August 3, 2012


Earlier I mentioned in passing the switch from Burger King to Wendy's as my go-to fast food place. Having gone there for awhile longer now, I notice several other things that make it a much more enjoyable experience than the alternatives. This is based on just the one I normally go to, but even if they're not typical, they've been allowed to remain by the corporation, rather than systematically gutted by efficiency experts, and that still speaks well of Wendy's.

- Booths with cushioning for both your back and butt, and in a red color. You hardly ever find seating that's comfortable and nice to look at in ordinary fast food restaurants anymore.

- Actual plaster on the sloping part of the ceiling, although the flat part of it is covered with the standard sterile acoustic panels. It isn't architectural splendor, but little details like seeing a texture on the walls or ceiling goes a long way to making the place feel alive instead of a glass-and-concrete machine for eating.

- Much better music. Burger King's wasn't unbearable like Starbucks, but it leaned too far toward Nickelback and Norah Jones. That junk shows up in Wendy's too, but there's a lot more '80s pop rock / adult contemporary, so you're guaranteed to hear a pleasing melody and some catchy riffs during your meal. In just a few weeks, I've heard multiple songs by Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, The Police, Belinda Carlisle, and "Don't Dream It's Over" was playing when I walked in today.

- People actually stay in the dining room to eat, and what's more, they're not fags, freaks, druggies, or crazies. It feels like it did back in more outgoing times, when everyone ate outside the house. It's not just a white yuppie sanctuary, or a hang-out for food stampers. It's men and women, children, teenagers, adults, and elderly, black, white, and other, professional and just-scraping-by.

This all seems to be in keeping with its overall conservative orientation. It's not heaven on Earth, but that's the wrong way to look at things. Everyday life should be enjoyable too, and these seemingly simple features used to be standard not very long ago.


  1. What do you think of Chik-Fil-A? It's been in the news a lot lately of course.

    I didn't really like it. The place was big and rather dirty. I thought the food was bad as well.

  2. I don't think I've ever been in one before. Some years ago my brothers went out to get some take-out from there, and I remember it tasting bland or bad.

    The only good chicken sandwich I've had from fast food was the crispy chicken sandwich (or whatever it was called) that Wendy's sold during the '90s, maybe earlier and maybe still does. I haven't had one in probably 15 years, and now that I'm eating low-carb, won't eat another because of the breading.

    My rule of thumb is that if it was popular in the '60s, '70s, or '80s, it'll still be good if they haven't changed the recipe. (Even though McDonald's existed during the mid-century, it only served hamburgers and fries, not Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, Filet o' Fish, etc.)

    But stuff that's become popular only during the '90s and 2000s, is either bland or horrid. Subway and Taco Bell are the best examples there -- who would've thought that a restaurant that sold oily bread with mostly toppings, or spic slop buckets, would be so dominant in the fast food industry?

    Even their more upscale cousins Panera and Chipotle are still rather bland and not satiating, just piles of carby junk. It doesn't taste as offensive as the cheaper stuff, at least, but a bacon cheeseburger from Wendy's tastes about 1000 times better, and has more protein and fat.

  3. Actually, the past 20 years did see the profusion of coffee and tea places, especially Starbucks. I am glad for that, but not for the food-related changes.

  4. I agree about Wendy's. Their standard burgers have the largest patties of the major burger chains, they have the best side options, and the JBC may be the single best deal in all of fast food.

    Have you ever had Five Guys? It's a higher end joint, so the higher quality is to be expected, but there you can get toppings of the sautéed onions and mushrooms calibre, roasted peanuts, and excellent fries. The walkway is paved with peanut bags which is sort of cool too. The menu is incredibly simple and there's no noticeable crap on the wall. I've heard David Bowie in there so the music ain't all bad.

  5. It looks like there are some in my state, but not very nearby. Too bad, their bacon cheeseburger does sound good. I saw some pictures of their interiors, and it's cool to see a simple but effective color contrast like red-and-white checkerboard. Food places look so bland these days.

    I think BK has a mushroom and Swiss cheese burger, but it didn't taste like sauteed... more like canned mushrooms with some cheap gravy poured over.

    The other day I saw Wendy's has a BLT Cobb Salad. They must be the only fast food place where you can get eggs after breakfast. Score another one for Wendy's. Now all they need is a junior bacon cheeseburger with a hard-boiled egg sliced up on top.

    ...Yeah, once I bought some egg salad from Whole Foods before hitting up Burger King, and spooned a good amount of it onto those single stackers. So good I nearly slid out of the booth.


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