Boston Market Cornbread Temperatures

August 28, 2002

Please observe the following chart of Boston Market's cornbread temperature by location:

Location # of samples observed temperature
Pasadena, CA 1 room temp.
Santa Clara, CA 2 cool [1]
Nashua, NH 1 warm

(NOTE: If you want to add to this table, please send me your observed temperatures to . Thank you.)

(NOTE: Before you wade into the stormy seas of this issue, please be aware that my observations on this page provoked what could be called no less than a firestorm when posted on Usenet. No less than 32 messages, and counting. Click here to see the message that started it all (basically, this page without the formatting), and click "Complete thread" at that page to see all the messages. This message might not make much sense unless you realize that members of seem to spend a great deal of time calling each other secret shills for Microsoft and other companies, as shown here and here. )

Conclusion from Available Data
Cornbread temperatures are warm (normal) in New England, cool (not normal) on the west coast. [2] What could be the cause?

A Possible Explanation
Could it be a cultural difference between the cooks who work at these locations? Probably not. For a reason why not, consider El Pollo Loco ("EPL"). It has the same formula as the lowest-priced Boston Market ("BM") offering: two pieces of chicken, two sides, and a bread-type item [3]. However, EPL's corn or flour tortillas are always warm; in fact, they are only given to the customer straight from a warming tray. Are the west coast BM cooks unable to draw the inference from their EPL opposite numbers that the bread-type side should be served warm? I think not.

A More Likely Explanation
In fact, I fear the root cause goes much higher, to the regional manager level if not above. Surely, those regional managers must be aware of this situation. Fast food restaurants are one of the most homogenized of industries; in fact, BM's owner, the McDonald's Corporation, even runs a Hamburger University.

Those regional managers must know how to serve the cornbread. They must know that cool or cold cornbread is a bad thing. Most importantly, and most damningly, they must know that the cornbread at their stores is not being served correctly.

Do these regional managers look the other way when they see cornbread being served incorrectly? Do they honestly believe that no one will notice, and that only a few customers will complain and seek to be served warm cornbread?

And, does this cornbread issue go even higher up the corporate ladder? Surely BM managers above the regional manager level must be aware of this situation, yet they silently look the other way.

The Truth Discovered
What could be reason for this? I can imagine a BM representative trying to make an excuse to the effect that west coast consumers might actually prefer cool cornbread, or some such twaddle . That same slick corporate shill might utter something about disincentivizing application of butter to the cornbread as a means of healthier eating. Close, but I fear there is a more cynical explanation. Could it, perhaps, be an attempt to save money on the freely supplied butter patties? After all, what better way to save a few cents on butter than to supply the customer with cornbread unable to properly receive such butter? I believe, as they say in New England, I have hit the nail on the head.

Please note: I have also emailed this to I, and all other consumers, await their response.


[1] Our Silicon Valley correspondent,   Apu   Petilon , is invited to verify this for himself. It's on El Camino Real.

[2] This is, of course, an assumption based on a limited number of samples. However, the author believes that a wider sampling will show this to be a correct assumption.

[3] EPL's two pieces of chicken/two sides/bread-type item is only $3.99 at many locations, versus the hefty $4.99 price tag at all sampled BM locations. Even worse, the BM offering is only for dark meat, while EPL will gladly provide you with white meat on request. Now, granted, the BM sides are of a generally high quality. The sides are better than those provided by EPL, KFC, and other chains. But, the BM portions are smaller than those corresponding sides. The author is not the first to notice this.

Also instructive is the example provided by the Pasadena Church's Fried Chicken. On the same street as the Pasadena BM, and just 1.5 miles away, it manages to serve three (3) pieces of fried chicken for under half the amount paid at BM for just two small pieces of chicken. Of course, that doesn't include the sides, but it does include a *warm* biscuit. Perhaps BM's managers could go to Sunday school at Church's.