Monday, 16 April 2012

Hungry Jacks Salad Stix

People might be wondering, what the?
Salad or Veges at Hungry Jacks?
That sounds too healthy to be true.

But it is true.
Following last year's menu shake-up at Hungry Jacks (that's Burger King for any American readers), which saw the reduction of salt and sugar from many of their items, a "healthier" range of burgers, and the removal of the Aussie Burger (a tragic loss of a national Icon)... an item was snuck onto the menu - Salad Stix.
A small serving of Vegetables, consisting of carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli and cherry tomatoes. For $2.50 with a value meal.

I remember reading about it when I was doing my review of HJ's Country Burgers, and found it on the menu at various outlets around the country, so put it on my list of things to review.
Last weekend, I had the chance. I went to the Coopers Plains outlet, ordered a couple Cheeseburgers meals (with onion on the burgers and Onion Rings instead of Fries... plus Coke Zero, to you know, watch my calories... :p ), and asked for a serving of Salad Stix.
Knowing that they wouldn't have too many people ordering them, if ever, I was amused to see if they even knew what I was asking for, or if they had any.  The lady at the counter yelled over to someone else out the back to ask if they had any in stock... and sure enough, they did.
I paid for my order and waited and watched as it was being prepared... paying particular attention to the Salad Stix.  I wasn't sure how "pre-prepared" it may be, so wasn't surprised when someone came out of their storage fridge with a small take-away food container of veges.
There didn't appear to be anything written on the container from where I was standing, so I'm not sure how long they keep them for... just in case someone actually orders a serving.
The disappointing thing though, they proceeded to empty out the contents of the plastic take-away container into a Sundae cup... wasting more plastic to landfill, instead of just giving me the Veges in their original container.

In the photo above is what I was given.  In the process of them relocating the Veges into a second plastic container, they had to jam in the sticks, which crushed one of the tomatoes.
So in the process of making more waste for the environment, they were needlessly damaging the food... neither of which would have happened if they just handed over the original container, or had them packed into Sundae cups in the first place. It's not like they'd take up much more room, as they aren't having a lot of turn-over to need many in stock.

Note in the photo above, the French Dressing sachet (which also doesn't have a use-by date on it).  Well, at first they forgot about the Hommus dip that the Salad Stix come with (they probably have never had anyone order the Salad Stix before to remember it). I pointed it out to the lady at the counter, who then spent the next couple minutes frantically searching for it.  In the end, no one knew if they had any, or where it was kept, so handed me the only salad-related sachet they could find.
So much FAIL already, and this is before actually trying the product.

When I got home and had the Salad Stix a little later (I didn't see the need to eat them while they were "fresh" as they were probably sitting in the HJs fridge a couple months already.
A week later when I finally felt hungry enough to eat them, this is what a single serving has in it (with the French Dressing squeezed over it).

Five sticks each of carrot and celery, 3 sprigs of broccoli, and 2 cherry tomatoes.
And even though it was sitting in my fridge for a week, everything was still fresh and crunchy. Since their website makes no mention of any preservatives on their allergy advice page, I would have to assume that this was a fresh batch. (then again, their website doesn't list the right vegetables - saying that it has red capsicum instead of cherry tomatoes, so might have left off any added chemicals as well).

I actually liked this Vege combo, and the French Dressing goes nice with it too (maybe they could offer a selection of salad dressings). If it wasn't so expensive, and if they promoted it's existence, or even included it as a bonus item to large value meals during certain hours or promo days, this would be a great component to the meal.  Something soft (burger), something salty (fries), something sweet (soft drink and/or sundae), and something crunchy (the vege sticks).
It not only has a small amount of nutrients and vitamins, but would count towards the daily recommended servings of Veges, without feeling guilty about the junkfood in the rest of the Value Meal.

To me, it makes no sense. HJs "secretly" reduced some of the salt and sugar content to various menu items to make them a little bit healthier (and adding to the prices to compensate), while also "secretly" adding a Vege side-dish without any promotion or incentive to buy it.
I know I keep saying that it is a waste of resources and investment to appease the demographics that will never patronise fast-food franchises, but here we have HJs trying to reduce their unhealthy image a little, costing them sales from the higher prices, and they don't even make the consumers aware of it.  Why do it, if you don't market it for at least a little reward?

Maybe it was a decision made at the same time as the removal of the Iconic Aussie Burger...

One of my favourite fast-food burgers. Probably second only to the Cheeseburger (with onion of course).

Next time you are at HJs, and order a Value Meal, get some Vege sticks on the side... you might be surprised at how well it compliments the meal.
Very Recommended.(and that's coming from a self-confessed junk-food junkie, so must be good)

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