The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

New BK Fries

Burger King has apparently upgraded their french fries in the hopes of winning over more customers. According to a few news articles I’ve read today, BK franchises are now offering thicker fries that are also lower in sodium and come with a special coating to keep them hotter and crispier for a longer time.

This move is a response to competition from Wendy’s, which added “Natural Cut” fries last year, as well as independent chains like Five Guys and In ‘N’ Out.

Since most Burger Kings are independently run franchises, I wonder how the different owners deal with these widespread changes. Do they have to pay for all the new packaging and equipment on their own? What if they can’t afford it at the time? Does Burger King HQ bail them out or do they have to take out a merchant cash advance to be able to comply with the changes.

Inquiring minds want to know!

Help a small business owner

Do you know what would be a great holiday present for a small business owner? Helping them get a nice looking website set up so they can develop their online presence and gain new customers.

Instead of sending a fruit gift basket or something like that, why not offer to pay for web design? For example, if your friend runs his business out of Texas, you can pay for Houston web design from Softway Solutions. That way, a local firm can come in, talk to the owner, and design a site that meets the owner’s business goals.

To me, that would be a far more useful present than the usual bottle of booze or Walmart gift card!

The Undefeated DVD

I found this DVD at Wal-Mart, and since I have a friend who likes Sarah Palin, I decided to buy it for her. I haven’t seen the movie myself, so this is a review of the product rather than the film.

The first thing I noticed as my friend opened it in front of me is how bare-bones the packaging is. It’s made of something called an “Eco-Box”, which basically means that it’s much flimsier than standard DVD cases. It’s recyclable, though, so I guess that’s the important point.

There were no liner notes included in the box.

Along with the documentary-style movie, there are three bonus features on the DVD: Palin’s 2011 speech in Madison, WI, footage of the 1982 high school girls’ Alaska state basketball championship game, and a “Special Thank You” from the director. The Thank You barely counts as a bonus because it’s basically just names scrolling down the screen end-credits style. The basketball footage was somewhat interesting because of its rarity, but Palin only has her name called a few times during the 23 minutes of game film. And the Madison speech can be found on YouTube, so that doesn’t really count, either.

Again, I’m not going to get into the film itself or politics or anything like that. Just strictly talking about the product, I felt that the $14.99 I paid was a bit on the high side considering the lack of nice packaging or good bonus features. Still, if there’s someone on your gift list who’s a Palin fan, they’ll probably like this.

Black Friday 2011

I usually LOVE shopping, and have never met a sale that I didn’t take advantage of. But Black Friday is one tradition that I simply cannot get behind. I don’t understand the point of camping out in front of stores at 2am in freezing cold temperatures and then subject yourself to the overwhelming crowds and constant jostling just to get a cheap TV or MP3 player. I mean, what’s the point?

So… I’ll just stay in today, thank you very much, and browse my online options!

Worst Kids Toys of 2011

With Christmas coming up, millions of parents are beginning to shop for toys for their kids. Before buying anything, however, be sure to read through this list of the Worst Kids Toys of 2011. The list was compiled by a consumer organization and is based on toys that are deemed unsafe. The full article can be found on Shine, but here’s a quick copy and paste of the top offenders:

A wooden Twist n’ Sort toy for toddlers
Power Rangers Samurai Mega Blade sword
Fold & Go miniature portable trampoline
Pulling Animal Duck
Schylling toy school bus
Z-Curve Bow
Stepper “Low Rise” Stilts
Sword Fighting Jack Sparrow action figure
The Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker oven
“Gigan” Godzilla Creature 12-inch action figure

Angry Birds HD for iPad

When I got a new iPad 2, I had to reload all my apps into the device. I know, I know: I should have had a backup on iTunes, but I almost never plugged my iPad into my computer, so no backup was available.

At any rate, as I was trying to remember all the apps I had (this was before Apple revamped the iTunes store to make it easier to reinstall past purchases), I hit the Angry Birds HD game, thinking that I’d already bought it and that I would just get the standard “would you like to download this again?” message. But nope… I guess I had a different version of Angry Birds before, so I ended up having to pay $4.99 for the upgrade.

Frankly, I’m not sure if the HD version is worth that price. Sure, the graphics look much better than the 2x resolution for the iPhone app, but still… $4.99 is kinda expensive when talking about an app. Apparently there are some different levels too, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

If you’re an Angry Birds addict or if you’ve never bought the game before, then I guess the HD version would be ok. But if you have the iPhone app already, there’s really no need to upgrade. Just play that one on your iPad and save your money.

Tigers Tricolor Socks

For as much fan gear as I buy, I have never, ever purchased a pair of team socks before. Maybe it’s because I don’t consider socks to be a big enough part of my wardrobe to be noticed, or maybe it’s because I don’t feel like paying $10 a pair all that often. Whatever the reason, I broke down the last time I saw a specialty socks store near the Illinois/Missouri border and purchased these tricolor MU crew socks.

This actually turned out to be a bit of a mistake. I didn’t try the socks on in the store, and as a result, I didn’t realize how LOW they were until I got them home and tried them on. I guess I’m not up to speed on my sock terminology, and mistook “crew” for “ankle”. I was expecting the tops of these socks to be visible when wearing sneakers/athletic shoes, but that’s not the case. And because they’re so low, they feel uncomfortable to me — which is of course my personal preference.

Besides the fit, I don’t have anything else to complain about with this product. The socks are predominantly white, with black at the heel and toe and gold along the bottom sole. It also features the team name and team graphics near the toe and at the sides.

I have occasionally worn these around the house since I bought them, but will probably put them away until the summer. I don’t like how they look with jeans or sweatpants, so I’ll save them to wear with shorts.

The takeaway lesson here is to know your sock sizing terminology before you buy!

Guitar Lessons

This Christmas I want to get my son something other than video games, despite the fact that that’s what I know he’ll be asking for. I want him to start branching out with his hobbies and experimenting with his various talents a bit more. We know he’s great at Nintendo; now let’s see what else he can do!

I’m wondering if guitar lessons would be enticing to him. I think it would be great for him to learn guitar (or any other musical instrument) so he can begin to develop his artistic side. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up loving it and finding a new calling!