Pass the Ketchup Please

Why do I looooove fast food? Well, it’s fast…and it’s FOOD!

 

We have all been there. That little voice in our heads that says “I’ve been good” then says “yes, it’s ok” and then shouts “go now”. Experts call it a craving.  Some says it’s just being human.  Toss aside the logic, the calories, the balanced meal – and throw in the pleasure, the convenience, and THE TASTE – and you have it – fast food.  Surely an American creation.  Triggered by the age of the automobile and the explosion of nearby retail.  We’ve become a nation quite comfortable with these little indulgences. We know it’s not really that good for us – but we enjoy it just the same.  Favorites are local, and regional and national, often driven by the fries that accompany the burger/sandwich/dog/patty.  Experimentation is part of the industry – spicy cheese, wheat buns, fresh ingredients, tasty sauces, eggs all day, tacos, Chicken, late night drive thrus, “have it your way”, supersize me, toys in the bag, 1/3 and ½ pounders, chili, add a desert, nuggets, shakes, McRib (eew) … the list goes on (just how many times can you recreate a taco), meatless burgers and chicken, cheese fries, and who “has the meats” these days?  I came across this article recently in Food & Wine and just had to share – America’s favorites, by state. (Although their pick for Ohio is suspect. I’d have put Hanini Marathon & Burrito Crazy, 5300 Superior Ave on the list for Ohio.) Here are just some of my favorites – enjoy!  (be sure to read them all – wow!)  I’m heading out to get some fries…

Alaska– The outdoor deck with its line of tables overlooking Campbell Creek is the perfect perch for a summer date with one of the best fast food menus in Anchorage, not to mention the entire state, offered since the 1960’s, back before Alaskans had access to many of the national chains they take for granted today. Keep it local with salmon and halibut burgers, served on paper plates, with a giant pile of thick-cut fries on the side. Come cooler weather, which will arrive soon enough, move the action inside, next to the fireplace, where it’s always milkshake weather. (Arctic Roadrunner)
Hawaii– Name the island favorite, and chances are you’ll find it on the menu at this pan-Hawaiian chain of restaurants that’s been a staple of local life for generations. Spam musubi snacks, loco moco for breakfast, plate lunches, all kinds of delicious things from the in-house Napoleon Bakery—saying that Zippy’s will spoil you is a stretch, but it’ll get you fed, happily so, day or night, and you’ll wish you could take one home with you. (Just put it in your nearest Denny’s. The townspeople will greet you as a liberator.) (Zippys)
Kansas– Wichita’s accomplishments are vast and varied, but one of the most interesting things the city has done over the years is give rise to—and then sustain—three very different, all quite successful burger chains. There’s Nu-Way, a historic chainlet where you feel as if you’ve slipped back in time, at least by forty, fifty years, and then there’s Freddy’s, now well-known across the country for smashburgers and frozen custard. Most people like Freddy’s, and it’s easy to understand why others are nostalgic for Nu-Way. But Spangles? Spangles is weird, man, in a good way, honestly, but when you roll up to one of its thirty-ish locations, some of them looking like gargantuan juke boxes gone missing from a garish, vaguely seamy ’50s diner, it can take a few minutes to sort out just exactly what is going on. There are pancakes for breakfast, go cups overfilled with eggs and sausage and hash browns and sausage gravy, there are people eating 1/3 pound burgers at eight o’clock in the morning. Don’t fight Spangles. Spangles is amazing. You’ll be back. (Spangles)
Louisiana – Sometimes, keeping things ridiculously simple is the key—for a good few years now, this Baton Rouge-based favorite has resisted to the urge to grow their menu, offering chicken tenders, crinkle-cut fries, crispy cold coleslaw with little bits of purple cabbage for color, hunks of garlic-buttered Texas toast and sides of freshly-made remoulade, #Louisiana, and little else. That’s easy—the food is really good, almost identical to what it was in the very beginning. Match that with a service culture that only appears to have improved with time, and you’ve got a winning formula. (Raising Cane’s)
Missouri– We’ll get to those classic roast beef sandwiches, some of the best you’ll find at a fast food joint, and to the little dispensers sitting on the counter labeled “Au Jus,” from which you may allow yourself just as much as you like, turning that sandwich into a French dip, for all you care. (Don’t forget the horseradish.) For starters, though, can we talk about the ice cream? Being St. Louis, where they know from these things, it’s more like frozen custard, thick and creamy, and it’s being sold for pennies. Seriously, a regular sized cone, which back in the old days would have been considered enough ice cream in one sitting, costs just fifty cents.(Lion’s Choice)
Nebraska– Doesn’t all the world need a casual counter joint where you can rock up for a cheap and delicious burger and fries, accompanied by a 99 cent margarita (all day, every day) or an also very affordable beer of your choice, after a sorely trying 9 to 5? With locations around the area vibing part vintage drive-in, part roadhouse, zero pretense, all fun, this curious, dated delight is perhaps most famous for its dedication to keeping one of Nebraska’s most essential culinary traditions alive—that is, of course, the deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. Known around these parts as a cheese frenchee, perhaps in reference to its passing resemblance to the croque monsieur, the thing is batter coated and deep fried, and the results are exactly what you might expect them to be—perfection. (Don & Millie’s)
Pennsylvania– Try the best, which is not only a gas station and a convenience store, it’s also the most popular destination for a quick and affordable bite for generations of hard working people in the southeastern part of the state, and increasingly, beyond. The love for Wawa is centered around three, very key aspects of the experience—there are those hoagies, from a tasty Italian to a not-half-bad cheese steak, all for a few bucks. Then there’s the coffee—no convenience store comes close; their limited edition Wawa Reserve program brings in some surprising single-origin coffees from around the world.  And have we talked about the breakfast sandwiches, the soft pretzels, the iced teas, the ice cream, and the nearly limitless TastyKake reserves? We have now. (Wawa)
Wyoming– Growing from one small stand in Cheyenne in the late 1960’s to become a Mountain Time powerhouse in almost no time at all, there are still communities across Wyoming, Montana and The Dakotas where nobody has ever been to a Taco Bell, and why would they. The home of the Potato Olé (a spiced hash brown round, the foundation on which the Taco John’s menu is built) and the Crispy Taco (shells are fried in-house, every day) is imbued with a real sense of place—the old “West-Mex” slogan, which doesn’t seem to be quite so widely used today, remains seriously apt. (Taco John’s)

 

BONUS VIDEO: 
How I LOST weight by ONLY eating FAST FOOD (EASY!)

 

 

 


 

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