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The week in ideas, January 27, 2012

A very cool idea this week from a startup service that both helps customers eat less and feeds the needy. McDonald’s Australia has an idea to surprise would-be Hamburglars. And in New York City the unthinkable happens: Chinese takeout… changes. It’s the first sign of the apocalypse in this installment of The Week in Ideas.

Idea #1: Eat less, feed more. A new service is offering a way for customers to eat less and restaurants to increase their contributions to food banks. Restaurants would partner with the service, called Halfsies, and choose menu items to include. When a customer orders, they can say they want Halfsies. They pay full price, get half a portion, and the other half goes to feed the hungry. The service is launching pilot programs in Austin, Texas, and New York City this year.

Idea #2: Give thieves a spritz. A few McDonald’s locations in Australia are adopting a new anti-theft technology that could tilt things far in their favor. The way it works is, Hamburglar comes in and steals, say, a double kangaroo burger, or whatever they serve there, and makes a break for it. A worker hits a panic button and as the robber leaves, he gets sprayed with an invisible substance that sticks to clothes for months and to skin for weeks, and leaves a DNA marker cops can read. Officer Big Mac gets a search warrant from Mayor McCheese and Hamburglar’s days of crime are over.

Idea #3: Upgraded Chinese takeout. You know a trend has gone mainstream when it filters to Chinese takeout, a segment that more often seems to exist in a cultural vacuum. But in New York City, new restaurants are offering Chinese takeout with local and higher quality ingredients. The Wok Shop in Brooklyn offers antibiotic- and hormone-free meats. RedFarm in Manhattan offers locally sourced items in its dim sum. Wong in Greenwich Village has even coined the term “locavore Asian.”

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