Morgan Spurlock, the director and star of Super Size Me, is opening his own fast foodery in Columbus, Ohio just days before Thanksgiving.
Originally published on Forbes.com.
Is it coincidence that Morgan Spurlock, the director and star of Super Size Me, is opening his own fast foodery in Columbus, Ohio just days before Thanksgiving?
Certainly no one expects to have their family gathering at Holy Chicken this year, but the timing marks the beginning of the biggest food sales period of the year. Thanksgiving through Super Bowl Sunday is that time supermarkets and restaurants both covet and look to gain the most new customers. An insight clearly learned by Spurlock, who has become anything but naïve when it comes to the food world since those days when he and his now ex-wife Alex Jameson, culinarian, food and health counselor and author first appeared together in the ground breaking feature that many would say brought McDonald’s to its knees.
Since those days, Morgan has written Don’t Eat This Book chronicling his adventures during and after Super Size Me, as well as producing and starring in POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold an unabashed look at his journey to find sponsors to fund his next movie (yes, POM Wonderful was the title sponsor) and his CNN series which has included topics on the food world.
The next chapter seems to take all he has learned and put it on a plate, literally. I attempted to interview Morgan directly on his plans, but received no responses from his PR reps (far different than the early days where I had his cell number or Morgan called me up to urge me to appear in SSM or get him clearance to be able to film in a supermarket).
I can only base my next thoughts on what statements and photo he and his folks have issued. He says that Holy Chicken will only use hormone free, antibiotic-free, cage-free, free-range, farm-raised, humanely raised 100 percent natural chickens that they are raising themselves. Lots of great marketing and buzz words here – perfect for TV and movie speak, although I’d really like to ask them to clarify why they are using terms that can be confusing and like cage-free (where the chickens can spread their wings and move a bit – but still might be housed in large indoor spaces) and free-range (where according to USDA regulation the chickens are allowed access to the outside). It’s important to note that hormones are banned from use in the U.S.
I like Morgan a lot. He and his films and TV shows have changed America and our food supply for the better. Which is why I assume that this pilot restaurant might be used as the basis for yet another movie in the combined style of Bar Rescue and Undercover Boss, as we watch the trials, tribulations and hopefully success so we can all cheer at the end.
But there are things still troubling me.
When I look closely at the chicken sandwich he is holding in the official press shot it appears to be fried, it’s being called “grilled crispy chicken sandwich” and while there are healthier cooking oils on the market which could significantly alter the better for you benefits from other cooking oils, there is no mention of the type of oil being used in their published reports.
The name – Holy Chicken? Conjures up lots of side jokes and snickers, frankly that are made for those off the cuff gag lines in a TV series. Not necessarily for a nationwide fast food chain.
And then the even bigger question. Morgan, do you really think that you can compete with Chick-fil-A, especially since they started reformulating their recipes a couple years ago and have made significant changes to their foods' ingredients and nutritional profile? And their success is unprecedented, doing over twice the volume of the average McDonald’s not being open 24 hours a day, and still closing on Sunday.
This should make a great TV series, I’ll be sure to watch. And next time I’m in Westerville, Ohio, will be sure to stop by for a taste (and if I’m lucky a cameo?)