2014's fast food atrocities
Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.
Interesting facts I learned about Brazil from the paper “Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence From Brazil,” by Eliana La Ferrara, Alberto Chong and Suzanne Duryea. (Thanks to Chris Blattman’s consistently interesting blog on “economic development, political change and conflict in the developing world” for the link.)
To summarize: The prominence of childless women in Brazilian soap operas provided such potent role models to Brazilians that they contributed to a decline in the nation’s fertility rate.
The authors conclude:
Our findings have important policy implications for today’s developing countries. In societies where literacy is relatively low and newspaper circulation limited, television plays a crucial role in circulating ideas. Our work suggests that programs targeted to the culture of the local population have the potential of reaching an overwhelming amount of people at very low costs, and could thus be used by policymakers to convey important social and economic messages (e.g. about HIV/AIDS prevention, children’s education, the rights of minorities, etc.). Recent work by social psychologists (e.g., Paluck, 2007) stresses the role of the media, and of radio soap operas in particular, as a tool for conflict prevention. Our paper suggests that this type of programmes may be usefully employed for a broader set of development policies.
In general, social engineering of the kind advocated by the authors raises How the World Works’ shackles, but I’ll readily concede that it is a less objectionable way to achieve the goal of population control than one-child-per-family laws or forced sterilization. Still, the irony here is that, supposing the authors’ data-crunching holds up, the fertility decline was nevertheless largely unintentional. The childless female novela stars were the creation of writers who had no other outlet during the repressive years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, and were doing their subversive best to critique society by sneaking in a whole raft of “modern ideas such as female emancipation in the work sphere, the female pursuit of pleasure and love even if through adultery, display of homosexuality, criticisms to machismo, and emphasis on individualism.”
One suspects that if the government had purposefully gone about creating programming that aimed at presenting Brazilians with role models meant to be emulated, the shows would have been lousy and no one would have watched them.
Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.
KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.
Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.
Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.
Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.