classysturgeon

The Fast Food Hierarchy


https://www.thedailymeal.com/healthy-eating/15-fast-food-entrees-least-cholesterol

As a faithful keeper of fast food lore, I have plumbed the depths of the Greasy Fryer many a time, sampling all that the gods of the French and the fried have to offer. I have sampled countless burgers, innumerable nuggets, and fields of fries that boggle the human imagination. And as much as I’d like to believe there are few social barriers among the foodstuffs, I’ve come to realize this:

There is a Fast Food Hierarchy.

If you follow the ways of fast food long enough, you soon realize that not all buns aren’t created equal. Some fast food establishments are simply far better than their brethren, but how should one decide them?

Fortunately for posterity, I’ve developed a ranking system.

The Fast Food Hierarchy is made up of four holy artifacts, which guide the fast food denizen to make a decision as to which establishment deserves their allegiance: the Scales of Price and Food Quality, the Blade on Uniqueness, the Goblet of Variety, and the Parchment of the Value Menu.

 

The Scales of Price and Quality

Many judge fast food establishments based on the quality of their food alone. But this is for the unenlightened. You shouldn’t just like the food at a fast food establishment; you should get what you pay for.

If you’re eating fast food, chances are you’re trying to save money. A restaurant with cheap food that’s okay should rank higher in the hierarchy than one with good food that’s overpriced. I don’t mind paying more money for certain types of fast food, but it’d better taste good.

 

The Blade of Uniqueness

Like a sword slicing through an enemy force, the Blade of Uniqueness helps a fast food establishment slash through mediocrity by making it stand out. If a fast food restaurant wants to capture your attention, it should wow you with a creation you can only purchase at that restaurant, like the Big Mac or Chick Fil-A chicken sandwich.

If a fast food restaurant gives me something truly unique, it makes sure I won’t forget the place and will make a pilgrimage to its plastic chairs again someday.

 

The Goblet of Variety

A restaurant that just serves burgers will bore its patrons quickly. Sure, most fast food restaurants include other menu items like chicken nuggets and fish sandwiches, but if an establishment wants to establish its place in the Hierarchy, it should have multiple types of burgers, different ways of serving chicken, and if possible, animals on the menu with eight or more legs.

 

The Parchment of the Value Menu

This sacred text has been passed down from generation to generation of the fast food faithful. It makes fast food available to all, not just the wealthy or fortunate.

But just having a value menu isn’t enough. Some fast food establishments (I’m looking at you, Burger King) fill the value menu with the items that no one ever wants to order. This is an insult to the value and should be punished through demotion in the Fast Food Hierarchy.

 

Now that we’ve defined the parameters, how do some of the more famous fast food establishments measure up? Let’s give each fast food restaurant a ranking of 1-6 in each category and tally up the final score to see which restaurants are truly a light in the darkness.

 

And just so you’re aware, I did not submit to personal bias in this ranking. It was agony for me to avoid putting Chick Fil-A at the top.

McDonalds

Scales of Price and Quality 6
Blade of Uniqueness 4
Goblet of Variety 3
Parchment of the Value Menu 5
Total 18
McDonalds may not have the highest-quality food, but it’s cheap, meaning you get what you pay for. It also has a lot of unique menu items like the Big Mac and McRib (when it’s around) and has one of the best value menus in fast food. The only place where McDonalds comes up short is in the variety area: they have a lot of burgers, but only the basics in chicken sandwiches, fish, salads, and other items.

 

Burger King

Scales of Price and Quality 2
Blade of Uniqueness 2
Goblet of Variety 3
Parchment of the Value Menu 1
Total 8
Burger King’s business model of being nothing more than an alternative to McDonalds doesn’t help its ranking in the hierarchy. The main problem with Burger King is that their burgers pale in comparison with similar burgers, like the Wendy’s Double or Carl’s Jr. Famous Star, but aren’t any cheaper. Also, their value menu is a disgrace. If not for the chicken fries, there would be no reason to visit a Burger King at all.

 

Wendy’s

Scales of Price and Quality 4
Blade of Uniqueness 3
Goblet of Variety 5
Parchment of the Value Menu 5
Total 17
Dollar for dollar, Wendy’s tends to be the priciest of the fast food establishments. But it’s well worth it. They’re always coming out with something new to try, from a bacon and mushroom burger to ghost pepper fries to a ranch chicken sandwich. Or, if you’re looking for a deal, you can grab a 4 for $4 meal.

 

Chick Fil-A

Scales of Price and Quality 5
Blade of Uniqueness 6
Goblet of Variety 3
Parchment of the Value Menu 4
Total 18
I’ll admit to a personal bias with Chick Fil-A. It’s freaking delicious. And the chicken sandwiches are truly unique, making Chick Fil-A’s price-to-quality ratio superb. Chick Fil-A doesn’t have a value menu per-se, but the kid’s menu offers some pretty good budget choices. The only place where Chick Fil-A falls short is in the variety aspect. It’s pretty much all chicken.

 

Taco Bell

Scales of Price and Quality 3
Blade of Uniqueness 4
Goblet of Variety 2
Parchment of the Value Menu 1
Total 10
Again, personal bias here. I get migraines when I eat the wrong types of food, and for me, Taco Bell is a one-way ticket on the migraine express. I have to admit, though, there’s not much like it, and the food is pretty much priced as it should be. Unfortunately, many of the menu items feel like the same ingredients simply repackaged in different ways, and a lot of the value menu items are downright disgusting.

 

Carl’s Jr./Hardees

Scales of Price and Quality 5
Blade of Uniqueness 5
Goblet of Variety 6
Parchment of the Value Menu 3
Total 19
In some places, it’s Carl’s Jr. In others, it’s Hardees. Either way, it’s delectable. I’m not sure if this is true in other areas, but the Carl’s Jr.s in Colorado actually serve Mexican food in addition to the traditional burgers and fries. And it’s better than anything you can get at Taco Bell.

 

Arby’s

Scales of Price and Quality 3
Blade of Uniqueness 5
Goblet of Variety 5
Parchment of the Value Menu 3
Total 16
I’m divided on Arby’s. On the one hand, their roast beef isn’t real high quality and looks like Jabba the Hutt’s back fat. On the other, they’ve got a lot of menu items, like the gyro, that make Arby’s a truly unique experience. They also bring the sauce, bigtime. Arby’s wide variety of sauce makes one appreciate life a little more.

 

Del Taco

Scales of Price and Quality 5
Blade of Uniqueness 4
Goblet of Variety 6
Parchment of the Value Menu 6
Total 21
Del Taco’s got it all: traditional tacos and burritos. Tasty chicken and ranch tacos and burritos. Rice and beans. French fries. Burgers. Steak and potato burritos. Churros. Milkshakes. And the list goes on! Add to that a stupendous value menu and you have a restaurant worth driving out of your way for.

 

So the Fast Food Hierarchy currently stands thusly:

Del Taco
Carl’s Jr./Hardees
Chick Fil-A (tie broken due to that yellow sauce)
McDonalds
Wendy’s
Arby’s
Taco Bell
Burger King

 

Do you agree with the hierarchy? Let me know if there are other denizens of the fast food world you’d like me to rank.

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Website Changes 09/03/18

Greetings from my dark, secret, mystical, pizza-scented basement domain.

You may have noticed some pretty drastic changes to the website. The cartoon fish is gone, the site is no longer called Classysturgeon, the theme of the site and look of the site and smell of the site are all different. But despair not!

I’ll still be writing goofy posts and talking about my crazy adventure books. Check out the “blog” page for the Classysturgeon-style articles and posts.

I’ve just decided to change the site to emphasize my work as an author, hence the new site name, josephcaldaraauthor.com, and the snazzy, professional-looking headshot. Because of this, you’ll find links to the Bob and the Cyber-Llama series of adventure/comedy books on most of the site’s pages. Think of them like the engravings on the Arc de Triomphe. Only with more llamas.

Check out the “events” page for descriptions of upcoming readings and other events.

I’ve also changed the name of my Facebook account, Twitter account, and Instagram account, as well. Don’t worry, though, it’s still me.

So please join me as, like a digital Magellan, we continue to navigate our way through the seas of the Internet and search for the East Indies of an online community.

Lightsabers, Lightsabers, LIGHTSABERS!!!

When I was but a young lad, I dreamed of owning a lightsaber.

And then the wheel of time turned ever-onward. I grew older and taller and hairier and started noticing young ladies. And I dreamed of owning a lightsaber.

Then I became a man. I put childish ways behind me, put on a suit and tie, and hit the job trail. I built my resume, interviewed at accomplished institutions, and worked diligently to support myself. And I dreamed of owning a lightsaber.

Sure, there were those cheap, plastic ones with the segmented blades that we played with as kids. They broke a lot and stopped working after a few years. But we all knew those weren’t “real” lightsabers and longed for the day we could hold the real thing on our hands and feel like true Jedi.

 

Well, no longer.

Thanks to the folks at Ultrasabers, my roommates and I now possess a genuine, fully-functional, Yoda-worthy lightsabers!

I wouldn’t know, but I imagine this is what the day your child is born feels like. And no, Ultrasabers isn’t sponsoring me to write this post. The sabers are just that awesome.

They’re made of a super-strong, lightweight material that can endure all kinds of punishment. It allows you to engage in full-contact duels and pull off some pretty swanky spinny-moves without damaging your saber or your arms.

Lightsaber dueling is fantastic exercise. If you’re like me and you hate most forms of exercise more than Han Solo hates carbonite, you’ve no doubt morphed into a plump, doughy form over the years. Lightsaber battles are just the thing to bring our your inner ten-year-old and get you moving.

One of the best things about Ultrasabers is the price. People have been able to buy combat-worthy lightsabers for some time, but they’ve had to spend a few hundred bucks. With Ultrasabers, the lightsabers start at around $55, and you can spend as much as you want on them. Sound and a fancy hilt will run up the price tag a bit. Still, you can get a pretty awesome saber with basic sound for around $165.

The sabers also come in just about every color you can imagine: red, green, guardian blue, arctic blue, purple, orange, turquoise, and Aegean silver (or “white” to those of us not enrolled in art school.) The website also sells color discs, which can be used with the white saber to produce a wider variety of colors. I’ve used the discs with my Aegean silver blade to make yellow, emerald green, lime green, puce, light turquoise, silver, gold, “New Hope” blue, and even pink.

However, if really want to engage in some series duels with these things, there are a few facts you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. The fancier, more expensive hilts, like my “scorpion” handle, contain more metal, which makes the saber heavier. It certainly doesn’t make the saber hard to use, but it will cause your arms to get tired after awhile.
  2. Ultrasabers eat batteries like a sarlacc eats Boba Fetts. When buying your saber, you’ll have a lot of options to adjust before the purchase is complete. You can either get a blade that uses triple-A batteries or some new-age, lithium ion garbage that’s impossible to find. Go with the triple-As. Also, keep in mind that sabers with multiple blades (double-bladed sabers or longsword-style, Kylo Ren-looking sabers) drain the batteries much more quickly.
  3. If you buy a lightsaber with sound (I mean, why wouldn’t you?), you’ll have several different sound options, which increase the cost of the saber exponentially. The basic sound option works great; you don’t need to spend extra money on a fancy-shmancy speaker system.
  4. You can perform basic maintenance on your saber using a tiny alan wrench, which you can buy from Ultrasabers for $1 at checkout. As soon as it arrives, go to a hardware store and buy a few more wrenches of the same size. They’ll inevitably get lost.
  5. The biggest injury risk from lightsaber battles is whacked fingers. A bloody knuckle or black-and-blue thumb will bring your night of fun to an end pretty fast. Unfortunately, there aren’t really any protective gloves designed for lightsaber fighting, so you’ll have to improvise.
  • We’ve found that the best solution is UFC fighting gloves, which have padding above the knuckles  and on the upper part of the fingers. The smooth fabric on the palm can make the saber difficult to grip, but cutting the palm out entirely or adding Velcro (just the soft part) solves that problem pretty effectively.

 

  • The gloves still leave your thumb and the lower part of your fingers exposed, but we’re working on a solution.

Apart from ferret proctology, I’ve never felt something as exhilarating than battling with legitimate lightsabers. If you want to earn a few cool points, get some aerobic exercise, and feel like a Jedi, head over to Ultrasabers and make a purchase. Regret it you will not.

Note: That last sentence made me realize that Microsoft Word’s grammar check doesn’t see anything wrong with Yoda-speak. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either awful or awesome.

Subway: Subliminal Mind Control in Action

http://www.subway.com/en-us

Who wants to read another post about fast food?

For those of you new to this site, I’ve spoken about most of the elements of fast-foodery, from the hostage negotiation-type scenario that is asking for ketchup to the predatory war of the Yum! Brands franchises. I’ve gone on and on about McDonalds and Taco Bell and Wendy’s and any other fast food franchises you can think of. But I have yet to talk about Subway.

Because Subway scares me.

Subway twists and molds the human mind in a way yet to be understood by the world’s most advanced hypnotists and psychologists. I suspect the whole thing to be an underground experiment in human psychology instigated by a race of underground pink ferret people as preparation for the coming invasion. But that’s just me.

Each Subway establishment houses two employees, who are separated by an invisible wall, what I call the “Iron Condiment.” The employee on the right handles bread, meat, and cheese, while the fellow on the left is in charge of herding the unruly condiments onto the bread. And a strange, psychic phenomenon occurs every time a Subway employee passes through the Iron Condiment.

While an employee is in the bread sector, their short term memory is reduced to a fraction of a second. My typical interaction with a meat quadrant worker is as follows:

Me: Hi, can I please have a chicken bacon ranch sandwich with provolone cheese on Italian herbs and cheese bread?

Employee: What kind of bread?

Me: Italian herbs and cheese. And I’d like a chicken bacon ranch, please.

Employee [after slicing the bread]: What kind of sandwich, again?

Me: Chicken bacon ranch. With provolone cheese.

Employee [after putting the meat on my sandwich]: What kind of cheese?

Me: The kind I just mentioned half a second ago!

But this isn’t simply a case of a bored employee not paying attention. The instant you pass through the Iron Condiment, you’re in an entirely different world: the free world. When you begin speaking to an employee on this side of the invisible partition, something shifts in their brains and they transform from a grunting neanderthal into Rain Man. No matter how many condiments you list, all of them will be placed on your sandwich, in order, without fail. It goes something like this:

Me: Hey, can I have lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green peppers, banana peppers, onions, carrots, avocados, Sasquatch hair, jalapenos, pickles, spinach, a tiny break-dancing Yugoslavian man, and cucumbers?

Employee [proceeding to put each condiment on my sandwich in perfect order]: Sure.

It’s like the employees go through about twenty years of secondary education and brain exercises by moving six inches. The entire thing just creeps me out. I’ll stick to the Quarter Pounders. At least they’re just trying to mess with my arteries.

Fast Food Dominance

evil-colonel-sanders

https://www.geeksaresexy.net/2012/04/18/wth-japan-the-curse-of-the-colonel/

During my dabbling in the sciences, I’ve learned three important facts: clowns cannot breathe in space, tamales should only be consumed orally, and nature is full of symbiotic relationships. The hippopotamus relies on tiny birds to keep its back clean and ambrosia beetles carry and plant a nutritious fungus that eats a tree’s interior a serves as a food source. Different parts of nature depend on each other, linked in the near-unending chain of God’s creation. Any reasonable person would assume that the same to be true of fast food.

But that is not that case. I speak from experience when I say that any attempt of multiple fast food chains to coexist can end only in dominance and despair.

For those not already aware, I like fast food. I like it a lot. I’m the kind of person who, if I had the money, would stuff myself with Quarter Pounders and Double Stacks until grease oozed from every pore and each piece of my fecal matter took on the form of a huge, singular, steaming french fry. And like any connoisseur, I soon began to suspect that many of these restaurants were owned by the same organization.

I was right. Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wingstreet, and until recently, A&W and Long John Silver’s, are all owned by Yum! Brands (which is owned by Pepsi.) At first, they existed as singular organisms. But, pioneers of science that they were, the folks at Yum! Brands soon began combining their restaurants, serving radically different kinds of food under the same roof.

It seemed like a dream come true: customers would be able to walk into a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut and order a burrito alongside a steaming slice of pepperoni pizza or get a cheeseburger and a root beer with a side of mashed potatoes and coleslaw from a KFC/A&W. The possibilities would bring a greasy tear to the eye of any fast food denizen.

However, my joy soon turned to fear and confusion as I came to the stunning realization that these chains weren’t morphing together into awesome fast food mega-creatures but were instead eating each other alive! Whenever you walk into one of these combination fast food joints, one of the restaurants is completely dominant; it’s almost like the other restaurant ceases to exist.

I remember the first time I walked into a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut. The walls were lined with edifices of burritos, churros, tacos, and hot sauce. I ordered pizza. And the employees looked at me like I had just ordered a fried infant on a stick. They then informed me that they had no pizza ready and weren’t sure if they had enough sauce and dough to make one. At a pizza restaurant.

The same thing happened at KFC/A&W. I felt the piercing eyes of Colonel Sanders staring judgingly into my soul as I nervously ordered my cheeseburger. The guy behind the counter spat in my face and slapped me, heretic that I was. I walked out of the establishment, dejected, and was forced to anoint my head with gravy as I said my twenty “Hail Sanders” as a penance.

This isn’t natural selection. It’s something far more sinister. We can now clearly see that putting a Taco Bell and a Long John Silver’s in the same building is not simply akin to putting two Japanese fighting fish in the same bowl. It’s like putting two Japanese fighting fish in the same bowl and arming them with metal chains and razor blades.

There are no symbiotic fast food relationships. There is only shame, emptiness, and crusty, uneaten pizza toppings.

Century Link and Eternal Damnation

phone-devil

imgur.com/sMeZ042

 Outsourcing. It seems like virtually every corporation has moved its customer service operations out of the United States. Each time I have to call Comcast or Verizon or some other large company, I speak to someone in India or Cairo or Dagobah.

But Century Link is the worst. Period. They’re customer service is so bad, I’ve come to an inescapable conclusion: they’ve moved their customer service not to Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, but to the fiery pits of Hell itself.

I’m no stranger to bad customer service interactions. Whenever I call the customer service department of a large company, I grit my teeth and prepare to have my brain worked over with a metaphorical meat tenderizer. But there’s one interaction with Century Link customer service that, to this day, makes my buttock hairs rigid with fear.

The call started off innocently enough. After navigating a sea of automated menus and waiting on hold for about five hours, I spoke to a customer service representative about setting up new phone service. It was all going swimmingly and I began at last to see light at the end of the tunnel.

The rest of the exchange went something like this:

Customer Service Representative: Okay, sir. I’ve got you set up for the Phone Plus Plan, which includes caller ID and voice mail. Your monthly premium will be $35 per month. Now, I’m just going to transfer you to [unintelligible series of words] department, which will finish setting up your service.

Me: Wait, what?

[silence as call is transferred]

Me: Hello? Hello?!

[continued silence]

New Customer Service Representative: Hello, sir. My name is Brian. Can I please begin by having your date of birth and social security number?

Me: Uh…which department have I reached?

Brian: Hello, sir. My name is Brian. Can I please begin by having your date of birth and social security number?

Me: No, I already heard you. Can you please tell me which department you work for?

Brian: Sir, I have to stick to the script. I’m not allowed to talk to you about anything different than what appears on my script. Now, can I please begin by having your date of birth and social security number?

Me: But I was just talking to Century Link and I thought I’d set my service up completely.

Brian: Sir, I just need your date of birth and social security number.

Me: Brian, which department of Century Link do you work for?

Brian: I don’t work for Century Link, sir. Now, can I please have your date of birth and-”

Me: But I was just talking to Century Link. To set up phone service. And they connected me to you.

Brian: Yes, sir.

Me: So I need to know how you’re related to Century Link and what you have to do with setting up my phone service.

Brian: Sir, I’m required to collect personal information using the script I was given. I have to follow the script and collect the information from you.

Me: Brian, what company do you work for?

Brian: I don’t know, sir.

Me: You don’t know what company you work for?!

Brian: No, sir.

Me: Then why the heck would I give you my personal information?!

Brian: Sir, I’m required to collect–”

Me: Brian, for all I know, you work for some evil, sphincter-eating cult and you want my personal information so you can break into my house tonight with a pair of disemboweling tweezers and some ketchup and have at my colon! Goodbye!

And then I took a shower. Because that conversation made me feel violated.

My only explanation for this phenomenon is that, desperate to cut costs, Century Link decided to move its customer service operations to an otherworldly plane of fiery torment. Some middle-manager probably packed a sacrificial dagger and a goat into the back of his Suburban (as middle-managers are wont to do), dragged them into the office, and slapped them down on the stone altar right between the coffee maker and the copy machine.

Then the whole office probable chanted something in backwards Latin and drew pentagrams in goat blood on all their manila folders until a fiery portal emerged in the middle of the altar, into which they cast a few dozen VOIP phones and headsets.

Nothing quite encapsulates the phrase “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” like listening to a six second loop of hold music for four hours.

Gerbils: Cannibalistic Cretin of the Pet World

evil-gerbil

http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Gerbyllium

Lots of people have fond memories of their childhood pets. They remember a favorite dog or cat or bunny that brought them joy and merriment for many years. But as appealing as that idea is, there’s one species that, instead of creating precious memories, will scar your children on a deep, emotional level.

Never buy your kids gerbils. They are disgusting, vile creatures that kill their own families indiscriminately and reproduce like Catholic rabbits on Viagra.

When I was about six years old, my parents brought me to the pet store to buy some gerbils. I picked out two, a black one and a white one with brown spots, which the sixteen-year-old zoologist behind the counter assured us were both male. And pretty soon, we had about thirty gerbils.

That wouldn’t have been such a big deal, since they all stayed in their cage, but as I came to find out, that black, mother gerbil made Jeffrey Dahmer look like Mister Rogers.

The first thing six-year-old me wanted to do when I saw the dozen-or-so baby gerbils was pick them up and pet them. So, like any other kid would, I picked up one of the baby gerbils and let it crawl across my fingers. Then, the next day, I went to the gerbil cage to find the baby gerbil lying motionless, its neck gashed open, and the mother gerbil’s whiskers coated in blood.

All it takes is the slight scent of a human being to make a mother gerbil brutally murder its child in a way that would make Jason Vorhees squeamish. I tried handling the baby gerbils with gloves or only petting them lightly. But every time, it led to gerbil infanticide and an impromptu gerbil funeral in the back yard.

The last straw came when Herman, the father gerbil, died. The mother gerbil continued having babies, even though the only other gerbils in her cage were her children. Then all my gerbils mysterious disappeared. I guess my parents drew the line at gerbils with an Oedipus complex.

The label on the gerbils’ home said “gerbil cage.” It should’ve said “Blood Sport Pit.”

So go ahead; buy pets for your kids. Buy them loving dogs or indifferent cats or smelly rabbits. But unless you want your children to have the combined visual experiences of Game of Thrones, Deliverance, and Se7en, don’t bring any of these little demons into your home.