Commentary: Wrap this one in pure irony

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News flash: McDonald’s Canada is offering its first new vegetarian entrees in more than a decade, as the fast-food chain up north began selling two new vegetarian McWrap flavors on Tuesday, according to the Canadian National Post.

Here is McDonald’s online promo for the new Santa Fe Wrap: “Bursting with fresh tomatoes, red onions, shredded lettuce, fire roasted corn & black beans, with crispy tortilla strips, it’s topped with Monterey and cheddar cheese, with chili lime glaze and southwest sauce—all wrapped in a warm whole-wheat soft-shell tortilla.”

The other new choice, the Mediterranean Wrap, in contrast, is only “loaded with fresh tomatoes”—I prefer my wraps to be bursting, thank you very much—but also contains “cucumbers, red onions, shredded lettuce and feta cheese, topped with roasted garlic hummus and feta sauce.” And of course, that one’s also wrapped in a “warm, whole-wheat soft-shell tortilla.”

According to a Los Angeles Times story, the wraps will be sold for $4.39 apiece—pricey, but hey, it’s Canada. However, the new products won’t be marketed in the United States, at least for a while.

“McDonald’s is always looking to enhance and evolve our menu offerings and meet our customers’ needs, and expanding the Premium McWrap line with new flavors is a future possibility,” Ofelia Casillas, McDonald’s media relations manager, told the newspaper. “We also encourage customers to customize their menu orders when eating at McDonald’s, and the Premium McWrap is no exception.”

Customize your order? Seriously? Has Ms. Casillas actually tried that a crowded McDonald’s drive-thru lately? Trust me: She won’t get a lot of “encouragement” from the staff with that stunt.

Of course, U.S. customers still can order McDonald’s other available wraps—Sweet Chili, Chicken and Bacon and Chicken Ranch— and then go veggie. How? As Casillas explained to the Times, “Order each without chicken for a vegetarian option.”

Right. And I’ll have a Big Mac, hold the two all-beef patties, cheese and special sauce. I’ll just eat a white bread bun, a limp lettuce leaf and a tasteless tomato slice and call it good.

Unwarranted glee

What’s ironic about this development isn’t so much the company’s clueless spokesperson as it is observing how the same folks who loathe the entire fast-food industry are suddenly singing the praises of its No. 1 player.

For example: In a blog post titled, “CANDA (sic) - 1, USA – 0,” idiot cultural commentator and avowed vegetarian Perez Hilton crowed that the new McDonald’s wraps were being launched in Canada, he wrote, “Because they found that not only do Canadian vegetarians want more options, meat-eaters want some veggie options now and again too!”

Uh, it’s called test marketing. You might want to look into it before posting your next commentary.

But what’s doubly ironic about the hosannas wafting up to the world’s biggest fast-food franchise, just because they rolled out a couple wraps that have been available for decades at a dozen different taco chains and other quick-service restaurants, is that the same crusaders who love McDonald’s today spend the rest of their time ripping that entire segment of the food industry for its multitude of nutritional sins.

Here’s a sampling of the scorn they pile onto fast-food companies higher than the calorie count on a Triple Bacon Burger:

  • “Fast foods and junk foods are high in fat, sodium and sugar, which can lead to obesity and a range of attendant health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.” (FitDay.com)
  • “A 14-year study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that [fast-food] menus haven’t made much improvement in their nutritional quality. They’re only marginally better.” (TIME magazine)
  • “America is overlooking the real cause of its ever-expanding waistline. The problem isn’t so much people’s lack of self-control, it’s a ‘toxic food environment’—the strips of fast-food restaurants along America’s roadways, the barrage of burger advertising on television.” (American Psychological Association)
  • “Fast food equals dead food, and the more dead foods we consume, the faster we end up dead ourselves.” (NaturalNews.com)

So in other words, eat fast-food and die—unless you’re digging into the new, bursting with veggie goodness Santa Fe Wrap or the warm, soft goodness of a totally meatless Mediterranean Wrap, that is.

Then, you’re best buds with your new veggie bro Ronald himself.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.


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