The Hungry Man Eats

Category Archives: Food News

The Yuengling Affair Makes Me Want to Drink, But I Will Drown My Concerns With More Yuengling

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I tend not to discuss politics on this site even though many of the aspects of food can be political in nature, so maybe I should talk politics more as it pertains to food.

 

That said, it is November 3, 2016 and the dumpster fire of the 2016 presidential election will thankfully be done soon. So how does the election intersect with food? I found out a few days back that the owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son, the company that owns Yuengling brewery hosted Donald Trump’s son and said “Our guys are behind your father.”, essentially endorsing Trump. I also learned that as a result of said interaction that a number of people are now worked up in a foamy lather much like the head on a good beer and are calling for a boycott of their beer.

 

If you know me, you know where I stand politically, if you don’t I will devote one line of text to my opinion of the presidential election:

 

Trump: Bad policies, even worse human being, thoroughly unsupportable.

 

So what about the beer? I imagine that this is the same issue that lovers of Chik-Fil-A went through a few years back when it was revealed that the owner was against same-sex marriage and that the corporation had donated millions of dollars to organizations that had anti-gay leanings. Controversy ensued, a boycott got going and a counter-boycott was started as well. In the end, the awareness and public pressure worked, Chik-Fil-A changed their policies and donations to those sorts of organizations decreased considerably.

 

Again, so what about the beer? The similarity between these two events is that both companies make beloved, delicious products. Who wouldn’t want to eat a Chik-Fil-A sandwich washed down with a bottle of Yuengling? The difference? The Chik-Fil-A kerfuffle was a much bigger deal that the Yuengling affair is. Real money was changing hands to benefit groups that engaged in discriminatory practices with Chik-Fil-A, the owner of Yuengling told the offspring of a presidential candidate that he supported their fathers candidacy, and it appears that no financial support has been made. I repeat, no money, just an opinion voiced.

 

So what about the beer, I ask again… It came up in conversation the other day when I had joined a friend for a happy hour. The establishment had Yuengling on draft and I might get a Yuengling but that they had supported Trump. My friend seemed skeptical (about the choosing not to drink it because of the whole Trump thing) and brought up Chik-Fil-A and how they have always enjoyed it and just kept eating it anyway, the politics were a non-factor, but the enjoyment of their food was. What ended up happening? I got myself a glass of Yuengling and it was the best damn glass of beer I had in many months.

 

After the beer was long gone, I was still thinking about food and drink and boycotts and if any of it really matters. I have had many a Chik-Fil-A meal in recent years and Yuengling really is my favorite beer and beer company of all time and I have no intentions to stop drinking it, so my mind does take pause at the corporations political leanings, but my actions show that I would not consider those things reasons to eat somewhere else or change my selection of beer and drink an alternative.

 

Would anybody have blinked an eye if the owner of Yuengling if it was 2012 and he said the same thing to one of Mitt Romney’s sons? I doubt it, it would have been a political preference expressed by a business owner (a number of whom tend to have conservative leanings) and would have received minimal attention.

 

I kept pondering and thought at what point do you go from disagreeing about something political with a person or business and just letting that be how it is, even if you as an individual decide that you will choose not to patronize them anymore, and actively taking action that could undermine their ability (the owner, corporation or employees) from being able to pursue their livelihood to support themselves (and/or their employees)? I decided that the organized boycott was one of the things that be that inflection point, as well as the modern ability to review a place or a business online and provide a poor review or negative opinion that does not reflect a real engagement or patronage of that business.

 

I do believe that an organized boycott can and should be used as circumstances warrant (which isn’t all that often) and that the whole Yuengling affair doesn’t rise to the occasion (but if you as an individual choose to not drink their products, I have no issue with that).

 

Then I remembered what had been bugging me and why I mention the part about the ability to pursue one’s livelihood. Do you remember a pizza joint in Walkerton, Indiana called Memories Pizza? They were briefly a big deal back in the spring of 2015 when the family that owns the place was asked a hypothetical question about whether they would cater a gay wedding. They said, no they would not as it was against their religion. Word of their opinion go out quickly and the dogpile began online and on places like Yelp where tons of people expressed their distaste with the restaurateur’s opinion. The owners soon feared for their safety and closed the restaurant soon thereafter. I believe that the restaurant owner’s opinion was completely wrong too, but as a result of their opinion, they lost the ability to pursue their livelihood. So who is the actual problem here? The people who had a distasteful opinion about how to run their business (which was expressed in an interview where they supported Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is a bullshit law that lets people discriminate and then hide behind religion as an excuse)), or the people who piled on and destroyed their ability to pursue their livelihood? Frankly I have more distaste for the faceless hordes on the internet that ruined their business than the people with the repugnant opinion. One thing that still happened afterwards was a Go Fund Me campaign was started to help the restaurateurs, and it raised $840,000 on their behalf, so they didn’t really come out of it all that bad, but they still lost their ability to pursue their livelihood.

 

To wrap up, feel free to choose alternatives to businesses that don’t share your views, think hard about whether a boycott is the right way to address a difference of opinions and if you screw up a law abiding individual or businesses ability to pursue their livelihood, then you are the bad guy in the situation.

Coffee that Tastes Like Beer: Brilliant or Revolting?

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I love coffee and I also love beer, but today we are going to talk about coffee. Specifically because Starbucks has decided to test out a new beverage called the Dark Barrel Latte. According to a Starbucks spokesperson, the Dark Barrel Latte is made with espresso, topped with whipped cream, a dark caramel drizzle and comes blended with a “chocolaty stout flavored sauce”. Some people who have had the beverage say that the flavor is rather reminiscent of a dark beer much like a Guinness.
Regrettably at this point in time, the beverage is only being tested select stores in Ohio and Florida, so the Hungry Man will not have a chance to give the experiment a try.

I have had some interesting flavors of coffee in the past. I recall a series of breakfast themed coffees that had flavors that included maple syrup, French toast and yes, bacon. The all tasted good as would be expected for the first two flavors and even the bacon flavored coffee tasted pretty decent, but is there anything bacon flavored that doesn’t taste good? I also remember sampling a spicy coffee that was branded as a Tabasco flavored coffee. As I like both spicy things and coffee, this beverage should have been a grand slam, but fiery coffee at a fiery temperature just did not work for me, but I could also see how it may well be somebody’s favorite drink ever, a love/hate king of thing if there ever was one.

But back to our coffee that is reminiscent of beer. Have you ever had a bit too much to drink? Of course you probably have, you are a member of the human race! Well what is better the next morning than a nice hot cup of coffee brewed extra strong, other than an icepack for the head? But let’s say after a night of drinking a goodly quantity of beer that you decide to try out a Dark Barrel Latte? This may end poorly… I recall back in my college years when I was out at a bar with some friends, we went to a restaurant called Tia’s Tex-Mex that used to be somewhat widespread, but now apparently has only one location left on Florida. One of the things that they were known for was their happy hour frozen margarita, all day on Mondays and Tuesdays back in the day. So we partook in some frozen margaritas, and as we enjoyed ourselves more and judgment began to go out the window. We decided to try some other stuff and have some shots. So I ask you dear reader, what is the absolutely worst possible choice and disgustingly incongruent thing to have after multiple frozen margaritas?

Rumple Minze shots…

So the next hung over morning, I head to the bathroom and start to brush my teeth, as soon as I taste the peppermint flavored toothpaste I nearly hurled in the sink, why? For those of you not in the know, Rumple Minze is a strong peppermint flavored German schnapps. The absolutely last thing I needed to be doing after the night before was tasting more peppermint, I swear it wasn’t until the morning after that morning that I felt like I no longer had a peppermint aftertaste in my mouth.

So I ask again, how well do you think that Dark Barrel Latte would taste after a few Guinness’s the night before? Perhaps somebody with a younger, stronger stomach will say, “Just fine Hungry Man, just fine…”

Red Lobster: Food Looks Fancier When Stacked

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Does the picture of the Crab Bake above from Red Lobster make your mouth water? If not, then perhaps the discussion to come about Red Lobster will not be your thing, go read my review on my other site about the Italiano Burger from Olive Garden instead…

Those of you in the know have probably heard by now that Darden Restaurants, best known as the parent company of such sit down casual restaurants such as, the Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse has sold off the Red Lobster chain of restaurants. Red Lobster had been considered the weak link in Darden’s restaurant operations and supposedly Darden will be in a better position now that the sale is complete.

The new CEO Kim Lopdrup had some interesting things to say:

  • He is of the opinion that Red Lobster is still viewed as “fine dining for the middle class”.
  • About the new presentation of their plated dishes: “The food arranged in a way that’s more like you’d see at a fine-dining restaurant,” Lopdrup said. “The seafood is the star.”(Check out the link to the news story for pics of the food plating)
  • “At the end of the day, people are not going to go a Chipotle for their anniversary or their birthday.”
  • The number of non-seafood items will be reduced from the current quarter of menu items, to more like 10-15% of the menu.
  • They will do away with some of the recent promotions they have had that made their food look cheap (but still keep beloved promotions such as Crabfest and endless shrimp)

As a longtime patron of Red Lobster, what does the Hungry Man think?

  • If by fine dining for the middle class means decent quality seafood that does not cost an arm and a leg (or a fin and a flipper) but still has steak available, then yes. But one of the complaints I heard while these discussions were ongoing about whether to spin off Red Lobster was that Red lobster was too pricy for less affluent people, too low-class for the rich and no longer the first choice for the middle class. The dining out landscape has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, the bar has been raised on people’s expectations and Red Lobster is still partying like it is 1994.
  • This point was the one that amused me and spurred me to write this up. Spread out it looks like a bigger plate of food, but it sure looks fancier stacked like that… The key point though for me is that your food will stay warmer longer that way and we all know how quickly seafood cools off.
  • You are correct sir. Places like Chipotle and Panera are the industry darlings currently, but they are not good choices for actually going out somewhere to eat for a sit down experience. They call them fast casual restaurants because you order and grab your food like it was fast food, but if you are eating in at a place like Panera, your food is given to you on real plates with silverware, no server to tip. Chipotle however is basically glorified fast food, and their restaurants, if you have the misfortune to actually have to eat in one are loud, crowded and have a worse ambiance then my high school cafeteria. The quality of the food is the only thing Chipotle has going for them, and it is good food. But neither one is a good place to go out with the family, or trying to impress someone on a first date, compared to Red Lobster at least.
  • If you call your restaurant Red Lobster, then seafood should be the focus, diverting your time and attention to the people who did not come to Red Lobster to eat seafood is folly. Rather than having a quarter of your menu filled with middling non seafood offerings, make those 10-15% you do keep the very best non-seafood items you have, goodbye Parmesan Crusted Chicken Alfredo…
  • Pricing of your dishes is important, price something too high and nobody will buy it, it is overpriced. Price it just right and people will buy it. Have a coupon for two bucks off of said dish and people will believe they got a good deal, but price and promote something too low and people will believe they are getting a low quality item. People would rather have a deal than cheap food.

I wish Red Lobster the best of luck and call me old fashioned, but given the choice of Chipotle, Panera and Red Lobster as places to eat, I would rather pay more and enjoy a decent sit down meal at Red Lobster.

Why Didn’t I Think of That? Volume 1

Like most people, if you have ever spent much time in the kitchen, you have looked to push the boundaries of your everyday culinary experience. You have wondered such things like: “What would happen if I put both ham and turkey in this sandwich? Or perhaps: “What would it taste like if I used chocolate milk instead of regular milk to pour into my bowl of Cocoa Krispies?

Well, the foods and companies and people discussed below have pushed the boundaries in awesome and delicious ways that I wish I had thought of first…

• There is a food truck based out of Orange County, California called GDBROTRUCK that is already renowned for their hamburgers, but they have recently come up with a new spin on the old classic that combines a hamburger and all its assorted fixins with a bread bowl. The folks on the website foodbeast.com have all the delicious details right here.

• Have you ever been feeling really tired and wanted a boost a caffeine to wake you up, but were also craving beef jerky at the same time but were disgusted by the thought of having beef jerky with your coffee? Well worry no more! Perky Jerky is here to satisfy your needs! They have added guarana to the jerky which has almost twice the caffeine as coffee beans, you know you just want to click the link above and find out more…
• How many of you worker drones out there would love to have a keg in the office? Ha ha, got you, not that type of keg but an iced coffee keg! A New York City based company called Joyride has created just such an invention, regrettably for the rest of us, the only provide coffee distribution services in New York City and San Francisco.

Check back in a while for Volume 2 and beyond…

McDonald’s Dollar Menu: A Closer Look

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Well, I wasn’t planning on writing about McDonald’s again but you never know what you stumble across that makes for a good post. If you eat much at McDonald’s or have just been following the food biz news much, you likely heard that McDonald’s revamped their dollar menu and are now calling it the Dollar Menu and More. This revamp includes not just more offerings, but also higher prices. I’m not really going to get on McDonald’s case for increasing the prices of some of their dollar menu offerings, it has been over 11 years since the dollar menu debuted and prices for all kinds of food items have climbed a lot since then, but I am going to point out some of the interesting things they have done, and also point out some things that they may not want you to notice:

  • All the new items are sandwiches. Three of them are chicken and two of them are burgers, two of them are $1.00 and three of them are $2.00.
  • Those new $2.00 sandwiches, what do they all have in common? Bacon! Bacon has always been considered a premium style ingredient and to have bacon on these sandwiches (as well as cheese on two of them) makes it easier to be willing to pay the $2.00
  • The McDouble went up 19 cents and was likely the most popular dollar menu item over the years.
  • What is the difference between the McDouble and the Double Cheeseburger? The Double Cheeseburger has a second slice of cheese. You pay 30 cents more for that extra slice of cheese and tack on an extra 50 calories to your meal.
  • So about that $5.00 20 piece Chicken McNugget selection on the dollar menu? In my opinion, it is not there as a legitimate offering on the dollar and more menu but it is actually a menu decoy. What’s that? A menu decoy is a higher priced item on a menu used mainly to make the other surrounding offerings look more reasonably priced in comparison. It is not just the most expensive item on the dollar menu but it is three dollars more than the next highest set of items.
  • Did you notice what is missing now? Would you like fries with that dollar menu burger? Go ahead and order some, but you’re not going to get them from the dollar menu anymore, you will have to pay a bit more for some small fries off the regular menu.
  • Same deal with the beverage offering, you used to be able to get a small soft drink off of the dollar menu, but now your only choice is a large sweet tea.
  • That’s 32 ounces of sweet tea in a large, the tea mix must be even cheaper than the soda mix and soda has a reputation for being one of the highest profit margin items for any restaurant, not just fast food.
  • The two pies for a $1.00 have hit the road as well, but you can still have your cookies or an ice cream cone. The fruit and yogurt parfait is still on the menu as well which has a reputation for being a steal at just $1.00 considering what you get in it (fruit) and it’s fresher quality compared to some of the other dessert selections.

I will have to get out and do some field research to see how good these new dollar menu sandwiches actually are.

Srirachapocalypse Averted!


In case you were not aware, Huy Fong Foods Sriracha sauce aka “Rooster Sauce” experienced a bit of a crisis towards the end of last year. The city of Irwindale, California filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods. Why? Apparently residents of the town near the factory complained that the spicy odors were causing lung and eye irritation. It should be noted that the judge in the case said that there was a lack of credible evidence that actually linked the complaints and symptoms of its citizens to the factory odors, but that it could be reasonably inferred that the factory was the source of those odors and symptoms.

Things got worse in December when the California Department of Public Health said that the three hot sauces the company made could not be distributed for 30 days to ensure contents of the uncooked sauces were free of microorganisms.
The city of Irwindale, California, best known for their numerous gravel pits and an ill fated attempt to lure the Los Angeles Raiders to town by getting Al Davis to build a new stadium on the site of one of the gravel pits would have taken a serious public relations hit had the first issue above not been resolved and the factory unable to resume production.
Texas would have welcomed them with open arms so that the company could move to a place with fewer regulations to worry about.
But for now, all the above issues have been resolved and Sriracha shipments will resume later this month.

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