Vol. 1, Issue 32, December 23, 2003
Education for the Otiose

Secret Ingredient Gives Applebee's A Boost

The national restaurant chain Applebee's has seen a surprising surge in growth since mid 2003, projecting a record 18% rise in returns during the fourth quarter of the year. The unexpected rise in profits has boosted confidence in the flagging company, which earlier this year was talking about filing for bankruptcy.

"We're really excited about this trend, and foresee similar results in the fourth quarter," said Applebee's CEO Richard Caldwell at a press conference announcing the results. "I feel like inviting all you reporters over for some of our famous ribs on the house."

The rise has been attributed to Applebee's newly introduced menu item, the Heinz Chicken Caesar Salad. This simple yet surprisingly tangy twist on the perennial Caesar salad has patrons flocking back to the restaurant for more.

"I used to think chicken Caesar salads were kind of boring, although I order them because they're one of the only things on the menu that's not knee-deep in saturated fat," said Applebee's patron Ellen Holman. "But this new salad - wow! It's got a little kick, I don't know why. And it even has this edgy pink color, you wouldn't even guess a restaurant could come up with this kind of cutting-edge experience."

The secret ingredient in the salad remains unknown. Internet rumors abound claiming that Applebee's is using homeopathic Mayan herbs and spices to spice up the menu staple. Despite allegations from some that these rumors were actually planted by Applebee's, customers are claiming all sorts of health benefits from eating the salads.

"I ate one three weeks ago, and today my cold is gone just like that," said Newark Applebee's patron Brent Gibbons. "I mean, that's uncanny. I'm gonna have another Caesar Heinz Chicken Salad tonight."

News of the restaurant chain's surprising performance pushed aside lingering scandals such as the 2001 incident in Phoenix where a customer's order of ribs came with a few fingers as well, and the 2002 entomological phenomenon in Austin dubbed "The Great Roach Stampede" by media wags.

"We think we're on the road to continued strong performance, and are pleased to announced to our investors that we plan for continued strong growth in 2004."

At least one independent analyst wasn't so sure however.

"You know, they really ought to watch out for a menu item which the competing restaurant chain Chili's is rolling out," said Gourmet Magazine editor Sara Girard. "It's called the Hunt's Chicken Caesar Salad."

"Uh-oh," said Caldwell.

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