Perhaps government officials are simply pizza fanatics? Following a huge $12 million USDA bailout of Domino’s Pizza, the pizza chain is getting yet another helping hand from the government. In a program developed by the company to ensure that its pizza stays in school lunch cafeterias nationwide, Domino’s has introduced Domino’s smart slice.
Full of processed ingredients and additive-filled processed cheese, the smart slice has been picked up by 120 school districts already, and that number is set to double within the next year. What has Domino’s done right to score major contracts with the government, and even receive a free $12 million handout from the USDA?
It is important to look at the corporate owner of Domino’s Pizza, the Bain Capital, founded by Mitt Romney and his partner in 1984.
Domino’s Pizza was sold to Bain Capital for close to $1 billion in 1998 and went public in 2004. Bain Capital has also founded, acquired, or heavily invested in hundreds of companies including Burger King, DoubleClick, D&M Holdings, Guitar Center, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Sealy, and The Weather Channel. It is easy to see that Bain Capital is an extremely wealthy and powerful company. In the 1990′s Romney received an even larger position, working as the CEO of the Bain & Company, which is considered one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world. Later, Romney would become the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, in addition to running for president in 2008. This political power gave the company an edge over the competition, leading to government aid when one of its top businesses began to fail. While Domino’s was doing quite well monetarily when it was acquired by Bain Capital, its sales began to rapidly sink. It was then that Dairy Management, a marketing creation of the USDA, would rescue Bain Capital’s failing venture — Domino’s Pizza.
Generally bailouts have been given to large banks and firms, as opposed to a fast food pizza chain. With restaurant businesses failing around the world due to decreased sales in the current dilapidated state of the economy, what makes Domino’s so special? The USDA seems to be backing them in every possible way. After shoveling money into Domino’s marketing campaign, the Dairy Management endorsed Domino’s new school lunch program, which happens to perfectly coincide nutritionally with the new USDA school lunch guidelines announced on January 14th. It was the first overhaul of the school lunch program since 1995, and Domino’s was waiting to unveil its new pizza that was designed specifically to meet the criteria. Dairy Management was right beside them, harboring in the new “smart slice” pizza.
“Domino’s Smart Slice is a fantastic example of industry collaborating with America’s dairy producers to develop an innovative solution that nourishes children,” said Tom Gallagher, Dairy Management, Inc. CEO.
The pizza, full of processed ingredients and white whole-wheat, was even backed by the Western Dairy Association (WDA). The WDA admits that it worked hard to ensure the acceptance of Domino’s Smart Slice pizza in the following excerpt from Domino’s own press release:
The development of Domino’s Smart Slice shows how the collaboration among dairy farmers, schools, processors and major food brands like Domino’s can result in healthier, flavorful and fresh school food choices for our children, said Cindy Haren, Western Dairy Association CEO, whose organization worked closely with local franchisees and schools to make Domino’s Smart Slice a success. Smart junk food that nourishes children.
A failing fast food pizza company receives a $12 million bailout, followed by an extremely large deal with school districts nationwide to supply pizza that is created specifically to coincide with new USDA guidelines announced only weeks ago. The company also happens to have ties with a politically-connected billion dollar company founded by Mitt Romney. Were our tax dollars stripped away from us to fund a failing food chain due to political ties?