Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Fast food contests you may not have heard of


Tables in the dining room would spontaneously turn into Twister Boards every hour, on the hour, spurred by an announcement on the counter microphone. Customers and employees alike would jump up on the nearest tables, leaving their food as substitutes for colored dots, and the voice would then shout out a string of rapidfire instructions: “Right hand burrito supreme!” “Left foot meximelt!” “Right butt cheek soda!” The only “prize” offered was the odd stroke of luck that left your body contorted in a pseudosexual position atop an attractive female. More often than not, though, you ended up with your face stuck in the smelly crotch of the fat man behind the counter. Taco Bell stopped the game because Mr. T said he pitied the fools who played it, and back then everyone always did what Mr. T wanted.


Building off the popularity of the film, “The Exorcist,” Long John Silver’s replaced their food trays with Ouija Boards for a brief period, encouraging customers to seek guidance from the spirit world by placing their fingers on a corroded fried hushpuppy and allowing its grease to slip it this way and that. First prize was haunting and possession by spirits of the dark who traversed through the fast-food portal opened up by foolish mortals. First prize, incidentally, was better than second prize, which you’d get if you actually ate the hush puppies: diarreah. The Catholic League spoke out against the game, writing “The power of Christ compels you not to play with your food.”


It works like this: If you go to Burger King, order a combo and ask for a game of “Chutes and Ladders,” they’ll give it to you. This little-known “contest,” if it can be called that, is indicative of how Burger King doesn’t really understand marketing concepts so well.

SUBWAY YAHTZEE (1999-2003)

One in 4,000 12-inch BMT sandwiches included little tokens that allowed you to punch Subway mascot Jared in the face while screaming “Yahtzee!” The game didn’t have much to do with Yahtzee, but no one cared because all Americans crave the opportunity to punch Jared in the face, and greedily swarm after any chance to legally do so. Jared, bitchboy that he is, was a good sport about this game for two years, but got all uppity and tried to back out of the promotion in 2001. Regardless, he still had to take regular “Yahtzee!” punches in the face from winning customers several times a month until the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in a landmark 2003 decision.


This contest was distinctive because it was only open to homeless people. After the day’s shift, employees would toss stale food into a dumpster behind the restaurant, where four hungry drifters would await, their hands tied behind their back, so as to leave them with only their chomping mouths to devour the food in a comical display of Milton Bradley-inspired high jinx for everyone in the alley to enjoy. The game was disbanded when homeless people decided they’d rather die of hunger than eat Del Taco.

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