It’s Friday night. I’m bored. I’ve got some thoughts about fast-food restaurants that no one really needs to know but that I’m willing to share. Here’s the thing. I love fast food, but that doesn’t mean I love everything about fast food. Some parts of the experience of getting it leave me annoyed, bewildered, and confused. I consider those the ABC’s of dining out, Pettie-style. These thoughts have been building up in me for a while now, so they had to come out somewhere.
Burger King: Is there a lonelier, sadder place than the lobby of a Burger King? I know they’re trying. They’re trying so hard, which is why I feel so bad for the employees when I arrive at the Burger King drive through, and I can tell they’re as surprised as I am that I’m there. Here’s the real problem with Burger King: They have an oblong cheeseburger made with two patties next to each other on a roll. They took the simplest thing in the world and screwed it up, and no one was brave enough to stand up to the king and tell him his cheeseburger was dumb.
Carl’s Jr.: Yes, I know there’s a reason for your weird name; I just hate saying it. I do like your taco salads.
Del Taco: The food is heaven on Earth, which may blind me to any actual faults the place has.
Jack in the Box: Perfection. They can add any kind of cuisine they want to their menu, and it ends up making sense. I don’t know why. They’ll probably have Poke bowls next week. Fine with me.
KFC: I generally have zero problems with KFC except maybe avoid showing me your giant bins of cooked chicken parts. I trust that you’re going to have the chicken when I want it, and I don’t need to see evidence of the extinction level event that allowed me to have this meal. There’s a KFC in LA that’s shaped like a bucket, and there’s one in Georgia that’s shaped like a chicken. I believe that the chicken knows its fate is to end up in that bucket.
In and Out: You know when you’ve been in a long traffic slow-down and you finally get to the place where you can see what’s caused the slowdown, and you get angry that you’ve been in a traffic jam for forty minutes because nothing interesting has happened? That’s In and Out every time. Every. Single. Time.
Little Caesar’s Pizza: I actually appreciate Little Caesar’s absurdist TV ads because they help me understand that Little Caesar’s doesn’t really take this seriously. Otherwise, I’d question why every Little Caesar’s has the personality of a municipal government building’s lobby. Don’t get me wrong – I actually love their hot and ready pizzas. I just don’t understand why it has to feel like I’ve entered a tag agency to grab a pizza. I just Binged tag agency, and it appears that is a highly localized reference. Okies and Floridians know what I’m talking about.
McDonalds: McDonald’s is my favorite because it’s a microcosm of humanity. Especially, if you visit one in a large city like Los Angeles or New York City. Big city McDonalds are packed with people, and when you’re in there in that huddle of humanity, you find out things about yourself. You learn about your ability to withstand adversity when the one person who was in front of you becomes five as the rest of their family joins them. You discover tiny prejudices that make their way to the surface through minute psychic fissures when there are people everywhere, and you’re afraid to leave your tray to go refill your soda. Every visit is a personal journey. McDonalds is the best.
Subway: I don’t understand Subway manages to make fresh bread and veggies smell like hospital bathrooms being cleaned, but they do it. I’ve never walked into one Subway that smelled appetizing. I guess that’s the benefit of a franchise. It’s the same everywhere. Whenever I learn about a new restaurant assembly line style restaurant, I always hear it referred to as the Chipotle of whatever the cuisine is. Really, Chipotle is the Subway of burritos, but no one – not even Subway – is willing to stand up for Subway. Even so, Subway Melt, all day.
Taco Bell: Every Taco Bell I’ve been in for the past decade has filled its space in the most awkward way possible. It’s as though they took their design inspiration from a taco shell and decided to go long and narrow with bits of lettuce and tomato everywhere. Often these are attached to other fast food restaurants like parasites in a symbiotic but gross relationship.