The lives upended around a $20 cheeseburger
> A cash-strapped rancher, a virus-stricken meatpacker, an underpaid chef, a hungry engineer: The journey of a single burger during a pandemic
A bit dramatic, but a good look at the food supply chain.
How Apples Go Bad
> Perhaps owing to these gonzo genetics, apples are remarkably susceptible to disease and rot. Their tender skin and light flesh are a haven for small creatures. Their trees embrace myriad molds, viruses, and fungi: apple scab, black pox, southern blight, union necrosis. For farmers and hobby gardeners, the business of apple-growing is not so much aiding the fruits in their growth as scrambling to ward off their demise. Blight spreads quickly, and it’s not always apparent on the fruit’s surface. Even without the influence of invader or infection, an apple abets its own spoilage: its skin, minutely porous, exhales ethylene, a gaseous compound that induces ripening, and the fruit has no interest in stopping at the point where it serves our needs.
> Greetings and salutations internet person! Have you ever pissed off a customer so much they bought a domain and stood up a website to shit on your asinine and boneheaded business practices? GE just did.
> I just wanted a tall, cold, refreshing glass of water at 3am only to be greeted by a fucking atomic countdown on my trusty cold water and ice dispensing pal.
Cities are closing streets to make way for restaurants and pedestrians
> The forced distancing required by the coronavirus prompted several cities to quickly close some public roads to make room so cooped-up residents anxious to get outside for exercise could do so safely.
> Now, following moves to shut, narrow or repurpose streets from Oakland to Tampa, cities including Washington are seeking to understand how those emergency closures might have lasting impacts on some of urban America’s most important, and contested, real estate.
> “Japanese researchers are closing in on understanding why electrical storms have a positive influence on the growth of some fungi,” Physics World reported last month, with some interesting implications for agriculture.
Some cool pictures.
Point Of Saturation
> 75k - The number of restaurants around the world that use the Aloha point of sale system. Aloha is an industry stalwart that has managed to stay relevant while often still looking like it was designed in 1998.
Plus some NCR history.
SoftBank’s $375 Million Bet on Pizza Went Really Bad Really Fast
> By the time Garden headed back down the driveway, he was well on his way to a SoftBank investment of $375 million, with double that money on the table if his business gained traction. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Zume marks one of the biggest recent disappointments in SoftBank’s portfolio. As of this year it no longer makes or delivers pizzas. In January, Zume cut 360 jobs, leaving a little over 300 employees, and said it would focus on packaging and efficiency gains for other food delivery companies.
Levine commentary: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-02-14/robot-pizza-trucks-hit-some-bumps
> Just, what a closed loop it is. You run a pizza delivery business. You craft a pitch calculated to convince Masayoshi Son that your pizza delivery business will change the world. You meet with Masayoshi Son. He convinces you that you will change the world. Now you are all believers, all in it together. He hands you piles of money. You go home and weep to your friends, “I am going to change the world.” The friends are like “wait what with the pizzas?” But it is too late for skepticism, you have the money, the robots are in the trucks, they are fanning out across town, the cheese is everywhere, they cannot turn back.
The historical significance of the Burgermaster drive-in restaurant
> In Windows 3.0, the data segment that recorded the locations of all the other data segments was named the BurgerMaster.
> The Burgermaster restaurant was so important that Bill Gates’s secretary kept it on speed dial. In fact, it wasn’t just on speed dial for Bill Gates’s secretary. It was a company-wide speed dial number. You could call them to order a burger, walk next door, and your order would be ready and waiting for you.
Mistakes Were Made
> Take the time to learn about ERP software, and it’s easy to realize small errors compound quickly. It might seem like we’re going to be dunking on SAP here, but as we previously noted during our recent dive into updates to NFL quarterback statistics, when you’re really, really good at something difficult, you’re allowed more errors than others. By any measure, SAP is a titan of logistics and widespread enough as to be vital to the world economy. So when they fail, they fail in ways that have some spectacular consequences.
> Case in point: the Halloween without various Hershey’s candies.
> However, when the SAP Hana system they were “upgrading” to took three years to get to operational use, Lidl dumped the project … after spending well more than half a billion dollars. The move was reported not through a lawsuit but a simple memo that explained “the strategic goals as originally defined by the project could not be achieved without the retailer having to spend more than it wanted.”
Oh well, we tried, thanks for the money!
Farewell to Starbucks’s green straws
> In the long history of pipe-assisted drinking—beginning with the gold beer-sipping tubes of the Sumerians—Starbucks’s plastic straws knew they were a cut above the rest. Their tight white wrapping carried not only English words but a stylish French inscription, Pas recommandé pour utiliser dans les boissons chaudes. Released from that confinement, springing up ready, they stood straight, stiff and tall as a stalk of wheat, with no disfiguring articulations; for they never quailed or bent. And their colour was beautiful. It was darker than the leaves of spring, lighter than the Washington forests and the logo of the company, yet fresh, viridian, straight from the palette of a Monet or a Van Gogh. But despite all that they were doomed to disappear by 2020, for not being green enough.
How Crisco Made Americans Believers in Industrial Food
> Crisco’s main ingredient, cottonseed oil, had a bad rap. So marketers decided to focus on the ‘purity’ of factory food processing
How airplane food goes from the kitchen to your flight
> Gate Gourmet is one major player in the airplane catering game, feeding about 750 million passengers a year in about 60 countries. On a typical day at its Dulles International Airport branch, in suburban Washington, the company is responsible for getting 18,000 meals onto 275 flights. In busy seasons, that number jacks up to 25,000 meals.
How these American dishes evolved from foreign roots
> Gumbo. Chile con queso. California roll. Spaghetti and meatballs.
> The names are as familiar as household brands. Yet how much do you know about these dishes? Based on the names alone, with their roots in other languages and other cultures, each dish sounds like an import. In some ways, they are. But each dish also morphed and adapted to its new environment, transforming into something uniquely American.
Incenters of chocolate-iced cakes
> Grandma made a cake whose base was a square of size 30 by 30 cm and the height was 10 cm. She put chocolate icing on top of the cake and on the sides, but not on the bottom. She wanted to divide the cake fairly among her 9 grandchildren so that each child would get an equal amount of the cake and the icing. How should she cut the cake?
How Tax Policy Gave Us White Claw
> Because of this tax quirk, beverage companies have long sought ways to make flavored cocktail-like beverages for the U.S. market by brewing instead of distilling. Zima, Smirnoff Ice, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade are all “malternative” beverages, brewed from grain, like beer. A problem with malternatives has been the need to find ways to mask the beer-like flavor that results from brewing. To that end, these drinks have added sugar and strong citrus flavors, which a lot of consumers like. But they don’t serve as a replacement for a vodka soda.
> The key advancement with White Claw and its competitors in the “spiked seltzer” market is the use of sugar base for fermentation, which leads to a more neutral flavor than you can get by fermenting barley or other grains.
Yelp is Screwing Over Restaurants By Quietly Replacing Their Phone Numbers
This year, Joey Chestnut marched on New York with a hot-dog entourage
> Chestnut, a Northern Californian with a placid demeanor, also stars in “The Good, the Bad, the Hungry,” a new ESPN documentary about his surprisingly complex relationship with longtime rival Takeru Kobayashi. And the ESPN marketing machine had gone into overdrive to burnish the hot-dog champion’s image. They arranged to have Chestnut arrive at Citi Field with his sausage posse to throw out the first pitch and later hand out hot dogs — presumably the nonhuman kind.
To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sandwich
> Bar owners insisted on this bizarre charade to avoiding breaking the law—specifically, the excise law of 1896, which restricted how and when drinks could be served in New York State. The so-called Raines Law was a combination of good intentions, unstated prejudices, and unforeseen consequences, among them the comically unsavory Raines sandwich.
> So “-bachi” is now an English suffix for any food prepared live by Asians on a metal plate.
Forced rhubarb – a vegetable deprived of sunlight for extra sweetness
> A notoriously fickle vegetable to harvest, Yorkshire forced rhubarb is anything but easy to grow. It thrives in the county’s cold winters, but if the soil is too wet, it can’t be planted. If the temperature is too hot, it won’t grow; and 10 or more frosts are needed before a farmer can even think about forcing it. Only then can horticulturalists remove the heavy roots from the field, then clean and replant them inside the forcing sheds where photosynthesis is limited, encouraging glucose stored in the roots to stimulate growth. It demands patience, expertise and good fortune, and, ultimately, it is engineered for maximum taste: once deprived of light, the vegetable is forced to use the energy stored in its roots, making it far sweeter than the normal variety.