These past few years have seen an increase in activism: more petitions, more protests, some leading to real change. It’s been very exciting—especially to someone who grew up listening enviously to Baby Boomers’ stories of how they took to the streets and changed the world.
Now activism has trickled down from the rarified realm of politics and fair wages and social equality to more mundane concerns. Namely fast food. The Wall Street Journal shares the inspiring stories of ordinary citizens, just like you and me, who did not passively accept the disappearance of their favorite fast-food items.
Take Caitlyn Romanski, a student at the University of Kentucky who was dismayed by the disappearance of the Chicken Tortellini Alfredo from the menu at Panera after the onset of the pandemic. The day she learned that it was gone, she sat in her car in the parking lot, stunned. How would she go on? Fazoli’s was not an adequate substitute, and Olive Garden was too expensive, and Romanski’s cooking skills were not up to the task of dumping canned Alfredo sauce over some reheated frozen tortellini and sautéed chicken. So instead Romanski has resorted to eating Knorr pasta packets.
But has she taken this situation lying down? No, she has not! Instead she created a petition on Change.org! “All that I ask is that they bring back the Chicken Tortellini Alfredo pasta back,” she told the WSJ. She has 533 signatures so far, but Panera is unmoved: “A spokesman said that Panera couldn’t guarantee tortellini pasta would return, but that other favorite items such as French onion soup have re-emerged.” French onion soup is not Chicken Tortellini Alfredo! How hard is this to understand? Come on, Panera, the whole world is watching!
In this climate of anger and deprivation and Zoom fatigue, other activists have emerged. Change.org has seen the number of fast-food-related petitions increase 66% percent in the past year. As Kinzey Baker, a 17-year-old high-school student in Ohio, wrote in her petition to KFC demanding the return of potato wedges to the menu, “Without variety, there is boredom. We need flavor, we need texture, we need fun, we need our potato wedges!” In response, KFC defended its decision, claiming it was making way for its new secret recipe fries.
Others have taken to Twitter. “What’s Joe Biden’s plan to bring back chicken snack wraps,” one angry fan wrote to McDonald’s. (At the moment, there is none.)
“There’s nothing worse than when I say Hi-C is coming back and everyone is asking about snack wraps,” the official McDonald’s Twitter account lamented.
Most of these campaigns have been unsuccessful, except for one: the demand that Taco Bell reinstate its potatoes. Reports the WSJ: “‘It’s a new year with new possibilities,’ [Taco Bell President Mark] King said in a video that featured his mouth and eyes superimposed onto a potato. ‘We’re working hard to make things right.’”
But what about the Mexican Pizza, Taco Bell? It’s the fast food choice of a generation of Desis. There’s a petition circulating! What are you gonna do? Don’t you want to be on the right side of history?