What is it about Arby’s food that makes it so terrible?

Arby’s is an enigma of food. No one expects high quality from fast food, but there’s something about Arby’s that makes it consistently disappointing every single visit.

Take their roast beef sandwich, for instance. As far as I can tell, it’s not made of anything I don’t like. Thinly-sliced roast beef on a toasted, buttery bun? Sounds great, right? Yet, when your order arrives in your hands, you know you’ve made a mistake. The roast beef is a strange kind of grey that roast beef is not supposed to be, and the bun itself limps as though it were on its way to the unemployment office.

In an effort to salvage the meal, one takes it to the condiments bar so the sandwich at least doesn’t taste the way it smells. When you see that the condiments are dispensed by pumps that likely weren’t cleaned for 12 days, you contemplate just throwing your sandwich away, and accept the fact that you lost the few dollars you spent on your sandwich. But after a moment, you cave in and choose between condiments.

You can’t win.

You see “Horsey Sauce”, and think “horseradish”. Unless you’re a quivering wussie, you like horseradish and give the Horsey Sauce a try. But you notice that there’s something wrong when it comes out all creamy. If you ignore this visual warning, you discover that this Horsey Sauce tastes like a concoction of mayonnaise with horseradish flavoring.

The alternatives aren’t much better. There’s ketchup, but fast food places can hardly be trusted to avoid adding sugar to their ketchup. There’s also Arby’s Sauce, which seems like a mixture of ketchup and BBQ sauce. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it has a kind of artificial tang to it as though it were chemically flavored.

You could try something other than a roast beef sandwich, such as a cheddar roast beef sandwich. The prospect of an onion bun sounds great, until you see that the onion bits are like thin shavings, and it’s like some imitation onion flavoring was sprayed directly onto the bun. Something about it just ain’t right. And do I have to say anything about the cheese? It’s cheese in the same sense that the nacho dip from the gas station is cheese, except without what little personality that the nacho dip has.

If you’re one of those knuckle-draggers that thinks bacon makes everything taste better, Arby’s swings low enough to have something for you. Also, you’re wrong. Bacon was never a big screaming deal to begin with, so give it a rest. And while you’re at it, don’t make a fad out of steak, either. I like steak, so do me a favor and don’t make it the official food of mouth-breathers.

Arby’s has the worst sides. You have the choice between grease and greasier. Paprika usually isn’t so bad, but the curly fries are so drenched in it, that it’s actually unappetizing. I don’t know anyone who actually likes those curly fries, so I have no idea why Arby’s boasts about their gross curly fries every chance they get. At one point, they offered regular french fries on their menu. Not ideal, but I went for that because it was better than the alternatives (aside from deciding to eat somewhere else, which would be a great choice). But after a short while of that, Arby’s took the regular french fries from the menu. Were they trying to spite me, or what?

If you think your arteries are evil and must be destroyed, Arby’s potato cakes (hash browns) are a flavorless and insipid way to go about it. If you were to get these (don’t), get a bunch of napkins. Then set it on top of several layers of napkins to see how many layers the grease soaks through. The answer: a lot. I once smooshed one of these potato cakes between two layers of several napkins each, and they’d still soak through. Why does Arby’s offer these hash browns as a side? What kind of sense does that make?

It actually seems as though the sodas from the fountains are the healthiest things on their menu. Consider the implications of that. But if you’re feeling like a lousy food connoisseur, Arby’s sometimes offers a french dip and swiss, which is like one of their roast beef sandwiches, with a different bun, swiss cheese (maybe), and onion dipping sauce. Then, for one moment of sad delusion, you can convince yourself of a vapid sense of culture for eating an imitation gourmet item at a fast food joint. As you sit there with your flimsy pseudo-french sandwich at Arby’s, you can ponder just where your life went wrong. Then you can use your fountain soda to wash down the pills the doctor gave you to make you happy.

About a month ago, David Hogg (yes, that guy) took shots at Arby’s because he objected to the fact that they advertised on a Fox News program where the host was critical of him. Because, you know, we live in an age where if you take issue with how someone expresses their protected freedom of expression, you snipe their income.

David-Hogg.jpgA face you can trust in journalism.

I’m not fond of either of them, so if Arby’s and David Hogg were to go at it until there were only one of them standing, I’d feel better regardless of the outcome.

You might be asking, “If you hate Arby’s so much, why do you still eat there?” I really don’t know how it keeps happening. Oftentimes, I’m on the road and want something to eat, and Arby’s is there as a better alternative to McDonald’s and Burger King, and enough time has passed for me to forget how much I disliked it before that I actually consider it. It’s like Arby’s has carved out a niche by taking advantage of that weird kind of amnesia. It’s almost clever enough to be admirable. Just not quite.

Humanity has a mind that enables it to contemplate the mysteries of the cosmos. The math, science, literature, and technology available to us are the culmination of thousands of years of critical thinking. And as fascinating as all of this is, the zenith of human achievement is yet to be seen, as we make more discoveries that are each collectively waiting to be found. And yet, we still sometimes accidentally visit Arby’s.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

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