Remember that excitement we’d get when our mom or dad would announce we were going out for dinner? Even if it was fast food — which has a penchant for getting shit on — our young selves would still be insanely stoked. Even more so, in fact.
We’d all get excited at the prospect of eating out of the house and actually ordering what we wanted. It was familiar, with a side of thrilling.
Childhood extravagances turned into teenage rituals, as fast food joints became the place to have off campus lunch and spend our small earnings on a single burger or that overly addictive Oreo Blizzard. Over the years, our palettes got more refined and our tastes changed and grew — but that love for the salty, fried, sugary specialties of a great fast food spot remained. Now, suddenly, we’re the ones announcing the drive thru run for dinner.
With all that in mind, we asked our writers to look back and pick their favorite, classic fast food items that they still love (and order) to this very day. Let’s jump in!
DAIRY QUEEN’S FRIED BURRITO
First of all, what business did Dairy Queen have making a burrito? In the 80s? What niche did that fill? They were competing with Taco Bell and Taco Time and, besides, their game was desserts.
But they had the burrito nonetheless and it cost exactly $1.00 — so it wasn’t a huge risk to try one. I remember the day I did. It was 1987 at the DQ on Coast Highway in Gearhart, Oregon. I’d arrived on my bike with a gaggle of cousins, all clutching a few dollars. In those days if your mom gave you a fiver for a fast food meal, you were straight up covered. She usually only gave you $3.
The burrito should rightly be called a chimichanga. But who would have ordered that at a burger joint in ’87? Besides, it was a burrito. Sourced from Resers, most likely. The kicker was that DQ dropped it in the deep fryer and served it piping hot, in a little paper sleeve. Their silver salsa packets were outsourced too, and I’d do anything to score one now. I’ve always hated vinegar-forward hot sauce. This was the opposite. It was all tomatoes and spice.
To eat this delectable treat, you squirted some salsa on the fryer-darkened burrito shell and bit the thing like a candy bar. Some sort of meaty-bean mash came squirting out — hot enough to scald the roof of your mouth for a week. But, my god, the flavor: The toasty outer tortilla (there was an inner layer too, which stayed soft and pliable), the tough-to-identify but deeply delicious filling, the kick of the salsa. This was a perfect fast food bite.
The burrito’s gone now. But after years of searching, I’ve found its long lost twin. Disneyland makes the same item. Sometimes I call in media favors and go to the park just to eat one on Splash Mountain, thinking back on my childhood and that first scalding bite, back in ’87.