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The Story of the Veggie Burger


RUSH: John in Forsythe, Illinois.  Great to have you, sir.  Glad you waited.

CALLER:  First time I've ever called in.  Yeah, I've listened to you over the years, and I appreciate your trying to give both sides of something that finally needs to be exposed.  I'm a 37-year insurance broker.  Insurance is sold on trust.  What I've discovered with the Obamacare is that people really do not know what their health insurance policies are.  And this doesn't surprise me.  This is for a lot of new people, they've never seen health insurance, but even people that have health insurance and have to change their health insurance, people don't understand the differences of the copays. You know, I go back and forth with people.  I tell 'em, "Well, this plan, the bronze has this but it doesn't have this, and the other plan has this," and I'm talking about intelligent people that know their business but they don't understand health insurance.

RUSH:  Why don't they, do you think?

CALLER:  Well, I don't think they've ever been made to have to do it.  You know, a lot of people have the business owner buy it for the whole group.

RUSH:  Exactly right.

CALLER:  Yeah. 

RUSH:  It's just something that's taken care of.

CALLER:  Right.

RUSH:  You have this card, and you go to the doctor or the hospital and you give it to 'em.

CALLER:  I gotta tell you, down here in Illinois we had some executives from ADM, they had to go buy their own insurance because they decided to change the way they took care of retiree coverage.  These guys are sharp individuals.  And yet, even just figuring out how the payment works and how it reimburses everything, you know --

RUSH:  They didn't know. ADM is Archer Daniels Midland, the originators of the veggie burger.  I'll tell you that story, by the way.  We gotta take a break. 


RUSH: I said that Archer Daniels Midland invented the veggie burger.  You should've seen the looks I got on the other side of the glass.  "What are you talking about, Archer Daniels Midland invented the veggie burger?"  Let me explain it to you.  Back in the 1980s, Archer Daniels Midland was of the sponsor every Sunday of This Week with David Brinkley, and occasionally they'd buy time on the CBS Sunday show, and occasionally Meet the Press.

But they were in there every week on ABC, and they ran a great commercial about all the great things they were doing to create food and grow the food supply and the wonderful things they were doing with chemicals and soybeans.  This is amazing stuff.  Dwayne Andreas was the CEO of Archer Daniels Midland.  They were political donors. They underwrote, essentially, This Week with Brinkley, and they still are a giant food conglomerate. 

In fact, Matt Damon made a movie trying to crucify them about what they were doing with corn or some such thing. I forget the name of the movie.  It was fairly recent.  Archer Daniels Midland's commercial was a great commercial, and in the commercial was a veggie burger, and the veggie burger was created with video effects.  It flew from the right side of the screen to the plate in the middle of the screen -- and the bun, the lower half of the bun went first.

Then the veggie burger kind of flew and landed on the bun that had lettuce on it, and it does a couple flips. It's in slow motion, and then the top of the bun hit.  The only problem is, there wasn't one. You couldn't buy one. They didn't exist.  There was no such thing as a veggie burger.  But they were doing commercials talking about how their work with food and chemicals and everything, they're able to have created this healthy food -- and people started clamoring for them.

People were going to grocery store and asking for the Archer Daniels Midland section.  There wasn't one.  Their food processors, their label, their brand's not on anything.  People started going to the grocery stores, "I want a veggie burger.  Where are they?"  "We don't have any. What do you mean?"  "It's on television every Sunday! I saw it on TV.  Some company, ADM, Archer Daniels Midland.  It looks delicious.  I want to try it," because it was being touted as healthful, low calorie. 

They had to invent it. They had to actually create and produce the thing.  They created a demand for it but it didn't exist. They just had it in their ad.  I'm sure some of you remember this, the ad as I'm describing it.  That's how the veggie burger came to be. Now, there might have been a restaurant around that sold them, but you couldn't go to the grocery store and buy one, as the ad made it look like you could.

So they had to create one. It might have been the Jolly Green Giant. I forget what the brand was, but they were frozen.  They ended up being in the frozen food section. They were veggie burgers, and they were good (if you put a lot of mustard on 'em and a lot of ketchup and a lot of mayonnaise and a lot of onions).  It might have been MorningStar.  It might have been. That sounds vaguely familiar.  Now, when I say there weren't veggie burgers, again, your local restaurant might have had one.

People might have created them.  But the veggie burger as portrayed in that TV commercial didn't exist, and that commercial pushed it. This took years to happen, folks.  That commercial only ran once or twice every Sunday on the Brinkley show, and sometimes ADM ran a different commercial -- and the veggie burger was just, you know, five seconds of a 60-second commercial.  It was a commercial that touted everything that they were doing creatively with food to feed the world, and it was fascinating case study.

People had never heard of ADM, Archer Daniels Midland, they didn't know what they made, and they started going to stores asking for it.  Kind of like what we did with Snapple, except Snapple existed.  Our last caller says three execs from Archer Daniels Midland couldn't figure out their own health insurance policies.  And his point was that nobody can, because they don't know what they are.
They get a card, they know what their deductible is, maybe the copay, but they have no clue, and it just reminded me about that Archer Daniels Midland thing. 

Now, I mentioned -- (interruption) well, it is.  The veggie burger?  Yeah, there's a multibillion-dollar veggie burger industry.  Now there's all kinds of different brands of 'em.  And they still taste like cardboard.  You still have to put mayonnaise and onion and tomatoes and stuff, and the commercial did all that.  It looked like a burger that you would get at Hell's Sports Bar.  It looked like a burger you'd get at the Heart Attack Grill. 

And that's another thing.  When the veggie burger finally made its way into the stores into the frozen food section, they were these thin little patties that didn't look a thing like they did in the commercial.  But it was still a veggie burger.  I know they've got all that stuff.  I feed it to my cat.  I'm just kidding.  I don't do that.  Don't get me started on cat stories. 


RUSH: By the way, the Archer Daniels Midland veggie burger, it was 1989 when they started it all up.  And they had to close the veggie burger factory in 2007 because of lack of interest.  They laid off 40 people.  The Matt Damon movie, which was made to blaspheme and destroy Archer Daniels Midland, was entitled The Informant.  The character that Damon plays blows the whistle on their price fixing tactics.  I think it was true to life. There was a guy, there was an employee, an informant, he ended up writing -- (interruption) well, it certainly wasn't Good Will Hunting.  It wasn't that, but I remember watching it, and to me that stuff is so obvious and transparent. But then I realize the low-information crowd's out there watching this stuff eating it up. 



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