I hate it when TV show 'jump the shark'. That point when you can tell the creative team has simply run dry of ideas and you're now being subjected to ideas that are so clearly scraping the barrel that you can almost feel the splinters digging into your skin.
I'd wager that the same can be said of food chains. They spring up, lure you in with some kind of USP and then after a few years of good business begin slumming it like no tomorrow, apparently safe in the knowledge that they have enough of a customer base to stay afoot.
That in mind I present you with my own 'List of Shame' - some places that used to be cool but now are now crap: Pret A Manger:
Remember when Pret first sprung up way back when? In the days when options for a fast quick lunch in a high street were either your standard fast food of McDonalds, KFC or a sausage roll from 'Chav-feeder' Gregs?
Here was a chain that down from the name, to the nicely thought out colours and style of their branding, seemed to be emphasing quality - fresh sandwiches (allegedly made that morning) and coffee, all for the working person on the move.
(True we all knew they were owned by McDonalds, and their sandwiches fattier than a Big Mac, but we kept that quiet ;)
Recently on my way out for the evening I needed something quick so dived into my nearest Pret branch. They were offering a new 'Halloumi Wrap' - being a huge halloumi fan this seemed ideal.
I wish I still had the list of ingredients that had gone into this thing. I could list them here and mark and 'X' next to them as I was barely able to discern what was present in this monstrosity.
The wrap itself had that hard, cardboad feel I associate from early noughties-attempts to create burritos from chains like Chiquitos and various supermarkets. The taste of the worst kind of ready meal.
As I bit into this wrap, and the it more or snapped and crumbled, I got to taste the halloumi itself. Or should I say what halloumi? I could barely taste anything resembling cheese let alone the lip-smacking yummy goodness I think of when I think of that wonderful cheesy treat.
Instead I got a flavour-free mush. A veritable 'taste-free paste' inserted into a hardboard wrap.
The coffee was OK but that's not saying much - the damage was done! If this is the best new stuff they can serve up then it will take me a lot of convincing to darken the door of Pret again.
More in the list of shame to follow as and when!