Hunger sauce and the Federal Trade Commission

Hunger sauce and the Federal Trade Commission

Even after blogging for a while, I still haven’t learned the golden rule. The golden rule is that you never go to a new restaurant until they’re done settling in, because the service or food can be choppy. There’s nothing worse than expecting something smooth and delicious and just not getting it. And if you go right when they open? Well, that’s not their fault, unless they end up sucking it real hard. A few weeks ago I went to a new sandwich shop on its first day. Midtown Lunch had mentioned it and I wanted to go up there and possibly get some of the early pictures. See, maybe I deserve the sub par experience because I tried to get in there too early.

If you order take-out and it takes them 28 minutes to get you the food, it kinda throws ya off. I was upset at myself because when I ordered, there were a bunch of people waiting. Common sense should have told me that they were slow, that’s why all these people were waiting. The second thing a 28 minute wait does is that it makes everything taste better. The saying goes, “hunger is the best sauce.” So how do I know how delicious that sandwich is at a normal hunger level? I don’t. Since it would be really unfair for me to judge the place, I’m not even going to tell you where it is. It doesn’t matter! Sometimes I wish you get this mulligan when you order take-out food. The perfect system would be to only pay when my food starts cooking. See, somewhere in that 28 minute wait, my food hadn’t started yet. Let’s say it started 23 minutes into my wait. I shouldn’t have to pay until they’re ready to start cooking my food, this way I’m allowed to cancel my order. Unfortunately restaurants don’t work like that. Sad. As much as the hunger sauce made this sandwich tasty, I felt like buyers remorse overwhelmed the entire experience.

Before leaving you all for the weekend, I want to talk about a new rule that the Federal Trade Commission is putting into place on December 1, 2009. The NY Times reports, “The F.T.C. said that beginning on Dec. 1, bloggers who review products must disclose any connection with advertisers, including, in most cases, the receipt of free products and whether or not they were paid in any way by advertisers, as occurs frequently.“. This is big news sorta. It’s big news because of why the F.T.C. would want to add such a rule. They recognize that acquiring a product for free may alter your experience with the product. I haven’t heard any big blogs like Eater, Grub St, or Serious Eats talk about stuff like this. In the food blogging world, a rule like this would affect them the most. Or maybe bloggers who do product reviews. Obviously enforcement of such a rule will probably only be done for huge companies and celebrity endorsers who get paid to guerrilla market a product. I think most bloggers disclose when they get products for free, but sometimes it’s done in a very subtle way. Like “This great chocolate company sent me a box of these truffles and they’re delicious!” Anyone with half a brain would know the box was free, but if this rule is to be followed to the letter, bloggers would then have to say, “Oh yes these were free.” And if you think you’ve seen a million ways to say ‘free’, then you don’t know half of it yet! Wait til product reviews are filled with words or sentences like ‘complementary product’ or ‘at the compliments of company x’ or ‘blah blah blah at no cost’.

I think where this really will come into is when a blogger is chummy with the chef. Like if Josh Ozersky gushes about a new burger or something, it’s not like the FTC will come ring his door bell to see if Mister Cutlets paid for the burger or if he’s pals with the guy who owns it, and voila. Free extras. And is it a freebie if you pay for the burger and then you get free fries because the chef likes you? Or if they send out extra desserts to you? At the end of the day, I really doubt anything will change after Dec. 1, and doubt that food blogs are big enough for the Federal Trade Commission to chase. It’s just fun to note that yes, the government thinks that when you want to gush about something, your experience probably was affected by whether you paid for all, some, or none of the food you just ate.

Posted by Danny on October 23, 2009 at 8:53 pm

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