A look at the French influence on cuisine around the world

CD7A5E28-8A47-4121-82FB-325E4A829AE5Do you remember your first epicurean epiphany? The memorable moment when a taste was so surprising, so savory, it altered the way you experienced eating?

Mine came at 18, in southwest France heading to surf the storied seaboard of the Pays Basque. The season was autumn, the wind was offshore, and the item was a tarte de poires. Raised in the South Pacific on canned pears, I never even imagined baking them, let alone open-faced in a crisp, flaky pastry.

My tastebuds would never be the same.

Over the next decade, my wanderlust drew me across six continental coastlines, chasing the elusive endless summer. Wave envy, travel lust and gourmet gluttony were proud sins of my slothful youth. Surfing and eating through each region, I began to see a pattern: Wherever the food seemed extraordinary, it was influenced by the complicated history of French colonialism.

Searching for surf around the globe, I was following the swells. But as I began to realize, when it came to eating, I was following the path where French colonizers left a heavy mark.


Even in the most far-flung provinces, French style impacted local menus. The former French colonies of Maghreb – Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco – are the culinary stars of Africa. French Polynesia offers decidedly better fare than the rest of the South Pacific. Nothing in the Caribbean compares to the French West Indies concoctions in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Barts.

In India’s southeastern territory of Pondicherry, where the French retained a settlement for almost three centuries, the use of eggs, cream and broad beans (still called French beans there) resulted in serendipitous innovations. Along the Kerala coast you might be startled to find items like chai tea crème brulée, goose liver samosas or Parisian Mumbai salad.

New Orleans is an obvious example, but you don’t have to look further than hometown USA to see French influence over American cuisine: Hollandaise on your Benedict? Balsamic vinaigrette on your salad or cognac-peppercorn sauce on your filet mignon? All French. Ever since Lafayette ruined Cornwallis’ last supper in Yorktown, Yanks have heartily embraced the culinary contributions of our Gallic allies. Chicken Cordon Bleu with a side of french fries and a glass of cabernet sauvignon are as Californian as they are French.

It’s well known that Thomas Jefferson was a passionate Francophile and gastronome. In order to form a more perfect union, Jefferson paired Parisian recipes with the first American vineyards grafted from fine Bordeaux grapes at Monticello. Love Oysters Rockefeller or Boston crème pie? Thank French chefs. They mixed the ingredients and invented those recipes in America. From the day Benjamin Franklin first visited Versailles, we have held these truths to be self evident: Wherever the French arrive, the cooking is forever changed.

Take Mexico: Culinary historians consider modern Mexican cooking to be a fusion of three cuisines: Native American, Spanish and, surprising to many who don’t know the details of Mexican history, French. Napoleon III, seeing a chance to tap more treasure in the New World, installed his brother Maximilian, archduke of Austria, as emperor of Mexico. Maximilian’s wife Carlota introduced the Mexican aristocracy to French chefs, which, like the rest of the world, they embraced with mucho gusto.

Native ingredients and French culinary methods made a fruitful marriage. New World foods like avocados, squash blossoms, tomatoes and chocolate produced scrumptious pairings.

Mexico’s fortuitous upshot? Delicious sauces and cooking techniques that helped create one of the world’s five great cuisines. South-of-the-border food lovers wouldn’t have flan, pescado Vera Cruz or chiles en nogado without the French.

Maximilian’s reign was a short one. Admiration for French fare did not divert Benito Juárez from waging a successful guerrilla war; in less than five years the archduke was overthrown.

Max lost his head, but Mexico gained a gastronomic gold card. Both President Juárez and successor Porfirio Díaz made la comida afrancescada(“Frenchified” cooking) ubiquitous; its prominence was a measure of the aristocracy’s taste and status. A Cordon Bleu chef in a Mexican manor was de rigueur; menus referred to dishes in French terms for the next half-century. And Mexico was hardly alone. In the grand colonial period, tableware, menus, etiquette and equipment were dominated by the langue françoise from Madagascar to Moscow.

Catherine the Great, determined to drag her oligarchs kicking and toasting into the modern world, introduced French cooking to the Russian palate. The Muscovite nobility became so enamored with French food they sent their chefs to Lyon to study their kitchen methodology. The tasty little secret is that many of Russia’s most famous dishes were French from the get-go.

Beef Stroganoff may be the eminent case in point: Long considered a classic of Russian cuisine, it was actually concocted by French chef Charles Briere in 1891. He won a St. Petersburg cooking contest with a dish he named in honor of the Stroganoffs, the Russian family who had been his benefactor.

Charlotte Russe, a truly regal dessert created for Czar Alexander I, came from the incomparable Marie-Antoine Careme, one of French gastronomy’s founding fathers. Veal Orlov is not Russian either, though the Soviets enthusiastically embraced the dish as their own. Popularized by Chef Urbain Dubois at the Russian Embassy in Paris, it quickly went viral throughout Russia. Chef Dubois appears to have been an astute diplomat himself: He named the dish after his boss, Prince Nicolas Olav, the Russian ambassador to France.

By the late 1800s, French dining fashion was widely imitated in Russia. Then Lenin’s 1917 guillotine dropped on the aristocracy like a cleaver on a sturgeon full of caviar. Although God and nobles were summarily banished, French food was mercifully not. The new Soviet elite continued to wolf haute cuisine with the same élan as their vodka-swilling Czarist predecessors. And still do. Liberté, égalité, gastronomie!

Although Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1806 invasion of Italy is often given credit for introducing French cooking to the booted peninsula, he was certainly not the first. The French Savoy family who ruled the Northern Italian regions for almost 500 years can claim that honor. Not surprisingly, use of ingredients like butter instead of olive oil, and truffles instead of Porcini mushrooms, are French influences. The border region of Lombardy adopted blue-veined cheese over mozzarella, and substituted rice for the ubiquitous Italian pasta. Piedmont’s beef and Val d’Aosta’s cream follow the traditions of France while eschewing the traditional tomatoes and pizza-based dishes of the Latin south.

But the most exquisite francophone contributions to Italian cuisine are the delicate, intricate pastries from Parma. Much to the city’s delight, its most beloved patron – Maria Louisa, the Duchess of Parma – brought French pâtisserie chefs to the city while she was married to Napoleon Bonaparte. That was, of course, before she took a lover – Parma’s dashing, decorated hero General Adam Albert von Neipperg – and astutely ditched the Little Corsican faster than the Imperial Guard at Waterloo. The revered duchess and her prince ruled Parma for the next 30 years, cementing the city’s everlasting fame for its adaptive mastery of French pastry.

Six thousand miles and a century later, another infamous national character is connected to the French food influence on his country: Ho Chi Minh. And what was his first career before becoming the communist leader of his divided country? He trained as a pastry chef in a French kitchen, before getting a job on a Gaulois tramp steamer bound for Marseille from Saigon in 1911. Although it’s a stretch to picture him using a rolling pin to make dough instead of a club to whack gendarmes, records confirm he spent three years in Paris and then went on to work under a French chef in London’s famed Carlton Hotel restaurant. (Perhaps he also learned an army marches on its stomach?)

Two hundred years of colonial culture soaked Vietnam like a heavy monsoon. France introduced the coffee bean, and the Robusta variety grown in the south is famous for its distinctive, chocolaty flavor. Vietnam is now the world’s second-largest coffee producer. Not surprisingly, café culture is a big part of Vietnam’s social life – the aroma of fresh baguettes is as ever-present in Saigon as along the Seine. The Vietnamese version, however, is made from rice flour mixed with the wheat, making them lighter and crispier than their continental counterparts. And a popular lunch item? Bahn mi, a sandwich commonly made with pate, mayonnaise, pickles and thin slices of pork on a fresh baguette.

Three oceans east, French West Indies planters combined their own rotisserie techniques with plein-air grilling methods of the Indigenous Peoples to develop one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated culinary contributions: the barbecue. The French phrase “de barbe à queue” literally translates to “from beard to tail.” Which pretty much describes a wild hog on a spit.

The French may even have invented “fusion” 300 years before it became an American cliché. On East Africa’s Reunion Island, the French sugar barons combined their world-famous Alsatian sausages with Indian curries, Chinese rice, tomatoes from Mexico, chiles from the Caribbean and a little local sugar cane to concoct rougaille, an original culinary composition.

Even the proud Greeks have been influenced by the French: Béchamel (a French “mother sauce”) is the star feature in moussaka and pastitso. Versions of these celebrated Hellenic dishes existed before béchamel entered the picture, yet it’s the sauce that gives these entrées the luscious, creamy textures that make them so popular.

Not every enhancement in food, of course, has come from la République Française. In the 21st century, the global baton has frequently been passed to America. Yet from Montreal to Mozambique and our own Orange County (bonjour Chef Pascal Olhats and Chef Florent Marneau!), France’s culinary impact remains. Whether the era is Auguste Escoffier’s, Jacques Pepin’s or Joël Robuchon’s, whenever the French intertwine with a culture, the food becomes deliciously complex. So if you are what you eat, and want to eat well – in any part of the globe – my recommendation is still to follow the French.




Chef David Chang Opens Up About Depression After Bourdain’s Death

On an episode of his new podcast, David Chang goes deep on what Anthony Bourdain meant to him personally—,and how his death has made him think about his own struggles with mental illness and depression

Chang begins by saying that he is still in “denial” and is “refusing to accept” that Bourdain is gone. “He is, to many people that have never met him, their friend,” he adds, still referring to him in the present tense. “What you see on TV or read about in his books, that’s actually Tony. He’s been Uncle Tony to many of us in this business. The cool uncle, the sage, the oracle, the person who will dole out advice. In many ways, he’s been my mentor and my north star, because he trail-blazed a path that would not be available to me otherwise.” “I miss him so much,” Chang continues. “And I regret not getting to see him more the past couple of years, but he was on the road and he wanted to spend time with his kid.” In additon to thinking about Bourdain’s family, Chang said his heart also goes out to Eric Ripert “one of the best chefs in the world,” who found his friend Bourdain dead last week. Calling them the “silver fox club,” he says, “Those two guys, they had a real bond together.” His voice on the verge of tears, Chang adds, “It’s going to be tough, but the intrepid traveler, the fearless leader, we will move on and do it in his honor and make it better.” Chang’s recent Netflix series Ugly Delicious owes a huge debt to Bourdain’s No Reservations and Parts Unknown Instead of basing each episode on a location like Vietnam or Charleston, South Carolina, Chang centers each installment of Ugly Delicious on a theme like pizza or tacos. But otherwise, the two shows share a very similar DNA and ethos. Before launching that show, Chang also became the season one subject of the Bourdain-produced PBS show The Mind of a Chef his first reluctant foray into the world of food TV


What The Industry Knew About Sugar’s Health Effects, But Didn’t Tell Us

Back in the 1960s, the fact that our diets influence the risk of heart disease was still a new idea. And there was a debate about the role of fats and the role of sugar.

The sugar industry got involved in efforts to influence this debate. “What the sugar industry successively did,” argues Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, “is they shifted all of the blame onto fats.”

The industry’s strategies were sophisticated, Glantz says, and are similar to those of the tobacco industry. For instance, in 1965 an industry group, the Sugar Research Foundation, secretly funded a scientific review that downplayed the evidence that linked sugar consumption to blood fat levels. The review was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Now, what’s come to light in an investigation published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology is that the industry funded its own research project, but never disclosed the findings.

Glantz and his collaborators, including Cristin Kearns, an assistant professor at UCSF, evaluated a bunch of sugar industry internal documents. Here’s what they found:

Back in 1968, the Sugar Research Foundation, a predecessor to the International Sugar Research Foundation, paid a researcher to lead a study with lab animals.

Initial results showed that a high-sugar diet increased the animals’ triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood, through effects on the gut bacteria. In people, high triglycerides can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The study also found that animals fed sugar had higher levels of an enzyme associated with bladder cancer in their urine.

The study was halted before it was completed. Glantz says the researcher asked for more time to continue the study, but the Sugar Research Foundation pulled the plug on the project.

The Sugar Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., that has organizational ties to the Sugar Research Foundation, released a statement on this new investigation.

“The study in question ended for three reasons, none of which involved potential research findings,” the association says. The statement goes on to explain that the study was over budget and delayed. “The delay overlapped with an organizational restructuring with the Sugar Research Foundation becoming a new entity, the International Sugar Research Foundation,” the statement says.

The trade group says sugar consumed in moderation is part of a balanced lifestyle, and in its statement the group says “we remain committed to supporting research to further understand the role sugar plays in consumers’ evolving eating habits.”

But critics argue that the industry is still trying to slow down the consensus on the health risks linked to sugar consumption. In the PLOS Biology paper, Glantz and his co-authors argue that the ongoing controversy surrounding sugar in our diets “may be rooted in more than 60 years of food and beverage industry manipulation of science.”

In recent years, new evidence has emerged that links sugary diets to heart disease. But could we have gotten the message sooner?

UCSF’s Kearns argues that if the sugar industry had published its findings decades ago, it would have added to a growing body of evidence. “Had this information been made public, there would have been a lot more research scrutiny of sugar,” Kearns told us.

Kearns says the sugar industry has “a lot of money and influence” and still uses its influence to cast doubt on the recommendation to limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories.

In a trade association publication last year, the president and CEO of the Sugar Association described this recommended limit on sugar, which is part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as “scientifically out of bounds.”


Feds Plan Nationwide Operation Targeting Food Service Chain Over Undocumented Workers

Federal agents are planning to conduct a major worksite enforcement operation at a national food service chain in the coming weeks, according to an internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) document reviewed by The Daily Beast.

The current plan is focused on employers who exploit undocumented workers by illegally paying them below the minimum wage. The operation will target locations around the country and will likely result in charges of “harboring illegal aliens,” according to an ICE official.

“These people are basically being used as slave labor,” said the official, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously because he was not permitted to discuss impending operations on the record.

The plans detailed in the document are the strongest indication to date that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are increasing what’s called “worksite enforcement”—meaning, efforts to prosecute people who employ undocumented immigrants. As with all complex law enforcement operations, there’s a chance this one is altered or even scuttled. If it does go according to plan, however, it will be the first major worksite enforcement action of an administration that has promised to prioritize this core ICE mission.

The food service industry is a particularly ripe target, with The Migration Policy Institute estimating that about 9 percent of food service workers in the U.S. are undocumented.

According to the plans, the operation will focus on franchise owners who exploit undocumented workers. The agency has already done preliminary investigations and picked targets, the Daily Beast has learned.

ICE is divided into two components: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which arrests and detains undocumented immigrants, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which investigates crimes related to customs and migration. HSI agents handle a host of issues, including art forgery, child exploitation, and drug crop eradication. They will also be helming this coming operation.

The operation will build on previous work.

On April 27, 2015, Farrukh Baig—who owned and operated 14 7-Eleven stores—pleaded guilty to wire fraud and to “concealing and harboring illegal aliens,” according to the Justice Department. According to court documents, Baig and several co-conspirators hired more than 100 undocumented immigrants to work in his stores. He then used the stolen identities of Americans to conceal his workers’ identities. Because the workers were undocumented, Baig and his store managers stole much of their wages and then paid them in cash, below the minimum wage.

Baig and his managers housed the undocumented immigrants at homes near the 7-Eleven stores where they worked, and deducted rent from their paychecks. In all, their scheme lasted more than 13 years. Federal prosecutors said that over the course of two of those years, they stole more than $1.25 million from the undocumented immigrants working for them.

Undocumented workers are uniquely vulnerable to this kind of exploitation because many fear that talking to law enforcement will lead to their deportation.

The ICE official who spoke to The Daily Beast said undocumented workers who cooperate with the agency could potentially be eligible for U visas, which let victims of crimes who testify against their perpetrators stay in the United States temporarily.

Tom Homan, the acting director of ICE, said in a speech last month at the conservative Heritage Foundation that the agency would target more work sites in the coming months. He also said the agency would target undocumented workers as well as their employers.

“Not only are we going to prosecute the employers that hire illegal workers, we’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers,” he said.

“When we find you at a work site, we’re no longer going to turn our heads,” Homan said after the event, according to CNN. “We’ll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien … but we’re always going to arrest a person who is here illegally. That is our job.”


Rose Flavoring and a Wine Shortage: These Are the 4 Food Trends to Watch in 2018

It was a bad year for wine growers, but a good one for meatless burger makers. We compiled the weirdest and most important food trends to watch in the coming year.

Veggie Meat Is The New Plant-Based Milk

Okay, we’re going to say it: Plants are hot. Milk alternatives—led by the likes of almond milk—have grown 45% by volume in the U.S. to comprise 7% of the retail milk market over the last five years, according to industry tracker Euromonitor. Expect the meat case to come next as food and technology collide to bring consumers substitutes like the Beyond Burger that taste more, well, meaty. Right now meat substitutes make up less than 1% of the processed meat and seafood retail market by volume, but Euromonitor is estimating 10% growth in the U.S. and 23% globally over the next half decade.

Wine Prices Are on the Way Up

Fires in California along with extreme weather in France, Italy, and Spain this year will contribute to a meager wine crop that will trigger shortages next year. It may be smart to stock up on Cabernet while you can.

It’s Going to Be a Bad Year for Food Delivery Startups

Blue Apron’s (APRN, -0.33%) stock is already sinking, meaning the day of reckoning for the larger VC-subsidized instant food delivery industry is finally nigh.

Flower Flavoring Goes Mainstream

Forget the pumpkin spice latte, Whole Foods says people will go nuts for flower flavors like rose and lavender in 2018.


17 tips to pick the freshest veggies and ripest fruit

Refusing to eat broccoli or skipping the salad bar aren’t just habits exhibited by picky kids; turns out, most grown-ups aren’t eating their fruits and veggies, either. Federal guidelines recommend adults eat at least 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day. But only 12 percent of adults meet the requirement for fruit and just 9 percent of adults eat enough vegetables, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Making sure you’re getting your daily fill isn’t the only problem; finding the best, ripest and tastiest fruits and vegetables isn’t as intuitive as you might think. It’s a task that requires all five senses to decipher the quality of your supermarket produce. Regardless of what you’re shopping for, start with these three rules:

1. Beautiful doesn’t mean delicious

Sub-par conventional produce is bred to look waxy, glistening, and perfectly symmetrical, while prime fruits and vegetables are often irregularly shaped, with slight visual imperfections outside but a world of flavor waiting inside.

2. Use your hands

You can learn more about a fruit or vegetable from picking it up than you can from staring it down. Heavy, sturdy fruits and vegetables with taut skin and peels are telltale signs of freshness.

3. Shop with the seasons

In the Golden Age of the American supermarket, Chilean tomatoes and South African asparagus are an arm’s length away when our soil is blanketed in snow. Sure, sometimes you just need a tomato, but there are three persuasive reasons to shop in season: it’s cheaper, it’s better and it’s better for you.

To dig even deeper into our hunt for perfect produce, Eat This, Not That! asked Aliza Green, author of “Field Guide to Produce,” and Chef Ned Elliott of Portland’s Urban Farmer restaurant for the dirt on scoring the best of the bounty. Use the tips and tricks that follow and you’ll bring home the best fruits and vegetables every time, just like an Italian grandma.

1. Apples

Perfect pick: Firm and heavy for its size with smooth, matte, unbroken skin and no bruising. The odd blemish (read: wormhole) or brown “scald” streaks do not negatively impact flavor. The smaller the apple, the bigger the flavor wallop.

Peak season: September to May

Handle with care: Keep apples in a plastic bag in the crisper away from vegetables. Here, they should remain edible for several weeks.

The payoff: These fall and spring favorites are packed with quercetin, a flavonoid linked to better heart health, plus the soluble fiber pectin, which keeps cholesterol in check.

2. Artichokes

Perfect pick: An artichoke with deep green, heavyset, undamaged, tightly closed leaves is the best bet. The leaves should squeak when pinched together.

Peak season: March to May

Handle with care: Store in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to five days.

The payoff: Aside from being a good source of protein, artichokes have a higher total antioxidant capacity than any other common vegetable, according to USDA tests.

3. Asparagus

Perfect pick: Look for vibrant green spears with tight purple-tinged buds. Avoid spears that are fading in color or wilting. Thinner spears are sweeter and more tender.

Peak season: March to June

Handle with care: Trim the woody ends and stand the stalks upright in a small amount of water in a tall container. Cover the tops with a plastic bag and cook within a few days.

The payoff: Asparagus are potent sources of folate, a B-vitamin that protects the heart by helping to reduce inflammation.

4. Avocados

Perfect pick: Avocados should feel firm to the touch without any sunken, mushy spots. They should not rattle when shaken — that’s a sign the pit has pulled away from the flesh.

Peak season: Year-round

Handle with care: To ripen, place avocados in a paper bag and store at room temperature for two to four days. To speed up this process, add an apple to the bag, which emits ripening ethylene gas. Ripe avocados can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

The payoff: The green berry (yes, we said berry!) packs plenty of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat. Bonus: A diet rich in monounsaturated fat may prevent body fat distribution around the belly by down regulating the expression of certain fat genes. Simply put: It can whittle your waist by zapping away belly fat.

5. Bananas

Perfect pick: Ripe bananas have uniform yellow skins or small brown freckles indicating they are at their sweetest. Avoid any with evident bruising or split skins.

Peak season: Year-round

Handle with care: Store unripe bananas on the counter, away from direct heat and sunlight (speed things up by placing green bananas in an open paper bag). Once ripened, refrigerate; though the peel turns brown, the flavor and quality are unaffected.

The payoff: Bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, which helps prevent cognitive decline, according to scientists at the USDA.

6. Beets

Perfect pick: A beet that’s in its prime should have a smooth, deep-red surface that’s unyielding when pressed. Smaller roots are sweeter and more tender. Attached greens should be deep green and not withered.

Peak season: June to October

Handle with care: Remove the leaves (which are great sautéed in olive oil) and store in a plastic bag in the fridge for no more than two days. The beets will last in the crisper for up to 2 weeks.

The payoff: Beets serve up a hefty dose of folate, which may help regulate cholesterol levels and boost heart health.


National Fast Food Day 2017: Where to Find Deals

November 16 is National Fast Food Day, and we did some sleuthing to find the deals you need on all your fast food favorites. While many deals aren’t for the holiday specifically, there are still deals to be had.

There aren’t any concrete facts on when National Fast Food day became a “holiday,” but fast food does have a pretty concrete origin. Fast food became popular after the end of the first world War, when people began to buy the types of vehicles that let them drive for long distances. Though McDonald’s was the first restaurant to use an assembly line system, some people think that White Castle was actually the first fast food chain.

White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita Kansas, and it was specifically designed so that guests could see their food being prepared. Because people around that time thought of food from fairs, cruises and lunch carts to be low-quality, White Castle painted their buildings white and used a name that suggested cleanliness. Since then, McDonald’s went through a redesign and fast food chains like Burger King and Taco Bell formed.

Here’s how you can score deals on National Fast Food Day:

McDonalds: Buy One, Get One

If you download the McDonald’s app, you’ll get access to a ton of exclusive deals. Deals on the app right now include a free hash brown with the purchase of a breakfast sandwich and buy one get one free McGriddle’s sandwich. Pair that with the buy one get one offer on McCafe beverages, and you have more than a complete breakfast.

For lunch or dinner, the app also has offers for a free medium fry with the purchase of a signature sandwich, and a free small shake with a large meal purchase. On top of all those offers, the app also has an offer for $1 off an order of $7 or more.

The McRib is also back at participating locations, which will be great news for fast-food enthusiasts.

Burger King: 2-for Deals

Burger King has a lot of deals on sandwiches and other items if you buy 2 of them. If you go to their website, you can download a coupon to get 2 cheeseburgers, 1 small order of fries and 1 small drink for $3.49. The website also has deals for 2 Whoppers for $6 and 2 breakfast sandwiches for $4.

Arby’s: Free Sandwich

If you sign up for Arby’s email notifications, you will get a coupon for a free classic roast beef sandwich with the purchase of a drink. This deal isn’t just good on National Fast Food day. You can sign up and get your free sandwich any day.

Subway: Free 6″ Sub

If you sign up for weekly coupons sent to your phone from Subway, you’ll get a coupon for a free 6″ sub with the purchase of a 30oz drink. This offer is also good at any time. All you need to sign up for this one is your phone number and your zip code. You can opt out of text messages at any time.

Taco Bell sometimes has offers on their app as well, so that’s worth a shot for freebies on National Fast Food day.


Restaurant ice has a dirty little secret

When 30 bartenders were asked by Business Insider to share industry inside scoop that they really shouldn’t, one spilled a particularly troubling response.

“Almost no restaurants or bars,” the unnamed barkeep revealed, “clean their ice machines as regularly as they’re supposed to.”

That doesn’t that doesn’t bode well for cocktails, soda or even water on the rocks.

The bartender’s revelation isn’t new, but it reminds that restaurants are required by law to periodically clean and sanitize ice machines to keep dirt, mold and bacteria from forming.

But not every place does that.

Establishments that don’t follow guidelines to keep ice machines sanitary can be hit by stiff penalties. Fines can be “$100,000 in regular circumstances, or up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations if the misdemeanor results in death,” according to the Business Insider report.

Still, contaminated ice has been linked with causing foodborne illness in the U.S.

Nine years ago, tainted ice was found to be the culprit for sickening two newlyweds and about 70 wedding guests at a reception.

And in 2011, a study found that about a third of Las Vegas food establishment ice dispensers were hotbeds for breeding bacteria.

Dirty ice is, of course, not restricted to the U.S. In 2013, ice cubes at KFC restaurants in China were found to be riddled with 13 times more bacteria than toilet water.

What to do? Order that next Dirty Martini neat. When it’s on the rocks or straight up, ice is involved and it could be twice as dirty.


The crazy merchandise Cheetos, Coke and KFC and other food companies sell to get attention

You could use that $1 bill toward a small bag of Cheetos.


Or you could use 20,000 of them to buy a Cheetos earrings and ring set with orange sapphires and black and white diamonds set in 18-karat gold. Yes, that’s $20,000 U.S. dollars.
As competition on supermarket shelves and in food courts grows fierce, food manufacturers and fast-food chains are looking beyond the usual T-shirts and baseball hats to accessorize customers.

Companies from KFC and McDonald’s s to Hidden Valley and Coca-Cola are peddling items that have little to do with the noshes they’re known for.


Think chicken and pillowcases ($14), Big Macs and wallpaper ($47), ranch dressing and fountains ($89) and soda and purses ($36.03).
Taco Bell, in late September, announced it was teaming with Gen Z retailer Forever 21 for a fashion line that includes several iterations of a bodysuit. This month, Whataburger unveiled a silver charm featuring its logo. And in the spring, Hidden Valley —yes, the maker of salad dressings — started selling a ranch dressing fountain. And yes, that’s like a chocolate fountain, but with ranch dressing.

“The brands are really fighting for mindshare, and they don’t want to just be seen as a very functional brand that helps you satiate your hunger. They want to be a part of your lifestyle,” said Julie Cottineau, CEO of Westchester, N.Y.-based consulting firm BrandTwist. “They’re trying to give you a means to say, ‘This is a brand that’s part of my identity.’ ”

While few people are willing to shell out the price of a new car for bling that showcases their love of cheesy snacks, plenty will spend a few bucks on wacky items, such as Little Caesars’ headphones for $13 or an Arby’s curly-fry golf club cover for $28.

Coca-Cola views its swag as an opportunity to connect with customers, and it’s doing it a lot. “We sell more than 500 million branded products each year,” said Kate Dwyer, director of the company’s licensing group.

Coke isn’t new to selling merchandise to the masses. The soda company’s first promotion was in 1914 — a calendar that cost two pennies. Newcomers to the swag game include In-N-Out burger, whose line-up includes air fresheners.

“Our hope is that items like these are simple and fun reminders of In-N-Out Burger that our loyal customers can enjoy or give as gifts,” vice president of operations Denny Warnick said.
In a field filled with McDonald’s ski helmets for $118 apiece and Hidden Valley dressing bottle cozies for $20, here are examples of swag gone wild:


Pizza Hut Yoga Pants
The tribal-inspired patterned pants feature triangles that look suspiciously like pizza slices. Perfect for downward-facing dog — or pigging out. $49.99.

Whataburger charm
Whatapieceofjewelry. The silver charm branded with the multi-W-ed logo of the Texas-based burger chain dangles delicately from your bracelet or necklace to tell the world that your favorite accessory is meat packed between two buns. $60.

KFC pillowcase
Who wants a One Direction member or Ryan Gosling on their pillowcase when they can have the man who’s as hot as his chicken, Col. Sanders? As the chain’s aging founder peers at his bedmate across a white expanse of brushed microfiber polyester, the pair can hunger for each other’s… wings. $14.

White Castle ornament
It’s just a small leap from White Christmas to White Castle, so “slider” into the season with a snowflake-shaped tree ornament. $7.50.
In-N-Out Burger air freshener
The iconic California chain’s air freshener comes in sets of five, showcasing its Double-Double Burger, fries, drink cup, shake cup and crossed palm trees. But alas, they don’t smell like the food. The scents are cinnamon, coconut, strawberry, peppermint and pine. $9.95.

Coca-Cola evening bag
Excuse yourself by telling your date that you need to go to the can — and mean it. This red and white purse is actually made out of vinyl-covered chrome. $36.03.


McDonald’s gave up on winning the 2 biggest battles in fast food — and business is exploding

McDonald’s has changed its priorities — and it’s paying off for the fast-food chain.

For a long time, the end-all, be-all in the fast-food industry was a race to the bottom on value and speed. If menu items got too pricey, customers stopped showing up. Same for speed — there’s a reason it’s called fast food.

And, no one embodied the fast-food identity more than McDonald’s. The chain in many ways invented the idea of speedy, assembly-line meals. One of the chain’s most well-known creations remains the Dollar Menu, which was killed in 2014.

However, after years of struggling, McDonald’s is making a comeback by de-emphasizing these central fast-food tenets in favor of investing in quality, redesigns, and technology.


“One of the things that we have said to our franchisees in the US is we don’t have to win on value, but we can’t lose on value,” McDonald’s US president Chris Kempczinski said in a call with investors on Tuesday.

Value is still crucial. Kempczinski said that after the Dollar Menu was retired, McDonald’s failed to be as competitive as it needed to be on prices. It has since righted itself with the McPick 2 and beverage deals, and it plans to roll out a new value menu with items priced at $1, $2, and $3 in early 2018.

Still, the fact that the company’s game plan isn’t to win, but merely not to lose, is pretty remarkable. McDonald’s is no longer the home of the Dollar Menu — it’s home of the $1, $2, and $3 menu.

Speed has also been de-emphasized.