Categories
Culture Fast Food

McDonald’s New Pokémon Happy Meals Are Being Bought En Masse

Photo courtesy of Brian Yamamoto.

McDonald’s has teamed up with Pokémon to celebrate the gaming franchise’s 25th anniversary. Their way of doing that? Happy Meals branded with the titular game mascot, Pikachu, that also include toys and Pokémon trading cards.

While this was expected to be an easy way to get kids to ask for more McDonald’s, some of the biggest orders for these meal sets have come from adults seeking Pokémon treasure.

These people could honestly care less about the food, as they’re trying to score the packs of Pokémon cards in hope of scoring a rare one.

Over the past year, the value of rare types of Pokémon cards has vaulted through the roof. There are reports of celebrities like Logan Paul or Logic selling or buying the most coveted of these cards for over $100,000.

Rare cards include “holo” or “foil” varieties that have a kaleidoscopic sheen to them. They’ve been included at random in packs of Pokémon cards for years, but the recent spike in value they’ve seen has led to a craze where retailers struggle to keep the regular packs on shelves.

The Pokémon cards from McDonald’s include a brand new set of foil cards, some of which have already resold for close to $100 each. As such, folks are hoping to score some of these rare cards from the McDonald’s Happy Meals, and will clean out inventories to do so.

The cards themselves have a value of about $10 a pack on resale sites as of press time, making them more than double the price of the meal you would purchase to obtain one. Of course, most people are buying the meals in bulk to get their hands on these cards.

McDonald’s doesn’t have a unified policy on whether franchisees can sell just the toys or not, meaning that in some cases, folks can get away with buying out the whole stock of toys and cards and posting them on eBay. Some boxes of hundreds of these cards have popped up for sale there for close to $10,000.

Other locations have had limited amounts available or restrict to having to buy the meals. According to Kotaku, some YouTubers have gotten around this buy purchasing from multiple locations, hoping to generate enough boxes to make videos, and hopefully money, off of.

As for the meals themselves, it seems like people are trying to do their best to not have the burgers and fries go to waste. Some YouTubers will do mukbangs of themselves eating the entire order, while others gave them away to those in need.

There have been reports, although unconfirmed, of people throwing away the meals, but no physical or video evidence has emerged yet to support that case.

The Pokémon Happy Meals were just released on February 9th, meaning there should still be time to get your hands on one if you want. However, since they are a limited-time offering, chances are folks on the internet could buy the entire stock up fast.

Categories
Fast Food What's New

New Popeyes Cajun Flounder Sandwich Spotted In The USA

Photo courtesy of @the_undead_foodie1 on Instagram.

With Lent fast approaching, many quick-service spots are starting to gear up for the season with a variety of new and returning seafood options.

It looks like Popeyes is going the route of something new, as we’ve gotten word that a new Cajun Flounder Snadiwch has been spotted in the USA.

Texas-based @the_undead_foodie1 posted a photo of the find on Instagram. Based on the menu shot they located, the fish sandwich appears to be selling for $4.49.

This appears to be confirmed by Instagram duo @mnmtwinz, who are based on the East Coast. They also shared photos of the new Cajun Flounder Sandwich, along with a new basket of Crispy Cajun Shrimp.

According to @mnmtwinz, the Flounder Sandwich is a cajun-bread filet of flounder, tartar sauce, and pickles on a brioche bun. It appears to be attempting to emulating the viral success of the original Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. The Instagram duo noted that they liked the fish sandwich slightly more than the shrimp, although both were “bangers.”

With the wide spread of this flounder sandwich and shrimp, these seem to be items geared up for a nationwide Lenten release, and The Fast Food Post seems to confirm as much in a story about the new seafood items.

Foodbeast has reached out to Popeyes to confirm if that’s the case, and will follow up once we know more.

Categories
Fast Food

Popeyes Is Quietly Re-Adding Chicken Nuggets To Its Menu

Photo: I am extremely Chill on Twitter

Popeyes may have just taken Cajun Rice off of its menu, but it appears to be exploring the comeback of a different item: Chicken Nuggets.

Multiple reports of the bite-sized morsels have sprung up in several states across the Midwest and East Coast. These include Texas, Connecticut, Arkansas, and Ohio.

YouTuber Daym Drops was even able to get a hold of them a while back, with a video of the nuggets surfacing as early as December. That means that Popeyes has been playing with these new nuggets for a while, possibly starting them out as a limited test then expanding them more regionally.

Popeyes did have nuggets as a regular menu item as recently as 2012, but they appear to have been discontinued some time after that. This could have been to make room for boneless wings, which were eventually taken off the menu following the hype of the chain’s chicken sandwich.

Foodbeast has reached out to Popeyes to learn more about what is going on with these new chicken nuggets. UPDATE: Popeyes has confirmed to Foodbeast that the nuggets are being tested as a new entree in select locations.

Categories
Fast Food Food Policy Food Waste Science Sustainability Technology

The Top 10 Most Climate Friendly Fast Food Chains, Ranked

Photo: Erik McClean // Unsplash

One of the biggest things that has to change for the world to be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050 is our food systems. Many produce food at unsustainable rates that don’t give back to the environment or allow things to regrow and populations to recover. 

While eating in such a climate-friendly way is oftentimes expensive, many fast food chains are contributing to the cause by altering how they source their food, plastics, and energy. It’s a key step in helping change our food systems, since chains affect massive swaths of the food supply while feeding millions of people.

Sure, fast food isn’t what you would think of as completely “climate-friendly,” but many chains have made some big efforts in making their systems more sustainable. The ten chains on this list have done the most in that regard compared to other fast food giants. 

When looking at what chains would make this list, we looked at the efforts they’ve made in providing sustainable food options, reducing waste and plastic usage, and overall conservation efforts for energy, water, and other resources needed to run a restaurant empire. Any support given to farming and conservation efforts that aim to make the food chain sustainable are also a big plus. 

“Clean label” was not a factor considered, although many may link it to a chain that’s more environmentally friendly. “Clean label” has more to do with ingredients than it does with sustainability, and not all “clean label” chains make equitable efforts when it comes to the environment. If they do, however, chances are they’ll show up on here!

10) White Castle

White Castle was one of the first major fast food chains to add any plant-based meat alternatives, incorporating Impossible Foods into their arsenal in 2018. That’s not the only change they’ve been making to their food, however: they ensure that their fish is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable, they recycle some of their cooking oil for biodiesel fuel, and use post-consumer recyclables to make their packaging. This includes items like the Crave Cases, which are made using recyclable materials.

The OG burger chain also has a commitment to drop their emissions by at least one percent every year. While they’re not posting regular reports about their sustainability efforts, they are transparent about the steps they are taking to improve their food system, and have a couple of sustainable meal options.

9) Taco Bell

Taco Bell makes it onto the bottom part of this list for a couple of reasons: they have a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options for those looking to avoid more meat (a climate resource-heavy protein), and they commit to using sustainable palm oil in their food. Most of their packaging is also recyclable, reusable, or compostable, and all of it will be by 2025. 

On that alone, they probably would have not made this list. However, their earlier announcement that they were beginning to test Beyond Meat products in 2021 means that one of the world’s largest fast food giants is making a serious effort to look at alternatives to ground beef, and that deserves inclusion for the impact this 7,000-plus location giant can have on the industry.

8) Subway

While Subway often doesn’t make the conversation as a ground-breaking chain, they do have a lot of efforts in place when it comes to being climate-friendly. They’ve developed ECO restaurants, use packaging that’s all recyclable or compostable, and have begun piloting energy conservation and food composting/waste diversion programs. 

The sandwich empire also sources ingredients from suppliers that practice environmental stewardship and eco-friendly farming, according to their website. A lot of this is dependent on different franchisees taking these steps themselves, although it is being fostered into the larger company culture. 

Subway also does have a Beyond Meatball Sub for those looking for plant-based protein options.

7) Starbucks

When it comes to packaging and sourcing, Starbucks is definitely a global leader in being climate-friendly. They’ve already taken plastic straws out of their restaurants, made their cups recyclable, and are striving to halve their emission, waste, and water usage by 2030. 

The coffee titan also sources 99% of its coffee through “ethical practices,” although it should be noted that these are internal ethical standards, and have been shown to be weaker in practice than they are on paper, especially when it comes to establishing minimum coffee prices and preventing slave labor. They are one of the largest purchasers of externally certified “Fair Trade” coffee, to be fair, but they are also the world’s biggest coffee company. That should be expected.

Starbucks has also dipped its toes into the plant-based meat game, introducing an Impossible Breakfast Sandwich to their menu. They’re also looking at bringing oat milk nationwide, and already have soy and almond milk as dairy-free alternatives.

6) Shake Shack

This is the first chain on this list that doesn’t have a dedicated plant-based meat offering either available or in the works, though their vegetarian Shroom Shack should not be slept on. However, Shake Shack does have an extensive animal welfare program set up that their suppliers follow, and have committed to updating their progress annually via third-party audits. 

Shake Shack also goes a step above other spots by using biodegradable straws and cups (for beers and shakes), building their locations with eco-friendly materials, and using sustainable power options like wind and renewable energy. They also invest in composting and recycling cooking oil to be used for biodiesel fuel. 

As the Shake Shack empire continues to grow, so will their mission of spreading climate-friendly food, environments, and structures. If they had some true plant-based alternatives to their burgers, they would definitely be higher on this list.

5) IKEA

People normally don’t think about IKEA as a food chain. Between its wide spread of cafes and food courts, however, it classifies as the world’s sixth largest, an astounding number. 

While they’re known for cheap prices and accessibility, IKEA also is taking massive steps forward when it comes to being climate-friendly. Here we’re just focusing on the food aspect, which is still pretty big: they’ve launched plant-based and salmon meatballs as more sustainable alternatives to their traditional and iconic beef version. 

IKEA also has ambitious plans to improve their entire food supply chain by 2030. This includes reducing food waste, sourcing from sustainable sources, making healthier food, and promoting animal welfare. The first of their programs from this “Better Food Programme,” focused on chicken, launched in 2018

Having one of the world’s largest food chains making such huge commitments is amazing. As those commitments are reached, it will almost certainly climb up on this list to compare with those who have taken huge steps already.

4) Jimmy John’s

Surprised? So were we, to be honest. Jimmy John’s and its 2,000 locations do a lot of amazing environmental work behind the scenes, but are public about the commitments they make on their site. This includes listing their suppliers on their website, as well as talking about the environmental commitments each of those suppliers have made. 

Jimmy John’s also has their own commitments that they practice, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. They also support improved environmental practices for raising meat on over 2 million acres of land, and target suppliers that use recyclable materials, energy, water, or all of the above. 

The sandwich chain also uses plenty of recyclable materials in its packaging. All of these are practices that have been in place since the company started in 1983, according to the website, so it’s deeply embedded in the company’s culture. They may not have plant-based meat offerings, but as sandwich chains go, these guys are doing great on the climate-friendly front.

3) McDonald’s

When we talk about fast food giants taking huge steps to be more climate-friendly, none have taken bigger and further steps than McDonald’s. Across all fronts, they are working to improve their food system, from sustainable agriculture to recycling and energy conservation. 

For their food, they’ve switched over their Filet-o-Fish sandwiches to all be Marine Stewardship Council certified for sustainability. They’ve been growing their lineup of ranchers to be more sustainable, use 100% sustainable espresso beans for their coffee, and follow United Nations guidelines when it comes to evaluating and implementing research in those fields. They’ve also tested many plant-based meat options globally, and we could finally see one hit US stores nationwide soon in the “McPlant” lineup

McDonald’s is also one of two fast food titans that have joined the NextGen Cup challenge to find a renewable solution for one of their largest pieces of waste (Starbucks has also joined). They also have extensive commitments and goals to minimize water, plastic, and energy usage, all of which can be viewed and evaluated on their corporate website

One of the chain’s biggest accomplishments in the climate-friendly space is creating a “Net Zero Energy” restaurant, which opened in 2020 at Disney World. It creates enough renewable energy to cover 100% of its needs annually, and is being used as a research hub to test solutions for locations nationwide to reduce energy and water use. These include photovoltaic panels, solar-powered lights, and even bikes that generate electricity.

2) Rubio’s

The fish taco specialist is one of the top chains in the world when it comes to sustainability. This is because nearly every option on its menu is already meeting, or close to meeting, goals when it comes to being climate-friendly. 

Just about every seafood option on Rubio’s menu is certified as “Responsibly Managed” according to a third-party certification from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the company displays as such on their website. This includes limited-time offerings like Langostino Lobster, an impressive feat. The only seafood to not be on that list is mahi mahi, and Rubio’s suppliers are working now to reach that certification. 

Rubio’s also emphasizes local sourcing for its other ingredients, like tortillas, and even has plant-based options from Impossible Foods on its menu. 

On top of its ingredient sourcing, Rubio’s also uses compostable and biodegradable takeout containers and napkins, meaning that its primary uses of packaging can go back into the earth and be reused. It also obtains third party certifications for its cups and paper menus to ensure they are recyclable as well, a huge plus.

Rubio’s gets close to the top for all of the remarkable efforts this chain is making, which are arguably the most of any restaurant empire on this list. Despite all of these efforts and transparency, however, there is one company that does more.

1) Chipotle

In the world of climate-friendly and sustainable food efforts, no chain is more thorough and transparent than Chipotle. They’re not just looking at the overall climate footprint picture, they have a tracker that shows how much environmental impact is reduced in each digital order. They’ve also begun to release annual climate reports that don’t just show targeted metrics: they’re transparent about whether those goals have been currently met, exceeded, or if they’re still behind on them. 

Chipotle has plant-based options that have long been on the menu, like Sofritas or their veggie bowl option. However, they’re also willing to remove options if they’re not up to par, like when Carnitas was temporarily taken off the menu after it was discovered that some pork suppliers had animal welfare problems. 

In terms of waste, the chain also goes above and beyond there. They have a program that donates used equipment and furniture (ie. grills and food processors) to local schools and nonprofits, and even has a Harvest Program that generates meals from leftovers that get donated to local communities. It also has set up composting in close to a fifth of its restaurants. 

Overall, Chipotle is the most climate-friendly fast food chain out there because it is taking the most steps to improve environmentally andis also the most transparent and open about it. They openly market environmental sustainability to the point where you can track it online orders, promoting a future of food that is better for the environment and the planet. What other major fast food players can say that? 

Categories
Alcohol Drinks Technology

Uber Buys Alcohol E-Commerce Giant Drizly For $1.1 Billion

Photo: Robert Anasch // Unsplash and NYC Russ // Shutterstock

Uber has already established itself as a delivery and transport titan with its ridesharing and UberEats apps. It’s now going big in the alcohol space, as a new partnership poises it to become the largest alcohol delivery service in the country.

The tech behemoth just bought Drizly, an e-commerce drinks platform once known as the “Amazon of Alcohol,” for $1.1 billion. According to a press release, this deal will include the integration of Drizly onto the UberEats app, although Drizly’s independent app will also remain operational.

Uber will also begin to introduce perks and deals through Drizly once their purchase officially closes, which is expected to happen by the middle of 2021.

By acquiring Drizly, Uber is shaping itself as one of the kingpins in the food delivery oligarchy. They also own Postmates, meaning that DoorDash, Grubhub, and other delivery players are facing massive competition that just got a whole lot bigger.

It’s also unclear what this will mean for delivery drivers on both platforms. Uber did increase fees on its customers now that California has Prop 22 enacted, so we’ll have to see see if Drizly’s acquisition will result in a similar change for the alcohol app.

Categories
Grocery Packaged Food Sweets

Trader Joe’s Launches Their Version Of TIM TAMS, An Iconic Aussie Snack

One of Australia’s most iconic snacks, the Tim Tam, is getting a tasty tribute from Trader Joe’s.

The grocery store’s newest in-house product is Aussie-Style Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies, which, according to the product label, are inspired by a popular snack from Australia. A Trader Joe’s associate confirmed to Foodbeast that their inspiration is the iconic Tim Tam.

For those not in the know, Tim Tams were created in Australia by biscuit company Arnott’s. They consist of a chocolate creme filling, chocolate sandwich cookies, and an encasing of more chocolate on top.

Trader Joe’s version hits all of the marks when it comes to matching that cookie. It also has a slightly sweeter taste, and a little richer chocolate flavor, upon trying them.

The best things to do with these Tim Tam replicas is to bite off part of the end on either side, then drink through the cookie sandwich as if it were a straw. The “Tim Tam Slam,” as it’s called, goes best with coffee or hot chocolate.

With Trader Joe’s making their own version, a lot more people are gonna to get know the Slam and transform their coffee drinking experience.

Categories
Fast Food

Popeyes Quietly Removes Two Coveted Sides From Its Menu

Photo: Beppe Castro // Shutterstock

Fans of Popeye’s Cajun Rice and Green Beans will have to resort to copycat methods to get their fix from here onward. The chain has confirmed that both of these sides were taken off of their permanent menu.

The Takeout was the first to report on the missing sides, getting a tip from a local reader. Popeyes told the outlet in a statement that “after thoughtful consideration, our Cajun Rice and Green Beans are no longer on the permanent menu.”

Popeyes also confirmed the news on Twitter in responses to fans asking about the discontinued sides.

This appears to have been a recent change from within the past week, as the sides still appear as options on Popeyes’ website as of publication time for this article.

Naturally, folks haven’t been too happy about it on social media, moreso for the rice than the green beans. It’s all a part of the process at chains though as they look at their menus and what’s working and not working for them.

For those looking to get something like the rice back, continuing to voice your opinion on social media might work in the long run. It ended up succeeding in bringing Taco Bell’s potatoes back, though it’s not clear if the Cajun Rice has as equal of a cult following.

Categories
Food Policy Technology

Delivery Companies Threatened Fee Increases If Prop 22 Failed, They Happened Anyway

Photo: Robert Anasch // Unsplash

This past election season, delivery companies like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates campaigned hard for Proposition 22 to pass in California. The new labor standard law ended up becoming law, creating a new class of “gig worker” in California that gets new driver benefits, but loses out on a lot of other worker rights, including sick leave, discrimination protections, and collective bargaining rights.

Throughout the campaigning, the companies threatened fee increases if the proposition didn’t pass. That ended up happening anyway, with DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub all enacting fee increases by the end of 2020. Postmates just followed suit this past week, adding as much as $2.50 to each order.

As for the delivery drivers, the benefits they began to receive haven’t been up to par with what they hoped. According to reports from the progressive investigative journalist magazine The American Prospect, even max-hour drivers only qualify for $400 in monthly health insurance benefits, 40% of the premium for the lowest level of coverage from the Affordable Care Act.

On top of that, other companies, such as grocery stores, have begun to lay off employees to hire delivery drivers contracted through a third party instead.

It really seems that California citizens took a hard “L” on this legislation. Delivery companies got to make a new class of worker with less protections, charge money for that new class, and get their customers to pay for it, increasing their profits while seeing a boost in sales due to COVID-19.

The alternative, of course, is to go through other apps or just order directly from the restaurants. It’s the best way to support local restaurants as the pandemic rages on without undercutting the profits these small businesses might be making.