Show and Tell Hawai'i

Commercial break: checking on fast food options

May 22nd, 2009

Food for thought: What you see is what you get, right?
Not always, and certainly not with the fast food options now hyped on TV commercials.
What you see on the tube is delectable and hunky chicken pieces, bulging submarine meatball sandwiches, plump mini-burgers, and recession-friendly wee sliders, and eveb frothy upscale espressos.
But when you buy some of these newbie munchies, you get slimmer versions — and I’m not talking fat count or cholesterol content — than the TV image.
So an obvious question is: Does downsizing mean you’re eating less, so taking on fewer calories? Or does buying smaller mean you’re saving bucks? This is not a trick question, just a reality check.
Often, TV makes you look heavier. So is this true with food stuff —look bigger on TV tan in person?
Some observations:


Item: $5 foot-longs.
The spot: Memorable for the five-fingers, palms-apart gesturing by hula dancers, rock group, a cop, a flight attendant and more, with an easy-to-remember refrain ... to accompany the monster meatballs that look like tennis balls bathing in sauce, with the ham and cheese spilling out of the bun.
In person: Meatballs are golf ball-sized, the sliced meats not as abundant, diminishing the $5 value a skosh.


Item: Toasty Torpedo.
The spot: The oven speaks here and advises Scott, the sandwich griller, to say “only $4” with a sexy overture to hawk the foot long “slim sleek ciabatta.” Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm-hmmm not-so-good buzz, according to online chatter because of gay implications.
In person: The Torpedo is unsurprisingly skinny and resembles a longish hotdog disguised as a baby sub.

Item: Grilled chicken.
The spot: The colonel’s grilling now, not just frying, and breasts look plump and juicy and finger-licking good, complete with black grill marks.
In person: The breast is skinnier than the TV version, like it has been on “The Biggest Loser” for six weeks, but grill lines on the still-on crispy skin is a plus. You also get a drumstick — not shown in the TV spot — in the two-piece meal (about $5), served with cole slaw, mashed potatoes with gravy and a biscuit in a tidy mini-box.

Item: BK Burger Shots (also, BK Breakfast Shots).
The spot: A dude with the flame-broiled bite-sizers get adoring reaction from a bevy of girls, who want to squeeze ‘em (the burgers, not him).
In person: You can have it your way; the lunch-dinner minis (aka sliders) come two to a pack (under $1.50) or six to a bundle (about $4); the morning minis offer ham, bacon or sausage patties with egg and cheese and come in pairs (under $1.50) or as four-pack (under $3). The minis resemble BK juniors, served with mustard, ketchup and pickles; the morning shots are like baby McMuffins, but on a roll instead of an English muffin.

Item: Mini sirloin sliders.
The spot: A cowboy-flavored commercial features a C&W tune, with a midget cowpoke, mini cows and a campfire setting — with a hefty slider trio as tall as it is wide – about 2 ½ inches apiece stacked against a Coke drink to suggest heftiness.
In person: The burgers aren’t as robust but taste better than the competish, because of the sirloin, and costs under $4.

Item: McCafe espresso, hot or cold.
The spot: Upscale espresso under the golden arches includes mocha, latte and cappuccino, hot or cold, from breakfast through the evening. Topped with whipped cream, striped with chocolate, in three sizes (12, 16, 22 oz.) and flavors (caramel, hazelnut, vanilla).
In person: Servings are ample and thick, cost less than the formidable Starbucks brand. But it takes time — 10 to 12 minutes — to make the specialty drinks and the retrofitted McCafe station takes up one register space, resulting in back-up food service at peak service hours.

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