Why You Want To Eat At Wendy’s In Japan

No, it’s not because the french fries are more delicious than the ones at McDonald’s. Wendy’s restaurants in Japan have added two new luxe items to their menu, a Lobster Surf & Turf burger and a Premium Caviar & Lobster sandwich.

Burger Business (yes, that’s an actual website) reports that the sandwiches will go for about $16 USD. If you just cant choose, they’re also offering a Garden Sensation salad with lobster and caviar for around $20.

This isn’t the first time Wendy’s has used the Japanese market for unique offerings. The chain left the country in 2009 and returned in 2011, offering dishes like a foie gras and truffle burger and an Iberian bacon chili deluxe hamburger.

What do you say? Is it worth the trip to Japan to score some discounted lobster?

*An earlier version of this article stated that Wendy’s returned in 2001. Thanks to commenter Sarita for noting that time travel is not yet possible.

Galley Gossip: Ma’am, is that a frying pan in your bag?

“Ma’am,” said the TSA agent as he stared at the screen in disbelief.

I gulped. Oh no, here we go, I thought, as I stood in line and watched him sitting on the stool inspecting my bag on the screen in front of him. I smiled a friendly smile and tried to act nonchalant, as if I hadn’t been dreading this moment all day. Man, I knew this was going to happen!

The TSA agent looked at me, and back at the screen. “Is that a frying pan in your suitcase?”

“Yes, sir, that is, in fact, a frying pan in my bag,” I laughed.

All I could do was laugh. Not only had my grandpa given me a cast iron skillet (or two – okay three!), earlier that morning, he’d also given me a pound of potatoes from his garden in Texas. Luckily I found all the items he’d hidden in my bag before leaving for the airport. I only kept one cast iron skillet, and in my defense, it was the smallest one.

“Is everything okay?” I asked the TSA agent as he looked over his shoulder and made eye contact with another agent.

Guess not. Because now there were three agents surrounding the screen. They whispered amongst themselves and studied the frying pan with great intensity. It’s just a frying pan, I wanted to say, but didn’t, because now all three of them were looking at me. I, of course, just smiled and held my breath. Normally, in this kind of situation I’ll crack a joke, say something silly about cooking eggs for the crew, but this time I kept my mouth shut.

NOTE: Always – ALWAYS – keep your mouth shut when TSA is inspecting your bag. And do whatever they say. Whether you like it or not.

It seemed like an eternity before the backup agents walked away from the screen. The one left sitting on the stool just shook his head and didn’t say another word as the conveyor belt started to move again. When my suitcase popped out on the other side I thanked the guy and went on my merry way. That was close. Maybe a little too close.

TSA, I’m sure, has seen it all. And then some! I mean if I’m hauling a frying pan across the country, I wonder what other people are packing in their bags. It got me thinking.

“Excuse me,” I said to a TSA agent standing beside me at the Wendy’s counter at La Guardia airport last week. I had just ordered an iced tea, a little treat before starting a killer three-day trip flying in and out of Miami. (I still don’t know what I was doing on that trip.) After explaining to the TSA agent I was in the process of writing a post about weird things people pack, I went on to ask, “What strange things have you seen on the job?”

As the TSA agent reached for a bag of food, the words, “Nothing too strange,” were mumbled.

“Really?” I said. Now I was completely disappointed. Certainly this person had seen something! I handed a tired looking cashier lady two dollars and grabbed my drink. “I’m surprised to hear that.”

As I punched a straw through the plastic lid, I almost didn’t hear the agent mumble, “Well, there was a lady last week who…”

I spun around. “Who what? Tell me!”

“Kept setting off the security machine. We couldn’t figure out what it was. Finally we had to take her aside and that’s when she told us she was wearing a remote controlled (the following two words are my words – not the TSA agent’s words) body massager.”

My mouth dropped open and my eyes had to be bugging out of my head. “A what!”

“In her underpants,” the agent said matter of fact, as if this kind of thing happened daily, before heading back to work.

Now I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I hope I never do, but once, while flying an international trip, I did happen upon a very strong senior mama carrying two rollaboards down a flight of stairs where the crew van awaited on the tarmac in London.

“Are you a commuter?” I asked eying both bags, one in each hand, as I stood feeling so teeny tiny beside a gigantic 767.

“No, sweetie, this is my Cappuccino maker,” the flight attendant said, nodding at the bag on the right. “I make coffee for the crew in the mornings in my room. You’re welcome to join us if you’d like.”

And I did join in for coffee the next morning, since our layover rooms did not have coffee makers. Just tea pots. We were in London, remember? Thirteen years later I can say that toting a coffee maker across the ocean is not the norm. However, it’s not-not the norm either, because when relaying this story to another flight attendant she laughed and said, “What about flight attendants who bring their sewing machines with them on their layovers?”

Apparently we have a hat maker amongst our ranks.

While I’ve never met the hat guy, I did watch in shock as a flight attendant carried a very large item through airport security and onto the airplane. I must add that the flight attendant dragging the monstrous machine also wore a wet lopsided bee hive of a bun on the side of her head. I couldn’t decide which was more disturbing, the item being hauled through the airport or the hair.

Crazy is on the plane, each and every flight, but usually crazy is sitting in a seat and waiting for a drink – not working the other side of the cart. With me.

“Excuse me, ma’am” I said to the flight attendant with the screwy bun, channeling the TSA agent above. “Is that a vacuum cleaner attached to your bag?”

What other strange things have been found on planes?

Ode to hamburgers, but mostly White Castle

Since this is National Hamburger Month, they are on my mind, particularly since Ohio is home to three hamburger chains: Wendy’s, White Castle and Max and Erma’s. Max and Ermas started with the gourmet burger as a focus, but morphed into more over the years.

Here is a bit of hamburger history to help you dazzle your friends with hamburger know-how:

  • In 1921, White Castle became the United States’ first hamburger chain when Billy Ingram, a real estate businessman type, and Walter Anderson, the man who first flattened hamburger into a flat patty with a spatula and grilled it on a bed of shredded onions, formed a partnership.
  • The company moved its headquarters to Columbus, Ohio in 1934.
  • White Castle’s name and signature building were designed to evoke the image of purity, cleanliness, stability, permanence and strength.
  • In 1930, White Castle commissioned a study through the University of Michigan to prove that White Castles are good for you. A college student ate nothing but White Castles for 8 weeks. He was fit as a fiddle after wards.
  • The hamburger was considered low-class food before White Castle changed the public’s mind about it through targeted ad campaigns and PR initiatives. One initiative was printed coupons that offered 5 White Castles for 10 cents.
  • White Castle is credited to making the hamburger America’s first ethnic food. Up until White Castle, people tended to eat their own ethnic background food. As more people ate White Castles, beef production went up.
  • In 1961, White Castle was the first chain to sell a billion hamburgers.
  • Wendy’s is credited as being the first restaurant to have a drive-through, pick-up window. That restaurant is on Henderson Rd. in Columbus. The original Wendy’s that was located in downtown Columbus closed last year, partially because it didn’t have a pick-up window so that adversely affected its sales.
  • This year marks the 50th anniversary that a Max and Erma’s has been in the historic building in the German Village section of Columbus. Max and Erma Visocnik opened the original Max and Erma’s as a bar/tavern back in 1958. It was bought by Todd Barnum and Barry Zacks in 1972 with the intention of turning it into an eatery that sold gourmet hamburgers.
  • Of the three chains, the only one that is still family-owned is White Castle.

As you are eating a hamburger sometime this summer, thank Billy Ingram. If you are my cousin, Brad you can thank Billy and Walter for starting off the path to your wife. Without the Slyder® hamburger, there wouldn’t be White Castle, and without Billy, the chain wouldn’t have existed.

My cousin and his wife first met in a White Castle parking lot in Florence, Kentucky in 1977. They are still happily married. Now, that’s a real hamburger story.