The Sadness Bowl
I'm sure there were a lot of horrible new fast food innovations this past year, but two stand out: Taco Bell's "Fourth Meal" campaign and Kentucky Fried Chicken's "Famous Bowls."
Apparently not enough customers were showing up at Taco Bell at three in the morning with the munchies, because this year they began encouraging Americans to eat an extra meal (something more than a snack, between dinner and breakfast), seemingly to justify Taco Bell remaining open 24 hours a day. Honey, nothing justifies Taco Bell being open, period. It's bad enough that Americans are now leading the world in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but now millions of us actually think that the crap served up at Taco Bell is "Mexican food." And Taco Bell wants us to change the habits of a lifetime to adjust to their ill-timed concept of a Fourth Meal, because obviously the problem here is that we're not eating enough meals in a day to satisfy them. Thankfully, I don't think Americans, some of whom value an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep more than they want to help Taco Bell stay in the black, fell for this. Maybe Taco Bell missed the marketing boat on this one: they should have offered free cuckoo clocks that chimed every hour on the hour, with a little Chihuahua that pops out and yips at you in Spanglish. "Vamanos a Taco Bell, zombie dudes!"
KFC's problem wasn't that Americans didn't eat enough meals, just that they couldn't eat them fast enough. Enter the "Famous Bowl," a blob of foods smished together --mashed potatoes, corn, chicken, gravy, and cheese--that would make Obsessive-Compulsives weep and shudder. Hell, it makes me weep and shudder, and I don't care if my foods touch. I don't know what they were thinking (to answer your inevitable question), but I think it had something to do with lunchbreaks being too short to sit down and eat fast food quickly enough--would it help if they were mixed together and eaten with a spoon? Why not? Well, that's just a slippery slope to the Thanksgiving Dinner Smoothie, my friends. The best part of this whole concept has been the backlash--LA Times writer Dan Neil described eating this heinous concoction as "throwing up in reverse," and comedian Patton Oswalt called it a "failure pile in a sadness bowl." My question has always been, since I first saw the sick-making ads on TV, why cheese? If you went to KFC and ordered a regular plate of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn, where would the cheese go? Did they decide to put cheese on it because they couldn't figure out how to get a biscuit in there? Because they thought the Insidious Bowl O' Goo didn't have enough calories? What? Why? Ow, my head's going to explode.
Pretty Pootie Palettes Passe?
While I was watching "Top Chef" the other night, Bravo ran an ad for their new January show, "Top Design" (based on the winning formulas seen on "Project Runway" & "Top Chef"):
The show will be hosted by Todd Oldham and one of the regular judges is boy wunderkind designer Jonathan Adler (whose stuff I kinda like, but could never afford). The other two judges I am not familiar with (one I never heard of and another from ELLE Decor). Personally, I might have chosen Angela Adams and Thom Filicia (from "Queer Eye")--Adams for her sense of style, which is tres moderne, and Filicia for his sense of humor, which is tres silly.
I'm not sure how they're going to work this, exactly, but if "Project Runway's" challenges are any sort of clue, the designers will have to decorate a room entirely with food or garbage or something (and they must do it in ten minutes!). Of course there will be the requisite Sneaky Editing Tricks and an unhealthy focus on designers who make scenes, scheme, or throw tantrums, but I'll still watch it.
I have to, because the gauntlet has been thrown down: in the ads for "Top Design" now running on Bravo, you can hear one of the judges chastising one of the contestants with "You cannot design a room around a cat!" Oh dear. There goes my plan for the guest bedroom, with a color palette based on my Siamese cat, Tallulah: a vision in black, brown, and beige, punctuated with bright spots of blue to match her luminous eyes. And now they're telling me I can't do this? Pish tosh. I can understand not designing a room around, say, a leopard or a tiger or a calico, but a Siamese? It's all the rage, dahling. In fact, the combination of brown and blue has gotten so popular (look in any West Elm catalog if you don't believe me) that I may change my mind and go with something less trendy, like an orangutan or a cockatoo.