while we sampled the Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge event. Below are takeaways.

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