Sunday, January 5, 2014

fast food follies, part 1

Mark Evanier found a list of the 50 top fast food chains in the US in sales, and he's been blogging his reactions to all of those that he's been to. All right, I can do that too. I'm not here to deconstruct economics or nutrition - others do that better than I - I'm just looking for something to eat in an imperfect world. I don't eat fast food really often, but sometimes I'm in a hurry and just want a known quality, so I have a few favorites. And a lot of un-favorites. I will not be evaluating the fries, by the way, because I don't eat potato.

My father would sometimes take the troops here when I was a kid. I don't know why. None of us liked it very much, and it took a long time (by fast-food standards) to special-order the kind of burgers we all wanted, which was just the meat and the bun. Today I will only eat at McDonald's if I'm in desperate need of a little belly-timber and there's nothing else around, in which case I get some chicken nuggets, which 1) are served immediately without special-ordering, 2) have interesting choices of sauces, and 3) taste as if they were once in the same county as an actual chicken.

I'm not sure I've ever eaten here, because I don't care for most subs any more than I care for hamburgers with all the fixins. But they certainly are ubiquitous.

I lived in Seattle back when there literally was only one Starbucks, the one in Pike Place. But even then I never patronized it, and I still don't. I don't drink coffee, and I only go in when I'm with other people who want to go there. And I've never found a single thing there I wanted to either drink or eat, except a cup of water.

Alas, my lost love. I lived around the corner from a Wendy's thirty years ago, and grabbed a burger there often. In those days the menu was entirely a la carte, which meant that you could order it however you wanted and it would still come fast, with a hot, freshly-cooked patty of good quality meat. I also liked their salad bar, because it had French dressing. Unfortunately, they've cut down the menu. After a period of options so confusing even the staff didn't understand them, now all the burgers come default with cheese. This means that even if you say "NO CHEESE" very loudly and clearly, at least half the time they'll still put the cheese on by reflex. This is devastating at the drive-thru when you don't discover it until miles later. Also, it means you now have to pay cheeseburger prices even if it's not a cheeseburger. I've pretty much given up on Wendy's.

Burger King
I tried this once, decades ago. The burger looked good, but the meat tasted like rubberized plastic. You don't want to know my childhood nickname for this place. The fact that they're tasteless enough to call their signature product a "whopper" doesn't help.

Taco Bell
No. I will not eat here, or at any of its pseudo-Mexican knockoffs, under any circumstances. So take this as read for all the similar chains on the list.

Pizza Hut
It's a cracker with cheese on it. Not what I want in a pizza. (I've never tried any other large-chain pizza, which also wipes off a considerable portion of the list of 50 right there.)

(to be continued)

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