This weekend, I got an email with the following line: “How dare you refer to (a) cheeseburger as a Honda Civic trying to be a Ferrari.”
This wasn’t the sort of response I expected from my Arby’s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger review, the most recent installment of my “I Ate It So You Don’t Have To” food series. I dubbed it “a perfectly adequate fast-food burger” and made some Kanye West jokes en route to actually reviewing it. Some people did not appreciate this.
It would appear that I severely underestimated the degree to which people care about Arby’s and the sanctity of its newfound pursuit of (allegedly) fancy burgers.
So, yeah. I got yelled at a lot on the internet (and occasionally praised). Let’s take a look at what the people have to say about some guy they’ve never met cracking jokes about a cheeseburger.
“Geez Nick, were you fired from Arby’s as a teenager, or did an employee run over your dog? Dude, it’s just a burger. Get over it. You’re so angry….” – Michael G.
You’ll never understand. When I was a child, my entire ninja clan was murdered by a roast beef sandwich. This is how I get my revenge.
“Okay I kind of like the review on the burger I am a shift manager at Arby’s in (Redacted)” – ( Name also redacted)
I’m leaving out this person’s name entirely because they seem awesome and I want them to keep their job. Here’s what I will say: I looked up their Arby’s location and it’s got a rating of 4.1 on Google Reviews with over 1,000 reviews. So clearly this person knows what they’re talking about.
“Are you a climate change advocate/activist? Asking for a friend.” – Kristie S.
Ma’am, this is an Arby’s burger review.
”Let’s talk about the fries! Sick, gross, is it that hard to make a good golden crunchy fry? Most of the time I receive a limp oiled up piece of potato. Anyone else? I want some crispy potatoes! Let them sit, I don’t mind waiting another minute! I appreciate all the work you all do. I know it’s not easy by any means. Thanks.” – Kristen D.
French fries are great. But for some people, there’s a narrow sweet spot where French fries are at their optimal state of hot and crispy.
My mom has this same issue, which is why sometimes she’ll order her fries “well-done” at restaurants. Sometimes it works. Most of the time, it doesn’t. I think it ultimately comes down to potato chaos.
“I personally don’t care what kind of sandwich they make new or classic, they lost me when they stopped serving potato cakes. I can get fries anywhere and McDonald’s has the best as far as I am concerned regarding fast food fries, but no one else had potato cakes. That was a stupid decision on the part of Arby’s.” – Sarah S.
Note to self: Do not mess with people’s fried potato sides.
“Let’s just pray together that Subway does not get a hold of any caviar and mixes it with their (expletive) tuna, and calls it a caviar sub and charges $16 for it.” – Terry H.
I’d never considered the prospect of Subway attempting to handle volatile seafood on a large-scale level. But now that I have, I feel like making sure it doesn’t happen is an issue of national security.
Kanye sucks. Throwing in lyrics about cheating girlfriends, dead dogs, broken down trucks and drinking room temperature beer in luxurious double-wide trailers is not going to help his music. Have a good day.” – Terry H. (again)
So, for my food reviews, I have an ongoing gag where I tell readers to send all praise/suggestions to my email address and then criticisms and other random topics to another co-worker’s email address. Last week, I suggested reader send “complaints about whether Kanye could make a good country album” to my co-worker Sophie Weller.
In eight years of writing this column, I think this is the first time I’ve had someone send an email to both me and the person I put in there as a joke. Congrats on making history, Terry.
“Not sure how this showed up in my feed, but great article! Well written and hilarious! As someone who lived in Japan for a few years you couldn’t have been more spot on.” – Duane A.
Oh. Wow. Thanks, Duane. It means a lot when people take the time to reach out and say that you did a good job. OK, let’s see if there were any more readers giving me praise.
“Bougie much? This whole article was nothing but a snarky editorial. Try to do better.” – Janine Y.
Correct. This is 100% a snarky editorial. No, I will never do better. I’m giving a C+ effort at best and no one can stop me.
“Good review of the Arby’s Wagyu burger…. could have been done without all the whining and nitpicking.” – Adam K.
If only Adam knew what percentage of my time writing this review was spent talking about the actual burger (about 20%) and how much was spent on whining and making dumb jokes (80%).
“You take way too long to get to the point. That’s why I won’t be reading anything else in this series. People really don’t have time to sit and read a ten minute diatribe on your personal opinion! Just give the facts, Jack!” – Glenn S.
You know what Glenn? You’re right. I’ve gone too far. I’m focusing too much attention on things that don’t matter and it’s distracting me from talking about the food I’m reviewing.
Anyway, as part of this review, I went outside to try and take nice pictures of the burger. While I was setting up a photo, a bunny came out from under a nearby fence and started nibbling on the grass. I already had my phone out for pictures, so I managed to catch him in the act.
I named him Lettuce, because at the time I was currently wiping errant lettuce off the table I was using for photos.
“I am left with the thought that Arby’s hurt your feeling by adding a burger to its menu. Go see your therapist.” – Geoff
Lettuce the Bunny is my therapist now. He doesn’t take my insurance, but he does accept carrots, which is helpful.
“I have no choice but to eat fast food during the week. Me and about 20 other co-workers, think the Arby’s burger is just like the roast beef that made them a landmark. We all agree. It’s by far the best tasting, and value available in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Arby’s competition is a processed material with added flavor attempting hamburger resemblance.” – Shawn R.
I love the idea of Shawn going with an army of 20-plus co-workers to various burger joints in the Birmingham area, all sitting at one table and debating the merits of various fast-food burgers.
I’m curious about the extent that the Birmingham Review Squad has gone to in the area. Our friends down at AL.com have a lot of coverage about Birmingham-area burgers, and there’s a lot to like. There’s apparently a place called Milo’s among their “12 essential Birmingham burgers.” They’ve got a wonderful-looking cheeseburger for just $5.12 available at multiple locations.
I just wish Shawn and his crew had more time to go out for lunch. In 2019, AL.com did a feature on J&J Grocery & Deli, a little country store that’s said to have one of the best burgers in America. It’s just over 20 minutes outside of Birmingham.
Apparently, I need to visit Alabama.
“I just read the article you had about the Arby’s “waygu” burger. When I first saw the commercials I thought it couldn’t possibly be 100 percent legit because the cost of the product. And you proved me correct! Thanks!” – Loriann F.
Wait, was my article legitimately useful for a reader? Huh. I was not expecting that.
“Thank you so much for actually understanding ground meats. Most articles I read lead to misinformation about meat. We butchers then spend a great deal of time re-educating customers.” – William T.
There were multiple readers who had strong opinions about Arby’s using “wagyu” and the potential benefits of using a fancy steak. Some folks correctly argued that using better meats would improve the product. Either way, there’s a lot of marketing terms flying around the industry. It helps to cut through the fluff.
“Agree about wagyu having no relevance in a burger. You want a great burger? A blend of short rib and brisket. Maybe throw a little prime rib grind in. Heaven on a bun.” – Randy L.
That sounds wonderful. I have to figure out how to score an invite to Randy’s house for burgers.
“Arby’s is probably using “cull” cows in their “fancy” burger. That is why it’s not very good. My dad tried one and immediately emailed Arby’s corporate office. He swears it is false advertising!! Lol. May not be false but it sure is misleading. If people want a REAL Wagyu burger that they can tell a difference. Come see me!!!!” – Victor E.
Victor also mentioned that he raises wagyu cows and crossbreeds them with angus cows. He notes that “cull” cows are cattle that are 10-15 years old and have some issues that force them to leave the farm. Victor raises 18-24-month-old animals with a well-balanced diet. I’m adding Victor to the list of people who need to invite me over for burgers.
“Your description of the burger was spot on. Just tried one last week. I was very hungry after a morning of tennis. The only thing I might add I didn’t care for the sauce … too sweet. I’ll stick with Five Guys.” – Vicky R.
I can’t believe Arby’s would do this. Vicky’s out here having a great morning playing tennis, and they’re ruining it with their sauce. For shame.
“Shouldn’t someone doing food reviews have a palate capable of distinguishing the difference between quality food and crystal lil pups? Arby’s sold 12 million of the burgers and sales are up 10%. Hmm, guess you’ve been out voted and classed. Tell us what you think of 7-11 hot dogs. That’s where your talent exists!” – Harold W.
I spent way too much time trying to learn what Harold was talking about with “crystal lil pups.” My best guess is that he was talking about the “Pups” hot dogs at the restaurant chain Krystal.
Unfortunately, the closest Krystal location is 812 miles away in Johnson City, Tennessee, a city which I only know about because it’s mentioned in the song “Wagon Wheel.”
“It was a mess, difficult to eat. Needed about 20 napkins. Arbys needs to put their burgers in a cardboard box/container like Culvers does to maintain its structural integrity. Mine sure didn’t look like advertised! So overall, l was disappointed, it was a mess, not a burger.” – Mark H.
Mark also noted that no one had ever done an article on Higgins Lake in Michigan. After I responded, saying that I had never been, Mark then responded by highlighting the nearby hiking trails, kayaking on the Au Sable River and the “many other beautiful destinations within 60-90 minutes of Higgins.”
After some brief googling, I can tell you that Higgins Lake looks beautiful, with some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen in a lake.
I’ve only been to Michigan once and didn’t have any plans to go back soon. But after talking to Mark, I think I have to check out this lake.
“I ate it so you don’t have to” is a regular food column looking at off-beat eats, both good and bad. It runs every other Thursday-ish at noon-ish. This isn’t a normal column. It’s a mailbag we’re trying out as a one-off experiment. We’ll see how it goes.
You can send any praise/food suggestions to email@example.com. Please send all criticism and demands that Arby’s brings back their potato cakes to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check out the rest of the series here.
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