When 'supersize' is smaller than 'large'


November 17, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

Caught in a rush on a recent rainy night, TJI reader Greg O'Brien drove into a Burger King in Perry Hall for food. "It was 10 o'clock, and I had had a long day staring into a computer," he says. "I was hungry, it was raining and two cars came out of nowhere just to beat me in the race to the drive-through line. Of course, there were at least three grown-ups and three kids in each car. Thus, they took forever to order."

Eventually, it was O'Brien's turn. He experienced extreme hunger. He wanted a Whopper, large fries and an extra-large Mr. Pibb.

"May I have a No. 1 with a Mr. Pibb, Extra-Value Meal, supersize it, whatever," he hollered into the intercom.

"One Whopper Combo with a Mr. Pibb?" the order-taker's voice cracked back.

"Yeah, extra value, supersize me, whatever," O'Brien said again.

Here we see the signs of mental fatigue. Though O'Brien showed a willingness to follow Burger King protocol and order in an expeditious manner, there was a critical flaw in his communication. He used phrases and slogans from Burger King's chief competitor in the process. This either confused or enraged the Burger King representative handling his order. As a result, when O'Brien drove his car to the pickup window, the employee there handed him a medium Mr. Pibb.

"Why didn't I get an extra-large drink with my Extra Value Meal?" O'Brien asked the employee at the pickup window.

"Because you didn't say, 'Go Large.' "

Did you hear that, America?

He didn't say, "Go Large."

Greg O'Brien didn't say, "Go Large."

Gregory Alfred O'Brien, young salesman for Chesapeake Wireless Technologies Inc., did not say, "Go Large!"

At Burger King, apparently one must utter those words to receive an upgrade in soft-drink size.

"Go Large" is not interchangeable with "Supersize me." Do you understand, America?

Not only are we expected to sit through the relentless bombardment of television and radio commercials from the Big Three fast-food hamburger franchises, but we are expected to actually remember the messages that distinguish one franchise from another. And, in order to fully optimize the consumer-franchise relationship and expedite the ordering of food items, we are at all times expected to utilize the slogans and key words that pertain to each franchise.

Is that clear? It's either get with the program or settle for a medium Mr. Pibb in the rain.

"Next time," O'Brien says, "I'm going to either Pastore's or Cannella's for an Italian cold-cut sub."

And in Carroll, 'Go Basic'

In case you wander into Carroll County looking for trendy food, a billboard on Route 140 just before Westminster will set you right.

The restaurant: Harry's Lunch, most famous for its excellent Greek-style chili dogs that Baltimore Colts once ate by the dozen during summer training camps.

The picture: an unadorned, unapologetically generous serving of steak and french fries.

The message: "No tofu. No parsley. No latte."

Not that there is an abundance of Carroll restaurants that serve ++ any of those three items.

The scene: Baugher's Restaurant, Westminster, last week.

Waitress: "What would you like on your cheeseburger?"

Customer: "Meat, and cheese."

(If you want the really upscale stuff in Carroll County, visit Rudy's 2900 in Finksburg. If you're game for game, such as venison and pheasant, this is a particularly good time of year to go.)

Mammoth fox

The scene: After school, a busy street in a new development in Cockeysville. Lots of kids around. Suddenly a white-tailed deer bounds through, headed for nearby woods. It startles everybody, including a mover finishing up a job in one of the new homes on the street. He shouts: "Hey, did you see the size of that fox?"

That's nothing, pal. You should see the dwarf Andean condors on my bird feeder this year. We also have giant gerbils burying nuts in the back yard.

Superfluous cardboard

The new Health Care For The Homeless fund-raising letter has an ingenious enclosure: A piece of cardboard from one Howard Wicker. "I am sending you a piece of my box, because I don't need it anymore," it says. ... Sticker on the rear window of a sky-diver's car (you could tell from the bumper stickers) parked outside a restaurant in LaPlata: "Gravity rules." ... From a Downtown Athletic Club member who recently saw actor Will Smith shooting some hoops there: "The 'Man In Black' has a nice short jumper, and a good first step, but he shouldn't quit his day job."

Tom, not George

A friend decided to give some neighborhood kids a quickie quiz.

"Who's on the nickel and what's on the back?" he challenged a bunch of them to answer.

They all flunked.

Their parents didn't do much better. The man on the nickel is George Washington, some insisted, and the building on the flip is the White House.


(For the record: That's T. J. with the ponytail, and his Monticello on the flip side. Monticello is actually labeled. Lege et lacrima.)

My mistake

In last Friday's column, I made an incorrect reference to Tulane University. It's not in Alabama, but Louisiana. The Southern institution I meant to mention was Auburn University, in Alabama. Sorry about that.

Pub Date: 11/17/97

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