Back in My Day

I read an article on Yahoo! Food the other day about Secret Menus, and how many restaurants have secret menus and not so secret menus.  It spoke on the evolution of those menus and the franchises that have pulled them off brilliantly (In-and-Out Burger) and those that have failed dismally (Panera).  It was interesting; however, my favorite part of the article was the social impact that secret menus have and why they have such a strong appeal to Generation X.

In the middle of Generation X, we were thought to be slackers, flannel wearing coffee drinkers… and well, while that is true, studies have shown that we are the most education, the most focused on family, and we have the highest percentage of voters and volunteers.  Gen X’ers played the first video game, we are the masters at creating the perfect mix tape and we value honesty and fairness.

The “X” in Gen X came from the fact that our generation feels (felt) disconnected, alienated, we aren’t like the generation before us, and we really aren’t like the generation after us! As such, the ability to be “in the know” and have special knowledge about something gives us a sense of belonging. The secret menu has played into the common characteristic of the generation, that we just want a connection.

Brian Wansink, author of Slim By Design and founder of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, which studies consumer behavior related to food, agrees that people have a psychological draw to secret menus. “Some people really value fine dining because they feel like they’re part of an exclusive club,” Wansink says. These hard-to-get (or afford) experiences are a symbol of that person’s uniqueness. “The secret menu does that,” Wansink says, “but it’s a whole lot cheaper to spend eight dollars on a burger than it is to join the Philadelphia Country Club.” Though secret menus can appeal to people in any age group, Wansink sees it as a “Generation X Thing,” adding: “They’ve been told all their life that they’re unique. This is one way of reinforcing that.”

You can read the entire article here: Yahoo! Food Secret Burger Menus, Explained

It’s an interesting article, but you follow that up and realize that Generation Y is in the work force now and Millennials dominant traits are those of narcissism and a sense of entitlement.

Millennial-entitlement | Did That Just Happen Blog

Alas, all hope is not lost as we get to the point of the blog post today.  James Harrison.

James Harrison trophy post

The post reads:

I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy. #harrisonfamilyvalues

What do you think? Are “secret menus” an exclusive club? Should we have participation trophies? I’m not sure what the answer is, all I know is that I’m looking forward to the day what I get to be the one saying “In my day, we had to walk to school.  Up hill.  Both Ways. With no shoes.  In snow.”

34 thoughts on “Back in My Day

  1. I haven’t heard of secret menus before – not sure if we have them in Australia. But I agree that nowadays the bar has been set very low so that our children never know what it is like to fail at something – at some point we all fail but what matters is how we pick ourselves up and keep going. Nothing worth having comes easily after all.

  2. I don’t think that the secret menus are for an exclusive club, but they do bring a bit of added enjoyment when ordering. Really it’s just a tool for marketing. They market to the Gen X’s, but anyone can enjoy it. Participation trophies are questionable. I agree that kids should be taught to EARN awards and not just have them handed over. On the flip side, it’s sometimes nice to award their efforts too, but with a smaller award. Nothing should be handed over freely though. There must be some kind of work put into it. Those entitlement folks (and there’s A LOT of them) make my blood boil. I could write posts for days on that topic! But, I won’t.

  3. I really like this Kate. What struck me was the Harrison tweet and the part about- sometimes you do your best and your best is not enough. That is such an important lesson to learn. I fear, sometimes, my stepkids fall into the “I participated, therefore I am awesome” mentality.

    Sometimes, sports and other things to them still seem like “dress up” activities. If you wear the soccer uniform, then you must be a soccer player- despite never having played soccer in your life or really displaying no interest in soccer (beyond dressing up in aforementioned uniform 🙂 )

    • I think it’s a great lesson to learn, and I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement, that has always worked best to motivate Mr. T, but I think I would have to draw the line at a participation trophy! We have medals and trophies of his throughout the house, because he’s very proud of them, because he EARNED them. And I never realized how glad I was of those lessons!

  4. Interesting post, Kate. I agree that Generation Y is growing up with a feeling of entitlement. Just like that ‘Queen’ song, they want it ALL and they want it NOW. One thing that niggled me about 15 years ago, was when our eldest granddaughter was invited to a four-year-old friend’s birthday party, and my daughter insisted that she had to buy a present for the older sibling as well, so she wouldn’t feel left out. I remember thinking at the time, that it was a rather crazy idea, but now I see the same thing happening with or younger grandchildren. 😦

    • Oh my goodness, yes!! That buying a present for the other kids so they don’t feel left out… I don’t even understand! I find that so detrimental to those kids, they are missing out on valuable life experiences that will help them grow into wonderful adults!!

  5. I want to know more about Panera’s secret menu. I know a little insight to In-N-Outs;) I think the secret menus are fun. I don’t think getting a trophy without earning is something I can stand behind. One time my very non athletic son got a certificate for outstanding in P.E. because it was like the teacher wanted him to feel “special/included” however my son is not stupid and I remember him questioning it “mom, why would I get a certificate in P.E. when it’s my worst subject?” I was even a little upset about it. We are realists even though I seem like a dreamer. I’m not knocking my son down, we just know the facts. What a thought provoking read.

    • I’m glad you liked it, and Mr. T is the same, you can’t pull off a participation medal or certificate over on him! And, those tend to disappear, but the ones that he worked for and earned, well those are displayed! I think that there are lessons that seem harsh at the time, but turn us into the best kinds of people!

  6. I am not a fan of participation trophies. I never received one for years of sports growing up and I usually started a sport being pretty challenged. I had to work my butt off to get better and to me that’s one of the best parts- knowing you had the drive to get to where you are. I love my running bling but sometimes I feel guilty about it. I know I am putting in the work and out there finishing the races but I’m not fast and not winning anything so sometimes I feel like a hypocrite.

    • I didn’t think of racing bling as a “trophy”, but it’s a medal… so I guess that counts – but you finished the race, right? I think that counts as a win – well, it would in my book! Now, if you quit half way through, then that would just be participating, and that’s when I’d feel guilty, lol.

  7. It is interesting that in sport, only one person gets across the line first. Trophy or no trophy, everyone knows who was the best. In academic fields in school, however, they give awards for trying. That lowers the self-esteem of the bright child who is not given any recognition of getting across the line first.

  8. I think we always think the younger generation coming through are slackers. That’s just what the oldies (now us lol) think. We were the flanno wearing coffee drinkers and now there’s those with a sense of entitlement which is essentially the same thing dressed up in different words when you boil it all down. I love the Harrison quote. I’m not sure that I believe in participation trophies either. It’s ok that there can only be one winner. That’s life. Do you get a medal at the Olympics for showing up?

      • Just came across this quote from Socrates in an article which pretty much lines up with exactly what we were saying when it comes to perceptions of “the youth of today”.

        The following quote was attributed to Socrates (469–399 B.C.), which shows our ancestors of long ago felt the same way about children: “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

  9. Sigh … Wouldn’t it be refreshing if there were awards for personal growth and being true to yourself?
    Where you know your talents and get recognition for shining in your own way. Where you learn how to overcome difficulties, face disappointment and then rise to meet a new day.
    This would be a real win/win!

  10. I think the way you raised your son is rare. I find this study totally relevant and I do believe that there are many people who feel entitled for NOTHING. Probably doesn’t help that our government likes to support that mindset but God only knows what the result of that will be. .. All I know is I’m prepped to move to England if need be 😉

      • Oh man and not even just kids… there are many adults that act the same way and it’s so upsetting! I had a girlfriend once that was complaining that she had no money for groceries and she scrolled down the latest iphone with her freshing salon-manicured nails… um… let me think why I have money and you don’t… maybe it’s cause when I’m broke my phone DOES NOT get paid and I sure as hell am not going to go spend $100 on my nails. Yet these types of people feel sorry for themselves that life is so hard on them and no one else. Really? I mean… really!!??

  11. Participation trophies… Ugh. I don’t know who’s idea that was but it was a bad one. Just as telling every kid that they’re special. Well, if they’re all special then really, they’re not. Being different is important and everyone is different. Not special. I remember the talented and gifted program that began when I was in junior high. My cousin Justin was a part of that program. I was old enough to know that I thought it was stupid. Why are certain kids in this program just because they get better grades? I could have gotten better grades and been put in that program but I’d rather play sports than study. I maintained at least a “C” to stay eligible for sports and I was good with that. True Gen X’er right here!! I didn’t think that my cousin or any other kid was any more special than anyone else and thought that club was dumb. Kids like me made fun of the “TAG” kids all the time! I played team sports from the time I was 6 years old. I was the only girl on the pee wee baseball team. Yeah, back when T-Ball WASN’T played. It was a few years after that they brought in t-ball. Wusses. Learn to hit a ball without a T and you’ll be great. I was great. We won some and we lost some but ONLY got awards when we won. If we lost, we sucked it up and practiced harder. It’s what made us better and better every year. When I got to “senior” league softball at age 14, we had an undefeated team. We were that good. I went to All-stars in 1985 and 1988. I didn’t play in 1987 because we didn’t have enough players to have a team. In 1986 I was an alternate. I wasn’t good enough that year. Yeah I was mad but made me work harder for what I wanted. Softball was my passion back then. Nobody got a trophy just for being there. Sorry, kind of went off there… But seriously, I know some Millennials who expect that they should be making a lot more money, who should have a new car and who should have the latest things. Those of us who don’t have that sense of entitlement know that you have to work your way up and it’s a long road to get to where you think you should be. Just my two cents. I have a lot of respect for parents who have kids in the Millennial generation who have had to work extra hard to teach them that they aren’t entitled. It has to be a hard thing to do!

    • LOL Kari! When I was typing this I was trying to remember if I got a trophy in basketball because we were good… or if it was participation! Unlike you, I can’t remember those details… so we’ll just go with the fact that I was good! 🙂 The other day Mr. T showed me a picture of a new car, one of his classmates just got… and then he goes ‘I bet she wrecks it in the next 6 months, she didn’t work for it so she won’t be very careful with it. I mean, her dad does well for himself, but I can’t believe he gave her a car!”
      Proud mom moment there! 🙂

  12. OMG… Bravo, bravo, bravo to James Harrison, for his total and complete awesomeness!!!

    How on earth can we expect anything other than entitlement from millennials when we teach them, from birth it seems, that they qualify for awards and rewards for doing absolutely nothing of merit?

    No, you’re not all winners.
    No, you aren’t the smartest. Or fastest. Or best at X.

    We heard those messages loud and clear in Gen X (and prior), and we turned out okay. Why is it we feel the need to coddle millennials in a way that we ourselves weren’t coddled?

    It’s very, very bizarre.

    p.s. Animal style is my favourite way to enjoy my In N Out burger! 🙂

    • We did hear those messages, and they were very clear that not everyone was the best, and man, did it instill a healthy competitive spirit in me to work harder! There have been times that I’ve been completely flabbergasted at the Millennials attitudes of entitlement, it’s hard to believe that is where we’ve landed… but on the opposite side, I have read some accounts that state GenY will be more civic minded. Not sure that balances out the entitlement, but there it is! LOL

  13. Totally on the fence about the trophies thing. We have a few of those and I can honestly say I have no clue where they are as they are certainly not displayed prominently in a shelf in my home. Not for like of trying, anyway. But I do think my little “participants” don’t value them they way they might have has they actually earned for a different reason other than just showing up.

    • I’m not exactly sure where I stand either, but Mr. T has grown up with the knowledge that you appreciate and respect something that you work for more than something that is given to you! And, he’s not a slacker, that kid gets out there and goes after his dreams, so I think it’s good that your participants are already starting to experience the difference!

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