Remember Clara Peller barking out in that old Wendy's commercial, "Where's the beef?" It's not a gray-haired little granny asking that question at Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. outlets. It's the customers. Still.
This month the company is celebrating the 37th year of what has become a tradition: its unique "free beef" giveaway. Customers purchasing two new passenger or light truck tires or four retreads get $7.50 worth of free beef; to get $15 in free beef, they have to pony up (to mix meat metaphors) for four new passenger or light truck tires.
The man in the cowboy hat, Les Schwab, said the highly successful promotion "is a way for us to help support a valuable Northwest industry." And the company does not adjust its prices to cover the cost of the free beef—which is not, we emphasize, road kill.
Last year, Mr. Schwab said, his dealership gave away more than $900,000 worth of beef and expects to hit close to the $1 million mark this year. That's a lot of hoof.
In honor of the anniversary, Marketplace is doing kind of a reverse promotion based on the Schwab concept. Got a beef about the tire industry? E-mail it to us, and we'll publish it here in this space—absolutely positively free.
This 'n that
Calling all G-men—In 1991, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had the following listing in the Nassau County, N.Y., telephone directory: "(718) 459-3140. If no answer call: (718) 459-3140." (Leave it to the feds to be tricky. On the third try, ask for Agent Fox Mulder.)
A sight—It was a small Subaru station wagon that we spotted near Akron. Taking up the entire back seat was a huge, furry dog, breed unknown. The vanity license plate on the vehicle: WOOF2U2.
Maybe they needed a dog—Pawtucket, R.I., police got lucky when they caught three robbers in the act, so to speak. What tripped up the trio? Their "lookout" was legally blind and failed to notice approaching police officers.
No nom de plumes —While doing a Web search of the lawyer locator at www.lawyers.martindale.com, we happened to notice that there were at least a half-dozen attorneys with variations on the spelling of a particular breed of "man's best friend." And there were 37 barristers with the Eagle surname. What we're talking about here are real bona fide legal beagles and legal eagles.
Big trick, no treat—An unfortunate family in Westminster, Calif., was a bit tied up, literally, when Halloween night last rolled around.
Police say robbers invaded the home, bound family members and ransacked the place. Nice guys that they were, however, they paused several times to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters before splitting with the household goodies.
Something to cheer about—For eight years in a row, car dealers were Numero Uno. So why are they cheering now that they're No. 2?
Because they're no longer at the top of the annual complaints' survey conducted by the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the Consumer Federation of America. Grabbing the top spot are home improvement services...and not the one popularized by "Tim the Toolman Taylor."
Here's to you...—As Dustin Hoffman's "Benjamin" in "The Graduate" nervously stands at a party talking with Mrs. Robinson's husband about what he wants to do with his life now that he's graduated, Mr. R. utters that memorable line—"one word: plastics."
Thirty-some years later, DaimlerChrysler A.G. apparently agrees. According to Automotive News, the car maker recently introduced, at the Detroit auto show, two concept vehicles that featured composite, molded-in color bodies, though a DCX official said the plastic bodies have a ways to go before they're production ready. Car makers are finding plastics lighter, durable and, just like Mrs. Robinson, tempting—very tempting.
Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Illinois announced they have developed a method for plastic to repair itself if it develops cracks, and believe similar technology can be used for ceramics and glass. And people laughed at the Bionic Man TV series.
No dirigible specified—Detective Frank Drebin, played with such deft slapstick by Leslie Nielsen, said it in the first "Police Squad" movie in 1988: "It's the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girl dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day." (The man definitely had a way with words.)
"Flattery" will get you...nothing—A review by the San Francisco Chronicle of an ABC made-for-TV movie titled "These Old Broads" used a tire-esque way to describe the four female leads.
The story said Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor "have plenty of wear on their tires. Probably a few patches, too."
If intended as compliment, it fell flat, to carry through on the analogy. But at least they weren't called "retreads."
Steeper-priced suds—The New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., was only trying to be environmentally responsible corporate citizens.
To do something to reduce their brewery's global warming impact, according to the Earth Island Journal, brewery employees voted unanimously to switch from polluting fossil-fuel electricity to windpower electricity. Unfortunately, paying for windpower meant the company that brews "Fat Tire Amber Ale" had to raise the cost per barrel by 25 cents. But customers don't seem to mind, the report said.
And if they run out of power what happens? Why, you end up with Flat Tire ale, of course.
What's da buzz?
Ever searched for a word or phrase that aptly sums up something but found there just isn't one? Here are a few "corporate buzz words" you can try out on friends and co-workers. Such as:
Blamestorming—Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
Mouse potato—The on-line, Net-surfing, wired-in generation's answer to the couch potato.
Stress puppy—Someone who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
Xerox subsidy—A euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
Salmon Day—The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream, only to get shafted and die in the end. (Sometimes you feel like a fish, sometimes the bait.)
Not Mork from Ork
Honda Motor Co., known for engineering dependable vehicles, recently unveiled something flashy and, hopefully, reliable—without tires or wheels.
Its name is "Asimo," an experimental human-like robot that dances, waves and is programmed from a hand-held remote control. The company has given Asimo the job of greeting corporate clients or customers at Honda dealer showrooms. We're guessing that's to get it used to the glad handing that's part of the business world. But eventually, Honda researchers hope Asimo will become a helpmate and companion.
How hard up for friends must someone be to have a robot as a companion?