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Salad shooter

Sometimes great notions work better as theories than edibles. Take the McSalad Shaker from McDonald's. (Right, you take it!) Suddenly, as you prepare to munch, your cup runneth over with lettuce.

By SUSAN ASCHOFF

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 23, 1999


photo
McDonald’s publicity photo for its McSalad Shaker is definitely truth in advertising. The fixings fly everywhere when the lid is removed.
[Photo: McDonald’s]
McDonald's, long a favorite of drive-by eaters, has something new to fill the cup holders of America's mobile dining rooms.

McSalad Shaker began arriving in some Florida restaurants last month. A corporate chef observed that when customers ordered a salad in the traditional clear-plastic box, they shook it to disperse the dressing. He suggested a "shaker cup" to make mixing as easy as mastering a maraca.

Garden, chef and grilled chicken Caesar salads are available, with a choice of Thousand Island, ranch, or fat-free herb vinaigrette and French dressings in a packet, along with a sturdy fork. Prices range from about $2 to $2.80.

Order the new tossed salad in a glass, and let the grazer beware.

The cleverly packaged McSalad Shaker sounds good in theory, but the container, looking for all the world like a Slurpee cup, proved mystifying.

We were guided by our cup-holder habits: Insert straw. Suck it down.

First, we popped open the domed lid. Salad greens, chicken chunks and shredded Parmesan, packed tightly inside, blew out the top and all over the front seat.

Don't take off the lid, we guessed; punch out the hole in the top. We beat the dome into a misshapen mess with the handle of the plastic fork, but there was no drinking-cup type hole, just an inscribed circle.

Remove the mangled lid. Squeeze salad dressing onto salad. Replace lid.

Shake shake shake. Shake shake shake. Shake your foodie.

"We do not, not, not advocate eating it while driving," says McDonald's spokeswoman Joanne Jacobs. "It does fit in a cup holder. It makes it not only portable, but it disperses the salad dressing extremely well," she says of the package's purpose.

The ingredients are chopped smaller, she says, to enhance the turbulence.

The clear container shows off the indisputably fresh ingredients. The Garden McSalad contained diced tomato, egg, scallions and shredded Cheddar in addition to lettuces. The Caesar was loaded with seasoned grilled chicken.

Portions were generous, precipitating the salad eruption and causing the lack of dressing on the bottom half, despite a whole lot of shakin' goin' on.

Jacobs says salad has a "nutritional halo." Junk food junkies may be lured to vitamins because McSalad's cup mimics a slushy sugar drink. Those with diet sense will find the salads tasty and big enough for a meal.

A paragon of portability, the McSalad Shaker is lousy road food. Best to drive to the nearest kitchen and eat it from a bowl.

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