|Closed for business - Holborn BK|
The last time I went to Burger King was about six months ago, outside Gloucester Road tube station. I was a little drunk and had a double whopper with bacon and cheese, and onion rings and a coke. I felt somewhat guilty and a little exhilarated and probably a bit self-righteous because I was talking about diets.
That same Burger King ran a marketing gimmick a few years ago where you could order a £95 whopper that was made from rare beef and topped with truffles - an attempt to garner publicity with it's non-core target market of young, working class men. It was dismissed in the media as a poorly conceived marketing stunt masquerading as corporate social responsibility (proceeds were donated to charity).
|A roaring trade - Holborn McDonalds|
|Not a very nice lady|
|I, Smokey, I mean Dopey, swear that nicotine is not addictive|
Warren Buffett's changing attitude towards the investability of tobacco companies is a stark mirror on the social acceptability of tobacco:
'I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It's addictive. And there's fantastic brand loyalty.' (1987)
'Investments in tobacco are fraught with questions that relate to societal attitudes and...I would not like to have a significant percentage of my net worth invested in tobacco businesses.' (1994)
But fast food escaped. When I was a kid, a big family day out in West Germany was a trip to the American PX, an hour's drive north to Bremen. It was the equivalent of a trip to the shopping mall, where some of the exotica we could expect to find were hip hop records, Nike Air Jordans and weird toys, topped off with lunch at Burger King. For many people, McDonalds is the ultimate symbol of American consumer culture; but McDonalds was everywhere, even in suburban West Germany, where it compromised on it's golden arches and then-corporate colours of yellow on red so that the conservative town council would allow an outlet to open in picturesque central Celle (there were brown arches on white). For me, Burger King, available only on special occasions at the American barracks, was THE American burger.
|A Food Fighter|
Burger King, safe behind the golden arches taking a battering on behalf of an entire industry, carried on doing what they do, seemingly oblivious to the changing tide of public opinion. The little Jacksonville, Florida burger chain has changed hands multiple times, each time being sold on because it couldn't provide the return to its new owners that they expected. The closure of the Holborn outlet, strategically positioned by the busstop so drunken office workers could grab a whopper for the bus ride home, is just a tiny chapter in its slow decline.