Re: McDonaldsin'

1

Presumably McDonalds is taken as an acceptable Other. I feel the same way when eco-activists make fun of its occasional step towards sustainability. McDonalds' abandoning Styrofoam was probably a big global deal; don't make fun, praise them and ask for the next thing.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 5:05 PM
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In an average week, I eat at McDonald's at least twice. This is the neutral zone in my personal war between self-respect and appetite.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 5:31 PM
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I have recently been thinking and discussing food access policy quite a bit and am somewhat surprised at the vast range of reactions I have to policies designed to increase fruit/veggie consumption and/or decrease unhealthy food consumption by the recipients of food aid. Regulations of day care and school meals bring out a nearly unbridled matriarchal desire to require healthy food. But when the recipients are adults, for example using their EBT card to purchase restaurant meals, I swing WAAAY the other end of the spectrum and become quite offended by folks proposing to tell someone living rough that he/she can't buy fast food if eg securing space in a shelter means he/she misses the soup kitchen hours and MacDo is what is then open and accepting EBT. Besides what of it if a homeless person wants to take a date or their kids to a meal at MacDo? How petty do we really need to be?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 5:58 PM
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The NPR blog on which this article appears, Code Switch, focuses on issues of race and ethnicity.

I read this particular article as a "Here's a nostalgic-yet-sobering slice of life in terms of how major corporations have marketed to African-Americans."

(As an aside, I was gobsmacked that it was ever acceptable to make "No tipping" a selling point in ad in a black magazine!)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 5:59 PM
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I was gobsmacked that it was ever acceptable to make "No tipping" a selling point in ad in a black magazine!

Huh. I actually found that one of the most telling bits of ad copy. The message is that this is affordable: it's fast food, you pick up your own food, there is no server to be tipped.

When did the fast food industry really take off? I remember, as a kid in the early 70s, being really excited when the first Burger King in town had its grand opening. I insisted that we go there. You (kids) got a paper crown along with your happy meal (not called that), and there were coloring books and crayons provided. I was so excited.

For my parents, I'm sure the message was: family, kid friendly. Affordable. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a parallel ad campaign targeted toward whites as the fast food industry introduced itself to the populace.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:30 PM
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I did sort of know that it was a series that focused on race and ethnicity. In which case, it should just be interpreted as "here's some clunky old advertising on our general theme!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:32 PM
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The message is that this is affordable

Erm...I don't think so.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:47 PM
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8

All white people tip at McDonald's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:52 PM
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7: I'd conclude from that that the McDonald's people were going with their perception of black people: they don't like to tip. It doesn't seem a stretch to suppose that the McDonald's people figured that was because tipping is an extra cost that some would rather not incur, and that a message of affordability would resonate.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:53 PM
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And if they thought black people don't like to tip (because of affordability), fast food is going to be an awesome pitch for them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:55 PM
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11

Nobody tips at Arby's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:56 PM
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I was not aware of that particular racial stereotype.*

* To be fair, I only learned about the "Asians are poor drivers" thing a few months ago. I am oblivious to the suffering of pretty much everybody, is the takeaway here.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 6:58 PM
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4.3: I would also entertain an argument that tipping is worrisome for new restaurant-goers, and that restaurant-going had been rarer before the 1960s, and particularly rare among black people before the Civil Rights era. Might not have been a significant difference, but I know rural (white) people *now* who are worried by tipping. Also by parking.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:03 PM
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6: it's way more than clunky, it's simultaneously pandering and condescending (with a side of paternalistic once Calvin shows up). Seriously, black folk are constantly gettin' down?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:04 PM
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restaurant-going had been rarer before the 1960s, and particularly rare among black people before the Civil Rights era

Good point.

I was just trying to figure out when the major fast food chains became self-serve, so to speak: they began as service restaurants -- your food was brought to you (so tipping might actually be in play) -- but at some point they transitioned to having customers retrieve their their own food.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:09 PM
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I think of "getting down" as being so ubiquitous in 70s slang as to be practically invisible. Obviously they wouldn't have put it in an ad targeting white people, but it doesn't make it completely awful.

I didn't actually watch the Calvin videos.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:17 PM
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Articles like this are written with less thought than the median comment here. I claim that it's an error to pay much attention. No stats about actual employment of African-Americans, or even about ad budgets, just some text and clipped images.

I can't stand basically all NPR reporting about the US middle classes, though-- possibly at this point I'm irrationally cranky. Very possibly the reporter is a nice guy with ideas and insight, but there's no way to tell at such a horrible venue.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:40 PM
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17: Have you ever read any of the Code Switch stuff before? I totally agree with you about NPR's on-air reporting, but IME both Code Switch and Monkey See (their pop culture blog) are very smart and thoughtful.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:44 PM
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9,10: We're hearing it differently. To me it's as offensive as if they aimed a "no tipping" ad at Jewish people because of their alleged frugality.

Whoops, analogy ban violation. Kind of.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:52 PM
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18. Once or twice. My objection stands-- this piece is as interesting as a flickr page of vintage ads, quickly and superficially written by someone reasonably perceptive.

The format and pace are fatal flaws-- short text with lots of pictures is IMO not the right way forward. I'd be more interested in the same number of words about Robert L Beatty or someone else who was part of the process then.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:53 PM
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21

Does anyone else want a McDouble?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:53 PM
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17, 18: Like this story about how cafeteria workers pronounce "Gravy."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 7:54 PM
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20: I'm gonna go with "yeah, you're being irrationally cranky". There's a place for the more in-depth reporting you want, but there's a place for exactly this sort of blog post. (In just the same way that there's a place for a detailed breakdown of defense in the NBA, and then there's a place for an 11-minute-long compilation of James Harden playing matador and falling asleep.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 8:01 PM
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Also, what the fuck do ad budgets have to do with it? Do you need a million-dollar budget to have somebody say "hey, maybe acting like all our black customers are the jive-talkin' dudes from "Airplane" isn't the best idea!"?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 8:09 PM
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24. Devoting any fraction of the ad budget specifically to an African-American ad agency in the mid-1970s, running the ads in Ebony then, that was progressive. The article doesn't say whether McDs was better or worse than other chains, or whether the shitty ads for Ebony were stupider than their shitty ads for other venues.

The 90s ads are awful. Basically, I don't care about short pop culture style analysis like this, it's too easy to do with almost any slant. Feel free to differ.

Comparing with Wendy's or BK ads in the same magazine would have been possible. Huh, procrastinating: Actually, page 113 has an interesting ad. Peter Pan and Illinois Bell ran ads that speak jive in the same issue. Some ads are black-specific and don't talk down, others have no people in the images chosen. No other fast food ads in that one.

I'm unconvinced that McD's was worse than other volume sellers (beer, smokes) in the sensitivity of their ads, and the size of their budget for black media was not zero. The luxury ads look different, much more flattering.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 8:54 PM
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I was not aware of that particular racial stereotype.*

Someone hasn't worked in restaurants.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 9:06 PM
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Evangelicals also don't tip. This is apparently a self-acknowledged truth within that community.

Some evangelicals will leave Bible tracts in lieu of a tip.

They will go to hell.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 9:44 PM
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28

I am reminded of this.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-21-14 10:00 PM
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29

Is there any group at all that stereotypically tips generously? I can't think of one, but I also have never worked in a restaurant.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 3:55 AM
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27: Amen.
29: Youngish men on expense accounts is the relevant group in DC. Older (like over 60) are OK but maybe outdated about what is a good tip lately.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 4:00 AM
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31

In the summer of 97, I was a waiter at an IHOP in the deep, deep South, and so ~half the customers were black and/or fundamentalists. They were absolutely miserable tippers.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 4:39 AM
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31: Just curious - how do you identify a fundamentalist? Is there some subtle tell that southern fundamentalists have?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:37 AM
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33

They eat dessert first, in case the Rapture comes before they finish the entree.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:44 AM
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32: On Sunday, by the way they're dressed. On other days it's not always so easy.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:50 AM
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31: IHOP may not be the best way to generalize about a region's diners. Going there means you have no taste, especially if in the south. You can at least hit a Waffle House there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:52 AM
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Just curious - how do you identify a fundamentalist?

By their especially furtive manner at the liquor store / adult video store / gay bar.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:52 AM
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35: That reminds me, there's a new chicken and waffles place in the Hill.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:58 AM
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35: That reminds me, there's a new chicken and waffles place in the Hill.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:58 AM
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35: Perhaps, but Waffle House is wholly inappropriate for post-church Sunday dining. I don't even think Pentacostals would stoop to that.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:59 AM
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40

Now I won't forget.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 5:59 AM
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41

Was there an old chicken and waffle place? I've never tried it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:05 AM
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42

"On other days it's not always so easy."
They should have to wear a badge or something.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:13 AM
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41: No, at least not recently. I just meant that it opened recently. I may get a chance to do a drive by today.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:14 AM
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44

42: The star of David Koresh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:15 AM
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45

42: They do, voluntarily. On their cars.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:16 AM
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Picking up lw's last, I wonder whether there were African American Ad agencies in the 70s. I'm tempted by my sense of Chicago to guess that of course there were, and it's possible that they got some or maybe a lot of this business.

If so, the story of an ad would be interesting: the boundaries the team was working with, what they might try to convey that wasn't necessarily obvious, and how presentations to the client would go.

Plenty of stories there, I expect.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:45 AM
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35: What's wrong with IHOP? It's delightfully lower-middlebrow. Finding a Waffle House in The North is always great, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:50 AM
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48

I found everything way too sweet when I went to the IHOP. Even the scrambled eggs seemed sugared.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:55 AM
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One thing about the badge on the cars I can't help noticing. The Ichthys, or Jesus-fish as it's popularly, pejoratively known, has had the word Ichthys, in Greek letters, or the word Jesus, in psychodelic script and I'm ok with it. Both emerged during the Jesus-freak phase of 60s/70s counterculture.

What I don't get, and see more often now, is a little cross where eyes might be. Makes it look like the cartoon convention for "dead fish."

When I first saw it, I actually thought it might be facetious, like the versions that say "gefilte", or the ones with feet that say "evolve" or "Darwin." But apparently it's sincere if unintentionally comic.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 6:55 AM
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46. Right, Ebony and Playboy are both Chicago magazines. The 1975 issue of Ebony that I linked has fulltext, including the ads with great fonts and wildly variable copy quality, lots of Chicago-specific ads.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 7:00 AM
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49.2: That's my reaction to the cross-eyed Jesus fish, too.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 7:08 AM
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Some awesome cars in that magazine. That '75 Pinto looks sweet.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 7:09 AM
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48: Ah, I don't know if I've ever ordered something from there that wasn't in some sense a pancake.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 7:12 AM
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54

Probably wise. It's in the name.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 7:14 AM
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Their real estate is pretty good, too.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 8:45 AM
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52: Yeah, that car section was pretty amazing.

I think IHOP's real estate portfolio is probably comparable to that of most casual chains, but maybe JP has more insight than I do.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 9:10 AM
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There are more casual chains than IHOP?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 9:17 AM
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This thread reminds me that I recently saw this book on the "free" shelf at the library, but I didn't pick it up.

The "real Pepsi challenge" of the title lay in the efforts of Pepsi's black salesmen in the 1940s and '50s to establish both the importance and profitability of the "Negro market" and the reliability and competence of the men who could sell to it. These men faced the gritty, humiliating realities of Jim Crow as they traveled through the South hustling their cola at black churches, social clubs, schools and athletic events. Some of the first African-Americans working in national corporations -- who didn't carry a broom, that is -- they became role models and minor celebrities.

With Mack's backing, Boyd ran remarkable advertising campaigns in 1948, 1949 and 1951 in the black press. Called "Leaders in Their Fields," the ads featured profiles of African-American professionals like the diplomat Ralph Bunche, the composer Walter Franklin Anderson, the journalist P. Bernard Young Jr. and the hat designer Mildred Blount. Capparell shows how the series, copies of which black schools and universities requested as educational materials, simultaneously pumped significant income into black publications, showcased black business and professional success, and helped cement black loyalty to Pepsi.

You can see one of the Pepsi ads here.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 9:19 AM
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56: but maybe JP has more insight than I do.

I'm just using Moby's logic; it's in the name.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 10:42 AM
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Sit down, prisoners of starvation, at the Internationale House of Pancakes!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 2:56 PM
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Probably my least favorite customers when I waited tables: an evangelical preacher and his wife. They'd come in every Sunday after church. And they were miserable.

I mean seriously miserable. They didn't speak to each other at all, and they obviously disliked each other. They always found something wrong with their food or service. And even if you tried to preëmptively anticipate their needs ("Can I get you some extra napkins? Those ribs can get messy.") they'd decline, only to request later the thing previously offered. It was like an obstacle course of Shitty Customer. And they didn't tip.

I'm still not sure whether I think they were horrible people or just incredibly sad.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 8:00 PM
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There are more casual chains than IHOP?

Someone's never been to a Denny's.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-14 9:57 PM
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