ORLANDO - Harry Ramsden's, the famous British fish and chip restaurant, "bit off more than it could chew" with their recent venture into the United States market. The landmark entry of Ramsden's into Walt Disney World at Orlando, Florida was accompanied by a great fanfare of nationalistic pride as the eatery sought to establish the supremacy of the UK over the Americans in the oh-so-British fish and chip market.
Ramsden's famous dish, the "challenge", featured prominently on the menu. The challenge consists of approximately a pound and a half of battered fish, an equal quantity of chips and two cups of mushy peas. Clients who manage to finish the challenge receive a signed certificate and a free dessert.
Soon after the gala opening of the restaurant it became evident that there was a going to be a problem. The furniture, selected on the basis of a restaurant layout model exported from the UK, proved to be woefully inadequate for the average girth of the American population. Keeping up with the food orders also proved to be a problem since 85% of clients including women and children were ordering the "challenge" due to its' being the best food deal on a price-per-pound basis. The restaurant could not keep up with the sheer volume of food through the deep fryers, and ran out of certificates on the first afternoon.
"It was astounding," commented Arthur Barclay of Ramsden's Florida restaurant. "We thought we had seen everything after we opened the Glasgow branch, but nothing prepared us for this. It was like some biblical plague of locusts had descended upon us - a plague of 25 stone slovenly, demanding, obese locusts who broke the furniture, plugged the toilets and ate us out of business while complaining that there were no chocolate milkshakes on the menu."
Restaurantiers more familiar with the Florida clientele could not help expressing amusement at Ramsden's calamity. "In the Florida market 'food challenges' usually top three pounds of meat and two pounds of potatoes", claimed one member of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. "Ramsden's 'challenge' is less than what an average American consumes in an all you can eat buffet."
Not to be defeated, Harry Ramsden's has weathered the setback with a stiff upper lip. "We have to admit that obscene though it may be, the American public were up to the challenge," said Barclay, "but the nature of a challenge is that once you meet it there's just another to be overcome." Harry Ramsden's new Florida challenge involves an entire haddock (approximately 7 lbs before batter), five pounds of chips, two cups of peas, and a 48 oz. chocolate milkshake. The traditional dessert reward for completion of the challenge has been suspended on the advice of legal counsel. So far the only winner has been Angus McTavish, a 30 stone scot who just coincidentally happened to be vacationing from Glasgow.