That staple of dessert goodness, the doughnut is round right. Everyone knows that. If a lost tribe was discovered in the Amazon jungle they would know little of modern life other than Kim Kardashian has a large posterior and doughnuts are round.
Only they aren’t as I have just discovered. Seems some adventurous blasphemers have been making them square.
Actually as it turns out, the French (It would be them) have been making something called a Beignet for quite a long time. Seems it’s made from something called Pets-de-nonne, which sounds exotic and enticing, until it is translated into the English of Nun’s Fart. Lovely, so they eat frogs, horses and nun powered flatulance.
They also spread to the new world, in some of those states with French culture such as Louisiana and New Orleans. Being French they will no doubt taste fabulous.
Actual Square Doughnuts
Like many things it is arguable who made doughnuts square. Heck, people still argue over who made them round and who added the hole. The Square Doughnut Co in Terre Haute claim that their founder Richard Comer Sr. started making them in 1967. This could be true, though no doubt their will be a plethora of other claiming to have been square first.
Another in our case studies, this time providing EY waffles and smoothies on their tour of universities around the UK.
It started last summer when we were asked to provide a smoothies cart around a small tour of universities in the Yorkshire/Lancashire regions. EY were signing uni graduates up to their scheme, and thought a giveaway would be better than the usual free pen or such. It worked so well that about a month later we did it all again, this time handing waffles on a stick out.
A couple of month later we were asked to do it a third time, However after finalising that round of waffles. We were contacted by three other EY team members. It turns out that the initial team had exceeded their targets by a massive amount. The other teams looked a bit behind so decided they wanted the same advantage.
The scheme must have worked as we are just putting together the package for another round of events. This time is isn’t EY Waffles, but EY churros.
The one thing that was consistent at McDonalds was the food. All McDonalds served the same range of burgers, wraps etc. So where ever you go you have a familiar friendly menu right. Erm, no actually it isn’t. The fact is that McDonalds tailors many of its menus to suit the local market. There is no point for instance going heavy on the beef in India. Much of the population are Hindus who consider the cow a sacred animal. In fact in some parts of India it is illegal to sell beef. So lets look at some of the wonderful and weird McDonald burger options that you probably haven’t seen before.
This is the result of selling into a market that consider your main ingredient to be sacred. Well, not exactly the beef, but the cow that donated in. So in the Indian market, McD’s replaced the beef with chicken.
The Benedict Bagel
Take a strip of bacon, a slice of cheese, a nicely rounded egg, a lashing of Hollandaise sauce, and stick it inside a bagel. What you then have is a sort of eggs Benedict. Available in the New Zealand market.
Japanese Black Burger
If you want weird food then go to Japan. Between eating stuff that is raw, deadly, still alive, there is also stuff that is black. This Big Mac replacement is made using squid ink, to give it that look. Add some spicy sauce and cheese and you have something that looks like its crawled out of halloween. Of all the weird McDonald’s burgers, this is the wierdest.
Maine Lobster Roll
High end food like lobster isn’t something you normally associate with a low rent burger joint like McD’s. However in certain markets such as Maine, and indeed at one time in Italy, they have short term specials. One such example was the McLobster.
The McArabia, is available across the Arab world, and Pakistan. Two chicken patties, salad and tahini sauce, folded into a flat bread. To be fair it isn’t much different to a chicken sandwich, other than the choice of bread.
The McRice, available across the Philippines, pretty much starts out as a regular burger or chicken sandwich. Where it deviates, is in the bun. Or lack of a bun to be accurate. These are sandwiched between two slices of toasted rice.
Across some of its Asian markets, Maccy D’s have replaced the beef with shrimp. Not all the beef we hasten to add, they still sell burgers, but this is an additional line. Shrimp ground up and made into a pattie, sweet chilli sauce and a corn dusted bun.
Many people love burgers, and also love pizza. So our teutonic friends, with their world renowned efficiency, combined the two. A big mac inside a pizza bun.
If you fancy a trip to Thailand, you can indulge yourself in a pork samurai. As typical McDonalds fare such as beef isn’t as common in the country, they have switched to pork. Teriyaki sauce, lettuce and mayo completes the ensemble.
Another teutonic offering. Bratwurst sausages with mustard and onions. This one only had a brief run, but hey, nothing wrong with bratwurst.
Mashed Potato Burger
How do you improve on a Big Mac. Well, if you are part of the McDonald’s Chine team then the answer apparently, is topping it with a big dollop of mashed potato.
Our Dutch cousins came up with this concoction. A mixture of ground beef and cheese made into a fried patty. Then topped with mustard.
Another New Zealand special, the kiwiburger. A beef patty with an egg and beetroot slices.
Burger and Cheese
It would seem that our friends in Brazil are partial to cheese. Very partial. In fact your burger comes with a big tub of melted cheddar to dip into.
Crab Croquette Burger
Another entry from the land of the rising sun. This one is made from snow crab and mushrooms. Reports are it isn’t as nice as it sounds.
Cordon Bleu Burger
An entry from Poland. This one is ideal for those who can’t make their mind up. Beef, chicken and bacon.
From South Korea, comes the Bulgogi burger. A pork patty covered in sticky Bulgogi sauce a sweet, smoky, and slightly tangy concoction.
An Italian concoction, this must be the most appetizing looking piece of food ever. Did they use special software to remove all the colour from the picture? We love weird McDonalds, but not this one.
Dosa Masala Burger
A thin fermented rice and lentil pancake mixed with spicy potato. And drizzled with chutney mayo. It doesn’t really look appetizing, but the Indians must like it.
Three pieces of falafel garnished with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles and topped with Tehina sauce served in a tortilla wrap.
Turkish kebabs in a flat bread. Where else, but Turkey. Another local delicacy that should be shared with the wider McDonalds family.
When you look there are some really weird McDonald’s offering out there.
A short case study about our support for the 100% Club scheme.
About 4 or 5 years ago we supplied a single ride, a Carousel to a school in Leeds. This carried on for about three years, until they suddenly expanded the booking and starting reserving multiple rides and catering.
It turns out that they were running a 100% club. Any kid that had a 100% attendance record for that term would be entitled to spend a period of time at the mini funfair they had booked.
Suddenly we started receiving requests from other schools for the exact same thing. Turns out they were all part of an academy group of schools. We now provide attractions regularly to something like 9 different schools. This ranges from the latest thrill rides to things like burger and chips.
Talking to some of the teachers, it seems that they had posted an increase in average attendance at the schools running the scheme.
The Health and Safety team at the schools were pretty fierce at the first events, and had us jumping through hoops. Gradually they seemed to relax a little and adopt an attitude of suggesting slight improvements where necessary, rather than making a big issue of it. I think the fact that we put so much effort into doing things right, coupled with us making changes as soon as they request them, helped a lot.
This entry in our world’s burger joints is a little different. Rather than a chain this is a single location in Tempe, Arizona.
Founded in 2005 by Jon Basso with the intent of serving “nutritional pornography”. The Heart Attack Grill has one major selling point. It sells the world’s unhealthiest burgers. Ranging from a single upto a octuple heart bypass burger containing a massive 16,000 calories.
If you manage to finish this, you are wheeled out to your car by your personal naughty nurse.
Your side order of fries are cooked in lard, tequila and beer to make sure they contain as many calories as possible. Your soft drinks are made with can sugar, and patrons can buy unfiltered cigarettes.
Big Guests Eat Free
If you happen to weigh over 25 stone, then you eat free. You do have to weigh yourself beforehand, and drinks are excluded from the deal, oh and you can’t share your food.
The whole joint is themed around nurses/doctors. Guests don hospital gowns before eating. The nurses take prescriptions (orders) from the patients (guests).
If you don’t manage to finish your food, then one of the naughty nurses will paddle you. With the option to buy the paddle afterwards.
So, not only is this a hamburger place that uses the time tested tactic of sexy ladies. It also aims to feed you the most unhealthy burgers possible.
What could possibly go wrong?
2011 the Heart Attack Grills spokesman Blair River died at the age of 29 from complications with pneumonia. Not sure if the 41 stone he weighed had any bearing on that.
2012 a customer suffered a heart attack whilst eating one of their burgers. The owner called an ambulance, whilst the other patrons took photos.
2012 A female customer fell unconscious whilst eating a double bypass burger. Though she was also drinking ans smoking.
2013 another spokesman John Alleman (bit of a dangerous job that) dropped dead outside the restaurant whilst waiting for a bus. Not sure how heavy that one was.
When worked the funfair circuit we needed a generator for powering our equipment. Well, we used four of them in fact. When we moved totally into corporate entertainment we made it a condition of the contract that the client provided power.
This work well for a number of years, as usually we were powering perhaps a candy floss and a popcorn machine, so at most a couple of 13 amp sockets were fine.
During covid we suddenly found our clients asking us to provide larger catering services, such as serving four thousand burgers for Amazon in four hours, though that is another tale lol.
We suddenly found ourselves needing sixty and seventy amp supplies. So to translate this into a format that made sense to the client we would specify that we needed like four 13 amp supplies. What would happen is that we would arrive at the venue, be handed a four way socket and told here are your four supplies. Trouble is, the four sockets joined into a single 13amp plug. And ‘Oh’ they would say, ‘your sharing with the DJ, pizza truck and rodeo bull!’
Great, we were gonna be pulling 100 amp from a single 13amp plug. So no power problems expected then.
To circumvent this, we ended up adding some generators to our line up.
This gave us the flexibility to power ourselves and some spare capacity to boot.
Initially we would fill them up from a local garage that sold red diesel. But even though it was only about 4 miles away, it was still a hassle to couple up and run down there for fuel. Additionally at the time it was about £1.40 a litre from them. The local diesel supplier quoted £0.82 a litre, which was a massive saving, but would only deliver a 1000 litres a time.
So we added a fuel bunker to take advantage of this. Other people we know had similar but owning for lift trucks, would simply lift them in the air to allow gravity to dispense the fuel. Not owning a fork lift, we added a battery powered system and a metered pump.
We installed the system in the yard and had it filled. Then had a think about security. Some people feel entitled to help themselves to whatever without legal niceties such as ownership being considered relevant.
So we set about fortifying our diesel. A wifi camera provided not only monitoring of the set up, but would automatically light up the area, sound an alarm and alert me at my phone that someone was at the bunker. We also added locks to the on/off valve, filling hole. and pump switch.
My daughter pointed out that the battery just being sat there was screaming take me take me. So we fitted a secured steel lock box with the battery inside. A jokey conversation with a friend who looked at the system ended with him saying I am surprised you haven’t electrified it.
Ha, cant do that someone might touch it accidentally. Ha, they might, ha ha that could be fun. Yeah lets do it.
The end result is that the system is now fitted with a similar energiser to what farmers use to keep cows in their field. To be fair, it is remotely controlled, and not left live all the time. But I can turn it on from anywhere in the world using my phone. We also added a solar charger to keep the whole shebang topped up.
Years gone by, animal menageries were a regular site on fairgrounds. Most people hadn’t seen exotic animals, so the chance to visit a sideshow with some of the more weird and wonderful inhabitants of our planet was a big draw.
By the time I was growing up on the funfair circuit, they had disappeared. The only one with anything exotic was Uncle Gilbert Chadwicks show that had mostly things like six legged sheep (dead and stuffed) and other weird things. It also had a monkey. An actual real live monkey called Joey.
Now some of the older kids would collect dead goldfish from the hook a duck stalls, and feed them to Joey. I was invited along one day to take part in this ritual. Unfortunately not being trained in the art of feeding monkeys, I held onto the fish a little too long, and Joey decided that the quickest way to his meal, was to bite me first to get me to let go.
I remember Colin, one of the bigger kids, giving me a drink of his shandy, as a sort of bribe to not tell my dad what had happened. Unfortunately walking in with blood streaming down my hand elicited a demand as to what had happened.
Cue a trip to the hospital. Which wouldn’t have been too bad, unfortunately we happened to be at Hartlepool at the time.
Now, if you don’t hail from the North East, then you might not be aware of the legend of the monkey hangers. That’s how locals are referred to by other denizens of the North East. The legend is, that during the Napoleonic wars. A French ship floundered off the coast of Hartlepool. Eventually being shipwrecked, the only survivor being the ships mascot which happened to be a monkey.
The monkey luckily survived and managed to make it to shore. Where unluckily it found itself in Hartlepool. The locals, never having met a Frenchman, arrested the unfortunate primate as an enemy combatant. They tried to question the monkey, which steadfastly refused to reply. Presumably being a French monkey it didn’t understand English.
After a short trial, where Monsieur Monkey refused to offer anything in his defence. They found him guilty of invading Hartlepool and sentenced him to immediate death by hanging. Perhaps if the poor sod had been fortunate enough to be shipwrecked somewhere civilised it might have had a longer lifespan. This one was more monkey killed than monkey killer.
Anyway, having been informed by dad that I had been bitten, the doctor understandably asked by what.
The answer of a monkey didn’t really go down to well, with the doctor being a local lad. After a second request for the breed of animal met with the same answer he became quite irate. Dad calmed him down and explained the situation. Seeing the funny side, I am sure the doctor repeated that story regularly on his coffee breaks. Anyway, a call to a specialist wid animal resource in London brought the reply that it should be treated the same way as a dog bite. A bloody big needle of anti tetanus, and a through clean and bandaging of the wound. So after all I survived the attack of the killer monkey.
We have pretty much always ran PSA group vans. Primarily Citroen Dispatches, and last year we added a Vauxhall Vivaro, same van, different badge. The Vauxhall was the LWB version which came in handy when transporting our gourmet burger units.
To be fair, they have been pretty reliable. Normally we swapped the oldest one in each year. Covid, mucked the system up, and we found ourselves needing three new vans.
Originally in 2021 we ordered a new Dispatch. It was going to be delivered for September. Then October, November December, January, and finally some time after March. At that point we cancelled it.
That turned out to be a mistake, since between ordering and cancelling it, the price had gone up some four grand, and the spec had been cut in half.
Everywhere we looked, they were quoting, pretty much indeterminate delivery times. Eventually I happened on a garage with a Vauxhall Vivaro, still at a reasonable spec, but a lot more expensive then we had been paying for vans. We added that to the fleet last March.
Roll around 2023 and the decision was made that we needed another two vans. Queue a look around our usual suppliers. What we found was that they had gone up another four grand since last year, while simultaneously the spec was cut again. So in effect, we would be paying more per van than the top of the range versions had been a couple of years ago. And for our money we would be getting something not much above the minimum spec.
Enter Nissan Primastar
To be honest, the cut in spec pissed me off as much as the jump in price, so I decided that maybe it was time to look around. Now that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Citroen, Peugeot, Fiat, Toyota and Vauxhall are all the same van. We hired a couple of Ford Custom’s one Christmas, and everyone refused to drive them, the handling was that poor. My experience with Mercedes vans, is that if you drive through a puddle of water they start to fall apart with rust within the week. VW transporters were liked, but just too bloody expensive for what you got.
Eventually we turned up at Nissan. The vans were a nice drive, slightly larger inside both the load area and the cabin than our previous vans which was a plus. Similar on fuel economy. Came with a shorter service interval than Citroen which is a bit crap, but were twenty per cent cheaper and came with a top of the range spec. they didn’t come with twin side loading doors as standard, but it was an option for only £280. So overall we decided to give them a chance and ordered two.
Growing up in the North East, Wimpys was THE burger place. As a kid growing up in the early 80’s McDonalds and Burger King hadn’t reached the North East at that time, and you wanted a burger, you went to Wimpy.
Named after the character of J.Wellington Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons, the chain was founded in Bloomington Indiana by Edward Gold in 1934.
By 1947 the chain had grown to 26 outlets spread across the midwest, with the Chicago tribune estimating the group was expecting to sell some 8 million burgers annually in the Chicago area.
Wimpy was a bit of an outlier in American burger chains. At its peak it was estimated to have 26 units in its homeland. But across the rest of the world it peaked at 1500 outlets.
It’s first foreign venture came in 1954 when Gold sold a licence to J. Lyons and Co. to open stores across the UK. In 1957 a joint venture was formed with Lyons to market Wimpy across the rest of the globe. This lasted until 2007 when Wimpy UK became a subsidiary of the South African group Famous Brands International. They took over the worldwide franchising arrangements directly from their base in South Africa.
The first UK Wimpy was in Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street London. The Wimpy was so successful that it soon led to the establishment of stand alone Wimpys serving only a range of burger meals. They differed to the later chains such as McDonalds, in that they were more like a typical diner with table service rather than serving across the counter.
One peculiarity of the chain, was that in the 1970’s entry was refused to unaccompanied woman after midnight, based on the assumption that they could be prostitutes.
1978 saw the debut of Mr Wimpy, the promotional character in his beefeater outfit.
McDonalds And Into A Decline
By the end of the 80’s McDonalds had gained a firm toehold in the UK, and the chain was starting to decline. McDonalds over the counter fast service found favour, and Wimpy had to start altering its operating methods in an attempt to remain relevant.
In 1989 the business was purchased by Grand Metropolitan, (now Diagio) who also owned Burger King. Many of the Wimpy outlets were converted to Burger Kings as the new owners felt the BK had greater international recognition.
Currently there are some 67 Wimpys still in operation in the UK. Many in seaside resorts, or other smaller towns such as Huddersfield, many in more low rent locations, a far cry from their heyday on the high street.
Wimpy’s flagship burger. A triple pattie, but topping out at 864 calories. Positively anorexic compared to some of the burgers on offer in America.
The chain has its greatest presence in South Africa where there are still 453 outlets. There they are themed more along the American Diner retro style.
Like many 80’s kids I remember the Wimpy fondly. A couple of years ago I chanced upon one on a job, and decided to try a quarter pounder. It was fabulous, and far superior to the other American offerings in the UK.
This time we leave the good ole US of A, and take a look at a chain of burger joints hailing from Belgium. I must admit a soft spot for these as on honeymoon, when we didn’t have a lot of disposable income, we frequented Quicks burgers as the most affordable eatery whilst we were in France and Belgium.
It is also nice seeing a different take in the actors and models used for the advertisements. Whereas the Americans have everyone looking like they have just stepped off a catwalk. Quicks use people that look more like, well people. Check out the welcome video on the homepage, love the part where one guy whips his wig off to reveal he is bald, whilst the other one is eating with his mouth open and full of lettuce.
The chain began life in 1971 when Baron Vaxelaire opened two restaurants in Antwerp and Waterloo. 30 years later it had grown to over 400 stores in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and a number of French overseas territories.
To be honest, the chain doesn’t really do anything outstanding or unique, but it just makes a nice counterpoint to the overload of American chains. Having tasted them I can attest to the fact that their burgers do taste a helluva lot better than your typical McDonalds fare.
All in all, a nice, profitable if rather bland entry into our series of burger joints.