Tuesday, December 28, 2004

KFC fails to leave a sour taste in my mouth -- and that's a bad thing

If you go to the KFC near my house in Toronto (and you shouldn't -- not only is it very bad for you, but the last time I was there, their soda fountain was broken, they accidentally gave me a small order of fries instead of my poutine, and, incredibly, they ran out of chicken), they'll ask you if you want ketchup and they'll throw about eight packets into a bag with a single two-piece meal in it. But even though it's a long-established Canadian culinary habit that french fries be eaten with white vinegar, they never ask you if you want any of that. (Nor do they offer salt, for that matter -- just ketchup.)

This isn't limited to my local KFC either; it seems to be standard practice at a lot of fast-food restaurants. Why? It seems as though these chains have made a profit-driven decision to cater to the local populace by introducing poutine to their menus, but there's no profit in pushing an option of free vinegar on you rather than simply giving you free ketchup. So, the standard directives from American head offices to ask if the customer wants eight free packets of ketchup are being pushed on the Canadian franchises and their customers. From my own personal observation, the result seems to be that Canadians are going with the flow and putting vinegar on their fries less than they used to. Just another little example of creeping American cultural imperialism.

My fellow Canadians, we must defend what little culture we've got. The next time you order fries, get the ketchup if that's what you want. But if you want vinegar, refuse the ketchup and demand the vinegar. Even if you want no condiment at all, refuse the ketchup and demand the vinegar. You don't have to use it, but you'll help send them the message that they should be offering what good Canadians want.


Blogger SadPunk said...

I've heard of poutine, but I have no idea what it is. The word makes me imagine dough, for some reason.

And I sympathize; local restaurants here in the South are becoming progressively less likely to have grits on the menu. National chains not only move in, but they become so prevalent that some people born and raised here have never even tried grits.

Granted, grits really aren't all that great, but it's sad to see a region's identity subsumed into the National Borg.

12/29/2004 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

Poutine is french fries covered with curd and gravy. You can add other stuff, but that's the basic idea. People outside Canada can't seem to get their head around the idea, but believe me, it's as good to the tongue as it is to the rest of the body. Deadly, but delicious.

Being home for the holidays, I've gone to my original expert on all things -- my mom -- for the scoop on grits. I'm told they're basically tasteless white gravy, and certainly nothing to write home about. And this is from my mom, who would like nothing more than for me to find some pretext to write home once in a while.

12/30/2004 02:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, it could just be that the stoned kids at KFC just don't really care about their jobs, versus a new top-down franchisor ultimate margin skimming budget plan.

12/31/2004 02:02:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

The KFC near my house seems to be exclusively staffed with recent immigrants from India and parts thereabouts. They're not apparently stoned, but as recent arrivals in our land, they're less likely to be aware of traditional Canadian habits, so their actions seem less likely to reflect laziness than a universal "Push ketchup -- that's what Americans want" rule.

12/31/2004 10:38:00 AM  

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