I need to talk to you about something important.
Are you sitting down? Of course you are. You are probably at a computer. Or maybe you're on an iPhone, a Blackberry, or some other kind of mobile device. Maybe you had a plate put into your head during the war, and since the dawn of the Internet you've been able to read web pages on the back of your eyelids.
You should be sitting down for this.
I want to talk to you about Denny's. Ever been to a Denny's? I have. There were times in my life when I could be said to frequent the restaurant. Most recently, I lived outside Los Angeles, in the gorgeous South Bay region of southern California. I worked at a place in Redondo Beach, and there was a Denny's on the corner, so when the urge struck, I would pick up a book and head over for my personal poison, the Super Bird. They describe it far better than I ever could: "Thinly sliced turkey breast with melted Swiss cheese, bacon strips and tomato on grilled sourdough."
Oh, so sweet.
But apparently, Denny's doesn't have quite the same cachet as it used to with what folks of my age like to call "the kids." Man, back in the day, I remember many a high school night that ended with a trip to Denny's. Actually, most of them ended up in either the Oak Lawn Restaurant (OLR) or Paragon, two homegrown diners on the south side of Chicagoland. But in a pinch, Denny's would work.
(Exactly seven high school nights ended where they all should have ended — with me and some lass steaming up the windows on my parents' station wagon. As I grow older, I find this explains a lot, and exactly nothing, at the same time.)
Let's say you're an uppity-up exec at Denny's, and you're noticing that what was once the preferred late night hangout for troubled youth is now more frequently the province of retirees looking for a cheap, filling meal and tourists afraid to try local fare and comforted by the regularity of a Grand Slam in all fifty states of the union.
What to do, what to do? How do you reach these "kids"?
Apparently, you launch something called an "Allnighter Rockstar Menu," and enlist actual pop artists to create their own dish. It appears to be the brainchild of Mark Chmiel, a man known as the "chief marketing and innovation officer" for Denny's.
What does Denny's need with an "innovation officer"? The last time I can remember them being "innovative" was when they started serving Splenda.
Apparently they need him to help "innovate" dishes like these:
"The Hot 'N' Cold Cherry Chocolate Cappuccino — A tasty, multi-layered concoction inspired by the singer’s new hit single, “Hot n’ Cold.” Katy Perry’s pick-me-up drink includes cherries, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, French vanilla cappuccino, and whipped cream with a cherry on top."
I guess the "I Kissed A Girl Cherry Chapstick Sundae" is too racy for the Bible Belt?
"Taking Back Sunday’s Melty Grilled Chicken and Sausage Quesadilla — The New York rockers Taking Back Sunday have cooked up a quesadilla that will fill any late night cravings. The dish is a large flour tortilla, stuffed with chicken breast, sausage, American cheese, fire-roasted peppers and onions, fresh pico de gallo and served with a cilantro-lime ranch sauce."
This sounds decent. For Denny's.
"The Great Eggsteak — Boys Like Girls introduce a hot roast beef sandwich with peppers and onions, pepper jack cheese, scrambled egg, and spicy mayonnaise on sourdough bread. Served with hash browns."
That must be one HOT sandwich.
"The Hooburrito — Hoobastank serves up a burrito with crispy chicken strips, pepper jack cheese, cheese sauce, fried onion crispers, and a hint of barbecue sauce. Served with tortilla chips, and a side of cheese sauce, and ranch."
I would never put Hoobastank in my ears, so there's no way they're getting anywhere near my mouth.
These items join others on the Denny's Allnighter menu, including this delightful concoction, which sounds like the kind of food a death row inmate requests as his last meal: "Potachos — kettle chips topped with sausage, bacon, and shredded cheese."
Potachos. Holy crap.
I've got a two-year-old and I usually fall asleep before nine, so it's unlikely I'll be in a Denny's after 10 p.m. anytime soon. I plan to use the overwhelming cultural weight of my Blogcritics career to attempt to wrest some free coupons out of Denny's PR team.
If I never taste these, I guess it's just comforting to know that Denny's is still out there fighting the good fight, innovating with new concoctions that involve pepperjack cheese, fried onions, and a hint of barbecue sauce.
Not a dollop — just a hint. Let's not get crazy here.