In the month of November 2012, I had a goal to spend only $8 a day. Within this goal, I layered on a mini-experiment: I wanted to try the cheapest, most calorically-efficient item at every fast food establishment. So over the course of 22 workday lunches, I punted any semblance of healthy eating and tried them all.
Without further ado, let’s meet the contestants.
Burger King Spicy CHICK’N CRISP® Sandwich
Cons: These should be labeled with a biohazard sticker. The spicy breading—not spicy enough for flavor, but just spicy enough to induce cold sweats—conceals a whitish-grey chicken mush sandwiched between two white buns, a slathering of mayo, and a leathery leaf of iceberg lettuce. In a related event, I had to shit an hour after consumption.
Jack in the Box Tacos
Pros: A fair price. A liberal application of Jack in the Box’s delightful hot sauce masks any flavoring quirks. I also didn’t have to shit immediately afterwards.
Cons: I don’t know how, but the yellowed taco shells are simultaneously mushy and stale. The only strength of the Frankenmeat soy/beef concoction is that it could be considered edible. I’m about to shatter delusions for frat boys everywhere, because here’s the reality: Jack in the Box tacos are painfully mediocre.
Jack in the Box Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
Cons: All bacon is not created equal, and Jack in the Box clearly sources their bacon from the pigs that subsist on a diet of their own shit.
KFC Chicken Little
Pros: Tasty breading, juicy chicken, and a sesame bun.
Cons: Comically small. Literally finished it in 3 bites.
Taco Bell Soft Taco
Pros: Taco Bell sets the bar for fast food tacos. The meat is salty, and the tortilla, cheese, and lettuce are recognizable, which is as close a compliment one could give to fast food ingredients.
Cons: In a growing list of things I thought I’d never say, Taco Bell is fucking expensive. At a paltry 151 calories per dollar, I had a wave of buyer’s remorse after consuming a taco.
Taco Bell Bean and Cheese Burrito
Pros: Generally looks like a burrito.
Cons: Its color and consistency are uncannily reminiscent of dog shit, making it the only item on this list which is both literally and figuratively shitty. And yes, I realize I’m already at 4 shit jokes.
Pros: The most artfully crafted cheap item on any value menu—two sumptuous meat patties, beautifully melted cheese, toasted fluffy buns, all rounded out by a winning supporting cast of ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles. The gold standard for cheap fast food—in many ways, I feel more of an attachment to the McDouble than most people I see on a regular basis.
Cons: After 20+ McDoubles consumed in the month of November, I started having a bizarre Pavlovian effect where my mouth started tasting like McDoubles any time I passed by a McDonalds.
Pros: The winner of a competitive racket of fast food chicken sandwiches. Has a nice zesty breading on the aforementioned fluffy buns. Actually tastes like chicken.
Cons: A nice complement to the breadwinner of the McDonalds family, the mighty McDouble, but still not worthy of upper echelon status.
Del Taco Regular Taco
Pros: It is a taco, and I like tacos. Also, for some bizarre reason, I used to love Del Taco when I was 8 years-old, so Del Taco garners bonus points for childhood nostalgia.
Cons: Surprise surprise, eight year-olds are not renowned for their reliable judgment of food quality. Del Taco is fighting tooth-and-nail with Burger King for the shit crown (known cross categorically as “The Nickleback Award”) for worst fast food establishment. Del Taco’s underwhelming taco is emblematic of this achievement.
Del Taco Bean and Cheese Burrito
Pros: Cheap. Very cheap.
Cons: In a shocking turn of events, it’s cheap because it sucks.