The Best Fast Food Receipt

I'm not a real "fast food" guy. I don't really love burgers, and I don't really love super fried or greasy things, and I realize that by making both of these statements it's very possible that the Department of Bro-land Security will revoke my man-certificate.

That said, I've always admired Burgerville, Oregon (and Southern Washington's) home-grown fast food chain.

Burgerville goes out of their way to feature seasonal , local ingredients in monthly menu items. When a cyclist was denied drive-through service and caused a Twitter PR ruckus, they re-trained staff, put up "bicycle in lane" signs, and offered free milkshakes to cyclists. When they opened a box of Gardenburgers and "became concerned about the look and texture of the product" (!), this caused Kelloggs to shut down Gardenburger production for six months, and they switched to a locally-made product.

So, I was happy to see that Burgerville is now testing the coolest receipt ever. (Pictured at left.)

They're from company called Nutricate (tip: if you have to put a pronunciation guide next to your name, you need a new name). And, as you can see, they provide highly accurate nutritional info for your meal.

I mean, it's not surprising that tartar sauce is high on calories. But it was slightly surprising that Sweet Potato Fries were so much "worse" than regular fries.

Sure, there is some irony that you get this receipt after you've paid for your meal. But I say any nutritional education is better than none at all.

(Oh, and confidential to Burgerville: the only thing left to do? It's time to fix your interior design and remodel your stores. The sock-hoppy, jukeboxy theme of your restaurants is total disconnect from your modern, local, fresh message. You designed a great interior with Noodlin' (R.I.P.) — get those guys fixing Burgerville!)

Next Time: The Disneyland Scammer

Kashiwa Mystery Cafe

So, we're in Japan, and we've just stepped off the train in Kashiwa, a very nice town in Chiba which also happens to be the home of Panic's Japanese HQ, which itself happens to be essentially a cozy apartment, which reminds me of Panic USA 1.0, except Noby and Kenichi don't live in the apartment, and the apartment is in Japan.


Noby wasn't there yet, so we wandered around the station a little bit, enjoying the good weather and banking on Cabel's First Rule of Japan: if you wander around anywhere in Japan for a little bit, you will come across something interesting. (This is also Cabel's First Rule of Everything.) So we came across something interesting:

...which despite have a semi-unfortunate acronym, was a collection of elegant, architecturally-cool buildings, possibly part of a temporary exhibition to excite the citizens of Kashiwa, with a nice wooden deck with some inviting café tables.

We sat down to catch a break.

A few seconds later, I heard some halted English coming from my left.

"Hello! Please come here!"

This was unusual for Japan, because although most Japanese city centers seemed to be filled with hundreds of unregulated and overdriven speakers, I've rarely, if ever, been beckoned in English and in person. It caught me off guard. I wandered over.

The cashier fumbled for the right words. "Please... buy something!"

OK, this was confusing, because up until this point nobody in Japan has ever outright asked — let alone strongly suggested — I buy anything, ever. In some regions of China, for example, it's normal to be followed for blocks by plucky street vendors, with sooty caps and using the Chinese word for "guv'nor" (省长), trying to sell the hapless tourist genuine 24k goldique watches, small angry turtles, expired pudding, Steely Dan CD-R's, and the like. But simply doesn't happen in Japan — just like it also probably doesn't happen in China either because I've never been there and this entire paragraph is based only on bad movies and stereotypes.

While I was a little uncomfortable, I didn't want to be rude. I grabbed a café menu, quickly translated some Katakana (you'll get surprisingly far in Japan by learning this phonetic alphabet!), and found something I kind-of almost.. but not really.. wanted.

"I'll take an orange juice, please," I explained, in poor Japanese.

"Hai!", was the eager response.

A few moments later, I picked up my orange juice.

Except it wasn't an orange juice.

It was an apple drink called "Appletizer", some weird candy, and a little card.

Yeah. Now I was confused.

The guys behind the counter and I immediately launched into a humorous, protracted, Englishanese attempt to understand what the hell just happened. Through judicious fumbling, and after a great deal of precise hand-waving and mangled pronouns, it turned out to be something like this:

At this cafe, you get what the person before you ordered. The next person gets what you ordered.

Welcome to the Ogori cafe!

As I sat down to enjoy my surprise Appletizer, loving this insane idea and wondering what would happen if you tried it in America, a Japanese woman approached the cafe. Since she could actually speak Japanese, she could read the large sign at the front and, fortunately or unfortunately, got advanced warning of what she was in for. Before making a final decision on what to order, she quietly snuck up to me to try to ask me what I had ordered, knowing that it would be her unwavering refreshment destiny. The staff put a quick stop to her trickery, and I didn't answer.

Of course, regardless of what she ordered, she got the orange juice I ordered a few minutes earlier. But here's one of the moments that make this experiment cool: she actually chose orange juice, just like I did. So she got what she wanted. Ogori cafe synchronicity!

Before we left, there was one last thing hat had to be done.

Mike went up to the cafe, slapped down a couple thousand yen (~$25), and ordered a little bit of everything: some ice cream, some snacks, some candy, some drinks, a Japanese horn-of-mysterious-plenty intentionally set up as a shocking surprise for the next lucky customer. (After his order, Mike received single iced coffee.)

As we walked away from the cafe, with just the right amount of delay, we heard an extremely excited "arigato goazimasu!! thank you so much!!" yelled in our direction, from an ecstatic mom and her equally excited young son. They truly appreciated the surprise.

It was so worth it.

For the record, here are the rules of the Ogori cafe:
  1. Let's treat the next person. What to treat them with? It's your choice.
  2. Even if it's a group of friends or a family, please form a single-file line. Also, you can't buy twice in a row.
  3. Please enjoy what you get, even if you hate it. (If you really, really hate it, let's quietly give it to another while saying, "It's my treat…")
  4. Let's say "Thank You! (Gochihosama)" if you find the person with your Ogori cafe card.
  5. We can't issue a receipt.
The Ogori cafe was an unforgettable travel moment, and an idea that has stuck with me: It was a complete surprise in our day. It encouraged communication between total strangers or, in this case, members of the Kashiwa community and a couple of weird guys from Oregon. It forced one to "let go", just for a brief moment, of the total control we're so used to exerting through commerce. It led you to taste something new, that you might not normally have ordered. It was a delight.

Then, apparently, as quickly as it appeared, the Ogori cafe was gone.

Next time: The Best Receipt In The World

Yay! Fireworks! 2009!

Somehow the tradition continues! While the funniest fireworks seem to have been in previous (2008) Yay! Fireworks installments (2007), this year's trip to Blackjack still yielded some amazing surprises. Enjoy.


But only just.

I truly enjoyed this Konami game on my Super Nintendo

Nothing says "Hollywood Trip" like Barbara Streisand's head floating next to a faceless man and Krusty the Chaplin

I enjoyed Dancer in the Dark but this new work left me a little underwhelmed. (LARS VON TRIER JOKE)

Or the eyes of everyone else around you, since it's, you know, a firework.


Then stay the hell away from my surge suppressor, god dammit

Sweet Corel Draw Clip Art Starter Sampler: Vol. 1

Warning: emits showers of musty locker-room smells and features strained-laughter report

Make that happen, and I might actually go to the zoo.

I'm going to be honest, I don't think I want my tax dollars funding this "elite team" anymore.

Much more impressive than the Passive-Aggressive Oregonian

I get this one for free after I eat fettucini alfredo. (I apologize.)

OK. Be honest. What did you think this was? (True answer: "Amazing Planet")

Special Bonus Feature

I've told you before about The Gauntlet: the long, treacherous stretch of Vancouver, Washington road that leads to two competing fireworks stands: Blackjack and TNT. Armed to the teeth with minimally-paid teenagers, and with an ever-escalating arms race of inflatable bouncy castles and discounted diet soda, The Gauntlet will not stop — nay, will not take so much as a single restful breath — until you make The True Choice on where to spend your fireworks money.

For 2009, I present to you: The Gauntlet HD.

Joby Joby Boy

Let me be clear: I have no intention of this becoming a baby pictures blog. That said, I thought it worth noting to you, the, that, one week ago, we welcomed the arrival of Joby Finn Sasser, our brand new baby boy.

Already awash in the gaming world (which means he'll be a football broker, right?), here he's about to be wrapped up by Keita Takahashi's Noby Noby Boy. (And our cat.) This plush Boy was a totally shocking gift from Keita — if you can believe this, his sister made it! Joby also really loves Girl .

So, yeah, baby time! Red hair!? Really long fingers! Doing awesome, fitting right into our lives. (Also: Nicole is amazing.) New life! Let's go!

Next time, I swear: Japan Mystery Cafe

It just dawned on me that now, at one week old, Joby Sasser will already have a Google hit to his name — his dad talking about his birth. Will this page still be here when he's 21? Will Google? Joby, if this is embarrassing to future-you, just send your dad a holographic e-mail (set it to 4D — I probably haven't upgraded to 5D yet.)

The Most Intense Gamer Ever

There's a lot of photocopied flyers stapled on the telephone poles of Hawthorne Blvd here in Portland. The average diameter of each pole has literally extended by several KinkoInches advertising the inevitable weekend shows of Sidewalk Stalk, Dov's Houseboy, Korandom, I Don't See You But I'll Always Feel You, Emissionary Physician, Cedar Oak and Pine, Forebread, and many other bands I just made up.

But one flyer, placed somewhat low with hand lettering even an indie band couldn't improve upon, caught my eye. You may be confused but not for long.

Jackoroma3 tells me that he's 14 years old, that he "likes food, likes creating websites, likes going on vacation", and has been gaming for five years.

He also has a website that pushes the limits of iWeb, offering Runescape advice that's surprisingly applicable to the real world ("GETTING ENOUGH MONEY IS NOT EASY JUST WORK HARD!") and self-critiques of his many, many videos ("PROBLEMS WITH GAME: (1) not a very good game").

Although I may not totally appreciate the videos — I know I would if I was 14 and played Runescape — I think there's something deeply, anachronistically beautiful about advertising a YouTube channel on a telephone pole.

Jackoroma3, I salute you.

Next time: the Japanese mystery cafe

Panic Sale!

Sorry to interrupt your regular blog posts: but did you hear Panic is having a sale? All of our major Mac apps are 50% off. Transmit! Coda! Unison! CandyBar! Cheap! For three days only.

Act now! Click here and make it happen! We thank you.

Well, if I can't convince you, maybe this weird commercial will do the trick:

(Here's a YouTube version!)

Cookie Skullduggery

Iced Oatmeal? Taffy Sandwich? Circus Animals?

While not necessarily ever having tasting like something a mother has made, Mother's cookies have been around forever, and are beloved by children, adults, the obese, and the obese-at-heart.

But in October of 2008, Mother's Cookies went out of business, the result of a stock-punching series of bad business decisions, a corporate bond scandal, and, naturally, these uncertain economic times.

Fully bankrupt, Mother's sold their fairly tasty assets for a cool $12 million.

A few months later, much to the delight of fans, the cookies re-appeared in stores, this time as "Nabisco Classics"!

There was just one problem: Nabisco didn't buy the rights to Mother's. Kellogg's did.

Cookie skullduggery!!

I like to imagine that Nabisco had this factory fully built in 1986, with a hardhat-wearing mustachioed staff member ready to push the button and turn out Mother's cookieulcrums at any moment — just waiting, silently, for the company to go chips up. I also like to imagine that Nabisco has a factory ready for every competitor: "Good news, Jenkins! Time to fire up the Pepperidge Plant!"

While none of this is probably true, but it's nice to know that even in the cookie world, competition is serious business.

For you Mother's fans, Kellogg's has finally fired up the old machines, and the real cookies are now back on store shelves.


Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR