Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm Not the Only One Who Analyzes the Hell out of Taco Bell

I've noticed folks aren't big fans of the copying and pasting of seemingly long articles on this blog. I understand. I wouldn't be either unless it was a subject which I had my undying love and devotion. However, there are some very funny aspects of this article pasted below, mainly because, without intention, it makes fun of how serious a town like Ashland, Oregon takes itself.

Now I have driven through the town and I've had friends who lived there and who quite like it, but I think comparing Ashland, OR to Asheville, NC (where i have lived and can there speak on authority) is not a stretch. Both are very pretty and very (seemingly) progressive towns. THey love a good artist. Hell, they love a bad artist. They love freedom and weirdness and organic food. That's cool. I have no problems with those things, and sometimes fall in line myself. My request, though, is that every once in awhile, these inhabitants sit back, look at their lives and their friends and their kayaks on top of their subaru outbacks and their co-ops and and indie record and video stores and realize that they are trying really, really hard to fit the look that is Ashland/Asheville--and unfortunately they often reveal themselves to be a little (or a lot) hypocrital. I wish this wasn't the case because i LOVE a good progressive cause but.... (In the defense of the 21st century hippies/progressives, I much prefer they take over towns than, say, a bunch of hooligan frat boys in khakis or all-red meat, all the time mullets).

Which brings me to the point at hand: Ashland is ashamed of fast food joints because fast food isn't healthy or hip or good for the world and its people. BUT Taco Bell, though they acknowledge it as a fast food restaurant, somehow survives.

I've highlighted the lines that really tickle me.

August 26, 2006

Tacos rule fast food in Ashland

Re-opening of town's popular Taco Bell defies the trend against fast-food chains

By Alan Panebaker
for the Mail Tribune

ASHLAND — The local Taco Bell is making a run to the bank and not the border in this town, unlike other food chains that have been tossed aside like so many cold Mexi-Nuggets.

Following a major renovation, the local franchise re-opened at about 5 p.m. Thursday. Within minutes, taco-craving locals entered the restaurant. The previous building was torn down in April and rebuilt with a newer, fancier look.

Jan Sutherland has owned the local franchise since 1999. It has outlasted Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald's, Denny's and Dairy Queen, all of which closed in Ashland in recent years.

"Ashland is not friendly to fast food," Sutherland said.

However, she practices the same style of business in Ashland as in her other 17 Taco Bell franchises. Sutherland doesn't know why her business does so well in Ashland. She said it might be local seniors, who as a group tend to like the inexpensive and tasty fare.

The chain thrives here, but, Sutherland said, "There're towns where Taco Bells don't do real well."

One place that proved especially hostile was Arcata, Calif. Sales were up. Customers loved the food. But broken windows and other persistent vandalism forced her from the town. Sutherland says Arcata is similar to Ashland in its disdain for chain restaurants. Ashland, however, welcomes Taco Bell.

"You hate to say it's an addictive flavor, but it is," she said.

James Twyman, a local New Age author and singer who calls himself the Emissary of Light, was one of Taco Bell's first customers Thursday.

He munched on a 7-Layer Burrito, a concoction of beans, guacamole, lettuce, rice, sour cream, "three-cheese blend" and tomato wrapped in a tortilla.

"Maybe it's just an illusion, but it just seems a little healthier," he said. "Ashland tends to be such a health-conscious town. Just the idea of going to McDonald's seems kind of repulsive to me."

Nutrition data available at Taco Bell's corporate Web site run by Yum! Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut, KFC and Long John Silvers, among others, shows the good and bad for the regular 7-Layer Burrito: 530 calories, 21 grams of fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 2.5 grams trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol and 1,400 milligrams of sodium — but with good amounts of calcium, protein, fiber and iron.

Twyman said his Taco Bell addiction started when he was a vegetarian. The traveling "Peace Troubadour," also known for his ability to bend spoons, said he finds Taco Bell's food doesn't have the same fried taste of food from other fast-food places. Now a meat eater, he still stops at Taco Bell first on his travels.

"For some reason, people think that Taco Bell's not quite as greasy and grimy as other fast food places," he said.

Answers to Taco Bell's success in Ashland while other franchises have failed are elusive. Ron Peil, the former owner of the Ashland Dairy Queen, is still baffled by the nature of the business. He sold his site to the People's Bank of Commerce last summer. It was not failing, he said, but business was slumping.

"It's one of those things. You really don't know," Peil said. "They accept some restaurants, and others they don't. It's kind of hard not to take it personally."

Alan Panebaker is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456, Ext. 227, or


Blogger Ashley said...

Lizard - Good observation on the cut and paste. I can say the opening editorial from you helps peak my interest in putting the time into an article for some reason. Anyway... the name contraceptimelt kinda made me want to hurl. Which as you know, I had already done Friday morning.
Onward - as a past Ashevillian I wholeheartedly agree on your commentary there. Interesting fact and article re: Taco Bell as an exception in those towns. I personally think snobbery against Olive Garden (unlimited yummy salad and breadsticks - holla) and TGIF (where else can you get such a selection of yummy fruity drinks - I once got a blue drink with a gummy fish inside to make it look like a real fishbowl) among a few other places needs to be considered. I do hate those roads like Tunnell Rd. in Asheville where there are fast food chains that go on for days. But.... throwing in an occasional T. Bell on the street beside a whole foods or something only enhances any town I hope to call home.

1:27:00 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

i concur. home without taco bell is no home at all.

and there is something almost necessary about chain restaurants: while we might not love them, we need to remember where we live. in america. with excess. and troops to support. etc etc

12:46:00 PM  

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