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The Return of FM's Best Concepts ... and a New Shape for America

FM's Best Concepts Awards send the message that your operation has achieved "Best Practice" distinction in the eyes of the industry.

Vanderbilt University has one. So does Massachusetts General Hospital, Prudential Insurance Co., Maine Medical Center, Credit Suisse, UCLA, Conde Nast and a number of other operators served by FOOD MANAGEMENT.

I'm talking about FM's Best Concepts Awards, given out in a competition we created some years ago to recognize operations that demonstrate leading-edge innovation while generating bottom-line results. We gave the program a rest a few years back, but have been asked about bringing it back so many times our editors put it on the calendar again for November of this year.

In that issue, we'll highlight well executed programs that provide top quality food. CafÈ buildouts and renovations that demonstrate cutting edge design. Truly creative customer service initiatives. Catering and takeout programs that offer customers exceptional convenience and problem-solving service.

If there's one thing readers of this magazine complain about (though usually not publicly) it's that their best efforts to provide high quality foodservice to their organizations are so often taken for granted.

Best Concepts was designed to give credit where credit is due and as a way to let your organization know that your operation or services have achieved "Best Practice" distinction in the eyes of the industry. The award sends a clear message that your team has pulled together to deliver exceptional results and an outstanding dining environment.

Interested in entering? Contact me via e-mail or snail mail and we'll send all the necessary details to you. But in these days of spam and junk mail, please make sure you put the words "Best Concepts Competition" in the subject line.

Bigger, rounder and "waistier."
You know the obesity issue is a real problem when it's become a significant one for the clothing industry, which is in the business of making people feel better about the way they look to themselves and others. That's the take-away I had from a recent front-page story in the New York Times that reported the findings of a major new survey of Americans called Size-USA.

Apparently the Times editors felt the same way—a judgment I make based not only on the story's placement, but on the fact that the editors felt it justified further comment on the editorial page of the same issue.

The survey was paid for by a wide-ranging consortium that included such diverse sponsors as the textile industry, the U.S. Army, major department store chains and leading universities.

Using state-of-the-art body-scanning technology and carefullyselected scientific samples of America, it scientifically sought to establish such things as "average" sizes, weights, shapes and body configurations for a whole range of Americans, depending on size, race and other factors. It sought the kind of information needed to design and size clothing, and to forecast clothing production (i.e., how many size 10 dresses to make in a particular style or line when the production order is established).

The specifics of the report are intriguing but not surprising: American women were for years assumed to wear an average size 8 dress, but it turns out that the average woman today typically needs a size 12. And American men are experiencing a "waist crisis" of epic proportions (no surprise there!) The study reports these findings with a euphemistic lexicon that includes phrases like "lower front waist," and "prominent seat," but the truth is hardly obscured.

I'm beating around the bush here, and the bush is clearly larger, fatter, and bulkier than it was the last time it was measured. No doubt, the clothing industry will respond as it always does, by designing suits and dresses that accommodate this new shape of America.

On the other hand, readers of this magazine would do well to ponder how much greater their own power is: with the right menus, promotions and education, you have the power to help Americans change that shape for the better.

But the fries are getting downsized. Finally, it seems all the bad PR about "super sized" fast-food meals and "super-sized" Americans has finally become too much for our most influential foodservice icon, McDonald's Corporation. News reports say that the Big Mac maker has decided to eliminate Supersized fries and drinks from its menu by the end of the year. (No word yet on any plan for changing the appetites of its customers...)

What else can be said? One small step for the quickservice industry .... One large leap for mankind ...

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