Sunday, April 19, 2009

Carl's Jr. Truck @ SchoolsFirst's Shred Day - Tustin

Three things blew my mind last week. First was that Susan Boyle YouTube video, which I haven't been able to stop watching. Second was Jonathan Gold's latest opus on something I wouldn't have thought any food critic, let alone one with a Pulitzer Prize, would touch: corporate-branded fast-food. More specifically, Carl's Jr.

What prompted L.A. Weekly's esteemed critic, known to delve the depths of the interesting and unexplored, to write an instant classic on the virtues of Carl's Jr.'s Six Dollar Burger? Well, it's Padma Lakshmi. Or more precisely, her cleavage and other comely assets, featured in a Carl's TV ad that already had tongues wagging in more ways than one.



Mr. Gold's article, my friends, is even better than the commercial -- a titillating read that puts new meaning on food porn, veering dangerously into Penthouse Forum territory, and that's only when he was talking about the burger.

Here's a choice quote:

"She hikes up her dress when it appears that the hamburger is about to spurt, and she tongues the viscous fluids from her wrist and her lips, leaving conspicuous evidence of the money shot streaked on her glistening cheek."
So what was the third thing that blew my mind?

Well, serendipitously, after I read Mr. Gold's article, I found out that SchoolsFirst (formerly Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union) was holding an event called Shred Day on Saturday at its Tustin administrative offices, wherein you get to haul out two boxes worth of documents, get it shredded for free, AND as a reward for coming, receive a Carl's Jr. lunch, complete with fries and a fountain drink.

Some days, the stars align. In this case, Famous Stars! And they were free, served from their mobile unit and eaten in the beautiful outdoors (okay, it was picnic tables in a parking lot), while a souped-up garbage truck turned mountains of paper into confetti.

So, how did I like my burger? It was fine, thanks. Slightly smoky, messy, and drippy just like they always say it is. And the fries were much better than I remember, halfway between regular fast-food french fries and steak fries.

Me? I'm more of a Western Bacon Cheeseburger guy, even before the Padma commercial. But it's a fast-food indulgence that I haven't had in a long time, since immediately after consuming one with my usual gusto, I'm usually racked with guilt that I just ate something very, very good, which is also very, very bad. And now, after Mr. Gold's review, something a little pervy too.

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
The Dock - Newport Beach

17 Comments:

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

arghhhhh. Why don't any of the food bloggers alert us to events like this BEFORE the occur so we can attend??!!

Shredding paper and free carls's jr while imagining that girl doing naughty things to it.

I am sad.

Oh yea....FIRST!

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Diana said...

The fries look pretty darn good.

Love SchoolsFirst -- been my bank from the get! (Though I sort of miss being able to call it OCTFCU.)

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

DD,

I wish I was able to share it sooner too. I was only reminded of it on the day of, and then neither my friends and I were sure it wasn't just some coupon give-away. I didn't expect to see a truck there! I didn't even know Carl's even had a truck. Now I do!

Diana,

The fries are magnificent. Probably my second fave fast-food fry now, right after In-N-Out's Well Done.

 
At 11:02 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

I am amazed that even Carl's Jr., as a big fast food company, has a full fledged cooking truck! Very cool. And so large too!

The food looks fantastic by the way. Looks better than usual fast food suspects...

 
At 11:58 PM, Blogger dumplings said...

Elmo,

That was utter food porn with class. Thank you for sharing.

Funny how I was munching on a Famous Star while reading your entry.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

E.T.E.,

Yeah! I was surprised too. Judging by newness of truck, the logo and the graphics, I think it's a recent addition. Probably wanted to get in on the In-N-Out truck action.

dumplings,

I can read that article over and over. I can watch the commercial over and over. I think both are better condiments for a Famous Star than ketchup and mustard!

 
At 11:02 AM, Blogger melissa said...

1. Yes! Susan Boyle OMG!!!!!!111!!

2. I don't like that commercial. It makes me uncomfortable for some reason. For one, I have weird feelings about her to begin with (kind of like Eliza Dushku, they're hot but... there's something about them that makes me squirm a little...) and for two, I don't like Carls, Jr. ads. I have found all of them annoying over the years, especially when I have to watch someone eat and be messy about it. I have issues about other people's oral activities. And no, I'm not trying to be pervy. :P

3. I don't eat fast food unless I'm drunk, but for some reason a western bacon cheeseburger now sounds like a viable lunch option. Damn you! *Shaking fist*

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Juliet said...

As I may have mentioned before, Dave grew up in Irvine, and he often talks about how great Carl's Jr. is. Even though they bought Hardee's, he says Hardee's isn't as good.

He also likes In and Out a lot. But every time he says it, my mind goes someplace dirty. :-p

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

Gotta love those Western Bacon Cheeseburgers. If you put barbecue sauce and onion rings on a burger I'm pretty much hooked. Unfortunately I have been turned away from Carl's too many times because of their commercials. Not necessarily because of any sleaze factor but because as my dad put it they are catering to society's lowest common denominator, as though Carl's won't feel validated unless skateboarding juvenile delinquent teenagers with baggy pants and baseball caps turned backwards like them. It is so obvious that Carl's is practically pleading, "Pleeeeeazz, teenagers, please think we're cool." Heck, they might actually become cool if they just stopped trying so hard.

The other commercials I didn't like were the ones where they were like, "We're sooo much better than those diners where you go and try to get a good burger but then a bunch of senior citizens ruin it by shuffling past you." One time I saw one of those commercials with my brother and when it was done we both looked at each other and said, "That's actually exactly what Carl's Jr. is like."

BTW, now I can say I finally saw the Susan Boyle video after reading its praise on a food blog.

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger joanh said...

that's pretty cool.. and yes the boys totally drool over the padma commercial. used to eat carl's jr every week for lunch in high school. haven't eaten it in years!

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Andi Oh! said...

1) Not only boys drool over Padma! She is somethin else, I tell you. Especially when she's not trying so hard. Ok, I'm getting distracted.

2) Do you have any recommendations for a south county restaurant that would be good for a rehearsal dinner? I asked Gustavo and he gave me a couple of good leads (Ramos House and Iva Lee's) but I want my future mother in law to have as many choices as possible.

3) I prefer the Criss cut fries. They are awesome.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger GRAVITAS said...

Carl's makes bad commercials, but yummy hamburgers, transcending mere fast food. They have a good fry now, surprisingly! I'm bitter, I remember they used to have the classic crinkle-cut fry, nixed that, and went to a bland, tasteless one for so long. What happened?
Anyways, does anyone know of some good burgers in the newport-mesa-irvine area? that are as good as TK, Tommy's, Carl's, Islands, InNOut? Please help!

 
At 12:09 AM, Anonymous Gina said...

I've never had Carl's Jr. but now I think I'll have to go for it. How do their burgers compare to In-and-Out?

 
At 12:23 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Melissa,

1. The genius of that video was two-fold. Yes, Susan Boyle is talented, and the surprise is priceless. But the editing! It was a master stroke of manipulation, and I loved being manipulated like that (that's what she said). Notice how the music swells at the end when she's triumphant, and how they went to slo-mo when she blows kisses! Pure cinema-magic! It's a classic, schmaltzy, movie happy ending, made only more moving because it actually happened! To a real person!

2. I don't mind Padma so much (though she's no Jessica Biel). The thing with her is that she's window dressing -- pretty and inoffensive, like Vanna White. The real insightful comments from Top Chef doesn't ever come from her; she's just there to give the non-foodie, heterosexual guys a reason to get hooked.

3. I figured out how to eat one without getting that "Damn, I shouldn't have eaten that" feeling afterward: Cut it in half and give the rest to a friend. Especially a friend who can eat two, alone, in one sitting, which is what a co-worker of mine is like.

Juliet,

I'm just glad In-N-Out doesn't do Carl's style commercials. I can only imagine the bad puns that go along with the imagery.

Christian,

Oh don't get me started on that Paris Hilton ad they did. That made me want to puke. Padma's makes me want to buy her a bib, because people shouldn't be licking up BBQ sauce dripped on their leg...that's unsanitary!

joanh,

I remember back in high school, Carl's was the creme de la creme of fast food. Of course, back then, Taco Bell was also seen as a choice destination.

Andi,

1) True that! I don't know why when she talks, it sounds like she has a mouth full of molasses.

2) South County recs for rehearsal eh? I'd say Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis, but that might be a little spendy. Great food and atmosphere though. And then there's the Ritz, but then, it's even spendier (and not as good as Stonehill). But you only get married once right?

Gravitas,

Don't know about you, but to that list, I'd add Red Robin. I forgot what it's called but they have a burger with an egg in it as a standard topping. Awesome. Also favorites of mine: Fatburger and The Counter. Both are in Irvine. The Counter is on the South side of the city, but well worth a shot.

 
At 12:27 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Gina,

To be honest, about the only fast-food burger that can top an In-N-Out burger in my book, is another In-N-Out burger. And occasionally, when I feel like something different, Fatburger.

Carl's is the best out of McDonald's, Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, and Wendy's.

But their Western Bacon Cheeseburger...well, that's in a category of its own. I can't really classify it as a normal burger. It's a bacon, onion ring and barbecue sauce sandwich that just happens to have cheeseburger in it.

 
At 4:10 PM, Anonymous confidential shredding said...

Gotta love those Western Bacon Cheeseburgers. If you put barbecue sauce and onion rings on a burger I'm pretty much hooked. Unfortunately I have been turned away from Carl's too many times because of their commercials. Not necessarily because of any sleaze factor but because as my dad put it they are catering to society's lowest common denominator, as though Carl's won't feel validated unless skateboarding juvenile delinquent teenagers with baggy pants and baseball caps turned backwards like them. It is so obvious that Carl's is practically pleading, "Pleeeeeazz, teenagers, please think we're cool." Heck, they might actually become cool if they just stopped trying so hard.

 
At 1:09 PM, Anonymous shredding service said...

The fries look great, yum yum yum. and that is one big fat burger! i just wish i had been their to enjoy the shredding and munching.

 

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