Archive for the ‘Health Issues’ Category

MegaMacs MegaScam?

February 3rd, 2007 2 comments

A few weeks ago I blogged on the MegaFattening MegaMac at Mickey D’s here in Japan. Since then, as reader Jeff pointed out, reports have come out that the MegaMac is so popular that it sells out too quickly–and McDonald’s stores have had to limit sales of the burger at each store to ration the item.

Customers who go away disappointed are given a rain-check coupon to get the MegaMac at another time for a discount–190 yen instead of the regular 350 yen. One such coupon is pictured below; Sachi got one when she tried to order a MegaMac and was told that they were sold out. (Though I have no idea why she would want one–hell, the burger is almost bigger than she is.)

McD’s outlets have limited sales of the special item to “dozens or hundreds” per store per day.


Frankly speaking, I smell a marketing scam. First of all, how could they “run out”? The MegaMac is essentially a Big Mac with two extra patties. Is McDonald’s running out of Big Macs and patties? Nope. So what’s the problem? Do they actual have the materials but their accounting system can’t allow parts for one burger to be used for a different burger? Sounds ludicrous, but I suppose it’s possible.

However, I think that it is more likely that McDonald’s saw an opportunity for a PR device. After all, just introducing a new product will not get them publicity. Even selling a huge number of them might not get printed up. But running out of a specialty product because it’s so popular and then having to give discount coupons… sure enough, that got McDonald’s into the press. That got people’s attention, and has probably generated a lot more sales.

But how can McD’s get more profit by turning away customers? Probably because those customers don’t turn away–they wind up getting something else on the menu. The coupon means they are more likely to return as a repeat customer, and will have the feeling that McDonald’s was generous and that they “won” something.

In the meantime, the franchise gets free press equivalent to free advertising, and their MegaFat specialty item gets the aura of being so popular that only lucky customers get one–kind of like the fast-food equivalent of Louis Vuitton handbags or something.

In the end, they get more money and your arteries get harder. So everybody wins!

Categories: Focus on Japan 2007, Health Issues Tags:

Long Time, No Colds

June 10th, 2006 4 comments

I haven’t had a cold in quite a while now. It’s been at least ten months since I caught one, maybe a year. True, I have been dieting and eating well for the past six months, and I’ve been exercising for the past two or three months, and I am sure that’s helping. But that doesn’t explain the four to six months before then. The strongest reason I’m not catching colds is, I believe, something else.

I tended to catch colds a lot. I teach college classes, and so I’m around lots of people with sicknesses all the time. The last time I remember catching a cold, sometime in the middle of last year, there was a student with a bad cough who insisted on sitting right next to the rather small class whiteboard, so as I gave the lesson, here was this guy, coughing like a madman just a foot away from me. A few days later, I was symptomatic.

But it didn’t always take something that dramatic to get me sick; in the computer lab, students often have trouble on their machines and I have to use their mice and keyboards at times. Colds would be inevitable, and I used to get three to six of them every year. And since my job involves a lot of lecturing, colds can be a double curse, tearing up your throat when you need it most.

So why did the colds stop? Well, I happened to stop catching them at the same time I started using an alcohol-based hand wash. It wasn’t even my idea at first–I noticed that my local supermarket started offering it. You see, in Japan, there are no baggers at supermarkets. When you buy your stuff at the checkout stand, it’s taken out of the handbaskets they give you, and into another. They also give you as many bags as you need. Then you go past the checkout stands to a row of tables, where you bag the stuff you just bought. Since you’re handling stuff like chicken meat (even though it’s packaged), the store considerately started supplying pump-spray bottles of alcohol wash at the bagging tables. I had known about the stuff before, but had never thought about using it. Using it at the supermarket made me want to use it at home, and so I found at bought a few bottles at the supermarket pharmacy, and have been using it ever since.

And since I started, I haven’t caught a single cold. Soon after I started noticing this connection, I expanded my supply, and now I have one bottle each handy at home and at work (two at work if I teach at two buildings). I wash my hands with it every time I come home from the outside, and every time I get out of a class. When I see people getting sick around me, I wash more often, especially after coming in contact with anybody, touching their hands or something they held.

In addition, I’ve become more careful about touching my face. They say that you don’t catch much that’s airborne; instead, most illnesses are caught by touching something or someone with the bug, and then by touching your face. So if I feel an itch on my nose during class, I use my sleeve to relieve the itch, and otherwise keep my hands away from my face in public, until I wash.

And as I said, it seems to work. We just went through a wave of illness at school, one which, before, I would almost certainly have fallen victim to. But I got through it fine.

I mentioned this to a student recently, and she commented that when she worked at a hospital, she had to use the stuff (most hospitals in Japan have it, and staff must wash after seeing each patient). She said she didn’t like it because it was sticky. I immediately knew what she meant, as the wash I saw my doc use once was the gel type, which I don’t like myself. The wash I get is not like that, it’s as liquid as water, and looks and smells just like regular home-use alcohol (though the writing on the side of the bottle suggests a lot of other disinfecting agents in there as well). It feels like alcohol, cooling, and dries off really quickly. And it has no deleterious effect on my skin.

So unless this was a huge fluke and I start getting colds all the time again, I am continuing to use this stuff.

Categories: Health Issues Tags: