business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday’s piece about John Mackey of Whole Foods complaining that the FTC was being selective and unfair in its attempt to block his company’s acquisition of Wild Oats, one MNB user wrote:

Mackey is just preaching to the choir. The bottom line is that the Bush administration is not going to rubber stamp any business deals that involve hippie pinko commie companies. If Whole Foods waits another 18 months and tries again, it should go very smoothly in round two.


I would have preferred to think that the administration would not be using political agendas in deciding such things, but perhaps that ship as permanently sailed. The stories in the New York Times and Washington Post this morning about political interference in how the US Surgeon General did his job and addressed public health issues are, to say the least, disquieting.

On a similar, though unrelated, political tangent, MNB user Steve DelBonis wrote in about our story saying that a Chinese food safety official found guilty of taking bribes and “purposeful neglect” had been executed:

Response from a friend that I shared this with: Scooter Libby should be on his knees thanking God he wasn't born Chinese.

We wrote yesterday about the new Wendy’s Baconater, which has so much bacon and meat that they ought to throw in a Lipitor with the meal. One MNB user wrote:

While I visit fast food joints occasionally, I actually like Wendy’s for their fresh burgers. Arguably McDonald’s has the best fries, but I’d have to say that of the big chains Wendy’s has the best burgers followed closely by BK, and Dairy Queen.

That said I usually order a single cheese with everything, not the larger offerings you were referring to in the piece. But the average job-site construction worker burns a few more calories that a guy hitting a keyboard. He can afford to feed his hunger. And for the record my wife is totally appalled by the BK Patty Melt commercials with the seductive blonde rolling around with her burger. For me its all eye candy, can’t afford either!

Besides these creations are probably smaller than the $9 burgers you’d get at your local bar and grill with 3 fried Idaho’s on the side of a platter big enough for three.

On the subject of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), one MNB user wrote:

I just returned from a great European trip with my daughter for her 16th birthday (yes, she’s spoiled and I love doing it). One of our daily rituals was to find a local market/street vendor and buy fruit. Wonder of all wonders, local street vendors, particularly those near borders, had all of their products marked by country and/or region of origin, and had duplicate displays for “local” fruit and that that came from somewhere else. They used a really sophisticated process…they hand wrote a label telling me where it came from. Seems to me it’s a solvable problem, and a chance for those that have a great sourcing program to educate customers why strawberries from one region have a different taste profile than another region.

No argument here.

Finally, we got a ton of email about “Sansolo Speaks,” the first column written by our new partner (some would say “co-conspirator”), Michael Sansolo. Some excerpts…

MNB user Ray Stewart wrote:

Give 'em hell Sansolo--I'll always support your Right to be Wrong. I wish you the best.

Another MNB user wrote:

I read your first piece with interest - KC has been building you up...

Just a couple excerpts...
1. "Rachael Ray turns me on."
2. "There are amazingly smart people in this industry"..."We need way more diversity in the industry and fast."..."The industry possesses more good research, studies and guidebooks than anyone can use"
So the industry is a smart monoculture that can't use research? Sounds like "good ol' boys to me...which leads back to your quote about Rachael...wasn't that statement a little sexist?

If the people in this industry are so smart, why is there a lack of diversity...without diversity, isn't thinking mostly the same...and how can that produce good research?

FYI…Michael is one of the least sexist people I know. Which is reflected in this email from another MNB user:

I look forward to reading plenty of rants, continued “thinking outside of the box” and your ever-present genuine respect and appreciation for women.

MNB is lucky to have landed you!


MNB user Frank Riso wrote:

Welcome to MNB. I agree with a lot of the things you mentioned, NYC, this industry and our ability to agree and disagree. However, as one former cashier to another, win or lose I will always be a Yankees fan. Do we agree on the Giants at least?

That’ll have to be for one of his fall columns…

MNB user Jim Swoboda wrote:

Good to see you on the "netways".

You have great points. As you recall, the ECR effort included many very bright people. I had the good fortune to work with a lot of them. The challenge looking back is some of those with vision who truly threatened the status quo were publicly lauded and privately whipped. You call to action should be heard and those who hear the call should learn from the lessons of 10 years ago. Great things can be achieved by working together and trust will be a great by product.

On a fun side, I can't believe you are so grounded after having lived in D.C. for so long. That place sucks the wisdom right out of people. Congratulations on not being one of them.

Designated hitter has to go. Worst thing in baseball...well maybe the second.

Parents are great! I wish everyone had a mom and dad as did I and clearly you. I only hope I live up to their example with my children.

Glad you said Rachael Ray and not Rosie! That would have scared me.

Lastly, I have learned great lessons from my children that prompts me to share one. The other day, my 12 year old son was getting ready in the morning when I heard my 16 year old daughter ask, "does my hair look okay?" to which he replied, "I don't think I am qualified to answer that..." Boy, I wish I had been that wise at his age!

Look forward to many great writings from you and Kevin.

MNB user Ruth Raphel wrote:

Mike's column is a great edition to an already great food industry report...

We’re blushing.

One of the things Michael wrote about yesterday was the fine art of counting change at the register, which led one MNB user to write:

... the art of counting change (and the math skills it teaches) is something we could use these days. Agree wholeheartedly. BTW, where do you stand on the issue of handing the change to the customer (or the customer handing the change to the cashier)? I was taught to place the coins in the palm and THEN hand the bills. Now they seem to hand the bills with the change sliding around inside, with the change very often shooting out onto the floor or ground at the drive-thru.

I asked Michael to respond to this:

I'm totally with you. Coins first, bills follow and you can grab your purchase and move on. Putting the coins on top makes me nuts! (But I love the little cup of pennies many put out these days!)

I think you’re both living in another decade. I can’t remember the last time I paid cash in a supermarket…
KC's View: