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Shake Shack Is Our Most Overrated Fast Food Restaurant

Illustration for article titled Shake Shack Is Our Most Overrated Fast Food Restaurant
Illustration: Sam Woolley (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Before I get into the Funbag, I have a special announcement: The DEADCAST is coming to Chicago on Sept. 17, a week from Monday. That’s right. We’re gonna have a bigass Monday Night party and you, dear Chicagoans, are invited. You can find all the details right here. And if you plan on being at the show, by all means send me all of your Chicago-related questions, including tales about why your sports teams suck. Because they do. All of them. Khalil Mack doesn’t play quarterback, you know.


Now for your letters:


What is the most overrated fast-food restaurant in the USA?

Shake Shack. I haven’t been to every cult fast food restaurant in America, but I’ve been to Shake Shack enough times to tell you that it’s not worth braving a line with 6,000 yuppies pushing strollers just to get a burger there. I’m convinced that Shake Shack’s success is strictly the result of savvy marketing and the fact that little kids go apeshit for crinkle fries. The best part of the Shake Shack burger is the bun, which is a Martin’s Potato Roll you can get at pretty much any grocery store. The fries are underwhelming to anyone above the age of eight. The special sauce is just undercover mayo. And the shakes are made of frozen custard that’s so dry it’s like sucking on a pile of dust. I’m not even sure how it comes out of the machine.

Does any of that stop me from doing a double take any time I see a Shake Shack out in the wild? Of course not. I’m drawn in like any other sucker. Oh wow, this airport has a Shake Shack! The Starbucks of burgers! Then I wait 20 minutes for a burger that I could have gotten in a tenth of the time from Five Guys. It’s not worth it. Five Guys may have the ambience of eating in a barn, but at least I get free peanuts.

There are definitely worse fast food restaurants than Shake Shack, like Jerry’s Subs or Burger King. But no one likes Burger King. If I’m eating at a Burger King, it’s because something awful has happened. You can’t be overrated if Americans generally consider you to be a last resort. You gotta be a true fast food destination, like Popeye’s (which is very much not overrated and is a manifestation of everything good about America). Shake Shack, like Chipotle, exists in that Fancy Fast Casual category where you get to pretend you’re being smarter and healthier for plunking down $4 extra to consume 1,500 calories worth of food inside the spiritual equivalent of an Apple store. I’d rather just to go an actual restaurant to get my burger.


About eight of us got into a conversation at work recently wondering if exes can be friends. Only one person suggested it can be done citing themselves as an example. I think they are wrong and only able to be friends because they both agree they were a terrible couple. Is it possible to remain friends with an ex, or is my coworker full of it?


Sure, it’s possible. You already said so yourself. You don’t get to discount your one friend’s post-relationship relationship just because they were a terrible couple. They were still a couple. That counts, man. If they weren’t a terrible couple, they’d probably still be fucking!

No two relationships are the same, which means that no two breakups are the same, you know what I mean? Plenty of exes remain friends, if only due to circumstances requiring it, like if they still work together, or if they have a kid, or if they’re a championship ice dancing tandem. There’s baseline of human professionalism and/or maturity you gotta have to build a friendship out of that breakup, and people do it all the time for all kinds of reasons.


Of course, I’m being a massive hypocrite here because I am not friends with any of my exes. And if I were, I would definitely think to myself, “Hey, I used to have sex with that person!” in random moments. That history never leaves your psyche. But part of being an adult means getting OVER that kind of shit, right? I’m 42. I shouldn’t be running around acting on every goddamn impulse and crying out I’VE SEEN YOUR TITS! to old flames. I can compartmentalize. I can squash that shit way down and be polite for the sake of the universe. It’s that not that huge of an effort. Make that effort long enough and the people around you—friends, girlfriends, exes—will trust you to do the right thing and not go whipping your dick out in front of everyone when you’re drunk and lonely. Real grownups just stalk people on Facebook.


If we, the U.S. of A., were to repeal the 13th Amendment, at least one state would try to re-institute slavery, right?


Oh sure, some state senator in Georgia would definitely try to draft something. There are a great many things about this country I prefer not to think about, and one of them is that, while Congress is the absolute fucking worst, state senators and assemblymen are somehow 500 times more insane. Like, if you told me a state senator tried to make it illegal for girls to pee, I wouldn’t even bat a fucking eye. In fact, I don’t even count such developments as real news. I expect that from a state politician. Wake me up when it’s a U.S. Senator doing likewise four weeks from now. State congressmen are a remarkable collection of crooks, loons, hobos, and hucksters, and people who are unemployable otherwise. So yeah, one of them would try to legalize slavery again.

I don’t think they would succeed, mind you. That’s not because I have ANY faith left that Americans will do the right thing. I just think it’s not worth the hassle for racist shitbags to reinstitute slavery when they can support other policies that sound more polite but are nearly as exploitative. That’s what happened after slavery was first abolished: segregation, sharecropping, debt peonage, etc. Slavery forced white supremacists to get more creative, but they were more than willing to make the extra effort. Their hate found a way, like floodwaters finding every dark corner of a home.


That kind of innovative hate still exists today. Entire families are getting torn apart in 2018 because of “tough” immigration policies and mass incarceration. And corporate America is, as we speak, succeeding in getting Congress to strip away consumer rights, worker rights, and any kind of commercial regulation. If Jeff Bezos had his way, you’d be chained to a fucking rock by your neck and dropped into one of his shipping caves. Even when the racist and the corrupt get stymied, they just find a longer straw to drink your milkshake with. They’re a strangely determined lot. I hope they all eat a fucking brick.


Are salt grinders bullshit?

No, they’re fine. I can’t load a salt grinder without spilling eight tablespoons of coarse sea salt onto the kitchen counter, but that’s my problem. Sea salt is better than regular table salt, and grinding it at the table makes me feel like a millionaire, so I do it. I also have that Maldon salt that comes from a Rapunzel tower along a faraway English Cliffside kingdom. This salt comes in big fat crystals that you break apart by crushing them between your fingertips, and it’s DEEPLY satisfying. I like to pretend I’m a supervillain crushing diamonds to dust, just because I have the power to do so. TAKE THAT, SALT!


In general, I would advise you to not use any kind of fine salt to season your food once it’s done cooking. It’s way too easy to end up oversalting shit that way, because it comes out fast and because you can barely see it. Ever stare at a salt shaker, unsure if anything is coming out, only to look down and see a pile of cocaine on top of your fries? That’s a rough moment. Using kosher salt or ground salt helps prevent such catastrophes.


Which dinosaur tasted best? A T-Rex steak, triceratops ribs, raptor chops?!? What prehistoric protein tickles your fancy?


The smaller ones. You don’t want to eat some large, lean T-Rex. That meat would be like chewing dried glue. Give me the tiniest dinosaur. Is there a quail of dinosaurs? How about the Compsognathus?

The smallest dinosaurs were just slightly larger than a chicken; Compsognathus (“pretty jaw”) was 1 m (3 ft) long and probably weighed about 2.5 kg (about 6.5 lb).


Perfect. Stuff that fucker with garlic and sage and roast it on a spit for me, and then we’ll REALLY see if dinosaurs were like birds, Doctor Grant.

By the way, I have eaten reptile meat strictly for the novelty of it. I went to the in-house restaurant at Bass Pro Shops. It was surprisingly expensive, and it featured all kinds of upscale redneck food like alligator tenders. I’m the kind of gullible jackass who sees alligator on the menu and thinks OH WOW THAT SOUNDS MANLY. Look everyone! I have ordered the gator because I have THE BALLS. So I ordered the alligator and it came with a sauce that was neon green. I’m not talking an appetizing kind of green, like salsa verde or anything like that. This shit looked like green paint. I avoided it and just ate the alligator straight up.


You will not be shocked to learn that alligator is chewy and pretty much flavorless. I’ve also eaten rattlesnake fritters just for the novelty of it and gotten the same dining experience. So my guess is that eating any kind of dinosaur would be an underwhelming experience, at least from a flavor standpoint. Would I scream out I AM TUROK while eating a raptor anyway? I very much would.



What is the whitest state in America? I don’t mean which state has the highest percentage of white people in its population (Maine at 95% edges out Vermont at 94.9%), but which state is culturally the most white? Like everything about the state screams white: its politics, its food, its culture. A buddy said it was West Virginia, I said Nebraska. Your thoughts?


It’s not West Virginia. Randy Moss is from West Virginia, man. West Virginia has some soul to it.

I have spent a significant amount of time living in the two whitest areas of the country—the Midwest and New England. And as much as I goof on the latter, Minnesota is spiritually whiter. It’s no contest, really. New England at least has some actual history to it. The Midwest gives you that veneer of white politeness that makes everything feel like you’re living in the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands. It’s that generic, Stepford-esque non-culture where anything distinctive has been sanded down into one big placid nothing. You know how L.A. has ugly strip malls that secretly have some of the greatest cheap eating in the world? Yeah, the Upper Midwest has none of that. Downtown Minneapolis has some cool pockets of international culture, but in general, the Midwest’s strip malls are exactly as boring and shitty as they look.


Minnesota and Wisconsin have traditions so white that the rest of the country doesn’t even know about them. Like lutefisk dinners and Duck Duck Grey Duck and polka festivals. There’s only one polka song, and it’s the one they play in European Vacation when Rusty gets to see a tit for the first time. And the Midwest’s white people are extra white and extra large. That’s not a fat joke, I swear. Go to Minnesota sometime. All the white people there are eight feet tall. They’re tree people. They’re fucking huge, and they all pretend that Garrison Keillor is funny. It’ll throw you if you’ve never experienced it in person.

So my answer is Minnesota. I’m sure North Dakota is even whiter, and I’ll gladly entertain arguments for empty Plains states like Nebraska, where literally nothing ever happens. But fuck it. I’m gonna be biased and claim my home state as the Land Of 10,000 Whites. Look at me and tell me you disagree. I look like someone took a Lawrence Welk album and made it into a real boy.


By the way, someone emailed a while back and asked why I made so many jokes about Ohio in the NFL previews. He was like, “Hey! What’s your beef with Ohio?” And honestly, I didn’t even realize I was making so many Ohio jokes. I think it’s probably because it’s an easy state name to type? All the states suck, really.


When you pull into a parking spot but one of the cars next to it is right on top of one of the lines, how do you handle your own parking job? Do you give yourself enough room by parking on top of the opposite line, thus perpetuating the cycle of dickheaded parking, or do you try to return order to the universe by parking like a normal and considerate person at the expense of being extremely close to the adjacent vehicle?


It depends on which side the shit parking job is on. I have to be able to get out of the car, you know? So if the bad parking job is on the driver’s side, I have little choice but to scoot over so I can leave enough room for me to get out. If the bad parking job is on the passenger side, I can park normally and box that fucker in, but then it becomes a lock that he’ll smack his door against my car and leave a mark. DIABOLICAL. He’s left me with no choice but to assimilate into his vicious cycle of dickhead parking jobs! I’LL SHOOT HIM IN THE NUTS.

A lot of times, I just skip the parking spot altogether. This happens a lot where I live, because all the parking spots are too narrow and no one can drive. So you’ll see an “open spot” only to pull close and discover a parking space barely wide enough to accommodate a fucking Vespa. Two pickups trucks hug the lines on either side, like they collaborated to render the available spot useless. It’s enraging, and it happens all the time here. I’m moving to Nebraska.



Buttered Popcorn jelly beans...yay or nay?

I don’t like them, but the Jelly Belly company website says that Buttered Popcorn was, at one point, the most popular flavored bean of theirs for five years running. I refuse to believe that. That’s a hideous lie. I’ve never seen anyone walking around housing a bag of popcorn-flavored jelly beans. That’s gotta be BIG JELLYBEAN gaming the numbers so that they sell more novelty jellybeans that kids try on a dare before spitting out in disgust. I’m not buying your horseshit, Jelly Belly.


I think the idea is that you combine the buttered popcorn ones with other flavors. But I’m not six years old. I’m not sifting through bean flavors and trading them in some bean store I built out of old cardboard boxes. I just want a handful of normal, horrible jelly beans.

The toasted marshmallow ones are good though. The secret ingredient… is dytetrahydroxonalgazine #45!



The pens on the electric sign pads at almost any register checkout line: most of them have an option to lay the pen in the elongated groove (parallel to the pad) OR the option to set the pen in there standing up (perpendicular) to the rest of the electronic signature pad. I say the best way to leave the pen is perpendicular, my wife insists on laying the pen in the grooved parallel position. Why do they have both options? Is it so the cashiers can silently judge you if you don’t pick the right one? Is there some kind of secret experimental social study being tracked on who goes parallel, and who goes perpendicular? Should I divorce my wife for obviously doing this the wrong way?


I’m gonna blow your mind Tim and tell you that I don’t put the stylus back at all. Nine times out of 10, the stylus has already been hanging when I get to the register. So I just sign my name and then drop it. That way, no has to pry it out of the Verifone pad. They can just grab the cord and fish the little bastard out of there. My laziness is your charity, America. You are welcome.

By the way, I think BIG SWIPE purposely made it so that your digital signature looks like shit. I have terrible handwriting to begin with, but my digital signature looks like something a toddler drew on a 1985 Koala Pad. I think they want to render all signatures illegible so that they don’t have to reimburse fraud claims. PROVE ME WRONG!


[is immediately shown evidence contradicting my accusation]

Pfft. Anyone can doctor evidence.


Does Trump know what NPR is? Has he ever heard NPR? Has he ever heard of NPR?

I’m gonna say no because if he knew about it, he’d have bitched about it already. YOU LOOK AT FAILING NPR! TERRIBLE BUSINESS MODEL, RIGHT? WHO THE HELL WOULD EVER WOO TERRY GROSS?!


The only radio Trump knows is Howard Stern, and he definitely thinks Stern retired from broadcasting 13 years ago. If it’s not on television, he doesn’t give a shit. Television is his only reality.

Email of the week!


One day with some friends we went to our favourite diner in Winnipeg (Go Jets) and ordered up breakfast. Yes, we were all basically hung over. I’m the only one that ordered coffee and the waitress asked if I wanted cream, or just black. Black, I said.

Coffee arrives with cokes etc., and I look at the table at realize there is no sugar. I get her attention and say may I please have some sugar. She blinks...looks at the coffee and says, “You wanted it black?” Right, but with sugar, please. Big smile.

She blinks again and says, “Then it’s not black coffee.” At this point my smile slides off and I’m asking for a second time. And then I add “Did the colour change because I’m fairly certain it’s still black.”

Dagger eyes as she walks to the station and pulls out the sugar. Puts it on the table - loudly - and walks away. Friends think this is hilarious. I order toast because god knows what she had planned for the chorizo hash I wanted. Then we debated for an hour.

So Magary - is coffee still just black if I add some damn sugar in the raw?

No. You’ve de-manly-fied that coffee by 16% by adding sweetener to it. YOU’RE OFF THE CASE, CRAIG.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.