People love food. How's that for a strong opening sentence? That's why I'm on the payroll, ladies and gentlemen. Anyway, as it pertains to America, at least, our favorite brand of food is the kind that's delivered into our mouths as quickly and hassle-free as possible. We call it fast food, and a lot of it sucks.
That said, like any other market, certain brands are revered above all others in the crowded field of Type 2 diabetes distribution. In some cases, the praise is well-deserved, but more often than not ... it's not. This is a topic we touch on in this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast (which was recorded live at the Hollywood Improv with a full band, but, hey, no big deal) ...
... where we kick off a discussion about overrated things everyone in Los Angeles loves by bashing one of the state of California's most prized franchises ...
#5. In-N-Out Burger
Mel Bouzad/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Listen, I'm not saying In-N-Out makes a bad burger by any stretch of the imagination. They make fucking terrible fries. Like, almost the worst in existence. The burger is fine for the most part, though.
The thing is, people don't treat In-N-Out Burger like it makes a fine burger; people treat In-N-Out Burger like it cures cancer and performs other assorted miracles. I'd heard all of the over-the-top "It will change your life" kind of praise before I moved to Los Angeles, so, naturally, I was very much looking forward to investigating the hype once I arrived. I did. It was fine. Except for the fries, which, again, are total ass.
When I delivered this review to my new California friends, I was met with an almost universal response: "Well, you must not have ordered it the right way. You should have gotten it animal style."
Which means this, for some damn reason.
First of all, grilled onions do not come from an animal. Also, I'd appreciate a little less pressure to put Thousand Island dressing on that shit. That is the worst dressing ever made. I would put raspberry vinaigrette on a burger before I'd consider that nonsense. Besides, that there is a "right" way to order is your first indication that you're dealing with an overrated sandwich.
There are burger places in this world that are so confident in their wares that they expressly prohibit customers from making any special requests. Extra onions? Nope. Hold the garlic pesto mayo? Hold your tongue, you heathen. Don't get me wrong, I hate that shit, too, but at least places like that earn their reputation based on the quality of the food, as opposed to the amount of prep time and detective work it takes to place a palatable order.
"Your special sauce is what?"
Speaking of that, what's with all the secrecy around the menu? If an item is available for the ordering, goddamn tell us. I shouldn't have to consult Snopes to make sure that what I'm ordering actually exists. That shit should just be on the menu where I can order it.
Then again, why do they have a fucking menu at all? From every report I've seen or heard, you can kind of walk into In-N-Out and ask for just about anything and they'll make it for you. Someone ordered a burger with 100 patties once and they made it without question. If you ask me, a business that adheres to "the customer is always right" with that much vigor probably has some kind of ulterior motive.
I'm sure I'm just overthinking it.
Also, they don't have bacon. Not on their real menu, and not on that secret menu that people love so much. Does the Internet know this? I personally feel like a lot of false In-N-Out fandom would be destroyed if this glaring lack of available salty pork was a fact more people knew about. There should be laws on the books that force burger joints to serve bacon. It is a vital part of the experience. Even if you don't initially order bacon on your burger, it's at least nice knowing there's some around if the taste goes south halfway through and you have to call in reinforcements. This is not an option at In-N-Out Burger, and that alone should be enough to remove it from contention for the title of America's best burger restaurant.
Also, Fatburger is every bit as awesome as that Ice Cube song made it seem. If you're visiting California and must eat at a burger chain, go there.
That said, California isn't the only part of the country that's a little too reverent about their relatively shitty burger chain ...
#4. White Castle
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Shut. Up. That is what I say to you if you are even thinking of giving me any objection on this. There is nothing you can tell me that will change my mind about White Castle basically being the emergency rations of restaurant food. I sometimes feel like I should put "food" in quotes when I'm talking about White Castle. This is how terrible their burgers are: You can buy them in the frozen food section of most grocery stores, and they taste exactly the same as they do at the restaurant.
Walmart.com (Of course)
This will kill you.
I'm pretty sure this, speaking in strictly technical terms, should still be scientifically impossible. If microwaveable food had reached restaurant levels of quality, we probably wouldn't even have restaurants anymore.
Do not mistake this similarity between the restaurant and microwave versions as some sort of testament to the quality of their frozen products. Basically, White Castle is a restaurant that sells microwaveable gas station food. Nevertheless, people love it. How much? Well, enough that there's an entire fucking movie about two friends trying to make their way to White Castle.
And it's a fucking classic.
Spoiler alert: They make it, but the depiction of White Castle in that movie is far from accurate. Do not let it be the inspiration for a cross-state road trip of your own without doing a little bit of investigating first. For one thing, they make it seem like the food is edible. I'm not sure if they used CGI or what, but it's very lifelike and believable when you watch it happen in the movie. Trust me, it's a meal in hell when the cameras stop rolling.
Also, 9 out of 10 White Castle restaurants are in terrifying neighborhoods.
At least it's open!
Sorry, franchise owners, but you know it's the truth.
Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty
It's hard to say that any frozen yogurt is truly bad. It's like ice cream's healthier cousin; not a lot can go wrong. That said, there are some chains that take the phrase "frozen yogurt" a bit too literally. I'm speaking, of course, about Pinkberry. If you don't have one in your area, you've almost certainly heard people singing its praises. It is the frozen yogurt place in California. It also tastes like frozen sour cream.
Well, I'm not being completely fair. They do have a few different flavors like chocolate and strawberry and such. Those are all well and fine. It's the "original" flavor that I take issue with.
When you see a white frozen yogurt option on a menu next to chocolate and strawberry, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that you're probably expecting that white stuff to taste like vanilla. Read the last sentence of the previous paragraph again. The vanilla-looking concoction that Pinkberry sells alongside the more traditional ice cream-like flavors will be a complete and total shock to your system if you try it for the first time without knowing what you're getting into.
Reminder: This, but frozen.
The menu describes it as "tart," as if that's a sufficient tip-off that they're basically selling you a chilled condiment. You know what else people describe as tart? Lemonade. This is not enough detail to make an informed decision. Pinkberry should change the name of their original flavor to "lunch." That's a way more appropriate time to eat that shit, considering the fact that chips and salsa are the only toppings that make sense with that kind of flavor.
Beyond that, though, it must be especially delicious frozen yogurt, right? They have all sorts of neato toppings that most places don't and all that fun stuff? Nope. Just long lines and a house blend that's better suited for pairing with a quesadilla. It is a completely unremarkable frozen yogurt place in every other way. Just something to keep in mind before you commit to that 45-minute-long line, travelers.