Thursday, January 29, 2015

You weren't at Senator Vitter's do last night? You missed some swell eats


by Ken

I realize that this post comes a day late. I'm sure you're thinking that if only you'd known, and if you'd been in the D.C. area and had a hankering for some Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen fried chicken, you could have whipped out your checkbook and for a mere $1000 and enjoyed not just your chicken and sides (and your biscuit, and maybe some of that iced tea or lemonade) but also the company of both of Louisiana's U.S. senators.

Alas, Philip Bump's "Fix"-post ("David Vitter’s $1,000-a-head Popeye’s fundraiser could buy you A LOT of fast-food chicken") only went out at 1:51 yesterday afternoon, and I probably didn't get to it right away, and I surely didn't appreciate the urgency.
On Wednesday night, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) will host his state's new junior senator, Bill Cassidy (R), at a fundraiser benefitting Vitter's gubernatorial run this year. The invitation trumpets an unusual aspect of the event: It will be catered by Popeye's, the fast-food chicken franchise that trumpets its Louisiana roots and which, apparently, does catering.
"Apparently does catering"? Apparently? Did you look at your own link, Philip? They do catering "from our kitchen to YOUR table" and it's "perfect for parties, tailgating, reunions and more!" They have ready-listed "meal recommendations" for serving 20, 30, 50, 75, or 100.

And can you put a price on the opportunity to say a Louisiana howdy, not just to our old pal Sen. Dave "Diapers" Vitter but to Louisiana's brand-new senator, Bill Cassidy, the fellow who defeated Mary Landrieu. (I know we do a lot of whining hereabouts about "lesser of two evils" ballot choices, and Mary Landrieu was a pretty horrible senator. Still, repeat that phrase "Sen. Bill Cassidy" a few times and see if ol' Mary doesn't begin to look a little better.) Actually, I guess you can put a price on that opportunity: $1000.

Since according to Philip's lead, it was "a fundraiser benefitting Vitter's gubernatorial run this year," suggesting that the haul wasn't being split between the senators, I guess your $1000 would only have bought a tiny chunk of the governor-to-be. (Aren't you glad to know that there's talent like this waiting in the wings to slide into incumbent Gov. Booby Jindal's chair?) If you want to buy a piece of Senator Cassidy, you'll have to wait till he does a fund-raiser. I guess last night his people were building up their Rolodex.

As Philip notes, the choice of Popeyes for the catering, in addition to highlighting this great Louisiana delicacy, looked to be "a smart move for the fundraisers . . . cut[ting] down on overhead," reserving more of your $1000 for Diapers Dave's run at the governorship.

Philip decided to do some checking, and for some reason called a Popeyes in Louisiana ("just west of New Orleans, a few blocks from the Mississippi River") rather than one in the D.C. area,  where the food would actually have been purchased, "to see exactly how much their meals cost."
The manager that we spoke with gave us costs for some of the most popular items: $6.41 for the two-piece meal; $7.06 for the chicken tenders. She pitched the onion rings, which not all stores have and not all make fresh daily (small, $2; large, $3.80). She ran through the available sides: gravy on potatoes, Cajun rice, corn, green beans -- all $1.95, unless you get the meal.
For some reason Philip is really hung up on that $1000 price tag, though it seems like a pretty standard amount for a D.C. fund-raiser, and it's almost a bargain compared with the "Louisiana Bayou Weekend and Alligator Hunt," with Senator Vitter as "special guest," thrown back in September 2013 by the Fund for Louisiana's Future, a super PAC whose "goal was to support Vitter and his views." That was a cool $5000.

In any case, Philip got the curious idea of seeing how much Popeyes eats you could buy for $1000. I can't think why. If they had been serving more normal fund-raiser fare -- say, plates of banquet-style rubber chicken or roast beef, would he have tried to find out how much of that stuff you can buy for $1000? Surely the point about the $1000 is how much you net once you allow for the cost of the food plus all your other event costs. And, as we've established, keeping the food cost low should have meant more was left for the gubernatorial campaign after all the costs were paid.

Still, Philip did the math. He asked the Louisiana Popeyes manager he spoke to "how she'd spend $1,000" at her establishement, and "she figured she'd do $500 of each of the two most popular meals," which would have looked something like this:

Of course, as Philip notes, "that's not the catered rate . . . just the rate if you actually went into that store in Louisiana and dropped $1,000 at the register (don't try this, for the manager's sake). He adds: "If you're curious, it's 70,600 calories, 3,788 grams of fat, and 234,120 milligrams of sodium, just for the chicken." Well, yes, that would be the nutritional information if you ate all of the chicken. I guess that would be one way of getting your $1000 worth, if you don't place much value on rubbing elbows with Senators Vitters and Cassidy, or supporting the former's race for governor. In that case attending a fund-raiser for the purpose seems like a curious choice.

Still, Philip is determined to find "another context" for the $1000 price, and seeing as how he's done the math, we might as well follow along:
Louisiana doesn't have its own minimum wage law, so it's subject to the federal minimum wage. Assuming Popeye's employees make that $7.25 an hour, the $1,000 price tag for tonight's event would cost one of the people making the food about 138 hours of salary -- three-and-a-half weeks.

Or put another way: It's 1/37th of the median household income in Orleans Parish in 2013 -- meaning that the price tag for the fundraiser is about 9.8 days of income.
Yes, um, okay. I think we can probably agree that not many folks back in Orleans Parish planned to make the trip to D.C. for the fund-raiser last night, or for that matter would have shelled out the $1000 if the do had been held back home. I guess I'm just not following this, so let me just ask one last question --


Online, Popeyes has coupons customized to the customer's most convenient store location, and I'm sure no one would think less of Senator Vitter if he couponned to trim the costs for last night's do. On the contrary, who wouldn't admire his frugality? (If there's a limit to how many coupons you can use per order, his staff could have broken it into a couple of hundred orders, or however many were needed.) The senator might have saved enough to pay for an extra hooker session or two.

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At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

Well, THANKS Ken. I just got back and I couldn't get IN the party because I had figured I could borrow my grandfather's new HIP blue or gray Depends...
David Diapers Vitters, that freak, insists Diapers be RED or stained red,
Double ICK


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