Blame it on advertising. Blame it on the industry. It really doesn’t matter who or what you point to. The evidence is everywhere: the vast majority of Americans have a fantasy relationship with food.
What we eat is an extremely intimate, personal relationship with ourselves. It is precisely how we maintain the partnership between the soul that we are, and the body we live in.
It took half a century for me to grasp the fact that the stability of my mind, vitality, and longevity all depend heavily on what I eat.
It’s the same for you. Although our diets vary vastly, that statement still holds true.
However, like most people, I always thought of my diet, only in the narrow terms of “dieting.” Rather than the food we routinely eat, let alone its nutritional value.
Our weight and overall health is, more often than not, a direct reflection of our high expectations and extremely low standards of the food we eat.
Without realizing it, the manufactured food we crave, even desire, is carefully designed to reach our “bliss spot.”
There’s a “THANK YOU PRESIDENT BUSH” mug on my desk with an American flag sticking out of it.
The most popular newspaper column I ever wrote was called “I’m An American Trapped in a Canadian’s Body.”
I know all the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” — although a lifetime of Hockey Night in Canada probably helped.
All that to say:
There are a few things this (rare) pro-American Canadian still doesn’t understand about your wonderful country.
I’m not pretending to ask these questions either, like this shameful and embarrassing federal government employee, whose CBC TV show is paid for by my extorted tax dollars. Note that while ostensibly mocking Americans, all he does is accidentally highlight how patient and polite you guys really are:
See Round 1 in Burger Battle, PJ Lifestyle’s ongoing debate to find America’s best burgers, by Bryan Preston: In-N-Out Vs Five Guys
And Round 2 by Bridget Johnson: West Coast Homer Votes In-N-Out
Stay tuned for more installments as PJ Lifestyle’s other contributors are also invited to upload pictures and reviews from their preferred burger joints around the country (and perhaps the world?) Readers too can share their recommendations participate in Burger Battle. Take a picture of your favorite burger and email it to me DaveSwindlePJM AT Gmail.com along with your instructions for where to get it and how to order it.
At the end of their visit to PJM headquarters last week, I drove editors Bryan Preston, David Steinberg by the In-N-Out Burger at LAX before their flights back to Texas and New York. And we made a big mistake. We didn’t take PJ Washington DC editor Bridget Johnson’s advice to order “Animal Style”.
As a result, Bryan wrote in his blog post that he still preferred Five Guys. And driving away from the airport after dropping off my colleagues I unwrapped my burger only to receive confirmation of my previous opinion: The Habit is SoCal’s Best Burger. The flavor of In-N-Out just wasn’t as vivid even though in many other ways they still offered an excellent burger.
Then Bridget stepped in to remind us we’d forgotten her advice. If you don’t have an In-N-Out Animal Style then you might as well not bother.
So last night after wrapping up the last PJ Lifestyle post, I grabbed Maura, and hopped in the car. The plan: grab an Animal Style Double Double and head to the park. Here are six photos of our adventure to figure out if this could really elevate In-N-Out as high as Bridget claimed.
A few months back I blogged the wonders of the Five Guys burger, declaring it the best burger on the planet. Food blogging can be more perilous than politics or just about anything else; people are passionate about their palates. So that post generated quite a bit of feedback and a little bit of hate mail. People wanted to know: how could I declare Five Guys the best, when I had never even had the pleasure of the In-N-Out burger?
That was a good question, but I didn’t have an answer. I could only shrug. I grew up on Whataburgers so I could authoritatively rule them great but Five Guys better. Ditto for Sonic, despite its unstoppable cherry limeade. We all have our local haunts that can’t be topped. Around Austin, that’s Mighty Fine. Up in Baltimore, Burger Bros. is amazing and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Every town has its own best burger. But among the big chains that inspire fanatic loyalty, which is the best?
Let’s throw another bit of fire in the fight: Five Guys is an east coast franchise spreading west, while In-N-Out is a west coast franchise spreading east. They’ll meet in the middle at some point. There will be burger blood. But I’m a man from the middle of the country, and am a fair judge of both coasts in that I largely condemn the culture and politics of both.
So anyway, while I’d been to the west coast several times, until last week I’d never eaten an In-N-Out burger. Something always got in the way. But at the end of a visit to PJM world headquarters in glamorous El Segundo, CA, on Friday, Daves Swindle and Steinberg and I hit the In-N-Out on Sepulveda on the way to LAX. So now I can weigh in.
When I assess competing burgers, I look at a few basic criteria: Presentation, Bread, Meat, Veggies, Fries, and Overall Taste. So let’s break it down.
This video proves conclusively that minimum wage is just too high.
The New York Daily News today proclaims “U.S. has saltiest fast food: McNuggets have twice the sodium as those in U.K., says study”:
What makes fast food taste all-American? Salt, and lots of it.
In fact, the fast food in the U.S. may be the saltiest in the world, according to a Canadian health journal.
Researchers found that foods from popular fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Domino’s, Subway and Pizza Hut, contain more sodium in certain countries.
For example, after analyzing McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets in the U.K., France, Canada, New Zealand the the U.S., scientists found that American McNuggets had the highest sodium content, with 1.6 grams of salt per 100 grams.
McNuggets in the U.K. contained 0.6 grams of salt per 100 grams, less than half what was in America’s chicken bites.
Those behind the study were quick to add that avoiding fast food isn’t a surefire way to lower salt intake. Foods and products with sky-high sodium levels are everywhere.
Not long ago salt and meat were cherished luxuries. (And in much of the world they still are.) Yet today they’re the foundation of our diets. And in the 21st century-style recession somehow the opposite of starvation has happened. Now instead of “the poor” starving to death they choose to save money by eating high calorie, unhealthy food.
Related: This is how much we’ve been spoiled by the riches of our freedom. “Nonprofit” “consumer advocacy” groups trying to make it illegal to market fast food to children:
A San Francisco judge has dismissed a proposed class-action lawsuit that sought to stop McDonald’s Corp. from using toys to market its meals to children in the Golden State.
The suit had been filed in late 2010 by Monet Parham, a California mother of two, and The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
The suit had claimed that the world’s biggest hamburger chain was violating consumer protection laws by using toys to lure them to eat nutritionally unbalanced meal. The lawsuit did not seek damages.
What would famished Irish families fleeing starvation at the close of the 18th century think if they could see us now?
French fries sizzling in hot oil. Fresh (at least at some point) hamburger searing on the flat top grill. Squeaky-voiced teen messing up our order and saying he’ll have to ask his manager. This is the fast food experience Americans are all familiar with. When we walk into a fast food restaurant we all have a certain set of expectations about the food and service based on our previous experiences. That’s why we continue to go back — no matter where in the country we are, we expect the same McDonald’s or Taco Bell meal.
However, it seems to be increasingly evident that fast food restaurants are trying new gimmicks marketing techniques to change both our expectations and perceptions of what they’re serving and how they’re serving it. If my business was being endlessly attacked by nanny-staters that want to dictate what I can and can’t serve my customers, I’d probably try almost anything to keep them coming in the door. But when you try to create the perception of better food and better value instead of actually giving it to your customers, you become a prime candidate for today’s list.
Wendy’s is the least offensive of the restaurants on this list.
I’ve had plenty of food from Wendy’s that I have enjoyed, and can see to some degree why people want to duck in for a square burger and Frosty. However, Wendy’s definitely has some issues bubbling underneath the surface.
Despite the fact that Wendy’s often views itself as superior among the likes of competitors like McDonald’s and Burger King, the qualities they tout are mostly a façade. Take, for example, their new Natural-Cut Fries. They were obviously trying to take advantage of the fact that those restaurants that are doing fresh-cut, skin-on fries are doing well because people can taste a difference. But while Wendy’s fries have the skin-on appearance, they are the same frozen matchsticks shipped on a truck that they always were. Truthfully, with every new “fresh” item they roll out they are really just justifying their higher prices (compared to other burger chains) without really delivering a hell of a lot more in the quality department.
On a more anecdotal note, I seem to have many more service issues at the various Wendy’s I go to than at other burger joints. This includes forgotten drive-thru items, cash register operators who are bad enough at math to apply for a job as Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, and the fact that they still refuse to have a self-serve soda fountain. If refills are indeed free and I want more Diet Coke, don’t make me have to interrupt someone who is “working” in order to get it.