Monday, April 25, 2011

What do they make at a cheesecake factory?

In the world of economics, there is a principle called The Everett Rogers Diffusion of innovations theory.

Among the five categories
of product adopters there are people who are called Early Adopters. Those are the ones who are first in line for the newest piece of technology. They want to be the ones to try something before anyone else, and are willing to take a chance on buying something that may not be perfect.

I tend to lean toward the late majority; being somewhat skeptical and traditional. I think it has more to do with age and income than attitude, but I digress.

With that in mind,
I made my first visit to The Cheesecake Factory today. It isn't that I didn't know what to expect, what with the name of the place having cheesecake in it and all. Just like Hooters, Five Guys Burgers and Saladworks; the name sort of gives away the theme.

The menu looks like a novella, so the waitress took some time to explain what was going on. As it turns out, there are "lunch-sized portions" and regular portions. I was encouraged to order the lunch-sized portion so that I could enjoy a slab of cheesecake afterward. I asked about a cup of the soup, and was told that "it comes in a cereal bowl." Any time the server gives the diner a warning about portion size, you know there's a problem. It's like when your doctor tells you there's going to be some discomfort.

The lunch plates that passed my table were giant salads, burgers and entrees that could feed several people instead of the one person who ordered it. I guess they didn't order the lunch-sized portion. Giant bowls of food that I would guess contain an entire day's worth of calories - not to mention the cheesecake that would ultimately follow. To my credit, I stuck with Miso Salmon, bowl of lentil soup and the pre-meal bread plate. That was plenty, and the ensuing food coma allowed me to catch up on some sleep.

What it got me to thinking about
was the ongoing battle and lawsuits against McDonald's, where various so-called family groups are trying to get Happy Meals banned because they encourage kids to eat unhealthy foods. They say they are out to protect the kids, even though it's the parents who are driving the kids to the restaurant.

While we are supposedly battling childhood obesity, we aren't all that concerned over restaurants like Cheesecake Factory who serve too-large portions to people who are all too happy to order it, eat it and pay for it. The same parents who are trying to keep their kids from eating a hamburger and fries are ordering cereal-bowl sized soup, half-pound burgers and slices of cheesecake that could anchor a small sea-going vessel.
In the meantime, adults who once could fit into a regular pair of pants are now ordering elastic-waistband, loose fit jeans three sizes larger than they wore five years ago. They're growing faster than the grass in their front yard. I think the clothing manufacturers should start putting prizes in adult foods to encourage buying new stuff.

Is a 10% discount coupon for a calorie-laden meal the adult equivalent of a prize in a Happy Meal box? They're all enticements, but I don't see any lawsuits against restaurants who run newspaper coupons or send out e-mail's with special offers.

Maybe we're after the wrong group? Or maybe we should just let people eat what they want?

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