Saturday, June 9, 2007

Obituary update

It's been a long time since I've come across a wonderful obit. I'm sure there have been many that I simply missed, and that makes me sad. But today--oh joy! oh rapture!--a lovely obit of someone I should have known existed: the co-creator of Cheez Whiz, who also helped make McDonald's french fries what they are today.

The headline alone is a glorious thing: Edwin Traisman--french fry innovator.

And I quote: "'Ed Traisman made a major, major contribution to McDonald's and french fries as we know them today,' said Lisa McComb, a McDonald's spokewoman."

OK, first of all: A McDonald's spokeswoman? What is her job, really? Are there really that many public statements that need to be made? Is she one of many McDonald's spokespeople?

Secondly, let's hear how Mr. Traisman changed french fries:

"All the french fries in McDonald's restaurants originally were made fresh in each restaurant, with employees peeling, cutting and washing the potatoes before frying them." But there were problems with getting potatoes year-round, so Mr. Traisman, who owned the first Mickey D franchise in Madison, Wisconsin, "created a process of reducing moisture in the potato prior to freezing." No more of those fresh-made french fries for us, no sirree bob.

Now, mind you, I've eaten my share of frozen french fries, not to mention a ton of tater tots, so I'm not one to throw spuds. Back in the day, food efficiency was going to save the world and make everyone happier and healthier. Lord knows "food innovations" are still going on all the time, still with the promise that it's going to make us happier and healthier.

I still remember being in a class where the teacher talked about pre-packaged salad greens, as opposed to buying heads of lettuce. He had worked in the industry and talked about how this so-called "convenience food" was really the sweepings from the floor, generally filthy and of the lowest quality. But it is efficient. Pre-peeled carrots, pre-sliced apples, pre-shredded cheese. The death of Mr. Traisman reminds me, at least, of how many things we will look back on and say with amazement, "This was an advance???"

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