Two weeks ago, after the news hit that Twin Peaks will open a restaurant at Mockingbird Station, I put up a joke post wherein I pretended to have emails that were hacked from Twins Peaks’ corporate HQ. The emails revealed other potentially controversial new locations (Highland Park Village, the lobby of First Baptist, etc.) and the thinking that went into choosing those spots. The next day, a lawyer who works for Twin Peaks sent me an email saying he wanted to discuss the post. On the phone, he told me that the post wasn’t funny, that it was more suited to the Observer than to D Magazine, and, in any case, that it was inaccurate. I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and probably could have handled his feedback better. But, after telling the lawyer that I wasn’t going to insult him by lecturing him about how satire works, I lectured him about how satire works. As for what material belongs in the Observer and what belongs in D, I told him I’d leave the burgers and boobs to him if he’d leave the editing to me.
Then I said words to the effect of: “You know what surprises me? That we’re having this conversation. You work for a company that is all about having fun and making double entendre jokes about breasts. Rather than bitching at me, if you think someone is actually going to mistakenly believe that Twin Peaks is opening a store in the lobby of First Baptist, why don’t you write a funny letter setting the record straight?” I got that letter on Thursday. We’ve been on deadline, so it has taken me until now to share it. Enjoy:
Private equity firms C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., owner of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Apollo Global Management are nearing a $400 million deal for Irving-based Hostess Brand’s Twinkies and other cakes,Â the Wall Street JournalÂ reports. The deal could be announced later today, and would serve as an indicator of prices in Hostess’ bankruptcy court asset auction. From the WSJ:
Apollo, the giant buyout shop co-founded by Leon Black, and Metropoulos, owner of the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer brand, have been looking to partner on a deal for some time. They emerged as the front-runners to snap up Hostess’s cake brands and negotiations between them and the company picked up steam in recent days, leading to the expected deal, people familiar with discussions said.
At least one publication is applauding the possible Twinkie/Pabst mash-up. From Esquire’s “Eat Like a Man” blog:
…basically, this could be the deal of the century: A cheap, easy-drinking, red-white-and-blue beer brand and a buying firm of the type which only exist in capitalist countries are about to buy the only thing more American than a cheeseburger and fries. They’re made for each other. Now we just have to start handing our 8-year-olds PBRs when we buy them Twinkies. Because we get it – those Twinkies you buy areÂ totallyÂ just for the kids.
Gotta say I tend to agree.
My mother always said the best press releases include the subject line: “WIENERMOBILE VISITS DALLAS AREA THIS WEEK.” I thought it was a strange maxim as a child, pushed it into the back of my head, and forgot about it for 20 years. Yesterday, it bounded back into my consciousness.
I found the Wienermobile at the Fiesta on Jefferson Boulevard. It was being ignored. Hundreds of little kids preferred the free cake and clowns in another corner of this makeshift, Monday-evening festival, so I had the wiener all to myself. 27 feet of wiener, just waiting to be loved.
When I first moved to Texas two years ago, I ate so much grapefruit that my now-wife had to force me to stop. I was getting sick, but I couldn’t get over how cheapÂ the fruits were (four for $1 last week at Sprouts). Even the grapefruit juice was cheap, defying all of Ocean Spray’s supply-chain economics. I would eat a grapefruit for breakfast, and wash it down with a glass of grapefruit juice. Scurvy didn’t stand a chance in that apartment.
I’d send photos of grapefruit prices to my dad with pithy comments like, “Bet you wish it was this cheap in New York!” and he’d text back something like “You really need to get a life.” I defended grapefruit to everyone, and loaded my cart with them every week.
Now Slate seems to think they’re the worst fruits ever harvested, a scourge on our stomachs and stockings. From their completely off-base piece this morning:
This killjoy has already invaded our breakfast routines. Its balefulÂ pink,Â white, orÂ redÂ flesh shines from thousands of tables. Its pulp gets stuck in our teeth. Its juice stains our clothes. And now, we are asked to inflict the scourge on our relatives, shipping it off in packages of 12 or more in order to demonstrate ourÂ love?
No. Grapefruit is unwieldy, disgusting, and in some cases dangerous to eat. It is indisputably the worst fruit anyone has ever put on a plate.
No, you’re unwieldy, disgusting, and in some cases dangerous to eat, Katy Waldman. (I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. Truly. You’re probably lovely. I’ve resorted to playground tactics.) She goes on to explain that the compounds in grapefruit inhibit the proper processing of some medications, meaning grapefruit is literally killing you. This, no. The same warning is on the side of every bottle of pills I’ve ever seen, and it’s never stopped me from washing down an antibiotic with a beer.
She also mentions grapefruit tastes disgusting and is impossible to eat. Erroneous! Erroneous on both counts!Â The truth is, when properly ripened, grapefruit is delicious, and, with two minutes of time, easy to eat. Get it together, Waldman!
Golf Courses Are the Ultimate Cure-All For Urban Poverty: Here’s another article (paywall) that talks about how Mayor Mike Rawlings is really jazzed about how great that golf course is going to be for South Dallas. But you don’t need to click through. You already know how huge this deal is going to be. Just think about what a major boom Dallas National has been for Cockrell Hill. I mean, can you think of a more affluent and booming neighborhood in North Texas than the island city of Cockrell Hill? It’s like a second Highland Park, which also has a golf course in it. Coincidence? I think not.
Man Tries to Steal $269 Worth of Meat: In order to really appreciate this story about Rodney Johnson’s attempt to make off from a Kroger with $269 worth of meat shoved up under his coat, you have to try and picture just what $269 worth of meat looks like. Then read how he was first tackled by police and then struck in the back of the head before officers finally managed to arrest the hungry thief.
Michael Young Is No Longer a Texas Ranger: Drop your head to your chest, raise your right arm, extend your fingers, and drop a final claw on Michael Young as he heads out the door to Philadelphia. “If there was crying in baseball, I guess I’d cry,” Wash said. But we all know Wash cried.
Cowboys Win Game, Josh Brent Just Loses: What do you say about Josh Brent? Over the weekend he lost his best friend, he lost his career, and he quite possibly lost his freedom for up to the next 20 years (the maximum sentence for intoxication manslaughter). He was released from jail after posting bail that was $10,000 more than his $490,000 2012 salary. “It’s not a good moment for anyone right now,” Brent’s attorney said. I guess that’s all you really can say.
As his company circles the drain, Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn will continue to make $125,000 a month, the New York Post reported over the weekend.
The rest of the Irving-based company’s remaining employees were hit with an eight percent pay cut – at Rayburn’s hand – but since the CEO isn’t technically an employee of the company, he’ll keep his $1.5 million annual salary thankyouverymuch. A company spokesman told the Huffington Post that since Rayburn was brought in as a restructuring advisor to help with the company’s bankruptcy woes, his title precludes him from the cuts. Never mind the fact that the company’s fortunes have crashed and deliciously burned since Rayburn came on in March, apparently.
One bit of comfort for the 18,000 people losing their Hostess jobs: Rayburn didn’t accept his bonus, which would’ve paid betweenÂ $375,000 and $1.125 million.
Quick game. Name the joint that provided the meats for Vaughn’s cover. You can find the answer here, so don’t be a jerk and cheat.
Over on SideDish, Nancy started a good conversation about how some bloggers operate with a sense of entitlement and skirt FTC rules about divulging freebies. The conversation started with a post about a “food writer” who schemed her way into a free multi-course wine dinner. Then, yesterday, Nancy let us know that something rather remarkable had happened. In response to Nancy’s post, a local company called Strauss Marketing sent out an email to bloggers it works with, asking them for data. The note read, in part:
In light of recent events and blogs, notably on D SideDish at the end of last week, we are taking a step back and looking at how PR professionals and bloggers can better work together taking into account FTC guidelines. Several of our clients read the blog and comments, and have asked us to find a way to better evaluate their business decisions on offering complimentaryÂ products/dinners/experiences. As a service to them we are asking that you please submit your most recent numbers on readership so that we may keep that on file.
Strauss Marketing is to be commended. There are a lot of folks out there writing about food because they are passionate about it and have something to say. If they garner an audience and communicate with it in an ethical manner, then they deserve a seat at the table. Their contributions make for a more informed dining public, while at the same time providing an efficient marketing channel for companies that know how to use it. But there are also a lot of charlatans out there who are only interested in a free meal and an ego stroke. These people deserve only to be kept on file.
Last night, the great Daniel Vaughn took his turn on No Reservations, showing Anthony Bourdain around Austin’s Franklin Barbecue. You can watch some of the show here. Over on SideDish, Nancy has started a discussion of the episode. She didn’t pull any punches.
UNT is battling the epic heat with a new Emery Thompson batch freezer capable of producing 44 quarts of delicious ice cream in just over ten minutes.
The university decided to invest in the largest batch freezer available commercially last year in an effort to provide quality, all-natural frozen treats to students and the UNT community as a whole. This fall will be the first full semester that dining services will exclusively offer the UNT-made ice cream during dinner and late-night services at Kerr Hall, the university’s largest dining hall. Prepackaged containers of the ice cream currently are being offered as “Scrappy’s Ice Cream” in the University Union. The old standbys of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are always offered, but dining also is offering a specialty flavor in the dining hall each night. So far, specialty flavors have included chocolate covered avocado, pineapple cilantro, candied ginger and apple pie ice cream.
Dining says that as far as they can tell, UNT is the first university in Texas to move to in-house ice cream.
Who said Denton ever lost its funk? Â And did UNT just take the lead in the race to become Dallas-Fort Worth’s first great university?
The Denton Record-Chronicle notes that the first residents (students, mostly) are moving into the brand spanking new Sterling Fry Street mixed-used development at the corner of Fry and Hickory streets in Denton, right across from the University of North Texas campus.
Early last year, I waxed nostalgic in the pages of D Magazine, about my many hours of youth misspent on that block. At the time the parcel of land had been sitting empty, in limbo, for three and a half years. I talked to the longtime owners of the much-beloved Tomato pizza joint, who had been forced from their building when developers swooped in and decided to create something new. There were hopes that the Tomato could return to Fry Street, though I doubted whether it could ever again be what it once had been without a space anywhere near as expansive or distinctive as the original restaurant’s.
Since then, some former employees of the Tomato have reopened under the old name, using the old recipes, in the nearby town of Sanger instead. And the Sterling project – with 194 apartments, a six-story parking garage, and 10,500 feet of retail space – finally got built. It’s surely a nightmare come true for people like cantankerous 70-something Bob Clifton, who told me for my story:
“The thing about Denton, the thing that attracts people to Denton, is Denton was a funky town. Musicians could come up here, 10 of them live in a f—ing house, dope flows like it’s going out style, everybody’s laid-back, not giving a s— about nothing, and it’s just funky,” he says. “They’re turning it into Plano.”
Plano-based Frito-Lay is crowd-sourcing its development of new flavors of Lay’s potato chips. There’s an app on the brand’s Facebook page in which actress Eva Longoria invites you to invent your own flavor and to vote on which flavors you’d eat.
The New York Times reports on this and other social media-based marketing/market research efforts by companies like Frito-Lay and Walmart:
Visitors to the new Lay’s Facebook app are asked to suggest new flavors and click an “I’d Eat That” button to register their preferences. So far, the results show that a beer-battered onion-ring flavor is popular in California and Ohio, while a churros flavor is a hit in New York.
“It’s a new way of getting consumer research,” said Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay North America. “We’re going to get a ton of new ideas.”
Frito-Lay plans to produce three of the flavors generated by its contest, and to award a $1 million prize to the creator of one of those flavors.
Frito-Lay has already run the contest overseas, resulting in chip flavors like hot and spicy crab in Thailand and pickled cucumber in Serbia.
There’s a thing called Betches Love This. It’s kind of like Stuff White People Like, only instead of white people, you’re talking about betches. And a betch, if you don’t know, is just another word for that other word. Anyway, the anonymous betches over at Betches Love This periodically break down a university, betch-wise. Yesterday they did a betches guide to SMU. It is unkind is a very NSFW way.
FrontRow Live, presented by Chevy, kicks off this Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the Dallas Contemporary, and it will bring together performances by pop-dance groupÂ STRFKR, French electronic musicianÂ Onra, and Austin DJÂ Ben Aqua. The beer will be free thanks to Bud Light Platinum. There will also be food trucks and live theater byÂ Upstart Productions. Plus, sound installations byÂ Oliver Francis Gallery, and all of the wonderful exhibitions currently at theÂ Dallas Contemporary.
It all takes place this Thursday, May 31, and if you still haven’t secured tickets, you shouldÂ go purchase them now. Because when will you get a chance to see this level of musical talent coupled with free drinks and art and theater for just fifteen bucks? Exactly. See you there.