Restaurant pranks are as old as fire. Restaurant pranks in the age of social media are a whole different matter, in part because they tend to catch fire. This week brings several examples of stunts eliciting far more of a reaction than the laugh they were intended to spark.
The ropey nature of raw dough can be a temptation to any baker with a streak of mischief. It was apparently too much for employees who were making bread in a Florida Jimmy John’s sandwich shop. They stretched the dough (and trust in the restaurant’s sanitation practices) by stretching it into a long, thick string and then using it as a jump rope. And, in a further suspension of good sense, they videoed themselves and posted the clip on Snapchat.
But it didn’t disappear. Instead, the franchisees of the store learned of the viral post. Looking to head off a nightmare, they fired the employees who were involved and issued a statement saying the dough was discarded rather than used for bread, and that they wouldn’t tolerate shenanigans like that at their business.
But instead of quashing the controversy, the owners inadvertently stoked a minor new one. When the news broke, some locals said the place had over-reacted. If no one was hurt or in danger of a contamination, so what if the staff had a little fun?
What’s in a name?
What could have been a nightmare turned into a happy ending for a diner in the Washington, D.C., area, and the restaurant would probably prefer those exact words. After allegations arose that Russia had leverage over President-elect Donald Trump because it knew of his predilection for what might be called water sports, the Community restaurant added a new menu item: the Golden Showers Burger.
The sandwich consisted of a patty topped with “self-tanning cheddar and yellow mustard leaking down the sides,” with a “little pickle,” a sly reference to allegations Trump disputed about his manhood during the campaign, added as a garnish.
Community sold the burger for just a day, charging $20 a pop. For each one that was sold, the restaurant agreed to donate $5 to Planned Parenthood.
Ten were sold during the limited window, according to Eater. But the restaurant also caught an earful from Trump defenders and consumers who thought the whole thing was in bad taste.
Trump has dismissed the assertions that he hired a pack of prostitutes to join him in defiling a hotel bed that had once been used by a political rival, saying, “I’m a germaphobe.”
A flag on the play
Call it a nightmare by choice. Businesses can mock the alleged sexual proclivities of the most powerful person in the world without collateral damage, but woe unto the operation that doesn’t stand by its local team in a key sporting contest.
Witness the brouhaha that Atlanta’s Park Tavern triggered when it dared show consideration to fans of the Green Bay Packers, the team set to take on the hometown Falcons in an NFL playoff game on Sunday. The restaurant alerted football lovers via social media that it would hold a free pep rally for the Pack on the day before the game. The draws included appearances by former Packers players and the team’s current broadcaster.
The appeal to “Packers fans everywhere” didn’t sit well with the home-team crowd. One tweeter asked the Tavern if it also intended to erect a statue to Gen. Sherman, the Union general who burnt down Atlanta during the Civil War.
“Maybe find a relative of Margret Mitchell and run her over?”, another suggested.
“Pathetic!”, spat still another.
The event is expected to draw such a turnout that the Tavern is asking would-be attendees to sign up in advance.