Today I was invited to a Fall tasting at my local Panera Bread. I’m nobody special; I just belong to their free loyalty program. They have a “slot machine” style of conditioning us loyal members. After a random number of visits they give you a free bagel, smoothie or bakery treat. Nothing big, but you know if you just keep going, your next trip will be the big pay-out. Since butter and sugar are my drugs of choice, all I need is that free bear claw every other month to keep me hooked. And I am sure I’ve played straight into their sticky little marketing hands by blogging about my pleasant experience this evening when my loyalty paid off big time.
I took my sister ( funniest human on this planet, BTW) as my “+1” and we chowed down on a nice array of dishes:
Mac & Cheese — mmmmmmm, creamy with big, zaftig elbow macaroni
Steak Chili — the corn bread crouton was a nice touch
Turkey and artichoke panini — the panini is my new glamour sandwich
Some autumnal salad with turkey and dried cherries — how come I can never replicate this sort of thing at home? Is it the dressing? Fruit in my home-made salad never comes off.
Chocolate Pecan Bobka — ’nuff said
Pumpkin Spice Latte: I’m always a patsy for these frou-frou “holiday” drinks. I can pass a Starbucks all year long without a glance, but once they start using those red holiday cups it’s like I fall under some sort of jolly elfin spell and a $5 cup of coffee with sugary flavoring seems normal.
I thought the nice Panera workers would make us fill out some sort of feedback card and hustle us along, but no, they let us linger and malinger as long as we wanted — and eat more of the same treats, too. They could not have been any less intrusive. Which can only mean they brainwashed me into writing this post by spiking my latte and bobka with some weird carbo-endorphins. I’ll be back — if only for my bear claw.