Weirdly strong feelings on Pret ahoy:
Difference between Pret and gas station/Starbucks sandwiches: they donate them to homeless shelters at the end of the day, so no, poster above who I'm not scrolling to find, they didn't make them all that long ago.
Difference between Pret "inventing" cheese and pickle and the central reality of why Prets are better in London: Brits are better at sandwiches.
I heard this theory a while ago, that sort of made sense, about why Pret didn't do well in the states. Essentially, it was that fast food, especially "high end fast food" has had a long term marketing love-affair with customization. At the low end that means Burger King's have it your way shennanigans. At the higher ends of chains, that means the fact that at something like a Cosi, the sandwich is made to order, so you can say things like "non of THAT nasty shit."
Pret is priced at the higher end, and apparently we Americans got, justifiably or not, really annoyed that we couldn't customize it. Essentially "If I am paying FIVE BUCKS for this, I want it how I WANT IT." Which makes sense and is very us.
The problem is that that means 'weirder' sandwiches (and I will never get over this prawn mayo shit. I don't care where it came from. M&S, Pret, whatever – isn't that just ASKING for food poisoning?) become less profitable. What if you don't like yogurt sauce? What if you like cheddar, but less chutney? By sticking to shit like ham and cheese, pret sidesteps these scruples in the US.
I feel like its true in other places, too. I remember my mom visiting me in the UK once and we were at a pub somewhere in the middle of nowhere and she asked if she could have some dish but with one thing instead of another, and the waiter laughed and said he'd have known we were Americans even without the accents, because Americans are always doing that. I feel like its becoming a lot more common here even since I first lived in the uk 7 years ago, but its WAY more of a given in the States.
Also, stop with the mayo-hating. Mayo bombs are delicious bombs.
Wow. I keep getting REALLY carried away on my comments lately. Forgive me.
This is the most wonderful article. Everything in it. Especially as I was at first vaguely indignant that you would name a BEST book about Alligators until I remembered that Lyle Lyle Crocodile is, quite obviously, about a crocodile. So that's all okay then. Maurice can be the best at alligators.
Re: the one armed man. Anyone who decides that for a lark they are going to go to a dangerous place and do dangerous thing without telling a goddamn soul where they are or what they're doing, all while they work in a mountain gear shop and KNOW what can happen... well... I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy, but I'm not counting on him for wisdom.