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In honor of the new year, many people have made resolutions to be “healthier” in 2012. What does that mean? Salads for everyone!

Early last year, The Consumerist reported on an unusual trend going down in the Chinese branches of Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut used to offer a salad bar option at its sit-down locations, with folks limited to one visit per person. For the price of the salad bar, it wasn’t a great deal. It was simply the “healthy” option.

But Chinese Pizza Hutters devised a clever plan: fit more salad onto the plate to get a better deal.

Using steady hands and engineering know-how, frugal patrons created monstrous, Babel-like towers of cucumbers and carrots and fruit. Suddenly, the salad bar wasn’t so bad a deal.

Sadly, Pizza Hut nixed the salad bar several years ago. No more salad towers for China. But I think this Consumerist blogger understands the importance of the salad bar “game”:

The company’s response was that salad bars were being removed as part of an overall menu expansion but one Pizza Hut official told a Beijing paper that it was because of the losses incurred by the “salad towers.” Which is too bad, because really what they should have done is capitalized on this naturally occurring fad, reimbursed the local franchises for their salad bar, and turned it into an official game. Why not host some Pizza Hut salad bar stacking competitions? It would have been a great branding opportunity. Do you know how much money and time companies spend trying to artificially manufacture customer interest and engagement like that? And then just charge by weight.

People like to make games of things. If there’s a way to compete, then a competition will arise ex nihilo. It’s just the way we roll as a society. (That’s why advertisers love gamification. It’s a way to capitalize on our twitchy, instinctual need for play.)

What might have started as a frugal maneuver somehow morphed into an odd game of skill. Once photos of the salad towers made their way across the Internet, the game had enmeshed into the strata of meme culture.

Salad towers may be cool, but don’t test them at at your local Earth Fare or Whole Foods. They charge by weight, and I’d imagine these salad towers weight a ton…

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