50 years on, McDonald’s and fast-food evolve around Big Mac
By CANDICE CHOI
AP Food Industry Writer
Monday, July 30
NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s is fighting to hold onto customers as the Big Mac turns 50, but it isn’t changing the makings of its most famous burger.
The company is celebrating the 1968 national launch of the double-decker sandwich whose ingredients of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun” were seared into American memories by a TV jingle. But the milestone comes as the company reduces its number of U.S. stores. McDonald’s said Thursday that customers are visiting less often. Other trendy burger options are reaching into the heartland.
The “Golden Arches” still have a massive global reach, and the McDonald’s brand of cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and french fries remains recognizable around the world. But on its critical home turf, the company is toiling to stay relevant. Kale now appears in salads, fresh has replaced frozen beef patties in Quarter Pounders, and some stores now offer ordering kiosks, food delivery and barista-style cafes.
The milestone for the Big Mac shows how much McDonald’s and the rest of fast-food have evolved around it.
“Clearly, we’ve gotten a little more sophisticated in our menu development,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a phone interview.
As with many of its popular and long-lasting menu items, the idea for the Big Mac came from a franchisee.
In 1967, Michael James “Jim” Delligatti lobbied the company to let him test the burger at his Pittsburgh restaurants. Later, he acknowledged the Big Mac’s similarity to a popular sandwich sold by the Big Boy chain.
“This wasn’t like discovering the light bulb. The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket,” Delligatti said, according to “Behind the Arches.”
McDonald’s agreed to let Delligatti sell the sandwich at a single location, on the condition that he use the company’s standard bun. It didn’t work. Delligatti tried a bigger sesame seed bun, and the burger soon lifted sales by more than 12 percent.
After similar results at more stores, the Big Mac was added to the national menu in 1968. Other ideas from franchisees that hit the big time include the Filet-O-Fish, Egg McMuffin, Apple Pie (once deep-fried but now baked), and the Shamrock Shake.
“The company has benefited from the ingenuity of its small business men,” wrote Ray Kroc, who transformed the McDonald’s into a global franchise, in his book, “Grinding It Out.”
Franchisees still play an important role, driving the recent switch to fresh from frozen for the beef in Quarter Pounders, Easterbrook says. They also participate in menu development, which in the U.S. has included a series of cooking tweaks intended to improve taste.
Messing with a signature menu item can be taboo, but keeping the Big Mac unchanged comes with its own risks. Newer chains such as Shake Shack and Five Guys offer burgers that can make the Big Mac seem outdated. Even White Castle is modernizing, recently adding plant-based “Impossible Burger” sliders at some locations.
A McDonald’s franchisee fretted in 2016 that only one out of five millennials has tried the Big Mac. The Big Mac had “gotten less relevant,” the franchisee wrote in a memo, according to the Wall Street Journal.
McDonald’s then ran promotions designed to introduce the Big Mac to more people. Those kind of periodic campaigns should help keep the Big Mac relevant for years to come, says Mike Delligatti, the son of the Big Mac inventor, who died last year.
“What iconic sandwich do you know that can beat the Big Mac as far as longevity?” said Delligatti, himself a McDonald’s franchisee.
Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi
Main Street Delaware’s Aug. 3 First Friday Celebrates ‘Cops & Shops’
Delaware, Ohio – Main Street Delaware’s Aug. 3 First Friday – “Cops & Shops, Celebrate Our Local Heroes!” – will feature a classic police car cruise-in, free hot dogs served up by local officers, family-friendly games, and opportunities inside many shops and businesses to write thank-you notes to our dedicated law enforcement personnel.
In addition, a bike corral will be set up at the corner of Central Avenue and Sandusky Street. Those who ride their bicycles downtown and check them in at the bike corral will receive a coupon for a free frozen treat!
The evening is sponsored by Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Delaware, Breakaway Cycling, Delaware General Health District, and the local Foot & Ankle Wellness Center.
The Delaware Police Department in partnership with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office will provide cruisers for little ones to explore during the 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. First Friday event. To promote safety, a children’s fingerprinting station also will be set up downtown. Sandusky Street will be closed between William Street and Central Avenue to accommodate the community celebration.
In addition to First Friday, Main Street Delaware’s Farmers’ Market also continues to flourish, offering fresh, locally grown produce and other treats from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Saturday and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each Wednesday through Oct. 27.
Learn more these and other downtown news, events, and volunteer opportunities at www.mainstreetdelaware.com or www.facebook.com/MainStreetDelaware.
About Main Street Delaware:
Main Street Delaware is a 501(c)(3) member-supported organization. In addition to coordinating the First Friday celebrations and downtown Farmers’ Markets, Main Street Delaware oversees the holiday parade, Christmas tree lighting, and more. Main Street Delaware is an accredited Ohio Main Street Community. For additional information, contact Susie Bibler, executive director, at 740-362-6050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.mainstreetdelaware.com or www.facebook.com/MainStreetDelaware.
Opinion: Another Assault on American Beer and Distilled Spirits
By Jackson Shedelbower
The Senate recently struck a symbolic blow to the trade war that has broken out between the United States and the rest of the world — deciding that Congress should have a role in the decision-making process over tariffs. Although the progress is minor, it is welcomed.
If continued, the tariffs — both initial and retaliatory — will deliver serious economic fallout to many U.S. industries, notably affecting American brewed beer and distilled spirits. This sector is already under fire on multiple fronts and the new threat of tariffs will only add to the pile-on.
Take for example recent efforts to lower the blood-alcohol arrest level for driving from the nationally recognized 0.08 to 0.05 BAC — a threshold that can be reached after consuming little more than a single drink, the negligible impairment of which is significantly lower than talking on a hands-free cell phone while driving.
The move will discourage sales at bars and restaurants while penalizing moderate and responsible drinkers with a DWI who simply want to enjoy a drink over dinner. Although the policy has been adopted in only one state, and despite the fact that even Mothers Against Drunk Driving isn’t supporting it, momentum for 0.05 laws are growing around the country.
Other assaults are more subtle and slow moving. For decades, it was broadly understood that the moderate consumption of alcohol is part of a healthy lifestyle — being associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and overall mortality. However, a new push led by activist researchers and encouraged by click-hungry reporters claims otherwise — inferring that as little as one drink a day can contribute to major health problems.
And now, the trade war is threatening alcohol producers, sellers and consumers from another angle.
Beer producers were among the first to be affected in the trade war saga. The 10 percent tariff on aluminum is driving up the price of every aluminum can and bottle filled by domestic brewers. And when the industry handles 36 billion of them annually, the extra costs rack up quickly and can negatively affect the 2.2 million jobs associated with the industry.
The effect on American distilled spirits is no less distressing. While distillers may not be the direct target of U.S. imposed tariffs, they are the victim of retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments — which puts the industry’s $1.64 billion worth of exports at risk.
Unfortunately, these effects account for only a fraction of the consequences that will culminate as a result of a continued trade war. Because as we learn from basic economics, tariffs — which are essentially a tax — always roll downhill.
While the financial burden is first applied to the brewers and distillers — by either increased production costs or weaker overseas sales — the extra expense will trickle down the supply chain, afflicting restaurants, alcohol distributors, sellers, and ultimately consumers with higher prices.
The outcome will be far reaching.
The restaurant industry is a good example because a significant part of their revenue is generated from alcohol sales. These establishments are already feeling the squeeze due to new home delivery services like Uber Eats and are depending on specialty drinks to entice patrons. Rising drink prices will push that goal further out of reach.
American beer and distilled spirits — as well as the restaurants that serve it and the consumers that buy it — are already fighting an uphill battle. Do we really need to continue a trade war that further undermines those who want to enjoy a glass of their favorite beer or spirit?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jackson Shedelbower is the communications director of the American Beverage Institute. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
WPD Warns of Credit Card Skimming Devices
The Westerville Division of Police (WPD) is investigating the placement of a skimmer (skimming device) on an ATM at a local pharmacy. WPD reminds people to take precautions when using a credit or debit card at an ATM, particularly to look for any loose or unusual pieces to banking machine. Skimmers are electronic devices placed directly over the ATM card reader slot to illegally record personal data and personal identification numbers (PIN).
Skimmers may be placed on ATMs and other machines quickly and inconspicuously. These devices allow criminals to obtain PINs and encoded data on the magnetic strip of a debit or credit card. Once a skimmer has been placed on a machine, a small hidden camera can record transactions. These techniques provide illegal access to a victim’s PIN and bank account. Suspects often place the devices on machines during overnight hours. When a skimmer is placed on an indoor machine, suspects may distract employees while another suspect inserts the device.
On July 13, WPD was alerted to a skimmer placed on an ATM at the CVS Pharmacy at 620 S. Cleveland Ave. At this time, no illegal activity other than the installation has been reported. People who may have used this machine are urged to check their accounts and report any suspicious withdrawals or transactions.
These devices have been utilized by criminals for several years throughout the country, and have been located on many types of machines in which a credit or debit card is used, such as ATMs and gas pumps.
Skimming devices come in all shapes and sizes. Visit www.fbi.gov/news/stories/atm-skimming for images.
Anyone who suspects they have found a skimmer should notify a store or bank manager and report suspicious activity to police.
For more information on the Westerville Division of Police, please visit www.westerville.org/police.
Rediscovering America: A Quiz on Voting Rights
By Sarah Morgan Smith
The Voting Rights Act, which aimed to abolish discriminatory voting practices, was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
At the signing ceremony attended by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders, President Johnson called the act “a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on the battlefield.”
With the midterm elections just three months away, the quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the history of voting rights.
1. Which constitutional amendment guaranteed voting rights regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” and in what year was it ratified?
A. 19th Amendment in 1920
B. 13th Amendment in 1865
C. 15th Amendment in 1870
D. 24th Amendment in 1964
2. What famous suffragist said: “It is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government — the ballot”?
A. Susan B. Anthony
B. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
C. Ida B. Wells
D. Louisa May Alcott
3. The first African-American woman was elected to Congress in 1968, just three years after the Voting Rights Act was passed. What was her name?
A. Katie Hall, D-Indiana
B. Mia Love, R-Utah
C. Yvonne Burke, D-California
D. Shirley Chisholm, D-New York
4. The voting rights of “citizens of language minorities” were solidified in amendments to the Voting Rights Act enacted in what year?
5. Until a constitutional amendment was ratified prohibiting it, several states, particularly in the South, required citizens to pay if they wished to vote in national elections. What was this fee called?
A. Income tax
B. Voter registration fee
C. Poll tax
D. Property tax
6. In what year did Native Americans gain the right to vote?
7. Before 2018, which three states had all-mail elections, where all registered voters receive ballots in the mail and then returned them either by mail or at specially designated sites?
A. Arkansas, Delaware and Washington
B. Colorado, Nebraska and Michigan
C. North Dakota, Oregon and West Virginia
D. Colorado, Oregon and Washington
8. Which state began all-mail elections this year?
9. Polling places did not need to be handicapped accessible until what year?
10. President Johnson’s “And We Shall Overcome” speech helped pave the way for the Voting Rights Act to pass Congress. He gave the speech in response to what event?
A. Murder of Emmett Till
B. Freedom Rides
C. March on Washington
D. “Bloody Sunday”
Answers: 1-C, 2-A, 3-D, 4-B, 5-C, 6-C, 7-D, 8-B, 9-A, 10-D
ABOUT THE WRITER
Sarah Morgan Smith is a fellow at the Ashbrook Center and editor of Ashbrook’s forthcoming compendium “Race, Gender, Equality, and Civil Rights in America: Core Documents.” She wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Guest opinion: Rural farmers markets harvest demand for healthy food
By Cody Smith, email@example.com, Center for Rural Affairs
Large, hand-painted signs lean against a tent, the buzz of friendly conversation cuts through the humid air, and the smell of fresh produce drifts in the breeze – you’ve found yourself at a farmers market.
Farmers markets are common in urban and rural communities around the nation. In urban areas, they provide an authentic, natural alternative for consumers to connect with those who produce their food.
In rural areas, farmers markets provide these same opportunities among many others – they serve as a stimulant for local businesses and farmers, an attraction for strangers and locals alike, and, perhaps most importantly, they offer direct, secure access to nutritious food for rural Americans.
Food security – defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as having access to enough food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle – is an ever-present challenge in rural communities. According to Feeding America, 12.9 percent of Americans were food insecure in 2016 and three-fourths of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity were in rural areas.
There are programs designed to help alleviate food insecurity, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, research suggests that rural participation in SNAP is significantly lower for eligible recipients in rural areas than in urban ones. Policies that support SNAP acceptance at more farmers markets are a proven way to make progress.
As we celebrate National Farmers Market Week from Aug. 5 to 11, we praise these events that serve a key role in feeding rural communities nationwide.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.
Remembering Donald Kaul
I used to edit the legendary writer’s columns. Telling his fans about it sounded as far-fetched to them as if I’d claimed to be Warren Buffett’s broker.
By Emily Schwartz Greco | Jul 24, 2018
Satirist Donald Kaul delighted readers for half a century with the dark humor he discovered in everything from having his hair catch fire while fiddling with a water heater to what he called Richard Nixon’s “unctuous manner.”
Like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Kaul knew his place in history and how news cycles work. Those Founders passed away on July 4, 1826, 50 years after signing the Declaration of Independence. Likewise, Kaul died as the 46th Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) got underway.
His spirit lives on through that wildly fun ramble, which he offhandedly co-founded with his friend and fellow journalist John Karras in 1973.
I was his last editor when I ran OtherWords, an editorial service that distributed Kaul’s dispatches following his second exit from the Des Moines Register. Whenever I mentioned that part of my job to Iowans, they’d get starry-eyed and baffled.
The combination seemed weird until it dawned on me: I might as well have said I was Warren Buffett’s broker.
Iowans didn’t care that Kaul never won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary that he deserved. His clairvoyance and hilarious voice made him their editorial superhero. Why would I, or any mortal, need to check his facts?
Still, Iowans got that someone would have to handle mail from Kaul’s readers. The chore got bigger when he took a break after surviving a heart attack six years before his death.
My favorite letters came from Don’s fans who’d created multi-state delivery chains. A member of these cadres would snip his column from their local paper and mail the clip to another Kaul addict who lived in a town that didn’t carry it, and so on.
The worst missives were right-wing rants, especially the menacing ones that followed Kaul’s call for firearm sanity following the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. An excerpt taken out of context inspired someone to publish Kaul’s photo, home number, and address on a website, inviting their brethren to drop by and dare the columnist to “take their guns.” Don and his wife, Sue, left their phone off the hook and braved it out.
The same militia of angry, and presumably well-armed, callers jammed the Register’s lines for a week once it ran the column, bringing the opinion piece to the riflemen’s attention. It was a relief when the fearmongering subsided.
Between all the gun slinging and the Republicans “cheating” their way to political hegemony, the vegan-leaning liberal found plenty of meat to skewer in the Obama years. And when Donald Trump’s political fortunes coagulated, Kaul also foresaw what might await.
“We need a leader who will match our enemies lie for lie,” Kaul wrote in one of his final columns. “Trump has shown a real genius for that. He can tell a lie and make it sound like an unpleasant truth.”
Yet Kaul used his perch to salute life-affirming experiences too, like his love for his wife and the eulogy former President Barack Obama gave at the funeral for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a state lawmaker murdered in the racist South Carolina church massacre.
“I’m as close to a state of grace as you can get without actually believing in God,” wrote Kaul, a devout atheist, after he watched the televised service. “But I believe in something: a power that’s larger than oneself that arises from masses of people struggling for justice and listening to — as Lincoln said in his first inaugural address — ‘the better angels of their nature.’”
Emily Schwartz Greco, the former managing editor of OtherWords, now edits articles about philanthropy, nonprofits, and energy for The Conversation US. She wrote another tribute to Donald Kaul after his 2012 heart attack. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Word Wise: Theybies
By James P. Freeman
Recently, on the same day, NBC News covered two seemingly disparate stories that unwittingly link the long arc of cultural change in America over the last 50 years.
One story broke this news: The iconic home to Marcia, Greg, Jan, Peter, Cindy and Bobby (along with housekeeper Alice) — known to millions of boomers as “The Brady Bunch House” — is up for sale by its real-life owners in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles. And if art were to imitate life today, parents Mike and Carol Brady likewise might refer to their brood not as girls and boys but as “theybies.”
That supposition is based upon NBC’s other story.
Real-life parents in Cambridge, Mass., it reported, are raising “Theybies” or children being brought up without gender designation. One father, Nate Sharpe, said, “For us, it means raising our kids with gender-neutral pronouns — so, ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘their,’ rather than assigning ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her’ from birth based on their anatomy.”
This newfangled or “gender-creative” style of parenting received widespread attention in 2011 when a Toronto couple announced they were raising their child without gender identification. (A Facebook community exists for such rearing, numbered roughly at 220.) Indeed, these progressive parents see their child’s gender in a spectrum, as fluid rather than static.
Many children are given — assigned? — androgynous or neutral sounding names like “Jazz,” “Scout,” “Sojourner,” “Storm,” and “Zoomer.” The parents of these children see gender as a social construct rather than a biological imperative.
During simpler times, social construction of gender was never in doubt — male or female, hence binary — while today’s alternate constructions allow individual gender expressions. Some argue that the questioning — if not defiance — of long-held biological truths complicates sociological order. But National Geographic reported in 2017 that gender identity is now a “shifting landscape” where science is helping “understand gender.”
(In 2014, Facebook introduced dozens of options for users to identify their gender.)
Last April thecut.com noted that for a small but growing cohort of parents today, “the unisex movement of the ’60s and the ‘gender neutral’ parenting trends that have followed have come up woefully short.” Accordingly, they believe that the gender binary “must not simply be smudged but wholly eradicated from the moment that socialization begins.” This clears the way for their child’s “future gender exploration” and for “wholesale cultural change.”
Might this controversial social experiment be considered unreasonably extreme?
The Cut noted that in some families, for example, commonly accepted pronouns are “scrambled in books” to give equal airtime to “female and non-binary heroes.” Additionally, meticulous parents are “careful to shop in both the boys’ and girls’ sections of stores,” to avoid clothing that is “hypergendered.” And for others, birth certificates without gender designation are prized possessions.
Meanwhile, that classic Brady Bunch theme song may need adjustment in 2018. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely theybies …”
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
“Word Wise” is an occasional series highlighting words or phrases finding their way into popular culture. It is written by James P. Freeman, a New England writer. He is a columnist with The New Boston Post and former columnist with The Cape Cod Times.