Did you know there was a TV Network called Destination America? I didn’t, until a couple weeks ago when I heard about a new show called Fast Food Mania. Curiosity piqued I watched the first couple of episodes to see what it was all about. The premise is pretty simple. The host Jon Hein, of Jump The Shark fame, travels the country exploring American fast food.
Right out of the gate I liked Hein as the host, he looks like a guy who enjoys his fast food rather than some model.
The man has clearly eaten a burger or three in his day.
In the first episode, all about cult favorites, Hein travels to White Castle, Whataburger and Chick Fil A. In each location he gives some interesting history about the place, the food and the people who make it a cult favorite. I learned some fascinating bits about each place, which made it worthwhile. For example White Castles distinctive shining white look is purported to be a response to Americas hesitance to eat beef after the publication of Upton Sinclairs ”The Jungle’”
Having never been to a Whataburger, which I’m sure is an insult to my friends in Texas, everything was new to me. I was very intrigued by the flexibility of their menu and the 36,000 plus combinations of burgers that are possible with all of their on hand ingredients. Not that I think you can really count double meat as a completely different burger but I do love a good variety.
Chick Fil A was an interesting segment. I have only been to a couple of them and was not overly impressed. I do know their fans are pretty rabid. Many people, myself included, are opposed to some of their social stances but their legion of dedicated followers don’t care one bit. I do love a waffle fry. The fervor of their fans, especially those that camp out at a new store opening was really pretty impressive. The chance to win free chicken for a year is pretty appealing after all.
All in all I learned a lot of interesting pieces of information from this episode and I need to get myself to a Whataburger ASAP.
The second episode that I watched was all about the origins of 3 “Outside the Bun” chains, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dominos and Taco Bell. More of the same formula for this one. A nice back story for each chain and some interesting trivia to go along with it. Did you know Dominos pioneered the pizza box? And the car topper?That was news to me.
The Taco Bell segment was particularly fun as it reminded me of Eicks trip to Taco Bell labs so I felt like an insider just knowing such a place existed. Plus any time the sour cream gun makes an appearance in my world, I feel a little better about the universe.
All in all the show was fun and Jon Hein was a genuinely enthusiastic host. His love of fast food and appreciation for it’s roots as a piece of Americana are apparent immediately. If I have one complaint it’s that it felt like an extended advertisement for the brands involved. The actual commercials around the show were not for any of the companies that were profiled so that softened the blow. I don’t see any way to talk about a restaurant without talking about the restaurant so it is pretty much inevitable. It seems strange in this day and age to have a show glorifying fast food since it is demonized everywhere else. If you are fortunate enough to have Destination America as one of your cable channels it is worth a watch for sure, you might just learn something to win you that next trivia challenge or bar bet.