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The McRibWHAT IS IT?
A barbeque boneless pork sandwich served at McDonald's that is produced to be shaped like a rack of ribs that is heated up most-likey in a microwave, slathered in BBQ sauce, put on a long bun with pickles and onions. The McRib has been around since 1981, but only this last week has been available again (this time in ALL McDonald's stores for the first time ever).
The elusive McRib has been hard to come by in recent years and the 6-week tease-stint we're all used to by now always feels like going on an amazing date only to be dropped off with a one-armed hug.
So rare has this for-some-reason beloved sandwich become that an entire website has been devoted to its location:
One man even drove 10 hours (as seen in the Young Turks episode embedded here, devoted exclusively to the McRib) just to get a McRib (using the locator, of course). He bought a whole bunch of them and then brought them back to his California home (after driving to Oregon for a McRib).
Accused by Stephen Colbert (in this video) as a ploy by Democrats to lessen conservative votes, 2010's Election Day nation-wide resurrection of the McRib has reminded the country of its pop culture significance.
Most Americans long all year to hear those beautiful, unique and meaningful three words: McRib is Back.
Parodied by the Simpsons in an almost nightmarish sequence where Homer can't stop eating McRib style sandwiches and actually becomes addicted (here's the Spanish version, which adds a little bit of a WTF nature), the McRib has penetrated pop culture to the point of being a phenomenon on television.
Part of America's consciousness is that we love the McRib... even if we don't. Famous for being a tasty rib sandwich - without the ribs, no one knows what the McRib is made of and more importantly, no one cares. But all that mysteriousness is all part of its general appeal and what's made it hold on in the popular consciousness for years. This sandwich is so entrancing so that once its gone in December, the country might possibly go into chaos and people will have to go back to CIA-levels of McRib surveillance to find the sandwich.
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White CastleWHAT IS IT?
Small slider hamburgers (that can also be purchased at your local supermarket if you don't happen to live in an area with White Castle establishments) that are inexpensive and supposedly some of the greatest stoner/drunk food around. Why? Because they're greasy, EXTREMELY inexpensive and can be consumed almost like popcorn.
When you have a whole movie named and set about your product and store, you know you've touched "cult" level of popularity.
The natural thing to call them? Cravers. Besides the slightly creepy zombie-like connotation, their menu can reach crazy proportions of consumption-implication. Known for their sliders (named so because they’re so small that they can just slide down your esophagus in one gulp), the chain offers prescription food to the addicted craver in big sizes.
By "craver", for the most part, what is meant is "stoned or high individual", at least in popular culture. Much like Taco Bell has gotten a reputation for being a great stoner food, White Castle is the end-all, be-all of stoner foods... supposedly.
But more on their portions: If you want it bad enough, you can get a Crave Case or even a Crave Crate. 30 sliders for 15 dollars or 100 sliders for 50 dollars, respectively.
Only fast food restaurants can get away with selling that much food to cure an addiction, and only one with such a loyal following (enough for one of the most iconic Stoner Movies of all time to be built around the establishment/food product) can continue to operate on a platform of such extreme excess.
One thing the White Castle consuming community has adopted which is notable is the building of impressive structures using their used hamburger cases like so: A White Castle castle.
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Mexican CokeWHAT IS IT?
Well, it's basically Coca Cola Classic that doesn't use fake sugar, but cane sugar, and isn't kept in a can for weeks, but is actually bottled into durable, taste-preserving glass instead of cheap aluminum cans. It's called Mexican Coke because the Coke's that are bottled in Mexico have these properties, uniquely (to the U.S. at least), and can be moderately easily acquired.
Why do people love Mexican Coke so much? Its taste.
American coke is produced using high-fructose corn syrup. Mexican coke instead uses real cane sugar. Real, not artificial. If you live anywhere in proximity of the border, you’ve most likely heard of the legendary Mexican coke.
The Coca-Cola company denies that the differences in ingredients create any perceptible taste differences, but to the cult behind Mexican Coke, this is a lie.
Most people will give you a taste or a sip of their Coke if you ask... unless they are drinking Mexican Coke. If that's what they're enjoying and you're thirsty, then you are most likely on your own.
Mexican Coke gets kitsch-value bonus for coming in vintage, thick glass bottles and for fusing the label permanently into the glass. You can’t screw off the metal cap, you need a bottle opener, which makes the drink a little more "serious" than your regular Coca Cola. Also, there are no nutrition facts which makes this drink 100% bad-ass.
The most remarkable thing about the phenomenon is how much more people are willing to pay for "Mexican Coke". A 12 pack of Coca Cola (canned, American, or even plastic-bottled, American) will cost you less than $10 most places. A pack of Mexican Coke will run you over $20 and sometimes $30 (depending on the availability and where you are in the U.S.).
Click here for the full story, research and a Coke spokesperson's denial/explanation of why Mexican Coke is unique.
Click here to buy an entire case of Mexican Coke to try it for yourself. It's actually 100% worth it.
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In-N-Out BurgerWHAT IS IT?
Absolutely delicious hamburgers that are made fresh, not from pre-shaped meat. Great french fries that are made to order from potatoes that are cut right in front of you.
This popular (Mormon) California fast food chain has converted thousands of followers, who will pass a thousand other commerical chains in order to reach an In-N-Out. Case in point: When In-N-Out expanded to other states, the good people of Scottsdale, AZ waited in line for four hours while helicopters whirred above capturing footage of the almighty In-N-Out finally opening its doors to the public.
People love the taste of the burgers, the "secret sauce" (thousand island dressing with relish in it), and the freshness of the entire franchise. Also, the fact that the uniform hasn't changed since its 1948 inception and the fact that their menu has remained extremely minimalistic and simplistic since, are staples of the In-N-Out dining experience.
And, of course, people flock to In-N-Out (after their first time) to partake in being "in" on the (now not-so) secret menu that includes a Neopolitan milkshake, lettuce instead of buns, cheese fries with sauce and grilled onions on them, and a hamburger containing up to 100 burger patties and 100 slices of cheese. Take THAT, hungry children in the Third World!
Check out the embedded video for an explanation of In-N-Out's "secret" menu.
The cult of In-N-Out has been strictly word-of-mouth and they really spend minimal time advertising, so much that catching an In-N-Out commercial on television is extremely rare. When it DOES happen, though, you get a taste of the minimalism you'll get when you get to a restaurant itself. How?
The In-N-Out commercial (that has been ostensibly running for YEARS) is just a camera panning around an amazing looking hamburger while an abbreviated version of their jingle plays in the background which simply says "That's what a hamburger's all about." Brilliant.
Even the popular online video site CollegeHumor.com pulled its April's Fools prank on the East Coast by announcing that In-N-Out Burger would be coming to New York in 2010... and then revealed that it was a cruel, cruel joke. The fact that one of the most popular websites on the internet, frequented by millions of people every month, would base its entire April's Fools prank on teasing this restaurant is testament to its word-of-mouth glitz, glamour, hype and, most importantly, cult status.
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WhataburgerWHAT IS IT?
A hamburger joint that serves fresh-made hamburgers of great quality.
The rival to In-N-Out in terms of fresh quality, and pure taste, Whataburger caters to its cult following by offering them free coffee mugs, which eventually become collectors' items. They keep tabs on their loyal customers by changing the design as the years go by.
In true Mid-west/Southern tradition, the restaurant encourages the customers to chill out and spend a lot of time at the restaurant, contradicting its fast food principles but successful nevertheless... and this is why people loiter outside them so often.
They also hold a free burger Tuesday once a year where they hold insane demonstrations like this one where three guys spin a cute girl around a bunch, almost hitting her head on the floor about 5 times.
And where did the inspiration for the horrible Nickelodeon skit/movie Goodburger come from? Whataburger. What is the most frequented real fast food chain on King of the Hill? Whataburger.
By the way, here's the trailer in case you missed this gem from the late 90s: Good Burger Trailer (featuring Kenan Thompson of current SNL almost-fame)
Tthe chain is known for its distinctive A-frame structure, which kind of appeals to its Bible Belt audience in that it actually, therefore, kind of looks like a church, which, given its loyal following, makes perfect sense.
Click here to see what a Whataburger store looks like from the outside.
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