Peanuts, Popcorn and Pandemonium: How The Ground Round Turned Dining into a Dumpster Fire
Ground Round and Popcorn Day
I was thinking about popcorn today, because it’s National Popcorn Day.
I’m not a fan of popcorn. And I think it stems from a TRAUMATIC event in my childhood.
Let me back up:
Once upon a time, in the era of neon windbreakers and cassette tapes, there existed a restaurant chain that turned well-behaved children into appetizer-armed rebels.
Yes, there was once a dining establishment – actually a CHAIN of dining establishments – that encouraged children to trash the place.
The Ground Round.
This was the place where GenXers learned that tossing peanut shells and popcorn on the floor was not just acceptable—it was AIDED AND ABETTED BY MANAGEMENT. And PARENTS!
So what happened to me?
Picture it: 1979. Norwood, MA.
I’m a little GenXer in pigtails at The Ground Round thanks to my mother, who decided to throw my brother’s 10th birthday at this local watering hole.
Little did we know that this seemingly innocuous family-friendly joint would unleash newly-minted juvenile delinquents.
Not to mention my lifelong quest for quiet and fine dining.
It was A NIGHTMARE.
Kids throwing popcorn and peanuts, tossing trash on the floor. Running AROUND. And it wasn’t just us. It was EVERYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 10.
It was a pint-sized prison yard and I was about to get shanked – by a mozzarella stick.
The Ground Round was a haven for havoc – disguised as a restaurant.
Now, you might wonder, what on earth was The Ground Round thinking? Were they secretly plotting the downfall of restaurant etiquette?
As it turns out, this wild idea was a marketing gimmick aimed at attracting families.
(Not mine. My mother and I were horrified and we never went back. It was the last birthday party she had for my brother with his friends. TRUE STORY!)
The logic was simple: Keep the kids entertained, and the parents will keep coming back.
By encouraging kids to toss peanut shells and popcorn on the floor, The Ground Round sought to make dining an interactive, entertaining experience. It wasn’t just a meal; it was a spectacle. Parents could enjoy their burgers and fries while their little ones reveled in the joy of making a mess without consequences.
UM, THAT’S NUTS. (PUN INTENDED)
And I haven’t even BEGUN TO DISCUSS the long-lasting effects of Pay-What-You-Weight Sundays. How’s your BODY DYSMORPHIA? Blame The Ground Round.
In fact, I blame the Ground Round for everything that is wrong with society today.
But mostly I blame the Ground Round for setting the table for kids who don’t know how to act in restaurants. The last time I saw a kid sit in his seat for the duration of a meal was during the Reagan Administration.
Happy Popcorn Day! Just don’t toss it on the floor, please.