Super Size My Fish

After today, I'm a tad bit uncertain why McDonald's has taken so much heat for offering an unhealthy food selection. I mean, have any of the people who vilify the Golden Arches ever been to Long John Silvers?

Several weeks ago, LJS (almost as deadly as the LDS) started running ads on children's TV touting their new "Fish Bites." The spots include a harmless, cartoon-like pirate, and his catch phrase (excuse the fish humor)--which unfortunately hangs with you and haunts you in the middle of the night like a bad 80's song--is "Thaaaarrrrr genius!"

Well, my kids took the bait (sorry again) and have been incorporating the tag line into some of their conversation. I was feeling blessed, though, because they had not asked go to go LJS, yet. Of course, that all changed today.

"What kind of building is that?" my daughter asked me from the backseat.

And there it was. A gleaming blue and yellow port of fishing and nautical culture, with seahorse statuettes and rope big enough to tie down an oil tanker decorating the front dock. (Author's Note: I don't remember this particular LJS not being in that location, meaning it has been land-locked in the same place for at least 20 years).

"Uh, that's a Long John Silvers, honey," I said, quickly looking around for something to distract her. Before I could divert her attention, however, a bold chorus rang up from the backseat from my son and daughter.

"Fish Bites!!!" they both said with glee.

"Thaaar genius!" my son exclaimed.

Two hours later, I found myself walking into the ghetto of all fast food places. I had pleaded earnestly NOT to dine inside, but to instead make a quick stop at the drive-thru. But, here I was, fully immersed. The place is not only old, but it looks old. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out that LJS is probably on it's last peg leg. Maintenance of the interior is akin to putting reflective tape over a smashed-out turn signal. Shabby, but not in a cute, beach-house type of way. So impoverished looking that I fully expected to see a little cup at the cashier stand asking for donations; maybe with a picture of the manager and his family on the front.

Now, I like small menus. Lots of choices confuse me. And I like food pictures. Denny's, for example, has some great food pictures on their menu. LJS also has food pictures, and the menu is very limited, and I was hit by a sudden burst of optimism. I may have even turned around to my kids and said "This may be OK."

Another glance, though, and I sensed a culinary challenge. I have never seen a restaurant with such a huge percentage of fried foods. I mean, I've seen healthier menus at a Bacon Lovers Convention. There was fried fish, fried shrimp, fried chicken, french fries, and hushpuppies (which are, of course, just big pieces of fried doughy stuff). I had to struggle to find anything other than the beverages that weren't dipped in batter and plopped in a deep fryer. They did offer a salad. And the cole slaw was not fried. However, neither of those choices even hinted at being healthy, so I opted for a seafood combo (fried, of course, because they just don't do it any other way).

The dining area was truly pitiful. Old furniture dipped (but not fried) in layer upon layer of lacquer. Faded plastic decorative pieces with nautical colors. Torn seats, and a whole other dining wing closed, and blocked off by a huge trash can. It was sad.

We chose a booth by the window and near the exit door, just in case.

(See my next blog posting to find out the rest of the story)


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