Maybe you're too young to remember the last time that eating a salad was cool. Back in the 1980s. Luckily for you, there's Bloomberg News — which harks back to the good old days in this report on the State of the Salad in America 2014. The report finds a "new generation" of restaurants like Sweetgreen, Fresh & Co. and the national expansion-minded Chop’t that presently face the uneviable task of "making salads cool again."
You see, eating a bowl of greens and other assorted things was actually more popular in the pre-shredded kale era, believe it or not. Per Bloomberg:
Salad consumption has declined steadily since the fitness-crazed 1980s, when model Elle MacPherson touted Burger King salad bars and Richard Simmons pitched spray-bottle dressing. Only 4.8 percent of restaurant lunches include a main-dish salad, about half as many as in 1989, according to research firm NPD Group Inc.
Back then, practically every restaurant had its own salad bar — and, by that, we're talking about a freestanding buffet where uncertified bare-handed patrons line up to pick and plate their own salad fixings DIY-style under a dubiously protective sneeze guard. Keep in mind this now-outdated concept was intended to promote a more healthy lifestyle.
Obviously, a lot has changed since then. Like, the definition of "healthy," for instance. As one analyst tells Bloomberg: "In the 1980s, the focus was on avoiding harmful substances; today it’s on
Indeed, perhaps the biggest challenge for "Salad 2.0" operators like Chop't and Sweetgreen (who've helpfully taken the salad tongs out of your filthy hands, and those of your fellow patrons) isn't so much about "making salad cool again." Rather, it's about reversing the "bad rap" that salad developed during its cool days — a time, as one blogger recalls, when "it was women who ate salads because they were trying to lose weight. It wasn’t something you enjoyed.”
Which brings us back to that infamous Burger King commercial from 1985. The ad, as Bloomberg astutely observes, "juxtaposed parts of [supermodel Elle] MacPherson’s anatomy with floating mushrooms, peas and other ingredients" — essentially, promoting healthy salads in roughly the same fashion that Carl's Jr. promotes its fatty burgers today. Albeit perhaps with a different audience in mind. Here's the clip:
Read more about food and drink commercials on Food Republic: