Slick, sleek & slimy

I have fond mem­o­ries, though my cho­les­terol level does not, of eat­ing at D’Best Sandwich Shop in Boca Raton. It’s been a few years, but as I  re­cently munched on a Miami Cuban-style cheeses­teak1 my mind started wan­der­ing and I got to won­der­ing if D’Best still ex­isted. As I went look­ing for their web­site, I re­called a few of their re­gional twists on the cheeses­teak, like the New York style, a New Jersey style… not to men­tion their in­cred­i­ble non-steak ex­plo­sion of an en­tire Thanksgiving meal di­rectly onto a bun (D’Pilgrim).

D’Best still ex­ists, al­right… but I was truly un­pre­pared for what I found.

You see, back when I’d visit, D’Best-the-subshop was a place you’d leave coated with a thin layer of grill grease. Had to wait in line? You’re wash­ing your hair tonight. The place was by no means messy, but it had a cer­tain un­fin­ished qual­ity to it… def­i­nitely the kind of place where the food mat­ters more than the brand­ing. I’d de­scribe it as feel­ing some­how hon­est… com­pletely lack­ing in pre­tense. Kind of blue col­lar? Yeah, I guess.

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  1. For the cu­ri­ous: a sin­gle slab of steak topped with swiss cheese, mayo and potato sticks — a rather un­healthy twist on the ubiq­ui­tous pan con bis­tec, and also not a cheeses­teak.

The Premium McWrap packaging is very nicely designed

McDonald's Premium McWrap 1I’m clearly no stranger to mar­ket­ing, but my ca­reer hasn’t yet brought me in touch with prod­uct pack­ag­ing. I like pack­ag­ing, and I’ve ac­tu­ally bought things over the years be­cause they were nicely pack­aged — stuff like candy,1 Altoids Sours, some ran­dom bike part… and yes, I’ve even bought my­self a few low-balance gift cards2 to keep in my this is so awe­some file.

I re­cently found my­self im­pressed with the card­board pack­ag­ing around the McDonald’s Premium McWrap — I should prob­a­bly go ask for a clean one while they’re still avail­able. I guess I didn’t no­tice when they added this item to the menu, be­cause I or­dered my first one by mis­take. My an­noy­ance at pay­ing about dou­ble what I ex­pected turned to in­trigue about as soon as I peeked into my drive-through bag.

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  1. Still pissed that my par­ents wouldn’t buy me Bubble Tape.
  2. Confuse your lo­cal cashier to­day — ask for a $1 gift card!

Winamp — “feel the love”

Winamp 2.95I prob­a­bly haven’t used Winamp in a decade, but learn­ing that it’s fi­nally go­ing away for good brought it back to the top of my mind this week.

Winamp wasn’t just my pri­mary digital-music-playing-thing1 — like many peo­ple, it was the first thing I ever used to play MP3s.

Yes Junior, back then Windows Media Player was for CDs and WAV files, and iTunes didn’t ex­ist yet.2

What made Winamp so awe­some? I could de­vote a whole post3  to the ge­nius of Winamp skins, and things I’ve been read­ing (1, 2, 3) over­whelm­ingly ref­er­ence the clas­sic “whip the llama’s ass” sound clip — which, in ad­di­tion to be­ing a neat lit­tle brand­ing thing, was per­ma­nently im­printed on everyone’s mem­ory by be­ing the first thing that would play af­ter in­stal­la­tion.

Those were cool, but my fa­vorite Winamp mem­ory is some­thing a lit­tle less… su­per­fi­cial, per­haps? It’s a short piece of writ­ing that long ago was fea­tured on the “About” page of winamp.com:

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  1. Until iTunes for Windows showed me the value in hav­ing a li­brary of files. Yeah, I know Winamp has a li­brary fea­ture, but I never used it.
  2. Oh, and by the way, MP3s were these things peo­ple used to lis­ten to be­fore there was YouTube.
  3. And, shit, I may — Winamp was do­ing skeu­mor­phics be­fore Apple did skeu­mor­phics be­fore Apple stopped do­ing skeu­mor­phics.

No Ovaltine please — we’re cool.

As a kid, I didn’t know any­thing about Ovaltine aside from their com­mer­cials, so I hadn’t seen it as a spon­sor of clas­sic ra­dio and tele­vi­sion, as a joke on Seinfeld, or as a big fat liar in A Christmas Story. I can’t re­mem­ber any of my friends hav­ing any­thing to say about it, ei­ther.

I was to­tally un­bi­ased.

But from the company’s mar­ket­ing alone, I could tell that rich choco­late Ovaltine was un­cool. I had never drunk any — and decades later, I still haven’t — but if I ever had, I cer­tainly wouldn’t have told any­one about it.

I’m not ex­actly sure why the stuff made my lame-sense tin­gle as a kid. Maybe be­cause Ovaltine was named af­ter a shape (and shapes are for lit­tle kids), or that its mar­ket­ing proudly pro­claimed that it was full of vi­t­a­mins (like every­thing par­ents love, and kids don’t), but what I sus­pect it was… was a lit­tle more ba­sic than that.

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Can we just drop this?

If you’re not a rap­per pro­mot­ing your new al­bum — and es­pe­cially if you’re a non-rapper who works in mar­ket­ing — can you do us a fa­vor and not use “drop” to mean “the date on which [my thing] is set to be re­leased”?

I’m sorry you’ve cho­sen e-mail spam or what­ever the fuck you do for a liv­ing, but talk­ing about the day your new cam­paign or what­ever “drops” doesn’t make you sound hip or hard or what­ever.

There is one ac­cept­able use out­side the rap game: are you a preg­nant woman dis­cussing the date your kid is due to be born? Then that’s… ac­tu­ally to­tally cool.

“Lil’ shorty drops November 7th. Yeah.”
–Expectant mother

Movie Mom Advice from Netflix

Netflix has me trained pretty well — I know never to read the red en­velopes that show up at my place. These days, the flip side is al­ways a promo for some ex­clu­sive orig­i­nal se­ries I don’t care about. House of Cards is amaz­ing? That’s won­der­ful; let me know when I can ac­tu­ally stream some god­damn movies, okay?

That’s why I was sur­prised when tonight’s Netflix en­velopes ac­tu­ally man­aged to catch my eye. On my way back from the mail­box I found both clev­erly em­bla­zoned with dif­fer­ent life tips from movie moms. Tonight’s haul came wrapped in choice bits of Forrest Gump and Brave — timely for Mother’s Day and all that.

 

I won­der how many de­signs there ac­tu­ally are in the se­ries — I’m guess­ing far fewer than the hun­dreds the num­ber­ing sys­tem seems to sug­gest. I’ll be look­ing for more in a few days.

That’s ac­tu­ally pretty sweet of them. I’ll… be sure to let mom know.