By Jack Edwards
I’d like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to an emerging crisis. A crisis that looms even larger and more ominous than our country’s staggering deficit or our precarious interests in the Middle East, one stands firmly at the forefront: the puzzling disappearance of fry sauce. I realize I may have just lost 90% of my audience, but it is a sacrifice I, as a patriotic American, am prepared to make. I now continue with my core audience, the enthusiastic 10% who have just simultaneously high-fived the air and grunted an unintelligible sound. My comrades who take their fries seriously and appreciate the intense carnal pleasure that a little mayonnaise and ketchup concoction can provide. Sure, a few diehard burger joints have hung on, but fry sauce is simply not as available as it used to be. Not only in fast food restaurants, but in most restaurants – diners even. And don’t get me started with fancy restaurants that call their french fries “pommes frites.” Ask for sauce in one of those grand establishments and the snooty waiter looks at you like you’ve coughed up a hair ball. Fry sauce used to be everywhere. You couldn’t come within half a block of a burger joint without some pimply faced kid pushing fry sauce on you like a dope dealer pedaling smack. That heavenly pink concoction made of mayo, ketchup, a dash of Tobasco, and something that gave it texture – perhaps asbestos. Recently, rather than continue to sit back and complain (mainly to myself), about this travesty, I threw on my tweed jacket and popped in my meerschaum pipe. “Step aside,” Sherlock I said admiring myself in the mirror, Jack Edwards is here, and it’s time to do some digging.
First stop, the nearest fast food restaurant. For legal reasons, its name will be withheld. Instead, I will use the code name “McRonalds.” (That should keep my lawyer off my back. Just saved myself $500 skipping that little telephone conference Q&A. Nyuck, Nyuck.) Anyway, the manager of that fine establishment agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity. I will therefore, in keeping with the highest of journalistic ethics, refer to him by a code name as well, Yum Yum.
Yum Yum: “Look, rush hour’s coming, and I’m going to be flinging burgers out the drive through faster than your precious fry sauce shoots through a goose. So let’s keep this snappy.”
Me: “Two words: fry sauce. Give me the skinny.” (I cringe as these words leave my mouth, because indeed there is nothing skinny about Yum Yum).
YY: “Look Fonzi, fry sauce started going belly-up in the late sixties. It struggled on life support through the seventies. People wanted ketchup, the hard stuff. Straight up.”
My journalistic antennas shot to attention. Plain ketchup? Fry sauce died for lack of demand? I felt like a senator holding a hearing in 1972 listening to the CEO of a major tobacco company testify that there wasn’t any evidence that (cough cough) cigarettes caused cancer. Somebody was trying to dupe somebody, and that somebody was me. (I may have thrown in too many “somebodies” here, but you get the point.) This guy was feeding me a pile of used cattle feed.
Me: “Who’s kidding who here, Yum Yum?” (Except I used his really name, Brian – whoops). “Ninety-nine percent of all french fry eaters love fry sauce!” (Based on my made up and biased research – the final one percent being in a coma and eating their french fries through a feeding tube.) “They didn’t just stop eating it. You and yours pulled the switcheroo. ‘Hey, folks, guess what, you have the choice of ketchup, or hey you can have ketchup.’ Give it up Yum Yum, this is about the almighty dollar, isn’t it?”
Bri… Yum Yum: “Okay buddy, you want the truth? Yeah. It is about the money. That burger revolution in the seventies? The one putting all those crazy ideas into the heads of customers? Have it your way? A one-dollar burger they could have made to order? ‘Extra pickles,’ or say, ‘extra onions’. I once had a guy ask for his tomato slice extra thin. Yeah, I was there on the front line. Heard it with my own eyes! ‘Tomato slice extra thin.’ I’ve got cars backed up to the street, and this guy wants his tomato slice extra thin. Well, you don’t get “have it your way” and fry sauce. You know how long it takes to whip up, package and store fry sauce? Thank goodness the majority of us agreed: It’s ketchup and ketchup only. An antitrust violation? An anticompetitive monopolistic maneuver? Complain to your congressperson. Otherwise, welcome to the real world.”
I’m not really sure what happed after that. I came to in an alley tilted against a dumpster with mayo smeared on one cheek and ketchup on the other (and I wish I were talking about my face). But alas, the truth was out.
So a call to arms, my brethren! We gather at the Lincoln Memorial next week, and march united across the mall to the Capital. If not us, who? If not now, well, you get the point. And based on the size of many of our representative’s bellies, I am confident that we will find an attentive audience. A swift, bipartisan solution is at hand!