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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Culvers all y’all got?

Don’t get me wrong, Culver’s is great. I’m down for a ButterBurger or cheese curds any day, but it’s the lack of alternatives that I take issue with. In the realm of fast food cuisine, the Midwest is lacking. It’s both expensive and bland, and don’t even get me started on Caribou. How are you going to give me Dunkin’ grade coffee for Starbucks prices? To be fair, I am from the South, where you could argue that our fast food cuisine is a little too good and where sweet tea is made with love and type two diabetes. 

A conflicted victim of American consumerism, I’m regrettably hooked on fast food chains. Zaxby’s, Cookout, Bojangles, and Chick-fil-A (whoops) are my go-to’s — the South boasts 50 shades of fried chicken, so you can imagine my awe and wonder when I arrived in the Midwest to find that there was no Zaxby’s, no Waffle House, no Bojangles, no sweet tea to speak of and just enough seasoning to skate by. 

Having spent most of my time in Minnesota at Carleton, it’s hard for me to comprehensively evaluate Midwestern fast food culture, but I speak confidently when I describe the near symbiotic relationship that chain restaurants play in the American South. Especially for high school and college students, these places are fundamental for late night snacking. 

The Waffle House equivalent, Perkins, is a Midwestern classic. It’s a national institution, and I wouldn’t dare critique it, which is in some way the problem. It’s too classy, too pristine. Nothing beats the feeling of walking into a Waffle House at 3 a.m. with the knowledge that the only thing lower than the prices is the health inspection’s rating. Perkins’ food is mediocre, yet they boast an appearance of high standards, reflected by their unreasonable prices. Waffle House? A haven for crime and high cholesterol, but the food is dependable and cheap. It’s a chaotic sort of contentment, and no college town is complete without it. 

Now please don’t get me wrong, I by no means defend the South across the board, but I firmly believe we do fast food better than most. Having read that sentence back, I am not sure if that is the accomplishment I think it is, and yes, Carleton Californians, I’m aware that you believe In-N-Out is the best invention since avocado toast, but quite frankly, your standards are too low. The sooner that y’all realize In-N-Out pales in comparison to Five Guys or Shake Shack, the better. 

Frankly, from an economic standpoint, I’m annoyed. I can’t be asked to spend 20 dollars at Domino’s every time I’m looking for a convenient meal after 8 p.m. I’m a college student who needs fast and cheap food. Of course there are the obvious alternatives, Subway and McDonald’s, but on the sliding scale of fast food cuisine, these two generally find themselves at the bottom and are understandably neglected for their more local alternatives. Why get Taco Bell when you could get Coco’s? Why get McDonald’s when you could get Hogan Brothers? 

And I must strongly agree, I find it difficult to argue either of those. Though fast food will continue to remain a guilty love of mine, I wouldn’t dare argue for supporting chains as opposed to Northfield local or family businesses. And I don’t mean to sound like Minnesota local cuisine doesn’t have its merits, I believe Swedish meatballs are Minnesota’s best contribution since Prince; all I ask for is a singular Chipotle, or maybe a Dunkin’.  

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    AlexNov 9, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    Freddy’s is waaay better than Culver’s! You’ll have to get out of the sticks to try it though lol