I decided back in February that this Easter season I would give up french fries for Lent. Not just french fries, but also french fry-related items like onion rings, tater tots, and even hash browns. That last one made Fridays even more challenging as we Catholics try not to eat meat on Fridays. So naturally, breakfast for dinner seems logical until you start removing key breakfast side items like hash browns and home fries. But I digress.
What did I learn? Giving up fries is HARD. Even I, a long time admitted fast food junkie, didn't realize how many places offer fries as the main side item. Dinners were relatively easy. I could have veggies, cole slaw, a side salad, or even a baked potato. But at lunch and especially at fast food restaurants, give up fries & onion rings and your options become severely limited. I found myself getting side salads a lot, the health advantages of which are debatable when you factor in dressing. In one case, while eating at McDonald's with friends, I ordered a side of apple slices. That was surreal. But more often, I just skipped the side altogether. That was a revelation. In an era of combo and value meals, it takes adjusted expectations to be satisfied with just a sandwich
Mexican food was great because I didn't count tortilla chips in my exclusion list. After a couple of weeks I settled into a routine where I got used to life without my fried friends. Don't get me wrong, I still missed them and counted down the days until Easter like a kid anticipating summer vacation.
So it's been a week since Easter. My first fries were from McDonald's. I figured one of the world's most popular french fries would be a good choice for the return from my fast food fried side fast. And ahhhh, it was good. But I took away something from this experience. Call it a better awareness of side item alternatives and a willingness to be content with skipping sides altogether on occasion. While not done for the health benefits, I can't help but think my cholesterol count benefitted from this experiment. All in all a satisfying experience, although it's too early to think about whether I would do it again next year!
Possibly in response to McDonald's recent incursion on Carl's Six Dollar Angus turf with the Third Pound Angus burgers, Carl's Jr. debuts the new Big Carl. And if you think this two beef patty, two cheese burger's similarity to the Big Mac is pure coincidence, Carls' own ads remove all doubt.
This sort of rivalry between fast food chains goes on all the time, but usually not so overtly. After all, isn't the Big N' Tasty just McDonald's response to the Whopper? And don't forget Burger King's own version of the Big Mac. Dubbed the Big King, the sandwich did not last in the U.S. (but it was pretty good.)
Anyway, I tried the Big Carl the other day. First, while it is advertised in the TV ad above at $2.49, my local Arizona store was offering the sandwich for $1.99 and a combo for $3.99.
If you're thinking "Whoa - this things gotta be huge if they're using the Six Dollar patties" you can relax. They are not. The Big Carl uses the classic patty of the Famous Star and the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Note the side-by-side comparison of a Famous Star and Big Carl in the last frame above. The assembly and ingredients are basic: heel, thousand island, lettuce, meat, cheese, meat, cheese, more thousand island, crown. Note the absense of McD's pickles and onions. The Big Carl can more plainly be described as a double cheeseburger with thousand island and lettuce.
It is well known that McD's Special Sauce is not simply thousand island dressing, so the taste of the two sandwiches is a bit different out of the gate. But I am a big fan of thousand island burgers so I really enjoyed this fast food burger. The meat, always tasty and juicy, lived up to Carl's reputation. And the blend of meat, cheese and thousand without any other real taste distractions left me wanting more.
I'm wondering if Hardee's will also release a version on their side, but as of this writing they have not. For those of us in Carl's Jr. territory get one while you can. However I predict it will go the way of the Big King largely due to it's inability to compete with the more superior siblings on the Carl's menu. Time will tell.
Recently Carl's Jr. released it's Big Carl, a rival to the McDonald's Big Mac (I think it's pretty different) and possible counter to the Angus Attack waged by the Arches. Now, Jack In The Box enters the double decker fray with the return of the Bonus Jack.
The Bonus Jack is a double decker with a middle piece of bread, two beef patties, Secret Sauce, lettuce, two slices of cheese and pickles. No onions like the Big Mac. The bottom-up assembly is heel, Secret Sauce, meat, cheese, bread, meat, cheese, pickles, lettuce, Secret Sauce, and crown.
If you are new to Jack In The Box, maybe you glossed over one of the most significant ingredients above. Missing from the menu for about the last ten years (but available if you asked), JITB has brought back their famous Secret Sauce, roughly a blend of ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, A-1 and Tabasco sauce. The full ingredients can be found here.
Pretty tasty sandwich, although I found it a bit salty. Also, don't assume the name implies it is somehow related to the Jumbo Jack. It is not. The taste is distinctly meaty/cheesy, with the Secret Sauce adding overall appeal.
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