The Automat Returns

The Automat Returns

Under the category of “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is the return of the Automat.

The original Automat opened in Berlin in 1895.  America’s first Automat was opened by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia, in 1902. Their Automat chain, Horn and Hardart, grew in popularity, with over 100 restaurants in New York City by the 1950s.

Restaurants served home-style comfort food.  Many even had a wall of pies, with hot coffee being one of their most popular items.  Diners could see their item through a window, and then insert a coin and turn a chrome and porcelain handle to receive their hot meal.  At its peak, over 800,000 customers ate at a Horn and Hardart’s each day.

The Automat offered customers an efficient and affordable dining experience, with at one time over 400 choices of food.  Behind the scenes, an assembly line of workers replenished the items in the machines.

However, their popularity declined as the popularity of fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, grew to replace them in the marketplace.  In fact, in the 1970s, several of Horn and Hardart’s Automats were replaced Continue reading

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The Chicken Sandwich Wars Continue

The Chicken Sandwich Wars Continue

April 26, 2021

The Great Chicken Sandwich War began on August 12, 2019. Popeyes introduced its new chicken sandwich.  Chick-fil-A tweeted about its chicken sandwich being the original. Popeyes responded with, “Y’all good?”

This was the beginning of a social media war that brought a great deal of attention to Popeyes’ chicken sandwich.  Other restaurants joined in the social media war, including Wendy’s and Shake Shack.

The attention, along with outstanding initial reviews of the sandwich, led to long lines and shortages of chicken sandwiches at Popeyes.  Demand for its chicken sandwich was so great that Popeyes had to stop selling it to adjust its supply chain to the unanticipated demand.  The chicken sandwich didn’t return until November 3, 2019.

Popeyes’ sales have been boosted by the chicken sandwich, with system-wide sales increasing 19% in 2020.

With the popularity of the chicken sandwich, a variety of competitors have either launched a chicken sandwich, or developed a new chicken sandwich.  These competitors include KFC, Chick-fil-A, Church’s Chicken, Wendy’s, Zaxby’s, BurgerFi, Jack in the Box, Carl Jr., Sonic, Shake Shack, Boston Market, McDonald’s, and Burger King.

The most interesting addition is Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco.  Limited distribution Continue reading

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Annie’s Product Redesign: A Case for Ethics and Safety

Annie’s Product Redesign: A Case for Ethics and Safety

April 24, 2021

Annie’s Homegrown organic Mac and Cheese products came under scrutiny because very small traces of phthalates were found in the dairy products and packaging it uses.  Other U.S. cheese products have faced similar findings.

Some research suggests that phthalates can be linked to problems with male fertility and the health of babies, including neurodevelopment and behavioral problems.  While the levels found are below the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA’s) thresholds for human consumption, Annie’s is nevertheless committed to continuing to review the research in this area and help find ways to deal with this issue.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Food Packaging Forum article, Annie’s to eliminate phthalates from products, packaging, by Vanessa Srebny, February 23, 2021; the Fox News article, Annie’s removing a chemical in mac and cheese linked to fertility issues, by Kayla Rivas, February 26, 2021; and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: FoodCollection

Discussion Questions:

1. What is value analysis and how does it pertain to this issue?

Guidance: Value analysis is the process of Continue reading

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