By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Photo by James BunoanIt's funny how some people can't avoid but take the rap. No matter what happens, they always seem to fall into it. You know the type: mindful of their place in history yet somehow inextricably drawn to making that a very dark place. Richard Nixon and Kobe Bryant come to mind.
But then there are others, the kind who seem to go their own way, totally uninterested in what anybody thinks or the usual norms of behavior or conduct. And yet despite this—because of it?—they prosper. Snoop Dogg, George W. Bush and Carl's Jr. come to mind.
While the first two had good years, it's the latter, our own Carl's, that I'd like you to consider since the company's run this year was nothing short of Reagan-esque in terms of Teflonivity—and this in the year of Reagan's death when Reagan-esque reached new "See No Evil" heights.
Consider that in a year that started with Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, precipitating a Crucible-like putsch among broadcasters of all ilks to clean up the air waves with 10-second delays and stringent new guidelines, Carl's aired—continues to air—a commercial in which a young woman in skin-tight jeans and a thin tank top mounts a mechanical bull and proceeds to ride it like it's her wedding night, all the while giving mouth love to a Carl's burger.
Nobody said a thing.
Consider that this was also the year of Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock's popular and damning documentary about the ill effects of fast food. The film was so effective it caused McDonald's to cease its Super Size menu and drove many others to tout the healthy aspects of their menus and start selling salads, fresh fruit and low-carb alternatives.
Just a few weeks ago, they introduced something called the Double Pastrami Burger, a piling of pastrami atop two hamburger patties that one can imagine was once only a gleam in the eye of the guy who invented hardening of the arteries.
Around the same time, Carl's introduced its Breakfast Burger, a hamburger with a fried egg, hash browns, bacon and cheese that contains 830 calories and 46 grams of fat. Like other Carl's creations—the Six Dollar Chili Cheese Burger (926 calories, 57 grams of fat) or the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger (919 and 51)—the new burgers were presented with all the élan of a calf dropping, plopping them down in gurgles and thuds.
What's more, in a year when other fast-food companies looked for ways to cut prices by offering dollar menus and such, Carl's charged premium prices for the aforementioned new rollouts, as they have for most of their burgers. And all this on top of Carl's continuing business plan to completely ignore women while presenting its target audience of men as pathetic slobs.
Last week, the company said wider profit margins, helped by the success of their premium products (i.e., big-ass piles of cholesterol), led to higher-than-expected quarterly earnings. The company's stock rose more than 14 percent the following day.
Please don't misunderstand; I'm not here to criticize Carl's. Nobody puts a gun to anyone's head to eat there—though, after they do, it'd probably be a good idea to put a stethoscope to their heart. Quite the contrary: I congratulate them for sticking to their dream. What a lesson they are to all of us who sell short by listening to the petty concerns of others too timid to dream big—Double Pastrami Burger big. So next time you're thinking of giving in, think of Carl's. Better yet, be strengthened by their example, suck down a little success in the form of a Six Dollar Chili Cheese Burger. Then probably you should have a little lie-down.