Our Fast Food Odyssey (Part One: The First 6000 Calories)
I love fast food. I eat out at least once a week, and it’s always fantastic. So I had the thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I took a girl on a date where we just spent the entire day driving from fast food place to fast food place?” Girls, apparently, do not agree. So instead, I invited a couple of my friends along to experience the joys of spending a day eating only fast food with me. The key to eating fast food and staying healthy is moderation. We did not observe this rule. Enjoy our pain.
First Stop: Taco Bell
1 Coffee (10 Calories), 1 AM Crunchwrap Bacon (660 Calories), 670 Total Calories, $4.18
California AM Crunchwrap (630 Calories), 630 Total Calories, $2.93
AM Bacon Taco (240 Calories), 240 Total Calories, $1.05
1530 Calories, $8.16 Spent
Tim: Wow, that 660 calories is WAY more than I expected.
Mike: I’m starting off low-cal and going to attempt to keep a low-budget theme.
Tim: Yeah, there’s so much I want to try on this menu, but I know what’s to come, and I have to hold back.
Jarrett: I have coupons for McDonald’s.
Tim: Goddammit Jarrett, stop getting ahead of yourself.
Mike: I haven’t been inside a Taco Bell in at least a decade, but it looks and feels exactly like Mexico, where I have never actually been. Although I’m a bit disappointed a Mexican restaurant charged me American tax.
Tim: This is my new favorite breakfast. I knew the AM Cruchwrap was genius when it was first introduced, and nothing has changed. Now I just need to try all the varieties.
Jarrett: Yeah, it’s delicious. Definitely exceeded expectations.
Mike: I’m really impressed. There’s nowhere to go but down now.
Tim: We should rename the article “How we stayed at Taco Bell and tried to convince them to serve us breakfast all day long.” Because that’s what we should be doing.
Jarrett: The slogan on the bag says: “It’s hard to imagine mornings without this”, and I couldn’t agree more.
Mike: I’m genuinely shocked by how good this breakfast taco is, although I would need 12 of them to be full.
Tim: Taco Bell breakfast doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does. What would be the worst restaurant to have breakfast at?
Mike: Arby’s. Anywhere that serves hot dogs.
Tim: Surprisingly, we’re the only ones to have a nice sit down breakfast at Taco Bell.
Jarrett: Yeah, only like 3 people have entered during our time here. Do you think this place ever fills up?
Mike: Cinco de Mayo.
Tim: Thanksgiving. And hopefully it’s a KFC/Taco Bell so you can get a bucket of tacos.
Jarrett: Why do fast food places always have rectangular trays, but circular garbage openings?
Mike: There is some kind of taco robot painted on the wall with his “food tank” pointing to “E”, and that is super cute.
Stop 2: McDonald’s
1 Hash Brown (150 Calories), 1 Coffee (0 Calories – Why Taco Bell’s coffee is 10 more calories than McDonald’s I have no idea. I’m fairly certain McDonald’s just rounded down.), 820 Total Calories, $2.05 ($6.23 Total)
1 Sausage, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle (550 Calories), 1180 Total Calories, $3.46 ($6.39 Total)
1 Sausage McMuffin and Free Small Coffee (370 Calories), 610 Total Calories, $1.05 ($2.10 Total)
2610 Calories, $14.72 Spent
Tim: This is the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever been in. There are paintings and mood lighting.
Jarrett: Seriously. There are plants, decorations, dark wood.
Tim: In all honesty, a McDonald’s like this one isn’t bad to hang out at. I actually feel pretty comfortable here. The coffee’s good, free wifi, a TV, etc. Great ambience. I’ve even seen a McDonald’s with a fireplace. Not this one. But they exist.
Mike: This is a cozy McDonald’s. I’m glad we’re staying here for an hour and a half. Rich mahogany walls. A barrier between us and nearly everyone else. A nice round table for us while we chat, feast, and take notes. It’s perfect. Everyone thinks we’re in law school.
Jarrett: The saddest law school.
Tim: Yeah, the kind where we won’t “technically” or “legally” be able to practice law, but we will be able to print out a degree and hang it on our walls.
Mike: Which is about the value of a law degree nowadays anyway.
Tim: So, we came here during breakfast because that’s really the best part about Mcdonald’s. Everything is pretty decent (high praise!). Not quite Taco Bell quality, but pretty good. McDonald’s problem is how boring it is besides breakfast. Their food just doesn’t really stand out. If I’m going to be fat, I want to eat something exciting like a sandwich with chicken as the buns.
Mike: People may think McDonald’s is boring, but you don’t get to serve billions and billions by making shitty food, unless you’re Arby’s.
Jarrett: Even through the wrapper, the warm, soothing smells of the McGriddle remind me of waking up at home, walking downstairs, and seeing my mom making a delicious breakfast.
Tim: McDonald’s coffee is very solid. Also cheap. Way better than Starbucks. Every size of coffee is a dollar. Why the hell would you get anything other than large?
Jarrett: You got a medium.
Tim: Yeah, well, this is research. Scientific method…hypothesis. Shutup, I’m trying to study law here.
Mike: Well, I had a coupon (for a free small). Their coffee is great though.
Jarrett: This sandwich is fantastic. My faith in America to create fake food that tastes amazing is renewed each time I eat one of these. Plus, their logo is seared into the McGriddle pancakes. What other foods in the world have that feature?
Tim: Cows. (Get it? Cause cows are branded? Whatever, fuck you.)
Mike: My McMuffin isn’t nearly as amazing as I remember it being the last time I had one 20 years ago. But it gets the job done. It’s tough to fight fake cheese and fake egg on a tiny biscuit for $1.
Tim: So when I went up to order a coffee after I already ordered the hash brown, it made me think, have either of you ever gotten fast food, finished your meal, then went back up and ordered again?
Mike: Ihop. I didn’t go back, but I couldn’t decide between a burger and a breakfast, so I just got both.
Tim and Jarrett: Back in college we were at a sit down burger place in Madison. We ordered our food, a burger and fries each, and ate it. When the waiter came back and asked us if we wanted our check, we were like, actually, could we order another burger?
Jarrett: It was fantastic.
Tim: Also, at Culver’s after a night of drinking, I ordered a cheeseburger and cheese curds, ate them before my friend got his meal, then sat there for about 10 minutes deciding if I should get another. I decided, yes, that would be most pleasant. So I went up to the same exact person who took my first order and asked, “Hey, can I get another cheeseburger and cheese curds?” She recognized me. She fell in love.
Jarrett: I’m reading the bag right now, and it describes their fries as crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Fluffy is probably how I’d describe deep-fried cotton balls, not French fries. Also, there’s a QR code on the bag that says “Learn our story”. It took me to a menu, because, you know, even though I just ordered food in a store off the menu, I should never be too far from a McDonald’s menu.
Stop 3: Chuck E Cheese
1 Medium Pepperoni Pizza Portion (593 Calories), 1413 Total Calories, $4.13 ($10.36 Total)
1 Medium Pepperoni Pizza Portion (593 Calories), 1773 Total Calories, $4.13 ($10.52 Total)
1 Medium Pepperoni Pizza Portion (593 Calories), 1203 Total Calories, $4.13 ($6.23 Total)
4389 Calories, $27.11 Spent
Tim: This was a mistake.
Jarrett: I walked in and instantly felt unwelcome. I can feel a burning stare from all the parents and workers here.
Tim: Seriously. Even though all the employees are nicer than nice can be. Outside of parents, we’re the oldest people here by like 15 years. I have never been so uncomfortable in my life. I’m fairly certain it’s company policy to call the non-emergency police line when a group of twentysomethings walk in without kids.
Mike: The slogan does say “Where Awesome Parents Go”. So I guess you guys should just wait outside (Mike has a 1 year old).
Tim: As a habit, I keep looking around to people watch. Then I realize all the people are kids and now I’m just looking at the ground.
Mike: There’s a very appropriate arcade game here called “Predator”.
Tim: Ya know, usually it’s more comforting to be in uncomfortable situations when you’re with someone else, but in this case, it just makes it way worse. At least if I was by myself, I could pretend my kid was off running around somewhere.
Jarrett: Yeah, then people could just assume you’re a shitty parent.
Tim: Or a heroic single dad, braving the elements of Chuck E Cheese to bring a fleeting moment of joy to their child’s life since their mother tragically passed during child birth…coming this fall to CBS.
Mike: Only if you also live with a roommate who’s also your dead wife’s brother. And your childhood best friend lives in the basement. Full House. Let’s just make Full House.
Tim: And instead of a special Disney World episode, we go to Chuck E Cheese! Because the show’s already been canceled and we have no more money.
Jarrett: It was a good run.
Mike: I’ve never been disappointed by a Jack’s pizza, until today when I paid $13 for one. (Ed Note: Your portion was $4.13)
Tim: The pizza does seem a bit different than I remember (BEST IN THE WORLD FOREVER), but then again, it’s been about 15 years. It’s really greasy and strangely saltier than most pizzas I’ve ever tasted, but it’s not bad.
Jarrett: The combination of all the noises from the TVs, games, and kids is giving me a headache.
Tim: All things considered, Chuck E Cheese hasn’t really changed in the last 15 years. Besides the tragedy of me not playing The Simpsons arcade game right now. Or climbing up the skee ball machine to score more points. Or winning 10,000 tickets I can use on 10 bouncy balls and a plastic kazoo.
Announcement comes on the TVs: Chuck E Cheese and friends are coming out for a live performance in just 5 minutes!
Jarrett: We gotta get the fuck out of here.
11:55 DRIVING INTERMISSION
Tim: I’m not that full right now, but I’m realizing how downhill this is about to go.
Stop 4: 7-Eleven
0 Items (0 Calories), 1413 Total Calories, $0.00 ($10.36 Total)
0 Items (0 Calories), 1773 Total Calories, $0.00 ($10.52 Total)
0 Items (0 Calories), 1203 Total Calories, $0.00 ($6.23 Total)
4389 Calories, $27.11 Spent
Tim: So this is where Google led us. As you can see, it was very beautiful.
Stop 5: Taco John’s
2 Crispy Tacos (340 Calories), Small Potato Oles (480 Calories holy shit. Sidenote – The large is 860 calories. Jesus.), 2233 Total Calories, $5.59 ($15.95 Total)
Taco Burger (280 Calories), Small Potato Olès (480 Calories), Small Diet Mountain Dew (0 Calories), 2533 Total Calories, $5.57 ( $16.09 Total)
Grilled Chicken Burrito (590 calories), 1793 Total Calories, $4.51 ($10.74 Total)
6559 Total Calories, $42.78 Spent
Tim: Potato Oles are what dreams are made of. The best way to eat anything is to put a bunch of Potato Oles in it. The “Six-Pack And A Pound” was a college staple. As far as drunk food goes, it’s perfect. Six tacos and a pound of delicious, salty, greasy, amazing potatoes. There’s also a “12-Pack And A Pound” now, and it’s tagline is literally, “Just when you thought the Six–Pack And A Pound® couldn’t get any better.” Or alternatively, “Yeah, fuck it, just throw some more tacos in there.” We’re getting so close to making Taco Town a reality, and that makes me so very happy.
Jarrett: When I think of hot-pocket quality Mexican food, I think of some dude named John who opened a Mexican fast food place.
Mike: This is by far my least favorite. 7-Eleven was better.
Jarrett: The Taco Burger was basically a crap sloppy joe with taco shit on it.
Mike: Our first stop where I’m a virgin, and I don’t like this place right off the bat. The décor is nowhere near Taco Bell’s level and the cheese on my burrito is that really fake slimy shit. It tastes as bad as it looks. It reminds me of coming home after school in seventh grade and immediately heating up two hot pockets, except now I’m not masturbating right after. So far the worst stop of the day and the only place I feel like I wasted money. About what I expect from Papa John trying to make tacos.
Tim: I’ll stand up for Taco John’s and say I love it normally. But I could really go for the sweet embrace of death right now. And this was supposed to be the easy part of the day.
Jarrett: I didn’t think I’d feel like this, this quickly.
Tim: POTATO OLES WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME
Jarrett: Definitely killed myself by getting too much food here.
Tim: This was quite the turn. I guess that’s what happens when your diet consists of all sodium.
Mike: Well I feel fine.
And so Part One of our Fast Food Odyssey comes to a close, with 7 restaurants and 6000 calories somehow left to go.