Published on: August 3, 2017
MNB reader John Rand had some thoughts about yesterday's column by Kate McMahon, in which she wrote about the popularity of cauliflower rice, and mentioned that "the USA Rice lobbying group is displeased, saying 'only rice is rice' and it may ask the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to look into the matter of chopped vegetables co-opting the rice designation:"Not to make too much of it but there is a long standing dictionary definition of “rice” as a verb, “to rice” which is defined as “forcing something through a sieve or ricer”. This an ancient cooking practice and was common with potatoes when I was a kid, which admittedly removes the low-carb value that seems to be an attraction of cauliflower rice and also highlights my personal inability to adapt to the modern world by forgetting everything more than a few years past. Most home cooks had a “ricer” in the cupboard in years gone by.
I wish the rice industry luck with trying to prevent the use of the word “rice” as though it was a protected term.
Responding to our stories about Walmart's ongoing staff cuts, MNB reader Robert Dyer wrote:Walmart’s trimming of the workforce has been a frequent activity this past year, as they work to adjust their workforce to their changing business. It would also appear that they are working to trim their SG&A ratio, which current sits at a 10-year high of 21%. This is a far cry from 18.54% 10 years ago and an even lower number in the years before.
Fortunately, margins and revenue have never been stronger, driven by lower COGS and lower retail prices. They are reacting quickly to eCommerce threats, dollar store expansion, and Aldi/Lidl format expansion. As a former retail industry consultant, I worked with retailers on competitive strategy, focused on Walmart, with an emphasis on lowering their SG&A to a ratio closer to Walmart. It was a hard sell, as entrenched organization structures and supporting inefficient business processes are difficult to re-engineer successfully. I do not see the same reactions to these competitive threats from traditional retailers …
We had a story this week about how the nation is way overstored with supermarkets, and one MNB reader observed:You've been saying this for years KC, and you were absolutely on target!
Kind of you to notice. Though to be fair, even a broken clock is right twice a day. I had to hit one sometime.
On another subject, from MNB reader Christopher Gibbons:You have made your views on Chipotle and their food safety issues an ongoing topic in your blog. You have stated you they have lost your trust and you will never eat there again. You have your reasons for this and it is certainly your prerogative.
However, you should know that many people do not share your concerns and will continue to patronize the company, despite all of the negative press they have received over the past two years.
At the grocery store that I manage, we have quarterly lunches where we let our staff pick the meal. We will put up 3-4 options and employees will vote. Recently, some of our younger staff asked if we could ever have Chipotle. I was hesitant as I knew their food safety issues were well documented and there might be a large number of our staff that would share these concerns. Our store management team discussed this, and while some of us were uncomfortable, we decided to put it as an option. At the next luncheon, the choices were Jimmy John's, Old Chicago pizza, Big Bowl Chinese Express and Chipotle. Chipotle won hands down. It wasn't even close. They catered the meal and it was excellent. The staff loved it and we got more compliments on this than any other meal we have had. Now the staff are asking if we can have it again.
So Chipotle's brand still resonates very strongly with many people, especially millennials. They will likely be fine, whether you or I ever set foot in their store again. We are not their target demographic.
I wouldn't argue with this. In fact, I've said that my kids feel that way ,,, though I've tried to dissuade them from their enthusiasm.
Regarding a survey we took note of that said Whole Foods customers most want cashier-less checkouts if Amazon completes its takeover of the company, one MNB reader wrote:If Whole Foods would offer just a couple self serve lanes I might be more willing to shop there. Years of sanctimonious checkout clerks helped to drive me away.
In a story headlined "Yet More Proof That Stupidity Is Alive & Well In America," we took note yesterday of a USA Today
report that more than 100,000 Twitter users have reposted maps on that site that purport to show that Outback Steakhouse is a front for a Satanic cult.
The proof: The Outback locations in a number of cities can be shown to be connected by lines that form a pentagram, which sometimes is associated with Satanism and occultism.
The company has responded to the rumors by saying it has no plans to promulgate devil worship, though it does plan to continue "to bring bold steaks and Bloomin’ Onions to our guests!”
MNB reader Gary Loehr wrote:This is clearly a plan by that clever Chick-fil-A cow to save her fellow cows and get us to eat more chicken. Is she an agent for the Prince of Darkness? I can’t say for sure, but she does seem to be promoting animal sacrifice rituals. The only way to know for sure is to check for sign of the three 6’s on her udders.
No udder way?
MNB reader Howard Schneider wrote:The note re: 100,000 Americans believing that Outback Steakhouse promulgates Satan worship makes me consider the opportunity for a savvy company to form a new restaurant group comprising all those establishments that are fronts for evil conspiracies. Start with Outback, add Comet Ping Pong…who knows what lurks behind Red Robin or IHOP?
Hey, maybe those rats at Chipotle weren't a sign of bad sanitation. Maybe they actually were responding to Beelzebub's call...
From another reader:P&G went through the same thing for a lot of years with the curls in the “man in the moon’s” beard that looked like 666. They finally ended up changing it, straightening out those curls. Also pretty ridiculous. Wish people would focus on important stuff. There’s plenty.
And, from another MNB reader:When I saw “Yet More Proof That Stupidity Is Alive & Well In America,” I immediately thought the article was going to be about how well Kid Rock is polling in his run for US Senate.
Nope. That would actually be off-topic for me. And "stupidity" would probably be the wrong noun.
And finally, a deeply philosophical question from MNB reader Steve Lehto:When will I hear from you “you cannot be all things to all people” as it concerns Amazon?
A fair point. I sense a challenge.
I must concede that at the moment I don't think I have a deeply philosophical answer. It is entirely possible that Amazon could stretch its appeal too far. One of the differences between it and virtually every other retailer is that it doesn't have walls, and can exploit the vast universe of the internet in a way that few other companies have or can.
Actually, let me suggest a semi-deep philosophical argument. (If I type long enough, eventually...hopefully...I actually can come up with clear writing.)
Maybe Amazon isn't trying to be all things to all people. Maybe, because Amazon has a unique understanding of the internet and a remarkable ability to turn that understanding into strategy and tactics, it actually is able to be something specific and different and relevant to each and every person