2009-06-10 / Opinions & Letters

Midwest Memo

Wrap it up
by Alan Shultz

My daughter Liz alerted me to "Winter" the guy with just a one word name and who has set out to visit every Starbucks store in the world as his life mission. According to his website, Winter has been to 8,430 stores in North America and 664 international locations since 1997 when he set out on his quest.

Winter is to be featured in a movie aptly entitled "Starbucking" which only goes to show that in America your 15 minutes of fame can be as elementary as how you take your coffee. Since all good storytelling requires conflict, I wonder how one injects that into coffee sipping. Perhaps it somehow involves all that caffeine.

Winter follows the coffee shop road to fame taken earlier by Michael Gates Gill, author of "How Starbucks Saved My Life." In that book, Gill relates how, as a down and out unemployed ad executive, he found purpose and contentment after he was hired to work at Starbucks. If you think that's a story line weaker than lousy coffee, you might want to think again. Tom Hanks bought the movie rights to the book and will star in the leading role.

Winter follows a whole line of folks who try to visit every location of certain venues. I've met a couple father-son teams intent on visiting all the Major League baseball stadiums. I read of an opera lover who has attended operas in all the great opera houses all over the world.

I figure that if one can attain fame and fortune from drinking coffee all over the country, well then perhaps there is a niche open for me: McDonald's snack wraps.

I fell into the quest to sample a snack wrap in every Mc- Donald's quite by accident. That accident would have been a big blob of special sauce from a Big Mac landing in my lap as I ate my lunch in the car one day. My initial thought and the quest that followed was finding that Mc- Donald's lunch menu item that was safe and tidy to consume while motoring down the road.

Enter the snack wrap. The snack wrap consists of a flour tortilla filled with cheese, lettuce and chicken. The chicken comes either grilled or crispy and there are a variety of sauces to add to the concoction. I'm a honey-mustard, grilled guy - no exceptions.

The secret of the success of this portable food item is in the wrapping. When done correctly, the wrap forms the base for a tight, layered delight of culinary and engineering excellence. On a wrap well done there is a distinct closed bottom and an open top. There is also a discernable "tuck" that seals the tortilla into an edible container making for safe and carefree one-handed eating.

As the self-proclaimed expert on snack wraps in the Midwest (an estimated 25- plus locations visited to date), I can tell you one thing: there are wraps and then there are WRAPS. I figure some of those folks in back watched the training video and some nodded off during the sprinkling of the lettuce. One wrap purchased just off I-65 was a "roll" with no bottom at all. But for a preemptive pull off to the safety of the side of the road, McDonald's would have been hearing from my dry cleaner after that fiasco.

Although I think I'm a couple snack-warps short of a movie deal, I see the book not too far off in the distant future. I already know I can sign my name and safely consume a snack-wrap all at the same time. No glob of special sauce on the autographed copies - don't you know.

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