TIME society

Burger King Franchisee of the Year Sells Huge Prize, Gives Employees Bonuses Instead

Food for thought

Burger King’s newly minted “Franchisee of the Year” sold a whopper of a prize and served up bonuses to Arizona employees, Phoenix’s 3TV reports.

The news station claims Tom Barnett of Barnett Management sold a Corvette and Rolex watch gifted by the corporate honchos, which generated enough dough to hand out $120,000 worth of bonuses to workers at roughly two dozen locations throughout the state.

“It was almost an entire month’s worth of pay for me,” Charity Callahan, who has worked at the chain for 15 years, told 3TV.

(h/t Consumerist)

Read next: The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time

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TIME society

11 Trends From the ’90s We Hope Never Return

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Getty Images You're laughing now, but in 1998 you WISHED you looked as cool as this.

The baggy monstrosities known as JNCO jeans may be making a comeback, but we hope these other fads do not

Remember JNCOs? Those ugly, inexplicably wide-legged jeans popular among youths during the heart of the 1990s? Well, the brand is relaunching and will release a brand new line of clothing this fall, CNN reports. This will include new styles — like cargo pants and jogging pants — along with the original baggy “heritage” brand.

This got us thinking: what other trends from the ’90s do we hope never manage to come back into style? Here, a look at 11 fads we may have loved back then, but we hope stay in the past.

1. Bowl cuts with middle parts. Home Improvement‘s Jonathan Taylor Thomas (ugh, dreamboat much?) may have been able to pull off this look, but no one else ever will. Plus, it just looks so dated. If you saw someone walking around in 2015 with a middle-parted bowl cut, you’d genuinely think they were a time traveler.

2. Body glitter. Why did we roll sticky glitter all over ourselves like we were ready to attend a tween rave at a moment’s notice? Why did we do this? Ladies, put the roll-on glitter down and let your personalities be the part of you that shines brightest.

3. Dial-up Internet. Couldn’t you totally see hipsters bringing this ancient technology back — kind of like how they brought back record players — ironically? Can we please not? Wi-Fi is such a beautiful, beautiful gift and we should treat it as such.

4. Those pants that zip off and become shorts. Just, nah.

5. Frosted tips. Food Network personality Guy Fieri still rocks this look for some reason, but luckily, it has yet to return to the mainstream. Let’s pray it never does.

6. Crazy Bones. If you don’t recall, these were little plastic figurines. That’s all they were. But in the ’90s, elementary schoolers across the U.S. went absolutely nuts for them. What was even the point? They’re really just one big choking hazard. Luckily, today’s kids have iPads to play with so we’re probably safe from a Crazy Bones resurgence.

7. Butterfly hair clips. Okay, these were just plain cool at the time. They were versatile, but most commonly seen accompanying some kind of elaborate hairstyle. The whole craze got out of control, though, and eventually, we all agreed: enough is enough. Butterfly clips had a time in which to shine. That time is long over.

8. Lunchables. The sodium content in these things! Seriously, how are any of us even alive?

9. Light-up shoes. All the cool kids just had to have a pair of light-up LA Gear kicks, which came out in 1992. But eventually, the kids got bored of them and stopped making their parents buy them. In 1998, LA Gear filed for bankruptcy. But you know what, actually, light-up shoes were so awesome that we might be okay with a comeback.

10. Embarrassing screen names. In the early days of the Internet, it was all about making a cool screen name so you could partake in dazzling online banter like “sup” and “nm” and “kool.” Look, we get it, everybody was just excited to have Internet access, so we can excuse screen names like xoSoCCeRChiKxo and balla4adolla98. But can we all agree never to let that happen again? Just use your real name. Let’s keep it professional, guys.

11. Rat tails. Dear parents of the ’90s, why did you ever let this happen? Sincerely, everyone.

Read next: See ’90s Boy Band Members Then and Now

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TIME Culture

In Defense of Terrible Coffee

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Mass-brand coffee remains the dominant coffee in the U.S., even in this era of gourmet coffee. And that's okay

One June morning years ago, during a cross-country bike trip, my brothers, a couple of friends, and I sat in a diner in Sandpoint, Idaho, waiting for a drizzle to pass, eating eggs and drinking coffee.

The coffee, as I recall, was no great shakes. It likely came in thick, bone-white mugs, the rims pitted and slightly stained from years of use. We were just becoming aware of gourmet coffee in those days. And, sure, if you’d asked if we wanted the diner joe or a cup of Sumatra Mandheling like they served at Brillig Works in Boulder, we’d all have opted for the latter. But we weren’t in Boulder, the gourmet coffee was not available, and yet we had a blast, drinking the bitter diner joe, joking around, and, finally, too jacked up to sit still, rolling down the road.

These days, gourmet coffee is everywhere. And we’ve got a million new ways to prepare it. In addition to cold-pressed coffee, we’ve got the Japanese siphon process, a plethora of pod brewers, and coffee that comes from fancy machines like the Roasting Plant’s Javabot. And there are concoctions like the flat white—an espresso-and-steamed-milk blend—that suddenly become trendy when the Starbucks marketers put them in heavy rotation.

But it is easy to overlook an enduring truth amidst the gourmet coffee shuffle: Most coffee we drink in the U.S. is not the type favored by coffee connoisseurs. Folgers and Maxwell House remain the nation’s most popular coffee brands, by a long shot. Despite the gourmet coffee boom, this golden age of fine coffee, it’s primarily these mass-market blends that keep America caffeinated, and those diner cups full.

Once, hitchhiking through Wyoming in a snow squall, I caught a ride from a young couple. They were vagabonds who had made a tidy little home in their pickup with a camper shell. We pulled off at a truck stop in Rawlins. And I remember how that coffee—plain old truck-stop coffee—warmed us up, strangers waiting out a blizzard. When they dropped me off in Cheyenne a couple of hours later, I felt I was leaving old friends.

Over the years, how many late-night or early morning road trips, outdoors adventures with friends and family, or travels to remote job sites have been undergirded by diner coffee? Too many to count.

Is it just nostalgia that makes me appreciate—not crave, but appreciate—the coffee so often dissed as inferior? Probably. Who can deny the deep emotions triggered by a late-night cup of Joe, reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks: Adrift in midnight America, the clatter of the dishes, the warm cup of diner coffee. You don’t get that feeling at Starbucks.

So, partly, it’s a matter of nostalgia, but partly it’s a matter of caffeine.

Ounce per ounce, Folgers and Maxwell House coffees are more caffeinated than most specialty coffees. And there are two reasons for this. First, they tend to be lightly roasted. A light-roasted coffee has slightly more caffeine per bean than a dark-roasted coffee. Too, they typically include blends of arabica and robusta beans. Arabica, the mountain-grown coffees beloved by coffee connoisseurs, tends to taste smooth. Robusta, the cheaper, hardier, easier-to-grow coffee, often has a bitter tang (one coffee expert says it tastes like burnt rubber). But here’s the catch—robusta has much more caffeine than arabica, often twice as much.

So that cup of Java in the diner or truck stop, unless it is brewed weakly, will likely give you more of a jolt than a cup from an upscale café. And that caffeine is a big part of what pulls us off the two-lane road to a diner in the middle of nowhere, and brings us back to the downtown deli where the waitress is endlessly refilling your coffee cup.

Recently, I stopped at a country store at a northern Maine crossroads on a frosty morning. I’d only planned to ask directions, but got into a conversation about fishing with a friendly local. So I had a cup of coffee while we talked. Unlike some New England convenience stores, this one did not have 15 flavors of Green Mountain coffee in vacuum pots, just two of the old Pyrex coffee pots on hot plates. It sure wasn’t the gourmet stuff, but it definitely hit the spot.

Murray Carpenter is a Maine journalist, and the author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us. He tweets at @Murray_journo. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Dove’s New Inspirational Ad Really Wants You to Compliment Celebrities for Being Pretty

And also to stop spewing so much hate about your own appearance

Looks like Dove is back with another attempt to empower ladies. This time, though, the beauty company isn’t trying to tell us to love and accept our curls or our armpits, it’s asking us to stop saying such negative things about celebrities on Twitter. (And also about ourselves.)

Of course, this is a good thing! People use social media to spew hate about themselves and celebrities — particularly during events like the upcoming Academy Awards.

So, as part of a hashtag campaign called #SpeakBeautiful, Twitter and Dove teamed up to create the above video, which will air during the Oscars pre-show, Mashable reports. The brand will also employ a group of self-described “self-esteem experts” to respond to negative tweets about body image or appearance during the show. Dove will continue its campaign throughout the year.

Yes, we should all stop being so critical of celebrities as they walk the red carpet and we shouldn’t hate ourselves for having cellulite. And it’s Dove’s job to sell soap. But we could also just stop focusing so much on women’s appearances, in general, and start complimenting them on their talent and wit and strength or whatever. Just a suggestion.

TIME society

This Is the Best Beach in America

According to TripAdvisor's 2015 ranking

As temperatures drop below freezing stateside, travel website TripAdvisor has released its 2015 ranking of the best beaches in the United States and abroad. The list is determined by the quantity and quality of user reviewers and ratings posted on TripAdvisor over the last 12 months.

In America, it’s no surprise that Florida and Hawaii dominate the list:

  1. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
  2. Saint Pete Beach, Saint Pete Beach, Florida
  3. Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
  4. Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana, Maui, Hawaii
  5. Pensacola Beach, Pensacola Beach, Florida
  6. La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, California
  7. Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii
  8. Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, Florida
  9. St. Augustine Beach, Saint Augustine, Florida
  10. Beach at Panama City, Panama City Beach, Florida

Outside of the United States:

1. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
2. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
3. Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy
4. Playa Paraiso Beach, Cayo Largo, Cuba
5. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain
6. Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles
7. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
8. Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico
9. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
10. Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi, Greece

TIME society

Here’s What People On Twitter Say They’re Giving Up For Lent

"Boys" and "Nutella" are some top picks

All over the world, people are giving up on things, like their New Year’s Resolutions, failed relationships, and fixing the WiFi router.

But believe it or not, some people are actually giving things up as a form of religious penitence and holy atonement.

That’s right: Lent, the season of renunciation, is upon us. It’s the 40-day period when the adherents of many Christian denominations, including Catholics, Anglicans and Calvinists, forego some quotidian pleasure from Ash Wednesday (that’s today) to Easter Sunday, to honor the forty days when Jesus fasted in the desert and endured temptation by the devil.

Open Bible used Twitter to track some of the main things that people are giving up for their Lenten fasts. Top of the list? Chocolate. Not a big surprise there, but second was Twitter. Apparently, using Twitter to denounce Twitter is definitely in vogue.

Out of 50,899 tweets during the week of February 15, 2015, there were 2,343 chocolate-related tweets, 2020 twitter-related tweets, followed by 1,789 abdications of social networking in general. School came in fourth, and alcohol rounded out the top 5.

Granted, many of the Lent-related Twitter posts are likely facetious, so the list is to be taken with a grain of salt. But it does open a window into our collective guilty pleasures and greatest shames. (One of which appears to be “boys.”)

You can see the full list here.

TIME society

How Mardi Gras Became a Party for Everyone

Mardi Gras
John E. Fletcher and Robert F. Sisson—National Geographic/Getty Images Revelers toss confetti at float of Momus, patron god of Mardi Gras, in New Orleans in 1960

For many years, the celebration was a much more exclusive affair

These days, Mardi Gras in New Orleans — which falls on Feb. 17 this year — is a party for all. But, not that long ago, Mardi Gras celebrations were more exclusive affairs.

As TIME reported in the Feb. 9, 1948, issue, balls and “krewes” were for the city’s elites only, and that situation lasted for decades after the first Mardi Gras parade was held in the 1850s. In the 20th century, however, the celebration expanded:

For half a century, New Orleans’ fantastic Mardi Gras balls were strictly for the upper crust. Nobody without money, blue blood, or both gained membership in the secret men’s clubs or “krewes” which staged them. Before 1900 there were only five clubs: Comus, Momus, Twelfth Night, Rex and Proteus. They culled guest lists with pernickety care, asked only the fairest of debutantes to serve as carnival queens. But times changed. The socially ambitious began forming their own krewes.

In 1928 New Orleans had 16 Mardi Gras balls. In 1946 there were 36. This year, a record-breaking total of 49 are being held. Last week, with Carnival Day (Shrove Tuesday) fast approaching, New Orleans’ social whirl had assumed the proportions of a maelstrom.

By the 1940s, there were krewe options galore. “Italian krewes, Irish krewes, German krewes… krewes for college men, businessmen, professional men,” TIME wrote. “To the horror of New Orleans’ old guard, there are even krewes for women.”

But that didn’t mean Mardi Gras was an all-inclusive celebration. The krewes may have multiplied, but they were still separated along racial and gender lines.

As recently as 1991, the relative exclusivity of the Mardi Gras krewes was a source of controversy in New Orleans. That December, the city council voted to require the krewes to integrate by 1994, or else lose the right to hold parades. (The krewes are private clubs, but the city controls the streets.) As TIME reported, the reaction was big but not exactly easy:

The 60 carnival groups, known as krewes, assailed the measure as a ”tragic mistake” that could drive the festival out of New Orleans. Two of the most prestigious groups, the Mistick Krewe of Comus and the Knights of Momus — both all white, all male — have announced that they will not parade, citing government intrusion. Other krewes have threatened to cancel their parades or relocate them in future years unless the ordinance is radically altered.

At the time, the city was majority African-American, but polls showed that even most black voters did not want to integrate the krewes. At the time, many who opposed the change argued that the krewes’ make-ups were a matter of tradition, not discrimination. However, as the article noted, the barriers were not just racial, but also along religion, sexual and ethnic lines — and krewe membership was important for a lot more than a parade, as it went hand-in-hand with business, social and political networks. Though the measure was weakened — single-sex krewes were allowed, for example — it was enough to keep some of the oldest and most stubborn krewes from ever parading again, as the number and size of the integrated krewes expanded.

Two decades later, there are dozens of krewes that organize balls and parade floats. And, as the Times-Picayune‘s James Gill observed recently, it’s easy to tell that the krewes have modernized and opened up: where they were once the domain of money and blue blood, these days membership applications to many krewes are available to anyone with an Internet connection.

TIME society

Why I’m Glad I Was Bullied

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Because there is something beautiful about being able to get through tough times

xojane

I spent the week before I entered middle school sobbing like a Disney princess. I sobbed in the bathtub, I sobbed on the couch, and I sobbed with my head in a pillow. Elementary school felt like a safe and tangible part of my childhood and now, all of a sudden, it was ripped out of my tiny, monkey bar–callused hands.

“Why aren’t you excited?” concerned family members and close friends asked me, as my bottom lip quivered amongst a sea of tears.

“Because I don’t want to grow up!” I wailed, not knowing how else to describe the pain I was feeling.

I was right to be afraid of what was to come, but not for the reasons I thought. From the moment I entered middle school as a fifth grader until the moment I graduated as an eighth grader, I was bullied, nonstop, every day. Bullied for four years straight.

On my very first day of middle school, I remember getting off the bus, walking toward the school, opening the front door (which was heavier than expected), waving to my uncle, and nervously shuffling toward my home base room. Yes, that’s right, my uncle was the principal of my middle school.

In my moments of dramatic sobbing, I never once whined about having my uncle as my principal. I whined about missing my elementary school teachers. I whined about being in a school that was 15 minutes (instead of five) away from my home, my safe place. But I never whined about that specific familial connection. I didn’t think it was a big deal, especially since I wasn’t one of those kids who was thirsty for attention. Instead, I was quiet, contemplative, and a decided introvert. Definitely not the ideal combination for the negative attention I was about to receive.

After excitedly waving to my uncle on that first day, that’s where the fun ended. Immediately, I became a verbal punching bag for my hormonal, misunderstood peers. Once they finished bullying me about my relationship with my uncle, my weight (or lack thereof), my acne, my home life, my shyness, and even the way I dressed were picked apart. I was quiet, which made me an easy target. Unbeknownst to them, I was also suffering with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Even better.

The most distinctive part of my bullying experience was the fact that I’d lost my name and, as a result, my identity. I became “the principal’s niece,” instead of Anna. Teachers made fun of me, taking out their feelings about my uncle on me. My friends asked for favors that I didn’t have the power to give them, causing innate disappointment. Everyone thought that my good grades were an act of favoritism. My efforts were no longer my own, swirling down the middle school drain, along with my name.

When you’re being bullied, there is no one else that can understand what you are going through. There is no one that can understand your specific situation. That would explain the responses I received when I tried to make my loved ones understand why I started ignoring my uncle:

“Anna, you need to stop being so sensitive.”

“Get a backbone, Anna.”

“Grow up, Anna.”

When I look back on that time in my life, all I see is my small, petite body attempting to walk through a sea of darkness. I see myself, begging to stay home. I see myself having panic attacks at six o’clock in the morning because I couldn’t fathom what my peers and teachers would say to me during the school day. I see myself trying to put into words what I was suffering with, trying to figure out why my anxiety and OCD were getting worse.

I used to talk about this experience all the time, bringing it up in therapy appointments and to anyone that wanted to know why I hated that part of my life. After a while, I stopped, not because it no longer mattered to me, but because I acquired a characteristic I never thought I’d acquire: Strength.

Bullying is a problem. It is a disgusting, evil problem that can cultivate mental illness, suicide, and self-destruction. But as someone that has been affected physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially (therapy is expensive) — in every way possible — I can absolutely say: I am glad that I was bullied.

My experience with bullying has given me a powerful sense of empathy, allowing me to connect with others in ways I never thought possible. Bullying has taught me my worth, making me the strong, empowered, outspoken woman that I am today.

If I could go back in time and tell my dejected, bullied self something, I would say this:

“Anna, you are sensitive and you are quiet, but there is nothing wrong with that. That does not make you weak. Right now, you are surrounded by darkness, but you are still full of light. I know that you are scared, confused, and anxious. I know that you are suffering. But you get through it. Life is hard, but it gets better. Life is hard, but you never stop rising and shining. And that is what matters.”

In life, we all go through our own Dark Ages. We all suffer and doubt ourselves at times. We are all victims of bullying (no matter what anyone tells you). At the time, such an experience may not seem beautiful or universal. In fact, during and for a long time afterward, it will seem really terrible and it will cut you off from the rest of the world.

But there is something beautiful about being able to get through tough times. There is something extraordinary about knowing that you are not alone in the way that you feel. And, yes, there is something universally powerful about being able to not only survive, but to thrive.

It has been six years since I left middle school and, in those six years, I have been bullied every now and then. People have said terrible things to me, but I’ve stood up for myself. I stood up for myself because I know my own worth. I know that people only hurt others because they, themselves, are hurting. I know that now. And in knowing that, I know that bullying has made me better. It has made me both a lover and a fighter. It has made me the woman I am today.

Anna Gragert wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

New York Fashion Week’s First-Ever Model With Down Syndrome Owned the Runway

Jamie Brewer also stars in FX's American Horror Story

New York Fashion Week is all about aspiration. Onlookers imagine themselves as stick-thin runway models, wearing thousands of dollars worth of intricately tailored couture. But designer Carrie Hammer wants the audience at her show to aspire to something different, which is why she’s made it her mission to feature role models over actual runway models.

Thursday morning, actress Jamie Brewer, known for her work on American Horror Story, became the first model with Down syndrome to ever walk at New York Fashion Week.

“It exceeded all of my expectations,” Hammer said to TIME. “What I love about our shows everyone is smiling, everyone is having a good time.”

When Hammer was invited to show her three-year-old line at Fashion Week last year, she decided to use clients rather than traditional models on the runway. This included women of various heights, weights and ethnicities. One of the models included Danielle Sheypuk, who became the first-ever model in a wheelchair to appear at New York Fashion Week.

“We were never trying to make a statement,” Hammer says. “We don’t think of [Sheypuk] as being in a wheelchair. We don’t define her that way … but it went really viral. We got hundreds of emails for girls and their moms thanking us.”

One of the emails came from Katie Driscoll, co-founder of Changing the Face of Beauty, which advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the media. Driscoll, whose daughter Grace has Down syndrome, suggested Hammer reach out to Brewer.

“I thought she would provide a great role model for Grace,” Hammer says. “Jamie is amazing … she has a light and enthusiasm that is incredible.”

Role Models Not Runway Models - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015
Brian Ach—Getty ImagesActress Jamie Brewer walks the runway during the Role Models Not Runway Models

Hammer hopes to expand her role-model-themed runway show to different fashion weeks around the world.

“I think this blows everything away,” she says. “This is, I think, what people have been wanting to see, and everyone’s positive reaction is overwhelming.”

Read next: Watch Derek Zoolander Walk the Runway at Paris Fashion Week

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TIME society

5 Things to Know About Buying Flowers on Valentine’s Day

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Getty Images

Skip the red roses and opt for something different for your sweetheart

If you were putting off shopping for Valentine’s Day, then it’s time to wake up and smell the roses.

Almost 40% of American consumers will buy flowers for the holiday, spending a total of $2.1 billion, according to a National Retail Federation survey. More than 60% of those purchases will be roses, the Society of American Florists says. Here are five things to know if you are buying flowers.

Red roses are more expensive now.

Red roses—especially the long-stemmed kind—are considered “overpriced” around Valentine’s Day thanks to high demand and consumers’ willingness to pay. As TIME reported earlier this week:

While wholesale prices vary depending on location, florists say they typically pay twice as much for roses in early February than they do at most other times of year. Increased transportation costs and extra labor are among the reasons often given for why rose prices are inflated around now.”

Think pink (or white).

Florist Bridget Carlson of Ashland Addison Florist Company in Chicago says, “white roses are absolutely stunning, and often the pink roses come a little bit more fragrant.”

Tropical and spring flowers are popular alternatives to roses.

If you’re looking to branch out from the typical red roses, there are plenty of options. Carlson also suggests calla lilies, tulips to get people looking forward to spring. The Society of American Florists recommends hydrangeas, gardenias, freesia, hyacinths, and succulents, as well, while alstroemerias and daisies are some of the most popular purchases for Valentine’s Day on the website 1-800 Flowers.

Put the flowers in a Mason jar.

Channel your dream Pinterest board by putting flowers in a Mason jar, giant apple juice bottle, funky glass container, or adapting whatever you might have around the house since professional arrangements can drive up the cost.

Men like flowers, too.

Orchids are great plants to send to men so they can put them in their offices, Carlson says.

LIST: 6 Totally Unromantic Truths about Valentine’s Day Spending

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