A Major Seachange In Culture And I Don’t Know When It Happened


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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222 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Not only is the Mayo a default, it’s generally plentiful, overpowering the taste of the meat. Should you order chicken sandwiches instead, the sheer quantity of Mayo on the food will overwhelm you. A little Mayo is good. A lot of Mayo is… not so good as a little.Report

  2. It’s because we’re all fat and we like fat people food. In ten years, you’ll get mayo in your coke as well, and, in addition to ketchup, your french fries will come with ice cream for dipping (actually pretty awesome).Report

  3. Huh. Weird.

    I remember that Wendy’s always put mayo on their burgers (which is a reason I didn’t like going there as a kid), but I had no idea this was now “a thing” everywhere.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    I’m okay with mayo. I just don’t understand when tipping got to be so damn confusing. I used to be a first rate tipper. Now, I just hear all the rules, panic, and give them a 40% tip!Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Did the rules get confusing? I thought it was just 15% across the board.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I thought so too! Here in Ontario, anyway, it’s 15% for all of them, unless they did a poor job and then you tip less or you tip 20% if they did a really good job. But, then, I have to figure out if really that means give 20% for everyone and somehow I’m a jerk for giving 15%. Also, for some reason, a lot of unexpected places have added tips to their checkout, so when I’m buying 12 eggs at the deli, it asks if I’d like to tip the woman for handing me 12 eggs and ringing me up. Not really, but then am I then a jerk for not tipping her? It would be far preferable if all these places just paid them a decent wage and left me out of it!Report

        • Mlke Schilling in reply to Rufus F. says:

          One or two different rates aren’t too confusing, but three starts to cloud things, and at four or five things reach a tipping point.Report

        • Simon K in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Counter service places with tip boxes annoy me. For a tip to be appropriate, I have to have actually received some service before its being solicited. Its not okay to implicitly ask for a tip when I haven’t got my food yet …Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Simon K says:

            Make eye contact when you put the tip in. The next time you go there, hope you get the same server.

            Trust me when I say this: you *WILL* be remembered by the countershlub. They will fall over themselves to please you in order to get your measly 37 cents a second time.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

              If you’ve got a sizable group at a bar and want the server to take good care of you, slip them a twenty up front, then a fiver every time s/he brings another round. It doesn’t add up to a lot among the group, and you’ll get all the attention you desire.

              For that matter, any place you frequent regularly enough to be recognized, you should tip extra well (assuming good service, but if you don’t get that, why would you keep going back?). The wait staff will fight each other to be the one who serves you. Of course money isn’t everything, and you have to be nice to them as well. They don’t have an easy job, and they appreciate customers who make it more pleasant.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to Simon K says:

            I’m okay with tip boxes. What gets me is the debit machines here that ask: “Tip?” “Amount?” when I get a cup of coffee. I don’t know! Maybe!Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Rufus F. says:

              I hate tipping. I hated it when I worked for tips. And I hate it as a consumer. I much prefer the way it is done in many European cities, where employees are paid a decent wage and tipping is not expected.

              Alot of restaurants, particularly chain restaurants, pool their tips, which not only minimizes the incentive of servers to hustle but also mitigates the benefits of tipping well.Report

              • Mr. Harris in reply to Kazzy says:

                Jazzy, here’s a study that backs up what my own experience with tip pooling tought me: that it can foster a better work environment and lead to better service across the board.

              • Mr. Harris in reply to Mr. Harris says:


              • Kazzy in reply to Mr. Harris says:

                Thanks. I can’t guarantee that I’ll read it but I’ll happily concede that my outside-looking-in perspective on the impact of tip pooling on servers may be dead wrong.

                Does your study address how it impacts customers? I’m less likely to tip my server well for a good job if I know the money is just going to get pooled. Am I an exception?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

                How does tip pooling differ from just paying the servers more?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Because it still leaves the servers at the mercy of the patrons, which creates a weird dynamic, in my opinion. Tipping should be voluntary. It is now customary, if not outright required. That seems to defeat the purpose. When I was in Turkey, where tipping was not expected, I’d often leave an extra few lira behind if we got really good service. This was purely voluntary and was always VERY well received. Just seemed to be a better way.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck says:

                it still leaves the servers at the mercy of the patrons,

                As it should be. And I say that as a former tip-earner. (By the way, the best tippers are people who work for tips.)Report

              • Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I’ve had tips mailed back to me, with a “You overpayed, so we’re giving you your money back” (they sent back $2 cash…)Report

              • James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Good lord, Kimmie, you say more things that nobody could possibly believe than anyone I’ve ever known.Report

              • Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I saved the letter, because it was entirely too cute. I was buying pretzels from some Mennonites, and deliberately overpaid (again, as a tip — which I admit I didn’t specify as a tip).

                Unbelievable things happen on a daily basis. I’m not saying I’m NOT a weirdness magnet, but…Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:


                I’ve worked for tips as well and do tip generously unless it is really undeserved. You are right in that regard.

                But, how would you feel if your pay was directly based on the whims of your students?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                And does that mean I can pay less than the total bill if the food does not meet expectations? I mean, I’m paying them to make me something tasty, am I not?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck says:


                Profs used to be paid directly by students. I like my security, but I’m not sure the old way wasn’t best. In fact I know for damn sure that the current setup entails a hell of a lot of rent-seeking.Report

              • Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

                anything where one plays for the crowd requires a lot of “convincing people that you’re doing it right.”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Would that improve education, though? We’ve had some interesting conversations here about “edutainment” and the like.Report

              • Katherine in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Kim –

                I’m Mennonite (not the Old Order type, obviously, as I’m on the Internet). I’m not at all surprised that they would do that.Report

              • Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Mennonites always seem to be quite nice folk (yinz had a convention out here a few months ago, let a coworker of mine cut in line — in front of about 30 of ya).
                What I don’t get is why they put hellfire and brimstone bible verses on their pretzels! It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would encourage more business 😉Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to DensityDuck says:

                The Mennonites who run Weaver’s store have choral music playing all the time in the store. Doesn’t seem to impede progress much.

                I like the Mennonites. They’re a lot friendlier than the Amish, at least the ones I knew. Did some business with both. I miss Weaver’s store.

                I don’t miss the unfriendly and distinctly clannish Amish.Report

              • Katherine in reply to Mr. Harris says:

                I was a dishwasher at a restaurant that pooled tips – not just among servers, but across all the staff – and I always felt it was a little unfair. The servers are the ones who have to deal with the customers, they’re the ones who should get the benefit of it.

                Looking at the paper, I’m shocked to see that it only interviewed 6 people. Unless I’m misreading that fact, something like that shouldn’t even qualify as a study. And it’s not journal-published.Report

              • Kim in reply to Katherine says:

                People publish all these “case studies” all the freaking time in “not really peer reviewed” stupid journals. Well, that’s medicine. It’s all about “oddball presentation” and yadda ya.Report

              • Mr. Harris in reply to Kazzy says:

                It’s a short ready and mostly surveys conducted with servers who had extensive experience with tip pooling. One of the reasons for doing it is to insure that all service staff including bar tenders, food runners, and bus boys are tipped evenly from the same pool of money, as opposed to each server tipping out the rest of the services staff individually. Very few people think about all the other workers who are influenced by their tip, but it can become quite an extensive list. Tip pooling becomes a way to mitigate against dishonesty from servers who might be inclined to short change their co-workers.

                As far as being a disincentive to tipping more if you knew it was going into a pool, you might be inclined to tip more if you felt like the totality of the service was very good, not just the one-on-one attention you received from the order taker.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mr. Harris says:

                Good points.

                I never understood why bus boys and table runners are part of the “tip pool”. Seems like those folks should simply be paid a wage.

                Overall, the tipping system just seems perverse. The business owner should be primarily responsible for their wages. This should be baked into the costs. If customers want to go above and beyond that, they may as they choose. I hate the feeling of, “Man, this was pretty shitty service. But I don’t want the guy/girl to go home empty handed. Ugh.”Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

                The wait staff who share their tips with the bussers tend to get their tables bussed more quickly, meaning they can get more paying customers at their table more quickly.

                Maybe I’m a bastard, but I have no qualms about sending someone home empty handed if they don’t provide good service. If you’re in a customer service job, your job is to provide customer service. If you aren’t doing what your job requires, you really shouldn’t get paid for not doing it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, part of it is that crappy service is often out of the server’s hands. Long wait times can often be attributed to the kitchen staffs, runners, bussers, or dish washers.

                More importantly, people have bad days. You have bad days at work. I do. We all do. I’m sure you’d be really frustrated if a bad day meant docked pay. Maybe that would motivate you to not have bad days but I don’t know that anything can motivate us to not be emotive human beings.Report

              • Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

                In my more ideal world, a person who is bad at their job, repeatedly, gets fired. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have to do their job, just that they should pull a salary like everyone else.

                *wonders* How many feminists can I get in this discussion by bringing up Realtwhores? Is it more or less demeaning to have someone not merely flash boobs at you, but actually give blowjobs/sexual intercourse? Does the amount of money involved change matters?Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to James Hanley says:

                That would be fine if the servers were getting at least minimum wage. In many states (Cali is fortunately not one of them), restaurants can pay less than minimum wage and the servers are expected to make it up in tips. Thus, you’re not paying for service, you’re paying to keep the phone turned on.

                This is so very wrong.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                No, Jeff, I’m paying for service. I don’t care if they use the money for phone service or meth.

                Look, one way or another I’m paying them. If you increase their wages, who do you think ends up paying for that? It’s still the customer. So if you require that all waiters be paid minimum wage, I’m still the one paying to keep their phone turned on, and yet somehow you’re not so bothered by that. Why?

                At least in the current system I can pay them commensurate with the value they provide to me, not some amount determined by the state that takes no account of the value they provide to me.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, the problem is that we could read your argument as claiming that servers shouldn’t be paid any money at all, and be paid only in tips.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                That’s not really a problem for you, is it, Duck?Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, part of the problem is that there are people like my dad.

                I loved my dad dearly — he was a great guy. But he was a lousy tipper. He’d engage the servers in conversation and make jokes with them, and they, knowing their tip depended on it, would joke with him, regardless of whether they wanted to or not. And when we left, he’d tip 10% (which may have been standard in the 50’s but not since). I’d make some excuse to go back inside and give the server a decent tip.

                Then there are the “Christians” (note the scare quotes) who will leave what looks like legal tender but is actually just a evangelical flyer.

                Want to know how to avoid tipping? Find out which restaurants pay at least minimum wage and eat there. At these establishments, tips are for service, not for grovelling in hopes that The Squire might notice and toss you a farthing.Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to James Hanley says:

                BTW, when I get good service (above and beyond), I not only leave a tip, I’ll find the manager-in-charge and let them know that so-and-so did an excellent job. I figure they hear a lot of complaints, so a compliment will really go far.Report

              • aidian in reply to James Hanley says:

                I hate hate hate that servers have to count on tips to pay the rent, and part of me wants to go all Mr. Pink on the process.

                However, my mother kept us fed on tips, and that has left me a) routinely a much better than average tipper but also b) willing to stiff a waiter who slacks off.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


                Yes, there are people who take advantage of the current system. But we have to beware the nirvana fallacy. Just pointing to a few bad apples in system X is insufficient for concluding that system Y is better.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Oh, and absolutely we should do more than just tip or not. For both very good service and bad service we should let a manager know. But sadly most people are conflict averse, and will not do so. The tipping system allows them to make their statement in a way they can handle better.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

                I hate tipping as well. it severely impacts the amount of times I go out to eat.
                “Pay Extra for Groveling!”Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

                I dunno. I tip well and get better service. The waiter and bartender and the busboy aren’t part of the furniture.

                What I don’t like is management putting its hand in the tip jar. That’s just disgusting and it happens a lot.Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I prefer not to pay for service at all. I am a human being, I don’t need someone else to clean my table for me, to bring me my dishes, and to ask “Is everything alright with that?”Report

              • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                the way it is done in many European cities, where employees are paid a decent wage and tipping is not expected.

                Completely anecdotal I know, but I had some no-tipping bad bar & restaurant service in Europe (very slow/lackadaisical/rude/ignored us, etc. – I recall a couple places in Spain and Germany as being particularly egregious offenders)

                At the time, we definitely put it down to the lack of tipping incentive.

                It just seemed like their attitude was, “I’m getting paid the same no matter what, so why rush?” I’m a good tipper in the US and I generally get good/fast service in bars.

                Weirdly it did not seem to be much of an issue in Hong Kong, service there was pretty fast no matter what.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                Locals get served better than strangers. In Germany, they have a table for the regulars, Stammtisch, where you need an invitation to sit down. You’ll find the same sort of hierarchy in Spain, Portugal and Italy, even in rural France. UK has its “back rooms” which serve the same purpose.

                I suppose, in larger cities, it’s always more difficult to get served. Tourists these days are pretty awful, especially the Russians and Chinese, Israelis too. Europeans who come over here are routinely impressed by the level of service, so maybe it’s as you say. But maybe it’s just that we’re Americans, with our own brand of hospitality and speedy service. When Germans and Frenchmen sit down in a restaurant, they’ll stay there for hours.Report

              • Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Yeah, I hesitate to put it *all* down to the tip incentive, since there are obviously other cultural factors as well (as you say, Portugal and France were also similar, though to me the Anglo countries generally seemed a bit better). It’s possible that I either was, or was perceived as, more of an “ugly American tourist” than I’d hoped.

                But I had a roommate here who waited tables to put herself through college, and she definitely busted her butt for known/expected good tippers (faster, more attentive), and slowed it down a little bit or gave lesser effort for those who were known/expected low- or no-tippers.

                I worked retail to put myself through college, in both commission-enhanced and straight-wage jobs. And I can definitely say that I worked harder/faster/more attentively in the commission jobs, since there’s a percentage in it for me.

                So I lean towards tipping (as long as it’s kept simple/reasonable) working well as a service enhancement. That’s not to say the employees shouldn’t be paid a decent base wage as well.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                Ecch, that’s a bit of a myth, Americans are thought of pretty well, especially in comparison to other tourists. They did make a distinction between Cold War soldiers and the rest of us, though: my little town, Kitzingen, kept soldiers out of some establishments. I had to go elsewhere to learn German. Thereafter, I was treated with great kindness.

                The Ugly American was written about high-handed government bumpkins in SE Asia. The “Ugly” American lived down low with the ordinary people and did good works.

                For some reason, intelligent Americans abroad grow terribly and needlessly insecure. Something about drinking beer in a thousand-year-old establishment has a way of doing that to people whose nations are not even a quarter so old. To be sure, most of us don’t speak their languages, but we don’t look down on Europeans come a-visiting among us. In most places we might go, as long as we behave ourselves respectably, it’s surprising how little it takes to overcome most obstacles.

                But as with all tourist towns, I think of Minocqua Wisconsin, there’s always an emotional gap between the well-heeled tourists and the locals who must endure those dreadful winters. Even in Augusta, WI, frequented by some tourists come in search of the Authentic Amish Experience (and won’t find it, but will find overpriced furniture and a scheduled tourist van), there’s an emotional divide. Of Guatemala, I shall say nothing: the Birkenstock Crowd arrives wearing its backpacks, thinking nobody’s ever discovered the place before them. They’re pretty awful, but then, most of them aren’t Americans. Believe me, the worst tourists are the Israelis and the Chinese and increasingly the Russians, whose drunken belligerence is truly awe-inspiring in its ferocity and stupidity.

                It’s no different in the tourist destinations of Europe. Life’s hard in the off season. The world’s most beautiful landscapes are often its poorest.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                oh, no doubt it works. But it demeans both the patron and the server.

                (The anglo countries don’t run on Manyana time… I expect slow and languid in Hispanic/Latin countries, and am rarely disappointed. Nobody to rush you out, either.)Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Glyph says:

                The issue is the realization that for all our adolescent nattering about “class in American society”, we don’t actually know what class is. And, in a European style of society, its reality is immediately apparent. Americans just aren’t used to the idea that there might be something they can’t buy (or at least rent and pretend its theirs)–or, for that matter, that there might be something huge and expensive that’s just given to you, even though you don’t have any money at all, just because of who you are.

                Like Thompson said, “the American abroad can never quite hake the feeling that , despite his money, everyone around him considers him to be just a boob from the place where even boobs are rich.”Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                I don’t buy into this Demeaning argument, not in the slightest. I’ve run an open book operation for years, always thought it was the smartest way to do anything in life. So the wait staff get paid a fraction of that day’s take plus their own tips. Guatemala has a minimum wage, something like 8 US dollars a day. I start out there, nobody gets paid less (which is substantially better than most restaurants, keeps theft down and gives me a better selection of employees) and at the end of the week, everyone gets a bonus after expenses get paid, which if times are good is usually about 50% of their pay.

                Want good workers? It’s as simple as paying them. I’ve had people working for the outfit for more than 20 years now.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                What Blaise said.

                Getting paid commission/tips “demeaned” us all the way through college, with very little help from other sources.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                I’d feel a lot better about patronizing a restaurant where the servers did not depend on the tips for their livelihood… (and minimum wage, I assume,w hile tight, si probably something they could live on).Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                Tips are an incentive to do a good job. They’re bonuses, nothing more.

                You want demeaning? Try being served by someone’s who’s resentful that you came into their joint and disturbed their conversation with their co-workers, and the resulting resentment yo feel toward them. That’s demeaning.

                Being served by someone who recognizes you as a human and strives to make your dining experience pleasant and enjoyable, and rewarding that effort with a bonus to their take-home pay? That’s the world working really well; nothing demeaning there at all.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                And what James said too.

                Actually James, this ties in really nicely to the idea of the earliest/most primitive markets – gift exchange.

                Maybe 80,000 years ago, you would have given me some grubs you found in a log, and I would have given you some greens that I picked. Everybody’s happy.

                Now, you bring me some grub, and I slip you some green.

                Everyone wins.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                You’re a very great puzzlement, Kim. A good waiter is hard to find and harder to keep. A restaurant which does not understand that fact is going out of business, sooner rather than later: not because people like you know how this shit goes down (though I wonder, have you ever been a waiter?) but because the service becomes worse over time.

                A good waiter is a salesman. He is in fact the face of the restaurant. My restaurant has a maitre d’ who manages the wait staff and the bartenders, ensuring the customer has a good experience. My chef has absolute control of his kitchen. These people are my restaurant. Not my food, not my atmosphere, not my music. Waiters and bartenders come and go in other places. Not in mine.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                In America, tips are not bonuses. They are given as a normal part of soemone’s expected wage,which otherwise would be below minimum wage. Rather than assume these people are qualified to do their job, as do the rest of us, without the additional “incentive” of having their livelihood rest on the “mercy and good grace” of their patrons… we “generously” tip them.

                It is a different story where a tip is an actual indication that “you’ve gone above and beyond what was expected”…

                I remember quite clearly the one and only time I felt that someone went above and beyond the call of duty. I was eating quite spicy food, and they made sure that my drink was kept full. I did not have to find them, or wait for it to be filled. (probably helped that the restaurant was near empty…)Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                As usual, Kim, you really have no idea what you’re talking about. Yes, a waiter who got no tips would get below minimum wage, but that doesn’t mean he automatically gets tipped. He has to earn the tip. Only a fool automatically tips someone, and only a fool always does 15% or 20% or whatever number is chosen.

                It’s not about going “above and beyond the call of duty.” It’s about providing good service, period. Make the customer leave the place happier than when they came in, not less happy.

                The only above and beyond the call of duty is when servers are nice to customers who are so determined to be rude that the proper response would be to execute them.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                I agree with what you say. I merely argue that it is a stupid and demeaning system that lacks confidence in the work ethic of its workers.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

                “Only a fool automatically tips someone, and only a fool always does 15% or 20% or whatever number is chosen.”

                But I’d argue that we’ve reached a point where a tip is expected and to tip less than 15%, absent egregious behavior on the server’s part, is seen as a violation of some sort of social code. THAT is what I have a problem with. I don’t mind tipping for good service. I often tip folks that most folks don’t (e.g., tow truck drivers) because if someone does a good job of helping me out, I like to show my appreciation.

                What I don’t like is restaurants that assume a tip (often without clearly stating so, hoping that I double-tip) or that give me a breakdown of how to tip (15% = X, 20% = Y, 25% = Z). I just find it unseemly, like standing there with your hand out. It is an uncomfortable form of social pressure.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                +1 to Kazzy.
                My husband’s been buying the workmen at our house lunch some of the time. Makes a nice tip, and saves everyone time.Report

              • Pierre Corneille in reply to Glyph says:

                Only a fool automatically tips someone, and only a fool always does 15% or 20% or whatever number is chosen.

                I’m one of those fools on both counts. I see the tip as automatic, and try to always tip around 25% or so. I’m not going to claim I’m not foolish, but I will try to explain myself.*

                I look at it as paying the worker for doing his or her job. If the worker takes my order or brings me the food, the standard tip automatically applies. I admit that if a worker went out o their way to ruin my experience, say, by stabbing me with a steak knife and lighting my wallet on fire, I probably won’t leave a tip. But as a general rule, I see it as the standard package of compensation. If the service is below par, I will probably leave the tip and just not go back.

                On some level I dislike what I see as the implications of the “if you do this I will reward you with money” feature of tipping, even though I acknowledge that any paying job has this feature and my decision to patronize any establishment also has this feature. I see it as a sort of master and servant thing, where I’m the boss, and I don’t like being the boss. Automatically tipping (mostly the same) amount is my way of getting around this. (Not tipping is a non-starter, in large part because the base wages are low.)

                I’ve had several service jobs–and I may have one again after I graduate or drop out of grad school (whichever comes first)–and I really dislike being on the receiving end of that power relationship so much that I also don’t like being on the giving end, either. It’s a hard thing to explain. I know that at times in those jobs, I was one of the surly people James mentions who aggressed passively when my conversation or convenience was disrupted, but most of the time I really did try to do a good job and was often (not always, and not even a majority of the time, but often) treated as if I was being surly when I was something else, such as shy or trying to be friendly. I probably come across as oversensitive, and maybe I am, and I do recognize that my perception of things is probably different from what the case actually was. Still, I want to keep my distance from that type of relationship as much as possible, that is, as much as possible while still immersing myself in that relationship by going to restaurants; the issue is fraught with complications and contradictions.

                By this time anyone who reads this comment, if they have gotten this far, is probably saying, “man, that guy should lighten up, it’s just a fishing dinner.” But I’ll add one more thing. I do fear that my attitude is kind of cloying or condescending toward the worker, and while I try to be nice and undemanding, I perhaps also go overboard and maybe sometimes come across as off-putting.

                *Disclosure: with one trivial exception (a bagel shop that had a tip jar), I’ve never worked for tips, so I don’t know what it’s like to work for tips.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

                My husband’s been buying the workmen at our house lunch some of the time. Makes a nice tip, and saves everyone time.

                And improves the quality of the work being done. I used to work for a guy who’d offer me scotch at the end of my work day. Just the offer was an incentive to do better work.

                The alternative – going for the low bid, riding everyone’s asses, criticizing, plotting and scheming about how the workers are plotting and scheming – leads to a rather bad outcome, in my experience. On both ends.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

                Good comment Pierre. I also regularly over tip. Well, tip at least 20%. Part of my reasoning is that this is how the wait-staff makes their living, so it’s sorta built in to the dining experience. The other reason is that I know if I throw an extra few buck down, the waiter/tress will be totally psyched. And it only cost me a few bucks!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

                And it only cost me a few bucks!

                When I realized that I was trying to figure out the math of “do I leave a six dollar or seven dollar tip?” and the difference, to me, was one dollar but the difference to the waitperson was “they left me a 15% tip” and “HOLY COW”, I started leaving 10.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                Pierre, You’re a hell of a good guy, but honestly you’re just not really suited for the tip-based employment world. Strongly introverted people normally aren’t. That includes me, and you’ve got me beat on that score hands down.

                As to tipping extra, because the few dollars mean less to me than to the wait staff, hell, yeah. My mom tries to figure out 15% to the penny. I like to be generous because I remember how it made me feel when people tipped me generously, and I don’t demand super extraordinary service to stimulate my generosity. But if the service isn’t good, I will slash it down to under 10% without a qualm.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                More than once, and more than ten times, I’ve encountered an obviously discouraged server and this is what I’ve said:

                “There are two types of people. People who’ve been servers and everyone else. Do you know how to tell them apart?”

                A stunned silence inevitably results.

                “By how they tip.”

                At which point I give them a five dollar bill.Report

              • Pierre Corneille in reply to Glyph says:


                I agree. The idea of working for tips is anathema to me. I do think that when my job demands it, I can do a very good job, even when it requires dealing with customers. However, even the idea of depending on tips just makes me nervous, and it’s not even the possibility that I won’t get tips. It’s probably a temperament thing.

                One thing I should’ve said in my comment is that your approach, looking at tipping as paying for service, is potentially more respectful of the server as a person because it treats them as an autonomous person with control over their lives and their trade, whereas my guilt-ridden, leveling approach is probably, as I said, condescending.


                The other reason is that I know if I throw an extra few buck down, the waiter/tress will be totally psyched. And it only cost me a few bucks!

                Sometimes I feel this way, but I wonder whether it’s also potentially condescending.

                I once had a (very upper class, very paternalistic) professor (from France) once who related a story of visiting a hotel and shaking hands with the hotel housecleaning person and in so doing slipped her whatever her tip was. He (the professor) was very satisfied in her reaction, which he described as joyous, while I wondered if it would have been kinder to give the tip to her more discreetly and not thereby require a “joyous” performance.

                I realize that’s emphatically not the situation you’re describing when you (and I) want the server to be happy with a large(ish) tip. But I just remember how much the story bothered me when that professor told it.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                even the idea of depending on tips just makes me nervous, and it’s not even the possibility that I won’t get tips. It’s probably a temperament thing.

                I get that. One of the things I hated about driving a cab was having a long space where I didn’t have any customers. I never had trouble making the amount I needed on any given night, but the long spaces would still freak me out because no money was coming in. That’s about the time I realized I wasn’t cut out for commission sales jobs or to be an entrepreneur. They’ve got something I ain’t got, and I admire that quality.Report

              • Plinko in reply to Glyph says:

                Tipping seems pretty common to me in most of Asia. I tip frequently everywhere but Seoul (no one there will accept a tip – actually I believe the offer might be considered insulting).Report

              • Glyph in reply to Plinko says:

                I haven’t really traveled in Asia (just Hong Kong, where the restaurant/bar tipping was generally of the “round it up” small-tip variety).Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                Don’t tip in Japan. Ever. A kind word about superior service is a gracious plenty.Report

              • I have heard that tipping was illegal in Korea, but I have no idea if that’s true. (Even if it is true, I imagine there might be ways people get around it.)Report

              • Glyph in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

                When I was living briefly in Germany, I made the mistake of attempting to haggle down a price a little bit with a shopkeeper. It didn’t work, and he seemed out of sorts about it.

                I found out from my friend later that altering a price for a single customer had only fairly recently been made legal there (previously, a shop’s listed price must be the same listed price for everybody, under penalty of law, presumably due to Germany’s history of treating certain, ah – groups, uh- inequitably).

                I went back later, and he did end up knocking a few euros off. It was probably the first time he’d ever done such a thing.Report

        • Katherine in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I hate it when I buy things on debit at the counter and the machine asks if I want to include a tip. It’s not the kind of thing I consider tippable.Report

  5. david says:

    Are you talking ‘mayo’ or are you talking ‘Miracle Whip’?

    Also, most burgers are mustard-only; I don’t recall any having ketchup. Why bother with ketchup when you already have tomato on the sandwich?

    Come to think of it, a full burger that has lettuce and tomato will not have ketchup; however, a plain burger without the salad ingredients will have both mustard and ketchup.Report

    • James K in reply to david says:

      I think of the distinction as between “Mayonnaise”, which is a perfectly respectable dressing, if strange for a burger, and “Mayo” – that pasty white abomination which worsens everything it is placed on.Report

  6. Michael Drew says:

    It’s disgusting.Report

    • Will H. in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I find ketchup to be disgusting.
      It always makes me think that someone did something terribly, terribly bad to a helpless tomato.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Will H. says:

        I love mayo but not on burgers. Chicken sandwiches, absolutely. Like others have said, some mayo-based sauces – garlic aioli – etc. can work on a burger, if the burger concept is right for it, as for The Old Fashioned House Burger here. I don’t understand how anyone thinks the taste of straight mayo on a burger is anything short of nauseating. But they do, and bully for them.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will H. says:

        It’s perfectly good vinegar, with a dash of tomato-sweet mixed in.
        At least it is if you’re getting Heinz. Hunts is not ketchup, it is some other entity entirely…Report

      • Boegiboe in reply to Will H. says:

        The onion-flavored, red-food-coloring-saturated, sour corn syrup that is what most Americans think of as ketchup is revolting. It is one of the very few foods that will actually make me gag if I don’t know to expect it.

        That said, mixed well with mayonnaise, it makes a decent fish dip.Report

  7. dhex says:

    maybe it’s a regionalism thing? not really a problem on the east coast, though “fancy mayos” are becoming more popular (chipotle, garlic, etc etc and so forth).

    a proper (rare or medium rare) burger should be topped with a splash of siracha.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to dhex says:

      Bates Burgers in Livonia, Michigan served them with just pickles and onions, but only had mustard and ketchup available on the counter.

      So maybe it’s that. I grew up in a place where the expectation was that you’d put the stuff on your damn self and you have to keep mayo in the fridge… but mustard and ketchup can be left on the counter for hours at a time, if not in perpetuity.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to dhex says:

      I find hot dogs to be far more regional than burgers.Report

  8. Foster Boondoggle says:

    Another tragedy to be blamed on California, I think, along with the Kardashians.Report

  9. KatherineMW says:

    A clear sign of the imminent downfall of modern society.

    Mayonnaise is disgusting.Report

  10. DRS says:

    *cough* Well, in Canada, it’s not uncommon to dip your fries in mayo. On the if-you’re-going-to-give-yourself-cardiac-arrest-why-not-do-it-right? theory, I suppose.

    Is it on the side, or right on the meat? Because I’ve never seen it on the meat up here. However there are places where they’re trying to justify charging $12 and more for a burger by coming up with fancy toppings like aioli.Report

  11. zic says:

    Now real mayo — aioli — made with egg yolks that are bright orange, from a chicken with a natural diet, garlic, and a good olive oil is amazing. Nothing like the bland blech in a jar at the grocery store.

    And I’m going to defend fats here; fats are an important part of the diet. They are not the cause of heart disease, that was an infirmation cascade from a rogue scientist back in the day. But like anything, too much is not good for you.

    And the jars in the grocery store, as well as most restaurants, are serving canola oil mayo.

    And here’s where I really get peeved. First, there’s no such thing as a ‘canola.’ It’s a combination of oils, mostly soy, corn, and rapeseed. Rapeseed is poison without industrial processing. Soy isn’t good for you either, and really should be fermented before you eat it (soy sauce, miso, tofu were all fermented foods), and corn oil is well documented. Combined, they must be refined, rather like motor oil. This takes not-so-healthy ingredients and stripes them down even more.

    No, good fats are minimally processed, and still have some of the vegetal matter (and the associated minerals) intact; they’re cold pressed from the source. Extra virgin olive oil; nut oils, coconut oil. They don’t last forever, either. Food shouldn’t. Long shelf life is the enemy of good food. If it doesn’t nourish the microbes, it won’t nourish you.Report

    • Christopher Carr in reply to zic says:

      Good fats are generally liquid at room temperature, more or less.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

      And here’s where I really get peeved. First, there’s no such thing as a ‘canola.’ It’s a combination of oils, mostly soy, corn, and rapeseed. Rapeseed is poison without industrial processing.

      There is indeed such a thing as canola. It’s a type of rapeseed that was bred to contain very low levels of erucic acid, the (possibly) toxic component of rapeseed oil. I can’t say for sure that there isn’t a product that consists of a blend of canola, corn, and soybean oil, but “canola oil” as such is exactly what it sounds like—oil extracted from canola seeds.Report

      • zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Take a look at the wikipedia’s edit page and the talk related to it. Canola is an industrial food product, from it’s breeding to it’s genetic modifications, to through it’s growing to it’s processing.

        Just don’t think it belongs on the plate. But I’m funny that way.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

          I’m not endorsing it. But you said some things about it that just aren’t true. Also, virtually every modern food crop is the product of extensive selective breeding. Canola’s not special in that respect.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

      Extra virgin olive oil; nut oils, coconut oil. They don’t last forever, either. Food shouldn’t. Long shelf life is the enemy of good food. If it doesn’t nourish the microbes, it won’t nourish you.

      In fact, coconut oil—and olive and other nut oils, to a lesser extent—has a very long shelf life due to the low susceptibility of saturated fat to oxidation. And purified oil in general doesn’t do a very good job of nourishing microbes, because it contains no water. This is also why dried meats and fruits have a much longer shelf life than fresh meats and fruits.Report

  12. DensityDuck says:

    I’m more worried about the people who want to put mayo on my cheesesteak.Report

  13. krogerfoot says:

    When I was in 4th grade, before I had really established myself as an interplanetary jewel thief and ladies’ man, I moved to rural east Texas. Nothing – not the boot-wearing school principal, not the 14-year-olds who drove themselves to the bus stop, not the incredible variety of venomous wildlife – nothing made as much impression on me as the fact that those people routinely put mayonnaise on hamburgers and ketchup on hot dogs. If this is the new normal in the rest of the republic, I guess my exile just became permanent.Report

  14. Kazzy says:

    I’ve heard it rumored that Five Guys uses an industrial grade mayonnaise which is somehow even more unhealthy than the regular Helman’s stuff.

    I’ve been to restaurants that offer mayo on a burger, but it is always mentioned, indicating that it is something atypical that they are informing you of. I’ve never gone somewhere that it is standard and unnoted and where I had to asked for it to be held. On some burgers, I like it. Generally, I don’t go for it.Report

  15. Plinko says:

    This is why Five Guys is my dream burger joint – one where you order your burger by size and whether or not it has cheese and bacon, then get to choose from whatever combination of other things you want on it, no combing through various pre-made concoctions and praying they get the substitutions right.

    Separately, hot dog purists are lame. Ketchup is good on a hot dog.Report

  16. Scott Fields says:

    Discussions of excellent burgers should begin and end with the In-N-Out Double Double – as it comes with what they call their Spread (a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise and pickle pieces), I’ve never had a problem with Mayo on a burger.Report

    • greginak in reply to Scott Fields says:

      I’m not trying to incite regional war but In and Out is overrated. However i will give huge shout out to White Castle. Good ol proletarian basic basic burgers. eat them up …yum.Report

      • Will H. in reply to greginak says:

        Dude, White Castle seriously grosses me out.
        The one place I’d go for a burger to eat the bread.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to greginak says:

        I understand there are those who are unimpressed with (Southern) California’s iconic burger. There is a degree of objective wrongness about this, but I am willing to concede that one might prefer one’s own regional favorite. But to prefer the soggy, tasteless, and sour White Castle burger to In-n-Out’s pinnacle of burgerdom represents a very serious error in judgment.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Yeah, for chains In-n-out and Five Guys are about as good as it gets. The only way to get worse than White Castle is to go Krystal.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

            My issues with In-and-Out are thus (and I greatly enjoy and In-and-Out burger):
            1.) I find the burgers a bit dry. Compared to Five Guys, which are a bit greasy, I’d rather have too greasy than too dry.
            2.) Fries. There is just nothing special going on with those fries.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

              +1 on #2. Though if you order the fries “well-done”, they’re at least crispier on the outside.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I always get my fries “well-done” (though I think some places say, “Sure, of course,” and then just do whatever they always do). I don’t think a fry should have the consistency of mashed potatoes. Perhaps that would redeem them a bit, but it likely would simply get them to “average”.

                I’m a bit of a fry snob.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

                Then eat McDonalds fries. They are one of the top 20 in the country. And we’re talking more than fast food, when I say that.Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Kim says:

                One day, Mickey D’s is going to come out with a product that has some taste to it (the McRibs come closest) and I will be stunned. Guck.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

                I have never worked out the appeal of a french fry. It’s an abusive practice perpetuated on perfectly innocent potatoes.

                I am with Gollum: “keep your nassty chips”.Report

              • Anne in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy Mutt’s Amazing Hotdogs here in OKC has fries fried in duck fat and seasoned with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese they are incredibleReport

            • Alan Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

              The problem is they cut the potatoes right there on site, and fry them. It’s like eating the bad parts of a baked potato.

              Most fast food fries are cut and fried in a factory, frozen, shipped to the local restaurant and dumped in boiling oil and fried again. Sure, it sounds uncomfortably industrial, but the double-frying and the freezing disrupts the cell structure and frees up the starches, making for a smoother, fluffier fry.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

              In ‘n Out’s fries are as fresh as you can get. None of that frozen until boiled crap. They chuck the potato in the fry slicer right there in the open-to-public-view kitchen, then immediately into the oil. Fresh. Can’t beat that, unless you like thick soggy re-thawed fries.Report

          • Plinko in reply to Glyph says:

            I was highly impressed with In-N-Out the one time I was able to have one. I’d like to get a few more chances to try them before I declare them ahead or behind of my favorites – Culver’s and Five Guys.
            White Castle and Krystal go into a different category – one where you’re not being served something that has a questionable right to be called ‘food’.Report

          • MikeSchilling in reply to Glyph says:

            I had never head of Five Guys until this thread. Of course, at lunch just now, while we were eating burgers, a co-worker mentioned that one just opened near him. They seem to be moving into Notherrn California, but slowly.Report

            • Glyph in reply to MikeSchilling says:

              Tip – if you get an order of fries, make sure you also bring 2 or 3 friends to help you eat them. They give you about 12 potatoes’ worth.

              They basically just fill the carryout bag.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to greginak says:

        greg, you just lost all my respect. Nobody can diss In and Out and praise White Castle in the same comment without they got drop kicked into hornet’s nest as a baby. It’s just seriously wrong.Report

    • James K in reply to Scott Fields says:

      I’ve never had In-N-Out (I haven’t had a lot of opportunity you understand), but then equally the places I like to get a burger don’t exist in the US either:
      Burger WisconscinReport

      • greginak in reply to James K says:

        Wisconsin??? What does Wisconsin mean or refer to that there is a chain in NZ called that.

        In the US, real americans don’t eat burgers with fancy commie cheeses like Brie or Camembert.

        First time i went to In and Out was years ago during a work trip to the LA area. I reported in to the wife that i had gone to the IO as assigned and was informed that it is actually the shakes that are great there and are the must get item.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to James K says:

        I now wish to travel to New Zealand so as to eat at Burger Wisconsin. There is a reasonable possibility that the burger is good enough to be worth the flight.Report

        • greginak in reply to Burt Likko says:

          As a rule the chips (fries) in Commonwealth countries ( and Ireland) are worth the flight.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

          My original thought was that the restaurant was likely to be a Culver’s kinda place. Deep Fried Cheese Curds, that sort of thing.

          Instead, I find myself yelling “NINE BUCKS FOR A FREAKIN BURGER???” and then “I wonder if the so-called ‘spicy tomato salsa’ is, in fact, either spicy or a salsa”.

          Please put me down for a “venison & otago plum”. I know, it says it’s low in fat. I assume that they’re legally obliged to mention such trivia despite that it might chase people off.Report

    • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Scott Fields says:

      In-and-Out also has the BEST employee satisfaction among fast-foods, because they treat employees right — pay a good wage, and encourage promotion. The founder believed that true Christian principals (not the “Prosperity Gospel”) was the right way to manage. They still include bible verses on all the cups. I hope the current owner (grand-daughter of the founders) continues the legacy.

      Animal Style is my favorite.Report

  17. Shazbot5 says:

    I think the answer is simple: the dominance of The Whopper as the paradigm of a hamburger in American culture.

    “The Whopper is a hamburger, consisting of a flame grilled quarter-pound (113.4 g) beef patty, sesame seed bun, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and sliced onion.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whopper

    That description: mayo, ketchup, lettuce, onions, pickles is pretty much every burger that I see in a diner these days, and in a burger specialty place, a burger fitting that description is usually called “a classic” even though it doesn’t seem to have any tradition prior to the Whopper. (Mabe it does.)

    Also, I think you want to remember that Obama was proven unamerican -per Hannity- for wanting mustard on his burger: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/07/hannity-attacks-obama-for_n_198851.html

    I also seem to remember lots of burgers having ketchup, mustard, onions and no-lettuce or mayo. (That is also McDonald’s basic hamburger, which the kids still like, but seems unpopular to adults, especially compared to the bigger burgers, like a Big Mac or Whopper.)Report

    • Michelle in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      Could Sean Hannity be a bigger douche?Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      a burger fitting that description is usually called “a classic”

      Not in Iowa. When I was a kid we used to do family gatherings with my father’s parents/family, who were all from a small town in Iowa. Dad’s mom did all the cooking. On a day at lunch time, she shouted to the group “would anyone like a vegetable burger?” This was so long ago that things like vegetarian burgers and whatnot were really new ideas, so I thought to myself: hell, that sounds interesting, and maybe even tasty. I’ll try one!

      I found out later that in Iowanese, “vegetable burger” was a ground beef patty served with lettuce, pickles and onions. And mayonaise.

      The vegetarian in the group was sorely disappointed.Report

  18. NewDealer says:

    I think it is possibly to be more foodie and European. I remember going to Disneyworld in 4th grade and being grossed out by the fact that they had Mayo for the burgers and fries in the Europe sections.

    Now at 32, I still don’t like Mayo. Yesterday my brother put Mayo on his burger. Maybe I will talk to him by Wednesday. Maybe.Report

  19. Kazzy says:

    FWIW, I remember seeing fast food burgers with LTO and mayo described as a “California” or some derivation thereof. I don’t know that I still see that nomenclature.Report

  20. Michelle says:

    Mayo doesn’t’ belong on hamburgers. It’s an even bigger sin to put it on corned beef although I’ve seen it done.

    Never quite made it to an In-and-Out when we lived in LA, but I have heard it’s good. I always favored Carl’s Junior.Report

  21. DensityDuck says:

    Burger Thing
    Taco Smell
    Hurls Junior
    In-N-Out Right Away
    Pizza Butt
    Crappa John’sReport

  22. When it comes to mayonnaise vs. the ketchup-mustard-pickle-onion regime, I think the common practice, at least in chain fast-food places that I’ve patronized, is that the larger burgers have mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, etc., while the smaller ones still observe the ketchup-mustard, etc. (Russell is not entirely correct when he says Wendy’s hamburgers have mayonnaise by default. The singles and larger sandwiches do, but the jr. hamburgers and jr. cheeseburgers don’t (I’m not including the “junior” specialties, like the Jr. Bacon Cheese, which comes with mayo, tomato, and lettuce).)

    Burger King and Hardee’s seem to follow a similar pattern. The mom-and-pop joints I’m familiar with usually have mayo as an option.

    McDonald’s is partially an outlier. It’s quarter pounder has the ketchup, mustard, etc., but the big mac has something like mayonaise (the 1000 island sauce or whatever it is), and the new “angus burgers” do, too.

    Other chains might do it differently.

    It’s embarrassing that I know so much about this.Report

  23. Miss Mary says:

    I read this when it was first posted. Tonight I noticed, there are 210 comments on a post about mayo! I foolishly began reading. Twenty minutes later, when will I learn?Report

  24. DensityDuck says:

    Also, note how everything has “melty cheese” these days.

    As in “soybean oil with carragenan thickener and cheese flavoring, instead of actual cheese”.Report