Burger King's gothburger

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Burger King has launched a black burger in Japan made from black peppered-beef, buns and cheese darkened with bamboo charcoal, and a topping of garlic sauce blackened with squid ink.

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McDonald's employee busted for selling heroin Happy Meals

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Remember last year when the family of a four-year-old boy ordered him a Burger King Kids Meal and found a pot pipe packed with weed? Not to be outdone, an employee at a McDonald's in Pittsburgh, PA was busted selling heroin in Happy Meal boxes. According to police, Shantia Dennis, 26, told drive-through dope customers to use the code phrase: “I’d like to order a toy.” (WGHP)

Special surprise in Burger King Kids Meal

The family of a four-year-old boy were surprised when they ordered a Kids Meal from a Dundee, Michigan Burger King and found a very special prize inside: a pot pipe packed with weed. From CBS Detroit:
After officers responded to the restaurant, they identified a 23-year-old employee who admitted to owning the paraphernalia. Uhl said the employee told officers that he put the pipe in the box to hide it while he worked and he didn’t mean to give it out.
"Family Finds Marijuana, Pipe In Burger King Kids Meal"

Saving a classic 1950s Arby's sign

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Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, this 1950s Arby's sign was an icon of suburban life (before suburbia meant the former farmlands 40 minutes out from downtown.) In fact, just seeing this photo makes me hanker for a Beef'n Cheddar and Potato Cake (More specifically, the 1970s versions of those items. No Horsey Sauce though.) Sadly, the classic sign is in jeopardy. The Finneytown location where the sign stands tall is closed for remodeling and rebranding and the sign is slated for demolition. Community calls to Arby's resulted in the company offering to donate the sign to Cincinnati's excellent American Sign Museum. Once it's disassembled though, the Sign Museum still needs financial help to transport, repair, and install the sign at its new home.

"Support to Save the Finneytown Arby's Sign Grows" (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

The Godfather of chicken rings

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Silly question. But if you're talking about chicken as we know it today — barbecued, boneless and skinless, served as sausages, bologna, nuggets, and burgers — the answer is actually "neither". What came first was Robert C. Baker, a Cornell University food scientist who is credited with popularizing chicken as a convenient, everyday meat.

At Slate, Maryn McKenna has a really interesting piece about Baker's role in the invention of the chicken nugget. Although you've probably heard that the nugget was invented by McDonald's research and development staff, Baker actually beat them to the punch by a couple decades, turning out "chicken sticks" in 1963. The catch is that, as a researcher at a publicly funded university whose primary goal was to increase the profitability of family-operated chicken farms in upstate New York, Baker never patented his own ideas.

Baker’s prototype nugget, developed with student Joseph Marshall, mastered two food-engineering challenges: keeping ground meat together without putting a skin around it, and keeping batter attached to the meat despite the shrinkage caused by freezing and the explosive heat of frying. They solved the first problem by grinding raw chicken with salt and vinegar to draw out moisture, and then adding a binder of powdered milk and pulverized grains. They solved the second by shaping the sticks, freezing them, coating them in an eggy batter and cornflake crumbs, and then freezing them a second time to -10 degrees. With trial and error, the sticks stayed intact. Baker, Marshall, and three other colleagues came up with an attractive box, designed a dummy label, and made enough of the sticks to sell them for 26 weeks in five local supermarkets. In the first 6 weeks, they sold 200 boxes per week.

You can read the rest of McKenna's piece at Slate. But I also wanted to add a couple of other interesting links to this.

First, I found an extract from an article Baker published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly in May of 1962. The article doesn't mention chicken nuggets. Instead, it's about the research that led up to the invention of the nugget, as Baker figured out how to produce chicken hotdogs and smoked chickens that could be frozen and sold pre-cooked. It's an interesting look inside the process that McKenna writes about — Baker's efforts to shift chicken from a messy and/or time-consuming task, to something that could be quickly and easily prepared by even working mothers.

Second, McKenna mentions in the article that Baker is also the source of a famous barbecued chicken recipe that has become a staple of the New York State Fair. At the Cornell Library website, I found a pamphlet about Cornell Chicken written by Baker. It includes his original recipe (with serving portions ranging from five people to 300), his directions for building a barbecue fire pit, and a helpful selection of suggested side dishes.

Image: 08 White Castle Chicken Ring Sandwich, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from mesohungry's photostream

Burger King breaches McDonald's

On Monday, the Burger King burst into a McDonald's restaurant in Rome, Georgia, handed out free hamburgers to customers, danced, and posted for photos with children. Managers called the police, but the Burger King escaped in a white Acura before the fuzz arrived. "Man dressed as Burger King visits West Rome McDonald’s"