Foreword by derryX: This post is not written by me. Back in August, during a cry for help regarding McDonalds’ McRib, the comments turned into a pissing match between two of my friends, Jeff and Darth, who have opposing views on Arbys. I asked both to prepare a short post about Arbys. It would have been fun if both of them listened. Jeff declined. Darth wrote what is below. I have kept this on deck since then, and have not read it until now. This does a really good job teeing up “derryX Dines: Arbys,” which, appropriately, drops this week. Oddly enough, you’ll find many similarities between what Darth and I have to say, but also some striking differences. You do not need to know much about Darth. He is a Sith lord.
Arby’s – “It’s Good Mood Food.” First – I hate that slogan and the commercials with it. Why they need a slogan or to be incredibly cheesy makes no sense. It’s freaking Arby’s, and Arby’s is awesome. I may hate the slogan, but I love Arby’s. Since my days of going to OCCC (now SUNY Orange), I used to skip class to have lunch at the Middletown, NY Arby’s. Not only did I indulge in delicious roast beef and curly fries, but I got to watch the bums sift through the trash at the Salvation Army next door as entertainment.
Arby’s is absolutely an acquired taste. You either love it or hate it . . . much like the McRib. And just like the McRib looks fake, so does Arby’s roast beef. Many people question how “real” it is. It doesn’t look anything like the bloody fatty roast beef you would get at your supermarket deli counter, nor does it taste like it. Personally – I think it’s better. It seems leaner, and is definitely more appetizing to my palette. Snopes.com answered the urban myth as to whether Arby’s meat is real or not, and of course it is: http://www.snopes.com/food/
I like to consider myself an Arby’s purist. I only eat their plain roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. I used to order what was called “The Big Montana” but now is simply a “large” roast beef. This can probably be compared to McDonald’s purists who only eat Big Mac’s, or Burger King purists who only eat Whoppers. I believe the only item that should be ordered at Arby’s is roast beef, and the only side should be the curly fries. Not the beef n’ cheddar, not the super roast beef which has lettuce and tomato, just roast beef on a bun. The same goes for the fries. I never get regular fries. If I wanted regular fries, I could go to any other fast food restaurant. What sets Arby’s apart is the fact that they have curly fries, which is nostalgic for me since it reminds me of the curly fries that used to be served with lunch in middle school and high school.
It’s things like the curly fries that makes Arby’s so great. They have a market niche. Where else can you get fast food roast beef and curly fries? Practically nowhere. Don’t get me wrong – Roy Rogers had an amazing roast beef sandwich . . . but they are long gone except for a few overpriced rest stops along the NYS Thruway. In a world of burger and deli sub chains, Arby’s stands out. If I go to Arby’s – damn skippy I want roast beef. I don’t want chicken, or some garbage “market fresh” sandwich. I understand the need for Arby’s to diversify their menu, but I’ve never said to myself “I want to go to Arby’s and order a turkey & swiss sandwich.” The few non-roast beef items I have tried have been horrible or bland. If I wanted chicken, I’d go to KFC. Just like if I wanted Taco’s I’d go to Taco Bell. But if I want roast beef – it’s Arby’s. That’s winning.
I did recently try their angus sandwich, which is more similar to “real” roast beef . . . but it was ruined with things like cheese and other toppings. Their corned beef Rueben is atrocious. I consider myself a Rueben connoisseur, and whoever in the Arby’s management chain decided to sell it deserves to be fired, and possibly castrated so he can’t pass down his idiot genetics to future generations.
The other thing that sets Arby’s apart is their sauces – Arby’s sauce and Horsey sauce. Normal people would think that a roast beef sandwich should have either gravy or mayo on it. Arby’s being the great place that it is took it to the next level. Arby’s sauce is a tangy, almost BBQ sauce like dressing which has the consistency and flavor of a smooth gravy. Horsey sauce is a horseradish based mayo, giving whatever you put it on a slight kick. Personally, I like to put both on my roast beef to get that one-two punch of tanginess and spiciness. I also love dipping my curly fries in the horsey sauce. I’ve never even touched the ketchup at an Arby’s restaurant.
So as you can tell, Arby’s has a love/hate relationship for me. I love the roast beef and wish they would just focus on what they are known for, rather than try to be like everyone else and sell salads or onion rings to get a more diverse group of customers. Then again, I don’t know about the sales figures of Arby’s – so maybe those other items do well and keep the profits up. In the end, I will always love Arby’s, be it for the roast beef, the curly fries, or the memories it’s given me from eating there over the years.