The Checkers Experience

Have you ever eaten at a Checkers? Or have you ever eaten at a Rally’s? What if I told you that these are the same restaurant??? Madness, you’d tell me, those are two different names they must be two different places! But no. They are the same restaurant. With different names depending on where you are.

Wait, you’re telling me now. Isn’t that the same thing that Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr has too? Yes… that’s right. It’s the same gimmick. It’s also the same gimmick as restaurants Green Burrito and Red Burrito, a pair of places that we didn’t really know about until we started investigating this. And you want to know the real kicker? All of these restaurants are owned by the SAME PARENT COMPANY!!! What kind of gimmick is that? You get six properties for the price of three, I guess. 

Where we live, we’ve got Checkers, Hardee’s, and neither Green or Red Burrito. We’ve been interested in eating at Checkers for a long time because the people who eat there seem to really like eating there. The fries are pointed out repeatedly as a high point of the menu, and there’s nothing we like more than hot starch. A trip was inevitable. 

The thing was, the nearest Checkers to us was over half an hour of driving away. That’s fine, we like to drive, we love driving long distances, but this is something that you still don’t just do for fast food. We kept putting it off, and off, and off, but one day we were just so hungry and so bored we decided driving so long for some burgers would be worth it.

Then we kept going back. We couldn’t seem to stop. It was a waste of gas and time but it was… well, was it worth it? Let’s find out.

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Can KFC’s fries jump the bar that 2020 buried?

When we started writing this article, we were going to be very, very harsh on KFC. We were fans of the potato wedges, and upon hearing that they were replacing them with fries, we grew very upset. How could they do this? Potato wedges were one of the cornerstones of the KFC menu. Fries are… Nothing. Generic. Bland. They are everywhere, and potato wedges were a delightful way to separate KFC from the rest of the fast food world.

KFC’s appeal wasn’t that it was just “fast food”. It felt like a meal, a real meal that you eat with your family as a thing. KFC has offered quick service meals for our entire lives, but having the platonic idea of “getting a bucket for dinner” is inseparable from KFC as a concept. The wedges illustrated this. They weren’t french fries like what you’d get at a McDonald’s, they were home-cooked wedges just like what you could cook at home. Total difference.

We felt that KFC getting rid of the wedges was the latest awful move in a series of terrible decisions. KFC has been on a sharp and steep decline since the mid-2000s, and nothing seems to be turning their image around. They rely on tacky gimmicks like the new Colonel commercials and outlandish promotional stunts like VR video games and Crocs that smell like fried chicken, but can’t get past the simple fact that their food is not as good as it used to be and their atmosphere is a dump.

We haven’t properly eaten at KFC in what may be years. Them switching to fries seemed like justification that it was the right decision.

But then we decided we had to give it a chance.

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FOOD: Taco Bell – Buffalo Chicken Nacho Fries and Buffalo Chicken Nacho Fries Burrito

Taco Bell, PLEASE just add Nacho Fries to your full time menu. We know you want to. Everybody loves them. Everybody wants them. You’ve been coasting off of the McRib effect for long enough and it’s time to just add Nacho Fries full time and make everybody happy.

In case you eat like a functioning person and didn’t know, Nacho Fries are basically the best french fries in fast food right now. They’re crisp, soft, and seasoned with a delicious blend of spices that add a dimension of flavor beyond the basic salted fries offered by every fast food chain that isn’t Arby’s or Rally’s/Checkers. They even come with their own side of nacho cheese to dip! How can you argue against that?

Taco Bell is obviously proud of their Nacho Fries and sometimes will mix things up with the addition of other ingredients. We had tried the Rattlesnake Steak fries, to good results; we had missed out on the Reaper Nacho Fries, to our disappointment. When they make these additions to the Nacho Fry formula, they also offer them wrapped up in a tortilla as a burrito too. We love the idea of a french fry burrito. It’s something to distinctively Taco Bell, something that vaguely has the shape of “Mexican food” but is so distantly detached from authenticity as to become a new kind of cuisine all together. 

So now that Nacho Fries are back, they’ve come with a new version to try: the Buffalo Chicken Nacho Fries, complete with Buffalo Chicken Nacho Fries Burrito. They can’t screw this up. They physically can’t make a Nacho Fries that is not good to eat. They can’t.

They can’t.

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FOOD: Taco Bell – Nacho Fries


Nacho Fries! They’re back!

Then again, we didn’t really notice they were ever gone. And from the looks of it, they came back in July, so we dropped the ball on this one right through the floor. Whoops!

Nacho Fries first popped up back in January of 2018, filling a long-pondered-about hole in Taco Bell’s menu. Taco Bell, ostensibly being a Mexican-themed restaurant, has never before offered French fries in America. Their staple cheese-saturated side dish has always been their nachos (officially, ‘Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce’). But we, as Americans, have a long and storied love of the fried potato that extends back generations; just about every other fast food restaurant has to serve french fries whether they want to or not.

Recognizing this, Taco Bell has added other potato-based dishes to their menu – first and most notably the home fries-esque “Fiesta potatoes”, as well as breakfast hash browns – but the addition of real French fries is a genuine first for the chain.

The real question is, should they have added fries at all? This “nacho” style is an interesting Taco Bell-themed twist on regular French fries, but was it the right choice to move further away from their already distorted view on Tex-Mex cuisine? Let’s find out how we feel about this.

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FOOD: Wendy’s – Baconator Fries

Wendys Baconator Fries 01

Wendy’s has been in a pretty odd place with regards to its menu, recently. While McDonalds presses on with its “premium” burger selection and Burger King tries to cater to a value market with 2 for $5 sandwich deals, Wendy’s has been taking the healthy tack. They’ve been emphasizing the freshness and healthiness of their menu by pushing strawberry salads and fresh chicken sandwiches.

In this context, Wendy’s latest limited time offer, Baconator Fries (released on June 25th, 2015), is a little surreal. Neither healthy nor constructed out of premium ingredients, and still being sold at a ridiculous mark-up, it’s… trend-bucking? But not necessarily in a good way.

After the jump, we’ll find out if the newest member of the Baconator family can live up to the lofty standards set by its kin, or if this family reunion will just be awkward.

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FOOD: Popeyes – Spicebox Chicken [Discontinued]

Popeyes Spicebox Chicken 01

If you’ve been keeping up with Popeyes news (rather than any of the many other things that are going on in the world right now), first off, good on you. I’m sure you’re a hit at parties. Second, you’re bound to already know that this month’s promotional special is the Spicebox Chicken.
If you’re not anything like us and feel like there are things more important than what America is eating right now, however, then we’re here to tell you that the Spicebox Chicken is a $3.99 special for chicken (thin strips of white meat, marinated and fried, tossed in a 12-spice blend), fries, a biscuit, and a spiced ranch dipping sauce.

In this review, we’ll be talking not only about how good this tastes, but also about some of the history behind the difficulties that fast food chicken restaurants have gone through. Continue reading