Their attitudes on homosexuality aside, Chick fil A is essentially known for delicious chicken. If I go to my neighborhood Chick fil A – I’m about to eat some tasty chicken.
I rarely go to Burger King – but when I do – I often get a cheeseburger.
At Taco bell, I get tacos.
You see my point.
Not only are the names of these fast food restaurants logical, they’re intuitive.
Taco Bell = Tacos.
Burger King = Burgers.
Chick fil A = Chick(ens).
So perhaps you can understand my confusion today, the first time I noticed a free standing, fast-food restaurant named Panda Express.
Just in case you can’t imagine what I was thinking, I’ll tell you.
I was thinking: WAT
Pandas are an endangered species, according to Wikipedia:
The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species. There are about 1,600 left in the wild. More than 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China.
There are only 1900 Pandas left in the world.
There are almost as many Panda Express restaurants.
According to our research (Looking up Panda Express on Wikipedia), Panda Express has close to 1,700 restaurants, located in 47 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and Guam. As the company does not offer franchises, all units are company-owned.
Many Panda Express units are found in: casinos, shopping malls, toll plazas, supermarkets, airports, train stations, strip malls, theme parks, stadiums and college campuses. It is the USA’s largest American-Chinese restaurant business.
Side note about Guam: Did you know Guam is the largest island in Micronesia?
Side note about Micronesia: Have you ever heard of Micronesia?
Side note about Guam and Micronesia: Did you know Guam was captured by Japan hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor? For 2.5 years according to our research (looking up Guam on Wikipedia), the people of Guam were subjected to forced labor, torture, beheadings, and rape.
Happy ending to that last, grim, side note: Guam was recaptured by US troops on July 21, 1944.
OK, I have something to admit. I didn’t really think that Panda Express served Panda meat. But for a split second I was disoriented (no pun intended, but thoroughly enjoyed).
Orient. Ed. Get it?
Anyway, you know someone does. Someone does think that Panda Express serves Panda meat.
At least a dozen people do.
How many do you think?
I’ve seen dozens of Panda Express restaurants – and never really given the name any thought. I’m sure I’ve even eaten at dozens, but I don’t really know.
Why do I not know? Good question. I think the answer is because I’ve been mostly to the aforementioned Panda Express restaurants in airports, train stations, and malls.
In other words, I’ve eaten at Panda Express without making the conscious decision to do so. Involuntary eating. It happens. Especially at airports, malls, casinos and train stations.
These are places – airports, malls, casinos and train stations – when reality, and rules of nutrition, are suspended. These are places – airports, malls, casinos and train stations – where the thinking mind literally goes on hiatus, a sober blackout, where raw instinct takes over.
These are places – airports, malls, casinos and train stations – where the seductive properties of Orange Beef, General Tso’s Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rice anesthetize whatever portion of the mind that is supposed ask questions like:
(a) What is this meal going to do to my intestinal functioning?
(b) How many weeks has that rice been under those heat lamps?
(c) Wait a minute, do they serve Panda meat here?
So there’s literally zero effective thinking going on at 95% of the Panda Expresses out there.
But today, I saw a free standing Panda express in Memphis, TN – on Winchester Road. It was a game-changer.
Today, it struck me. For a split second I thought – what the f#ck is that? A Panda Express?
There was cognitive dissonance. Clearly, it was a fast food joint – but, what, wait, Pandas, no, what, wait. Oh OK. I get it.
Look, I’m not here to tell the fine folks at Panda Folks how to sell Mandarin Chicken or Cashew Beef or Egg Rolls. They clearly know how to do that. In 2014, The Panda Restaurant Group had annual sales of over $2 billion and close to 25,000 employees. So these cats (pun not originally intended, but still enjoyed. cats. Chinese food, etc…) know a thing or two about Szechuan chicken.
I’m not here to tell these folks they’re doing something wrong.
In fact, I’m not here to really do anything except point out the fact that there’s probably a few people driving by the Panda Express on Winchester right now and thinking to themselves:
“Nah, I’m going to go ahead just stick with burgers tonight.”
For some reason, that makes me happy.