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Consumer Confidential: Mickey D's, car chats, cold sheets

January 22, 2010 | 10:29 am

Here's your flippingly Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--When the going gets tough, the tough order a Big Mac. McDonald's Corp. says its quarterly profit jumped 23% as consumers around the world turned to the fast-food giant for their happy meals. Mickey D's has performed consistently well throughout the recession, benefiting from people turning away from higher-priced restaurant fare and looking downmarket instead. Oh, and the nation is experiencing an obesity epidemic. Just a coincidence, probably.

--We all know that driving and cellphones don't mix. But what about a chat with a passenger in the car? Researchers at the University of Illinois say that even a simple in-the-car conversation can be hazardous to your health. "Whether driving an automobile interferes with the ability to process and remember language," the researchers concluded, the answer is "unequivocally affirmative." No word, though, on whether it's still cool to sing along with the radio, no matter how much our children might hate us for it.

--Hate hopping into a cold bed? Me too. But one British hotel has a solution: human bed warmers. A Holiday Inn in Kensington will send a staffer to your room to climb into bed for a few minutes and warm the sheets before your slumber time. A hotel spokesman likened the service to "having a giant hot water bottle in your bed." Another way of looking at it, of course, is having a stranger under your covers, which is a little weird. But who am I to question good old-fashioned British ingenuity?

-- David Lazarus