Salads, Sponsorships, Cynicism, and Sesame Street

Published: October 25, 2023
Categories: Commentary, Feature

Get ready for a fresh take on street eats, Muppet fans, as fast-casual restaurant chain Just Salad has unveiled a brand new kids’ menu inspired by Sesame Street! Kids twelve and under can enjoy a menu just for them featuring salads, bowls, avocado toast, and smoothies! According to the chain, “this menu was built with picky eaters in mind. And it’s so good, even Cookie Monster would approve.”

Hold up, reader, I need a minute. Sorry to bring the article to a grinding halt, but “even Cookie Monster would approve?” Do they, like, know Cookie Monster? He’s famously NOT a picky eater. He’s eaten telephones, Volkswagens, Christmas-Counter-Downers, and even the Moon. Salads and smoothies won’t turn him off. This is the Veggie Monster we’re talking about! (Just kidding. But all joking aside, he’s not one to turn his non-existent nose up at produce.)

Okay, back on track. Maybe Just Salad’s kids menu has stuff that’ll really speak to Sesame fans. The new menu will include such hits as:

  • Happy to be Harvest: Romaine, Apples, Croutons, Cheddar, Roasted Chicken

I guess this is a take on Big Bird’s song “Happy to Be Me.” But what about this screams Big Bird? Apples? Roasted Chicken? Is having poultry in a Big Bird-centered salad even in good taste? Maybe I’m just reading too much into it. What’s next?

  • Me Want Caesar: Romaine + Kale, Roasted Chicken, Croutons, Dried Cranberries, Apples

So the title is a riff on Cookie Monster’s speech pattern, but if they’re gonna do a Cookie-themed salad, why not go with “C is for Caesar?” At least that’s a witty (and factual) pun! I’m starting to get the feeling that Just Salad didn’t really put much thought into the Sesame factor to this menu.

  • Om Nom Nom Bowl: Brown Rice, Carrots, Corn, Roasted Chicken, Avocado

Yup, brown rice, carrots, corn, chicken and avocado. I guess Cookie Monster would om-nom-nom that, like he does (literally) everything else. But we’re halfway through this menu and they’ve already referenced Cookie Monster twice. At this rate, poor Grover will be lucky to get a napkin named after him.

  • Elmo’s Avo Toast: Avocado Mash, Corn

Elmo? You use Elmo, a red monster for the green avocado toast, which has nothing red on it? I’d say somebody might’ve forgotten that Oscar the Grouch exists, but they used him in the marketing materials. What’s going on?

  • Ah Ah Almond Berry Smoothie: Oat Milk, Banana, Almond Butter, Blueberries, Strawberries, Flax Seeds

Okay, finally, something that makes sense. Blueberries are blue, and strawberries are red, which makes for a purple smoothie. At least the color purple is evocative of Count von Count, and the pun sorta works. I’ll give this one a pass. Let’s hope they at least end strong.

  • B Is For Banana Smoothie: Oat Milk, Banana, Strawberries, Flax Seeds

Oh, so NOW they’re doing the “C is for Cookie” reference??? Without even using the letter “C”!? I am irrationally angry about this turn of events!!!

I need to take a minute. Just breathe… don’t let the bad menu names bother you. Okay, I’m back.

I have to admit, when the restaurant teased the Sesame announcement late last week, I was mildly excited. Sesame Street has been promoting fun, healthy food for years, and as far as sponsorships go, a salad place isn’t as controversial as DoorDash or blatantly not kid-oriented like Chrysler or NerdWallet. And I get that running a nonprofit like Sesame Workshop takes a lot of money, and sometimes it takes sponsorships to keep the milkshake machine at Hooper’s Store running. But it still makes me wonder what the point of this is. They have a license to use Sesame Street characters, but they’re not doing much more than having names for their menu items that are vague references to the show.

If you had just told me they added a “Happy to be Harvest Salad,” I wouldn’t have even gotten that it was themed to Sesame Street. The simplest of tweaks to pair a Sesame character with each dish would’ve worked. For example, if they’d called it “The Count’s Ah-Ah-Almond Berry Smoothie,” it suddenly feels like a Sesame Street exclusive! Put them in Sesame-themed bowls, anything to make this something worth caring about!

How about “Oscar’s Mushy Avocado Toast,” decorated to look like something he’d eat? Small bits of cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, like tiny morsels of trash! You want something for Big Bird? Here’s a fun fact: Big Bird loves birdseed. He puts it in everything from toast to milkshakes. So have something with seeds! A salad or avocado toast with sesame or poppy seeds evokes the kind of food Big Bird might like, and maybe kids will like them too! Be daring! Ask kids to try new things! It’ll at least reflect the iconic brand the chain’s teamed up with and justify the partnership beyond some promotional material with the two companies’ logos next to each other.

As much as I’d like this to be a thing I’d be excited to try and review for this very website, I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm. If they had put something more than a creatively empty corporate sponsorship into this, maybe I could’ve risked the embarrassment of ordering off the kids’ menu. But if they’re not going to put in the effort, neither will I.

But seriously, would it have killed them to go with “C is for Caesar?”

And don’t get me started on the slogan.

Click here to order a salad with extra effort on the ToughPigs forum!

by Matthew Soberman –

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