Burger King's new menu plays catch-up -- and kung pao -- with McDonald's

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J. Wohletz
Burger King issued a battle cry yesterday. In order to help boost its sluggish sales -- the chain has slipped to third, behind McDonald's and Wendy's -- the company rolled out the heavy artillery: ten new menu items, including specialty salads, chicken snack wraps, smoothies, flavored frozen coffee drinks, some slightly revamped burgers and a chicken-strip reboot. Some of these items sounded suspiciously like what McDonald's started introducing back in 2003. Has BK learned anything in the decade since then? I decided to find out.

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Five things Arby's should do to improve its image

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We've all heard how you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, but Arby's would have to do something close to really compete with fast-food rivals like McDonald's, Taco Bell and Subway. To help pull off this miracle, Arby's recently added new CMO Russ Klein (he jumped ship from Burger King in January) and just hired hot-hot Boulder firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky to turn its "Good Mood Food" slogan from catchy alliteration to reality.

Because right now it seems like people are in the mood to eat somewhere, anywhere else. To give Crispin Porter + Bogusky a head start, we're offering, free of charge, our top five things Arby's should do to improve its image. Horsey sauce packets not included.

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Tim Tebow reads Green Eggs and Ham for the kids, and for Pizza Hut

Cafe Society last wrote about Tim Tebow when Euclid Hall introduced its bone-marrow "T-boning" Manhattan shot. This time around, the world of food and Tebow collide in very different way.

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This Valentine's Day, get your boo a $10,000 Pizza Hut-themed marriage proposal. Seriously.

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Need help proposing? This guy's got your back.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you're anything like me, that means you're thinking about Pizza Hut's $10 Dinner Box promotion. You say you're not thinking about Pizza Hut's $10 Dinner Box promotion? Well, you should be.

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Photos: No quiero Taco Bell breakfast

J. Wohletz
Taco Bell is currently making the same mistake that gets you in trouble playing Risk: dividing your army. Taco Bell undoubtedly owns the late-night fast-food crowd, and it doesn't seem to be hurting at lunch or dinner, either. But thrusting its big burrito into the already crowded breakfast scene is only a good idea if Taco Bell can produce morning eatables that offer customers something different, good and more affordable than they can get at Burger King, McDonald's or Subway.

Well, Taco Bell got the affordable part right, but not so much sexy with the rest. I went, I ordered, I ate...and afterward, I had to rinse out my eat-hole with a glass of stale Evan Williams to get the taste out and dull the pain of my shattered expectations. Here's a photo tour of Taco Bell's new breakfast items. No amount of Fire sauce could make me order any of this again.

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My top five McDonald's horror stories

McDonald's proved this week that the road to public relations hell is paved with good intentions -- and hashtags. The company introduced a Twitter hashtag crusade, asking customers to share their happy fee-fees and heartwarmingly poignant stories about dining at McDoo's, but as with most things that start out with the best of intentions -- like organized religion, the GOP and mass-produced orange juice -- this awesome idea turned into an awesome fiasco, and quickly. Twitter-ers shared sordid tales of filthy restaurants and foreign objects in their food -- and Chicken McNuggets were impugned with startling voracity. As a result, the #McDStories hashtag was yanked after two hours, with the company's social media director offering the PR equivalent of "oopsie Mcwhoopsie," but the comments are still going strong.

With this debacle as inspiration, I'm delving into my own cardboard-clamshell box of horrible McDonald's memories--here are my top five: #shouldsueMcDooforpainandsuffering

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Del Taco closes in Boulder: Goodbye, Macho Burrito Challenge, goodbye Taco Tuesdays

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Del Taco in Boulder is no more.
Since Dairy Queen's closure in 2006, the space at 1100 13th Street in Boulder has been a black hole for restaurants -- sucking the life out of them until they disappear altogether, leaving nothing behind but the faint smell of a working kitchen, a "For Sale" sign stuck to the window, and hordes of hungry college students, disappointed again. This space sucked in the 13th Street Cafe and the Kaddy Shack before that.

The latest to leave? Del Taco, whose Macho Burrito Challenge and Taco Tuesdays made it a favorite with students.

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Top five reasons why people should get to buy fast food with food stamps

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Yum! Brands -- parent company of such fast-food chains as KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell -- is currently lobbying the Kentucky state government to allow people to use their food stamps in its restaurants. Is this an example of unabashed corporate greed trying to divert state benefits from buying healthy eats? Or is it a finger-licking solution to food insecurity?

We say it's both. Is it fair that "income insecure" people be deprived of enchiritos and triple sausage pizzas just because they don't have any money? No. So here are our top five reasons why people should get to buy fast food with food stamps.

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Welcome to the future: Coca-Cola's 100-flavor soda machine incites confusion, awe

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Kelsey Whipple
Meet Coca-Cola's freestyle soda fountain: 100 flavors to choose from before you still opt for Dr Pepper.
The Qdoba at Sixth and Grant has housed Coca-Cola's 100-flavor freestyle soda fountain for three weeks now, but the Terminator of the carbonated world is still creating lines all the way to the door.

I stopped by this morning to watch the drink behemoth in action and came away as perplexed and awed as most of the people with whom I stood in line. It's the most interesting soda experience I've had without Mentos, to be sure. But I still have questions.

Will it cause a robot war? And where is Big Red?

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Eat more chikin -- and more oatmeal

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In an obvious but well-timed bid to compete with other chain restaurants' efforts to provide more calorie-cutting offerings, Chick-fil-A, the prominent purveyors of fried chicken sammies to willing masses of mall-walkers, is now serving oatmeal. As of this past Monday, the current menu is lightly seasoned with less-bad-for-you items such as fruit cups and....well, that's about it, since granola is still not a health food and Chick-fil-A's carrot & raisin salad should be shot out of cannons at terrorists.

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