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.
Americans eat 12 pounds of chocolate each year, and as Halloween approaches, I think I’m already into my 13th pound of the stuff. I love chocolate in all its candy forms — Reese’s peanut butter cups, M&M’s, Hershey’s miniatures — these go into the “approved for mommy” stack as I sort through my daughter’s Halloween candy haul.
While I’m familiar with the sight and smell of chocolate in its processed form, the botanical form was a mystery until a recent visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s exhibit “Chocolate: From Seed to Sweet.” Through a series of interactive outdoor exhibits, my girls and I learned the process from the bloom on the cacao tree to the chocolate bars in the girls’ plastic orange pumpkins.
Walking through the outdoor exhibition, we learned about the mustard yellow seed pods of the cacao trees. The farmers harvest the seed pods, then grind them into chocolate liquor, which is then separated into cacao butter and powder. The exhibit stations are designed for children to roast, winnow, grind, mix and mold the cacao beans. And I learned this interesting fact: Cacao (ca-COW) refers to the tree and beans inside the seed pods; cocoa refers to the byproducts of the cocoa bean, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. And here’s another factoid – each cacao pod is about the size of a pineapple and holds enough seeds to make about seven milk chocolate or two dark chocolate bars.
That concentrated dark chocolate appears at my house each Halloween in the form of Hershey’s Miniatures. When I was young, I gave away the Special Darks and gobbled up all the milk chocolate. These days, while I still have a taste for the milder milk chocolate, I have a hankering for dark chocolate, and Special Dark is the way to go.
When I weary of eating the chocolate straight, I make a luscious sauce that can be used in many ways — on ice cream, on spoons, on fingers — but is delightful on a perfectly poached pear. This is the very essence of a simple, elegant, seasonal dessert. A ripe pear, poached in a flavored syrup, caressed with chocolate. It’s divine.
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.