Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Open Letter To Carl's Jr.
Dear Carl's Jr,
Ever since moving to Los Angeles 12 years ago, I have been a fan of your hamburgers. Almost instantly I noticed your in-your-face television campaigns (because they were, well, in my face, if for no other reason) and knew that Carl's Jr. must actually be the fast food place for the true burger lover.
And I was not wrong, Carl's Jr. Be it the Superstar, Double Western or even that weird concoction with the mushroom on it, a burger from Carl's Jr. has never let me down.
That was true until last Thursday.
Last Thursday I sat in one of your red booths waiting eagerly as one of your friendly staff members brought me my lunch. I had been dreaming of this burger since seeing a TV ad for it the previous night. In fact, I almost informed my dining companion that evening, who was coming over for a delightful plate of shrimp & grits, that plans had changed and we would be dining at your restaurant instead.
The ad I'm referring to first caught my attention because there, on my TV, with a solid white background, sat one of my all time favorites, the Big Mac. But what was this lackluster theme song in the background? That was not like McDonald's. After all, they are kind of like the Disney of fast food; everything they do comes with a song and dance. Just when I was getting concerened, what but a towering burger should fall from the sky and dwarf my beloved Big Mac.
But it looked like a Big Mac.
Only bigger...and macier.
And just like that, the Dodger game was back on.
It took my brain a couple of minutes to comprehend what I had just witnessed. I'm sure the feeling is shared by those hearing the numbers on their lotto ticket called out by that nice woman on TV. It takes a minute to sink in. But when it did, I realized that you Carl's Jr, had taken a good thing and made it better.
Oh, yes, you had indeed made your very own Big Mac. Or Big Carl as you, fittingly enough, like to call it.
Bravo, Carl's Jr. Bravo, I thought, while already making plans to try it for lunch the next day.
That brings us back to the red booth and your smiling employee. The smiling young lady dropped the burger off at my table and I immediately tore into the wrapping. Visions of two large patties with melted cheese and just the right amount of that sauce we all call Thousand Island dressing smeared on top raced through my mind as an eternity seemed to pass before I was finished removing the paper jacket from my prize.
But what was this? This looked nothing like the commercial. I realize advertisers spend tons of money on food stylist for TV, I get it. But this wasn't even close.
Look at those photos Carl's Jr and tell me they look anything like one another.
I know, you cannot.
Sure, I ate the burger. But it was not good. I expected more from you, Carl's Jr. I expected something, if not superior to the Big Mac, at least superior to the Big King, Burger King's weak Big Mac imitation attempt back in the 90's. But I got neither.
Never fear Carl's Jr, for you have not lost a customer in me. I will still show up at your drive-thru window, order my superstar with cheese, remove about 1/2 of the lettuce and devour it with a large fry with a smile on my face.
But I will never quite be able to look at you the same, Carl's Jr. It's kinda like watching that college football star who decides to leave school early and ends up not getting drafted only to be forced to come back to school to find out the bravado he used to strut around campus with has left him. You decided to battle the giant, and the giant won. You definitely lost some of my respect, Carl's Jr.
Guy with the burger blues