Ah fast food, you greasy temptress, you salty sly dog. Your combination of cheap, good, and convenient is sometimes just too tough to pass on. And while I admit you’ve had your hooks in my heart, or rather my belly, for quite some time. It might be time for me to move on. I took a bet on healthywage.com that I could lose 32 lbs. (I don’t care what is proper, typing in 32 P-O-U-N-D-S just feels weird it will stay lbs.). I am proud to say, I have far surpassed that, and am 45lbs. down in 5 months! It turns out passing on fast food, avoiding pop, and trying to go for a run every once in a while is a great decision. But I must admit, now that I have hit my goal, I find myself pining for a cheeseburger and a coke every now and then (every day). I have lived in Midland my whole life, I’ve tried a lot of different fast food combinations. Some delicious (you will see below), some misses (fry-lovers burger at Rally’s), and some downright hedonistic (14 double cheeseburgers- no pickle no onion – between Bobby and I). So now that it is a treat, as opposed to a way of life, here is what I am getting when I splurge. With my All-Midland All Fast Food Top 10.
10. You think having worked at McDonald’s for a year in my life would have been enough to scare me away, and believe me, it should have. But for prices that are still reasonable, (can’t say that often anymore) it’s tough to beat McDonald’s breakfast. My go-to, sausage mcmuffin with egg, a breakfast burrito (no hot sauce), and a Coke. It can be a real hit-or-miss on the burrito because it all depends on who prepped it. Shout out to the lady I worked with who always added a little extra cheese, you the real MVP. Remember people, these are pre-prepped and frozen and then MICROWAVED at time of order. But when they get it right, it’s oh-so right. When it’s wrong, you feel the overwhelming dread that what you are eating isn’t actually food but some lab creation gone wrong. But with the inconsistency of the burrito comes the ol’ reliable of the mcmuffin. When the english muffin gets nice and crispy on the outside and that sweet unholy sausage just soaks the whole sandwich, you get breakfast nirvana. Top it off with a COKE. Fountain Coke in the morning is the hidden gem of this all. Coke cuts through the morning phlegm and stings your throat alive with its bubbly concoction. It also provides the much needed caffeine boost you were looking for, and in case you weren’t counting on feeling sick, this will downright CONFIRM the afternoon tummy ache (it comes with the territory).
Pro-Tip: Ask to “Substitute folded egg” on your mcmuffin, it doesn’t taste better than the traditional but it will make it a whole new sandwich. Cost: $5.50
9. I have lived in Midland my whole life and only recently discovered this hot spot for fast food. YaYa’s. Now I know this barely counts but if you can drive thru it has to fall in this category if it can get handed to me out a window. Yaya’s has these mac n’ cheese bowls with chicken, that have the best spin on Mac N’ Cheese around. Side Note: Why noodles and company can’t reach this bar is befuddling. I go with Jalapeno Ranch or Asian Zing sauce and it is just perfect. Cheesy, Chicken-y, Spicy, CARBY delight. They have a bunch of options if you are more of a mild type, but they pack enough chicken in there to get you full.
Pro-Tip: Add a flatbread to your order to cleanse your pallet between bites, it will feel like your breaking the seal on the cheesy goodness every time. Plus “cleansing your pallet” is not something you really associate with fast food so that was funny. Cost: $10
8. Getting cheap wings is not usually a smart fast food option but Rally’s does them right. I go bone-out 10pc with slingin’ honey garlic sauce. A perfect marriage of sweet and spice, with the tang you crave from the garlic and the rush of heat synonymous with Frank’s red hot. Eat it with a fork and go crazy, Rally’s hits the mark on their bone-in wings too but what can I say, I’m basic. I get it people it’s just saucy nuggets, isn’t this a judgement free zone?
Pro-Tip: Get a side of fries too, you are at Rally’s you’ve already lost this meal. Get them fries! Additionally, always loop around and exit on Patrick road no matter your direction to avoid the dreaded Saginaw Rd. left. Cost: Too much- 12$ or something for a ten piece.
7. Burger King offers a really great… HAHAH I can’t do it. If I wanted to wait 15 minutes for a burger that was overpriced and under-prepared, I’d just go to Logan’s. (2 birds 1 post.)
The Real 7. KFC just doesn’t do it for me often. I often feel that the secret recipe can just stay a secret. But I really do enjoy a good chicken sandwich. I’m going with
6 4 chicken little’s, no pickle, ADD COLONEL SAUCE and a lemonade. These things are like three bites so you really need to get like 4 of them. The colonel sauce that once came standard on them is must-have. They really are just conveniently packaged sauce conveyors to your mouth. They were quite good when they had the honey-mustard “gold” sauce as well. Mix it up and get all sorts of sauces and make your chicken little’s a saucy, wet, delight. The bun they use absorbs it oh so well, and who doesn’t like a good chicken tender from KFC.
Pro-Tip: Mash Potato bowl was at one point my go to option from here but eat them too many times and suddenly they sound disgusting. Cost: $7
6. Little Caesar’s ‘is what it is’. It doesn’t pretend to be some upscale deal with branding and salads and customer service. Instead it satisfies one of the most basic human desires of all time: I need pizza, and I need it now. Walk in during lunch time and get four slices of deep dish cardboard smattered with cheese and a 20oz. of Cherry Pepsi and have the whole ordeal last roughly 8 minutes. (I am talking from time to order to full consumption including the passing of guilt.) The deep dish crust is actually amazing (when hot) and everything else is so hard to screw up you get a solid pizza. Not to mention good value at 6$ and you get to go in and see all the people in the back working at Little Caesar’s and can remind yourself you COULD have a much worse job.
Pro-Tip: The Jalapeno Cheddar sauce and Buffalo Ranch sauce have somehow gotten worse over time, but one of those or the garlic sauce comes in handy when you think “can I really eat this much dough?” and it softens your next bite and you’ll be back to thinking “of course I can”. Cost: $6
5. Bacon on a burger isn’t a natural marriage in my opinion. But we make it work, because it’s a burger, and it’s bacon, and sometimes you just want them both. If I am going for the ideal, I am getting a Bacon Cheddar Woppy from Tony’s with some of the best bacon you can get handed to you out of a window. But because of the cost, and the guy scowling at you for using a debit card (he seriously will mention Russians taking your card info every time), and if you only have half an hour for lunch you are 100% not making it back in time. I can’t recommend it. Drive down the road and get a Baconator from Wendy’s. The bacon isn’t as good, the bun not as thick, but those fresh never-frozen square meat patties (plural, letbehonest, you are getting a double) will give you those “I-ate-too-much-meat-sweats” you hate to love. I pair it with a spicy chicken go wrap no lettuce (seriously the lettuce won’t save me at this point) to counteract the saltiness with some spice. Get a medium strawberry lemonade and pretend it’s a family picnic instead of a carnal desire to eat meat on top of meat on top of meat between bread.
Pro-Tip: You can scale this back by getting a jr. bacon cheeseburger and some spicy nuggets. If.. you know… you care about your cash flow…. or your blood flow. Cost: Too much, like an arm-and-a-thumb. 13$
4. Taco Bell is just so hard to beat. When they added breakfast I remember literally jumping in the air for joy. Finally something to compete with the McDonald’s breakfast burrito. But instead they got horrible eggs, forgettable bacon, small portions, and frankly befuddling menu options. The one thing that made it all worth it though, the A.M. crunch wrap. That soft shell with a hash brown in the middle, combined with a zesty sauce and your choice of disappointing bacon or disappointing sausage will make your head spin. It gets the classic crunch wrap texture filled with who cares in the middle. I know I am trashing it a little but if I am headed down Saginaw for breakfast I get the crunch wrap more than I get the mcmuffin so it must be doing something right.
Pro-Tip: Literally no one goes there for breakfast so you can almost always find time to make it over there and get your crunch wrap and still be your standard “only three minutes” late for work. Cost: $3.50 that is of course, assuming they don’t get you on the up-sell for the Cinnabon abominations. Those things will straight wreck your morning.
3. Like in the case of the crunch wrap, sometimes one item of food, one unicorn of gluttony, one unique item of craving, can carry a whole dining experience. If you find yourself in the misfortune of going to A&W, get yourself some cheese curds. I go curds, corn dog nuggets, and a root beer. Side note, the root beer taste better at the restaurant than anywhere else, why aren’t they bottling this version? ANYWAYS. Get yourself some cheese curds, they taste as good as any fancy place or any other fast food (better than Culver’s no doubt) and they come through every. single. time. They don’t need sauce, they don’t need to be a side dish, they just need to be eaten. The crispy flaky exterior adds the needed texture to the soft, gooey, cheese pillow your tongue so badly desires. I find the drive-in and park/roller skate thing awkward and bad but thankfully you can just drive thru. (Speaking of awkward and bad how about these sentence structures.)
Pro-Tip: Don’t get a coney dog from A&W. Drive down the road and go to Tony’s. I don’t want soupy meat sauce. And I don’t want that thing they call a bun. They somehow found a way to may Koegel’s not taste good, something I thought impossible. Cost: Depends on how many curds you get and what you decide to pair with. But it’s A&W so.. too much for sure.
2. If you decide your crunch wrap for breakfast was so good you want to grace taco bell for lunch as well, here is what you do. First off, you’ll notice I am an a-la-carte kind of guy. Those meal numbers are just man-made traps in an attempt to get you to miss out on all the combinations that are your God given right to enjoy. This is ESPECIALLY true at taco bell, where if you are getting a meal, you are getting downright suckered into paying for two tacos that have a total of one spoonful of meat on them. Taco Bell has two items I am fairly certain I could eat for the rest of my life. Cheesy Gordita Crunch & A Steak Quesarito. First let’s visit the CGC. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I love when a dish can pull off a combination of textures. (Often it can ruin a dish when done poorly) But that thick puffy shell encasing my cheesy crunchy shell makes for a bite so satisfying it could be filled with just about anything and still taste good. But instead, I get beef (which is honestly pretty good despite the negativity around it) and then there is the sauce. The Ranchero sauce. Basically the Mexican version of yum yum sauce. No shame in asking for extra on it either. After you crushed that you can move on the Quesarito. And while the cheapskates are turning to their hard shell taco in their 5 dollar box, you are moving on to a combination of steak and cheese so potent that you thought could only exist in Philly. I got to be honest, I don’t even know what else is in the Quesarito, rice? beans? tomatoes? Who cares. You get the superior version of their overpriced quesadillas in a hand held version of heaven. Finish it with Mountain Dew, (regular not Baja, stuff taste like literal tooth paste) and feel absolutely stuffed, and only slightly sad you weren’t at Chipotle.
Pro-Tip: Go to Chipotle. Place is amazing. Cost: $9.50
1. I grew up in a golden age. A golden age of fast food, an age when you had 5 dollars to your name and you weren’t even slightly worried about your next meal. An age when fast food meant a cheap alternative to take-out and a chance to eat like a king. A time when getting two slices of beef, and two slices of cheese, between two slices of bread, costed 1$. Since then McDonald’s has systematically destroyed the Double Cheeseburger. They now offer the McDouble instead (literally the same thing minus a slice of cheese… those tyrannic monsters) and they now have to use tricks and schemes to get you to buy more. Well you’re not fooling me McDonald’s, your two for two menu is irrelevant, I am not here for 1 burger with cheese. I am here for much more than that. I’m double dipping on the 2 for 2 and getting 3 McDoubles only ketchup and a small fry. I am then carefully distributing the fries on to the burger to make what can only be described as the American version of a beef-grease-potato crunch wrap. I am them devouring them in a hyena like fashion faster than you can spell cholesterol and basking in the sweet savory coke after-wash of my kill. And I am doing it all for exactly five dollars and 35 cents. I write this all with no-shame, and a watering mouth.
Pro-Tip: Don’t pay for a big mac when you can just add mac sauce. (If that is your jam.)
So next time you find yourself in Midland and hungry with no time to spare. Refer to the list, stay away from “value” meals, and toss aside your guilt. Remember, I lost some weight so this piece of writing isn’t depressing. (Right?) But in all honesty, it all comes down to moderation. Food is meant to be enjoyed, and it is pretty obvious to myself when it stretches from hunger to gluttony. And if you hate this, you’ll be appalled at what I do at sit down restaurants (coming soon).