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Corporate training videos: Where pop music goes to die.
October 23, 2011 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Hot drinks! [SLYTs all the way down] One wonders why a late-80s fast food chain felt the need to have all their training videos sung as middle-of-the-road hip hop and R&B songs.

Or to rip the backing track straight out of a Bobby Brown song. Were workers so bored that they felt they needed to catch their attention? Did management feel it would make the videos speak to the young people they were hiring? Or was it just to make phrases like "bowls for the dining room, and cups are to go" more memorable? Bonus footage of Wendy's founder Dave Thomas saying "best in the bidness" in this one, which transitions weirdly into the music videos.
posted by gusandrews (48 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obligatory link to Noah Antwiler's commentary on the Gamecrazy training video.
posted by kafziel at 5:11 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obligatory gag reflex at the idea of Wendy's chili.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:14 PM on October 23, 2011


Welcome to the Billy Ocean Burger Emporium! Would you like like fries with your Caribbean Queen?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:16 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, the Hot Drinks one is... I won't say good, but a lot better than a lot of, you know, actual music from the time.
posted by cmoj at 5:20 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


In my darkest, restless nights I like to imagine the guy who writes these songs. He got into the biz writing jingles for local businesses with lyrics like "Mattress world. Your world of mattress savings. 1800-642-1820". But he made it to the big time: corporate training. He now has a mantle lined with Emcies (from the Excellence in Musical Corporate-development awards held every year at the jingle-writers convention held in a holiday inn somewhere off the Jersey turnpike).

His hair is a little thinner. And he may not have played a live show with his band in two decades. But he is still a rock n' roller, he tells himself in the bathroom mirror every morning.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:21 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I lost my shit at "that baby is chili meat" in the Grill Skills video. And then the patties started to sing, but I had no more shit left to lose. These are amazing!
posted by bewilderbeast at 5:40 PM on October 23, 2011


Oh, oh no. I would call Pepsi Blue on this, but these behind-the-scenes videos very effectively de-appetize. A keen-eyed youtuber noticed during the "Chili can be served.." video that a small black speck swirled its way into a Frosty at 0:12. The sight of those square patties being pressed on the grill, with extreme closeups of the greasy, whitish residue just ..turns..the..stomach. Granted, these videos were not meant for general consumption (yes, intended) and perhaps serve to make the food just another user input so as to deter employees' from mindlessly gorging on the food in front of them.

But yeah, I think perhaps the economy is making its way back down, and we could all do well to watch some of these videos in advance, so we do well during our interviews. :-/
posted by obscurator at 5:46 PM on October 23, 2011


And then there's this.
posted by redbeard at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2011


You know what I'd like? To work a 40 hour week at Wendy's and be able to maintain the payments on my house and student loans. I remember the graveyard shift washing dishes at Denny's when I was a kid. That was fun.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


FLYT
posted by DU at 5:54 PM on October 23, 2011


Obligatory gag reflex at the idea of Wendy's chili.

That sounds harsh, but not to disparage the workers r&b directed efforts, there's just something gross about the idea of Wendy's chili that I can't quite put my finger on.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:55 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fast Food Nation talked about how fast food joints aim for minimal (or even zero) training, the ability to just plug people into jobs as quickly as possible, because these places have to deal with up to 400% employee turnover each year.

It may very well be that these videos were the only real training offered.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:57 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it has a lot to do with where you live. Fast food places in the Mid South where I went to college were disgusting. I wouldn't touch a cup of Wendy's chili there. Where I'm from in Maine, though, the restaurants are mostly pristine. I have no compunction about eating Wendy's chili; in fact, it's my go-to fast food item, along with a "baked" potato.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:59 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep Wendy's chili and baked patatos are are like the pinnacle of the fast food. I used to piss off my girlfriend by making her stop for chili and/or baked potatoes. On our way out to dinner I would demand apps, which meant either Wendy's chili, or if she was particularly unlucky, crispy chicken snack wraps.

One day I will be able to get snack wraps and chili in the same place, and I will never go to another restaurant ever again.

Lest you think I am simply a glutton, I never go to a restaurant or the grocery store on an empty stomach. If, while I the way to dinner,I start fantasizing about allnthe sides I am going to order, I stop for a bite so I don't go nuts at the restaurant.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


redbeard-

have we introduced you to the fisting videos?
posted by PinkMoose at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2011


Welcome to the Billy Ocean Burger Emporium! Would you like like fries with your Caribbean Queen?

I was 6 years old when this came out. Best song ever at that time. So I recently found out that Billy Ocean is going to come to my little corner of the world to perform.

Kinda weird that its a pretty heavy marijuana festival...but I gotta reclaim that 6 year old's favorite song. And I swear to god I will start a motherfucking riot if he doesn't perform "Carribbean Queen" or "Get outta my dream".
posted by hal_c_on at 6:19 PM on October 23, 2011


PinkMoose: "redbeard-

have we introduced you to the fisting videos?
"

Wow! Talk about training!
posted by Samizdata at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2011


>>have we introduced you to the fisting videos?"
Wow! Talk about training!


It's all about working well with others.
posted by mrbill at 6:32 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


(ducks)
posted by Flashman at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2011


One wonders why a late-80s fast food chain felt the need to have all their training videos sung as middle-of-the-road hip hop and R&B songs.
Probably for the same reason that they all feel compelled to tell us to "follow" them or "friend" them, or read their twits.
posted by -1 at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


have we introduced you to the fisting videos

In a (hopefully) final attempt to make a Wendy's chili joke I'll say that it and fisting share the same worst-case scenario: coming out of there with a different number of fingers than you had going in.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:58 PM on October 23, 2011


With a memory like Billy's, it's a shame he's stuck working at wendy's. Is there a video for grill skills out there that's just the rapping parts together?
posted by Betty_effn_White at 7:02 PM on October 23, 2011


there's just something gross about the idea of Wendy's chili that I can't quite put my finger on.

The beef in the chili is made up of torn-up patties -- this was in the case that too many patties had been cooked but could not be served as burger patties because they were not piping hot off the grill. Otherwise, it's a couple cans of beans and a bag of frozen onions and peppers. (Worked at Wendy's as a kid.)
posted by mochapickle at 7:05 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


there's just something gross about the idea of Wendy's chili that I can't quite put my finger on.

Maybe too subtle, villanelles at dawn.
posted by univac at 7:10 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm favoriting that so its handy during my eventual callout for making dumb jokes.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:17 PM on October 23, 2011


Oh, was that a dirty joke? I'm very bad at catching them. Is "chili" slang for vagina, like "taco"? Really, I suck at humor.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:23 PM on October 23, 2011


The weird thing to me about these videos is that by the time I worked at Wendy's, we didn't have to watch the videos, but every single rule was exactly the same. Wendy's was my first "real job" (the summer before I turned 17 and enrolled at college,) so it left a huge psychological impact; that thing about using the scoop not the cup just took 14 years off my life for a minute. Now I'm worried there's, like, a video out there that puts all the Disney Look hair and shoe rules to some kind of wacky pop tune.

And I can confirm the thing about the patties in the chili. Also, at least when I was there, we actually baked the potatoes, in an oven. Wendy's had significantly more "real food" than any of the other fast food places I worked at - bearing in mind I worked at a Wendy's that still had a potato bar. For the first two hours I worked each day that summer, I was responsible for chopping the lettuce. Every other place I've worked, it came in bags.

Ad hominem: You can also, for the record, get snack wraps at Wendy's - at least, the corporate ones in Central Ohio, where all Wendy's ideas, both good and bad, are born and raised.
posted by SMPA at 7:27 PM on October 23, 2011


Ohhhhh.... Way too subtle. :)
posted by mochapickle at 7:32 PM on October 23, 2011


Boy, they sure do like their meat hanging off the side of the bun.
posted by furtive at 7:34 PM on October 23, 2011


Cool Papa Bell: I've worked for Hardee's, Wendy's, Steak n' Shake, Denny's and Burger King (not in that order.) Training varied significantly, from "you're new, let's put you on the drive-through when you've been here for ten minutes and you've never touched a modern cash register" (kept that job for two whole days) to almost a week of job shadowing and a complicated three-month probationary status period with lots of tests.

Denny's and Burger King had the most significant video components when comparing it to how much real training time we had (both had a lot of mandatory "don't sexually harass people,"/"racism is bad" videos.) Wendy's and Steak n' Shake gave me huge books and had me slowly progress from the easiest jobs to the most complicated ones.

I honestly think, though, that the biggest differences were due to local store management. I've seen kids training at a particular Taco Bell, for instance - they've had a manager helping them with worksheets and constantly checking up on them, but other times have been parked in front of a TV and ignored. That location got some kind of creepy corporate intervention (scary looking guy in a suit there every day for about two weeks) between the "abandoned to watch videos" and "intensive personal coaching" periods. The place also got a lot cleaner and the food was suddenly up to regional standards, which was cool but also somewhat bizarre.

I should really spend less time in fast food restaurants.
posted by SMPA at 7:36 PM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


there's just something gross about the idea of Wendy's chili that I can't quite put my finger on IN.

FTFY
posted by obscurator at 7:40 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then there's this .

I worked the night shift at McDonald's (or "Ron's" or "Bloaters" as my friends and I used to call it) as a "maintenance man" doing "machines". It was a surreal summer. I would start work at 11pm, and start taking apart machines and draining oil. I once made a mistake and pumped hot fryer oil all over the floor. My workmates were not amused.

There were typically three maintenance men on the night shift. I worked with a father and son team, and they listened to Johnny Horton on the boombox all night. The other guy liked Rush.

That summer the father and son maintenance man team went on holiday, and the other guy went back to school, so the manager hired a replacement. He was a "little person", a dwarf. He had a cognitive impairment, wore diapers, and was almost legally blind. He had worked for a while in the neighbourhood picking up trash for the residents' association, under the shadow of a tower block apartment building. He used to have to wear a hard hat while doing that job, as the residents of the tower block would throw beer bottles at him.

My first shift with him was a disaster - he couldn't do anything, and I had to spend all of my time doing his work. I quit on the spot. Several months later he was hit by a car crossing the street.

I gained 20 pounds working at McDonalds that summer, but it was an interesting job.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:48 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chili can be served with cheese.

A singer's itinerary:

10 AM: Gig for Wendy's. Have to work self into frenzy concerning proper way to stir chili.
11 AM: Drugs.
posted by JHarris at 8:18 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wendy's where I grew up was always the classy fast food place. But I never ate the chili - just the chicken sandwich. Damn that sandwich is good though. But the chili scared the living shit out of me.
posted by scunning at 8:28 PM on October 23, 2011


Don't think twice,
give the guest a juicy slice.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:55 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


SLYT has officially lost all meaning.
posted by hermitosis at 9:56 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


It doesn't mean Some Links (from) YouTube?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:09 PM on October 23, 2011


Unless there's only one link, in which case it carries the original meaning. It's an ambidextrous acronym, an ambidronym.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2011


SLYT has officially lost all meaning.

Perhaps mathowie could do a training video, and cortex could do the background music. jessamyn, of course, could be dressed up as Wendy.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 PM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


o/~ Next is Decaf, you brew it just like coffee o/~

Thus, proving that even giant chains recognize that decaf is a substance almost, but not quite, entirely unlike coffee.
posted by madajb at 10:57 PM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I always thought Single Link You Tube was dumb anyway. It only started because people said "not another single link YouTube post" so SLYT simply mirrored the word order of the complaint. If anyone would have stopped to think they would have realized SYT or SYTL,if you aren't into the whole brevity thing, are much better.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:29 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dislike the passive aggressive [via].

But is this just a coincidence?

Just saying to give credit.
posted by Jorus at 12:25 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone noticed that the Billy in the grill video bears a striking resemblance to a young Tim Heidecker?
posted by _superconductor at 1:58 AM on October 24, 2011


mrbill: ">>have we introduced you to the fisting videos?"Wow! Talk about training!

It's all about working well with others.
"

Yeah, well. It's a little too hands on for me. I don't like getting that deep into things with people I have just met.
posted by Samizdata at 3:51 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I honestly think, though, that the biggest differences were due to local store management. I've seen kids training at a particular Taco Bell, for instance - they've had a manager helping them with worksheets and constantly checking up on them, but other times have been parked in front of a TV and ignored.

Yeah, I think I vaguely remember one half-hearted training video from the stint where I worked at McDonald's, and most of the training came from the managers. It's possible, though, that after meeting me they realized, "Oh, wait, this kid has a brain," and figured the five minutes it'd take for them to show me how the registers worked was faster than the 20 minutes the video took.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 AM on October 24, 2011


In a (hopefully) final attempt to make a Wendy's chili joke I'll say that it and fisting share the same worst-case scenario: coming out of there with a different number of fingers than you had going in.

I think the much more likely bad scenario for either would just be a sore asshole.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, re: Grill Skills - DAMMIT DAVE STOP SAYING 'OLD FAYSHUNNED' THAT'S NOT HOW YOU PRONOUNCE FASHIONED
posted by FatherDagon at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


THAT'S NOT HOW YOU PRONOUNCE FASHIONED

O + Dave Thomas = .
The man called hamburger geometry into question, flipping our proverbial fast food knowledge on its head and squeezing out the viscous juices of our circular expectations.

So, um, perhaps the use of the phrase "old-fashioned" is more problematic than its pronunciation...
posted by obscurator at 12:38 AM on October 25, 2011


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