Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh, the Excitement

So far the month of October has passed in a kind of sameness. The election, the Dow, the election, the Dow. Anger, disbelief, frustration, anger, disbelief, frustration. No wonder all those people are lining up to see Beverly Hills Chiuaua. Movies are one avenue for escape, but here in my corner of the country the most popular frivolous activity would appear to be eating.

Locally, the biggest news of the past two weeks was the opening of a Sonic Drive-In. Here's how divorced I am from the world of fast food: I had no idea a Sonic was coming to the area, or was in fact open, until I drove smack into a traffic jam on my way to the grocery store. Yes, the opening of the Sonic created such excitement that cars have been lined up out of the parking lot and into a busy roadway. The first week the Sonic was open people would wait over half an hour to get into the lot to order their fast-food burgers.

What's the big deal? It's a fast-food product delivered to your car by a teenager wearing roller skates. The roller skates might make the teenager a bit more fit, but they don't make the food any better, or healthier. We had suffered no previous shortage of greasy burgers. The Sonic is located literally across the street from a shopping center that contains a McDonald's, Burger King, Arby's, Red Robin, and Applebee's. True, these other chains lack the roller skates, but at the end of the day isn't all crap food pretty much created equal? A friend actually waited in the long line of cars, dedicating over an hour of his day to procuring a burger that gave him the same indigestion he could have acquired at any other fast-food outlet. Maybe I'm just old and cranky, but I truly don't get it.

This same thing happened in the early 90s, when a Boston Market came to Charlottesville, VA. I have never seen such a mania for overcooked and overpriced rotisserie chicken. For weeks, people would line up to take home some dry chicken and steam table side dishes, as if the South had never before experienced the joys of creamed spinach, mac and cheese, or chicken. As if every gas station in C'ville didn't sell fried chicken. As if never before, in the annals of the American South, had a take-out dinner been offered.

Of course, we now know how that story ends. Boston Markets began sprouting like weeds all over the country, grocery stores and convenience markets began selling overcooked and overpriced rotisserie chicken, most of the Boston Markets ended up shuttered. People in Charlottesville went back to buying chicken where chicken rightly should be purchased, at gas stations.

If there's any sort of moral to this narrative it would be thus: wait another week and there will be no line at the Sonic.


tunsie said...

They brought a bit of nostalgia and teamed it up with todays food and it is a success.if one location makes a million dollars a year,two locations will not make a combined amount of two million dollars.there comes a point in time when you r competing with YOURSELF.chuck e cheeze has a big scary rabbit come out of the back 2 hug all the kids every half hour and they charge 25 dollars 4 a pizza pie.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

Sexy Witch said...

I thought Chuck E. Cheese was a mouse, not a rabbit