I rarely eat fast food. At least, I used to rarely eat fast food. My 10 year streak of no fast food burgers ended last summer when my friend and I were driving home from a bachelorette party and needed grease in our stomachs, so we made a desperate stop at Hardee’s. It was delicious and I don’t regret it. And I hadn’t eaten Taco Bell since my childhood– at treat on nights I had more than one extracurricular activity– until I met my husband last April. He’s a serious bean burrito addict. (Side note: Kind of hilarious that we still haven’t even known each other for a full year…)
Chick-fil-A was basically the only fast food I ate as a young adult, because it somehow felt less gross than most places. That is, until my husband re-introduced me to the burrito supreme…and now I find myself in the Taco
Hell Bell drive thru line against my will. Even when I’m the only one in the car. It’s like the Twilight Zone. How did I even get here??
Since we’re all disgusting people who end up in a fast food restaurant at least once every ten
years days, I’ve decided to rank them for you. This list only includes the 10 most popular (in my book) fast food chains. Requirements include: A drive thru, hundreds of locations, and the use of chemicals.
[Fun fact that I learned while writing this post: All fast food logos are red except for Taco Bell’s. That must mean something about our brains.]
Arby’s is known for its roast beef sandwiches, which is a really strange food choice to begin with, yet somehow became the focal point of an entire business. Follow your dreams, I guess…? Their current slogan is “We Have the Meats,” or as my mind reads it: “We Have the Meat Sweats.” Arby’s one saving grace is the fact that they have curly fries à la middle school cafeteria, but if I’m going to go somewhere just for the fries, it’s going to be to Wendy’s so I can dip them in a Frosty. Whoops, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Pretty low on the list, considering it’s the biggest fast food chain of all time, don’t ya think? Well, it’s not my fault that whatever combination of sauces they use on their chicken wraps has the consistency of a certain slimy bodily fluid. I won’t get specific. Plus I always feel the stickiest in their establishments, which is a real turn off.
No one really wants to eat inside fast food restaurants, which means these meals are for stuffing your face in the car where no one can watch or interrupt. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes (one cannot exist without the other) are pretty much impossible to eat while keeping a hand on the wheel, so that knocks KFC down significantly on my favorites list. Plus the fried chicken really isn’t that great, so I can’t really justify all the fat. Not that other fast food foods are any less fatty…but fried chicken just feels fat. Ya know?
Hardee’s burgers are actually pretty good, I won’t lie to you. Unfortunately for Hardee’s, though, it will always live in the shadow of its West Coast older sister, Carl’s Jr. (I just made “Carl” a girls name. What’re you going to do about it?) Although they have the exact same logo, people swear by Carl’s Jr., where as most people only go to Hardee’s if it’s the sole place serving food on a 50 mile stretch of a two lane highway. Basically, it probably doesn’t deserve to be this low on the list, but also needs to work a little harder to stand out.
6. Carl’s Jr.
I’ll admit to not having much experience with Carl’s Jr. since I’m a California Girl by birth, but an East Coast girl at heart. Nonetheless, I think it’s a middle-of-the-road chain. It outshines it’s little brother, Hardee’s, but not by much. Do something special, kids. Make me love you.
5. Burger King
Burger King makes it into the Top 5 because it’s trustworthy. I can’t entirely put my finger on it, but something about the presentation of their burgers makes me feel a little less queasy than McDonald’s or other Bottom 5 burger joints. BK plays to its strengths (whats up, Whopper Jr. with Cheese), but innovates in ways I appreciate– i.e. not by offering new types of fish sandwiches. Vom. This summer, BK is bringing hot dogs to the fast food scene, and I’m kind of into it. So is Jubilee. (Bachelor reference anyone?)
Wendy’s gets me because of their Frosty. There’s something about the consistency of a Frosty that is incredibly satisfying. Eat it with a spoon. Drink it with a straw if you have a jaw of steel like my husband. Dip your fries in it. The Frosty makes Wendy’s special, and I applaud that. Plus their burgers are square, which makes me feel like I get a little extra bang for my buck since the corners hang off the edge of the bun.
Chick-fil-A is #1 in the hearts of many, but fails to make my top two only because I don’t think it’s an addiction like #2, nor is it wildly comforting like #1. But Top 3 is nothing to hang its head about. Chick-fil-A has the best fries of any fast food restaurant, hands down. My husband always says “I want to four french fry you!” which alludes to how much better fries are when you eat four at a time. The more you can have at one time, the better. (Cute, right? Yeah, we’re gross.) Waffle fries kind of get the same affect, but with only one fry. It’s amazing. And while the chicken is technically breaded and fried, it doesn’t feel super heavy, which is a real feat. Also, why are their buns so good? And why is a sandwich with nothing but chicken, bread, and two pickles so simple yet so perfect?
P.S.- Polynesian Sauce and Chick-fil-A sauce.
2. Taco Bell
It pains me to put Taco Bell above Chick-fil-A at #2, but I’ve come to realize that 75% of Americans are severely addicted to Taco Bell. I’ve seen some of the most refined people I know slouch down in their driver seats in the Taco Bell drive thru, hoping no one sees, but incapable of staying away. No horror stories about the grade level of their beef or barely edible ingredients can stop me from craving whatever crack they put in their Mexican-inspired (key word: inspired) creations. A soft taco does wonders for the soul.
Am I a traitor for putting a West Coast chain at the top of my list? Maybe. But In-N-Out is so good that it’s worth such treason. Sure, they’re so cocky about their burgers that they don’t even offer anything on their menu except “hamburger” and “cheeseburger”– but I’m happy to ignore the blatant arrogance because it’s pretty much warranted. And who can resist their Secret Menu? When the Secret Menu was actually a secret, it made people who have never been cool in their lives feel really cool, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. The fact that a fast food chain successfully created a secret society as if they’re an ivy league institution is an inspiring display of equality and The American Dream. I think it’s time for a trip to visit my family in San Diego…
Apparently, there’s an amazing BBQ fast food chain called Cook Out that is the life-breath of college students all across the South. I’ve never had it, but a very trusted source in my life recently told me that it’s the greatest fast food chain of all time, so I’d feel like I’m really jipping my readers if I failed to mention it. Let’s maybe try it together? Lunch date? Next week? Comment if you’re serious, because I am.