All posts by Brian Beaudry

I'm a proud Kennewick HS and EWU alum and I live in Irving, Texas. Contact me on Twitter: @BeaudryDFW.

Starburst, Symbol of the Alt-Right

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but America is in the middle of a messy divorce. Sure, the thought pieces and studies describing our separate news sourcesbook selectionsTV series, and how we’re all talking past each other make good observations, but one thing truly epitomizes what is tearing us apart: Starburst.

FaveREDs, which are bags of Starburst with only red and pink colors included, were introduced in 2016. In 2017, the product went a step further and released all-pink bags.

This was inevitable, probably. The proliferation of “Have it your way” culture has given seemingly everyone the expectation that they should get everything they want, exactly the way they want it, right now, and for free.

Back in my day (I’m 34, so basically a senior citizen), Starburst came in four flavors, like it or not. Pink and red were the favorites among most, but orange and yellow, for people that didn’t like them, allowed us to grow as human beings in one of two ways:

  1. You could give the orange and yellow Starburst to a friend (or a stranger, starting a conversation and making a new friend). This ensured we were all at least capable of generating small talk and acknowledging others’ existence. It reminded us that people had different opinions than us and that we could not only live with those differences, but that those differences could help us get the job done.
  2. You could learn to like orange and yellow Starburst. They provide a tangy pop in a line of overly sweet, soft candy. It’s a nice curveball to keep your tongue from getting too comfortable at the plate (or tube, as it were). This option had the advantage that you could also work with others who refused to grow their character to acquire THEIR candy, providing an incentive to broaden your tastes and learn to appreciate new things.

Instead of strengthening ourselves as a nation, now we’re focused on getting only what we want – never trying to grow beyond what we already like; never trying to understand why other things exist; never appreciating others for what they bring to the table.

If I post #OrangeStarburstMatter on social media now, I’m bound to be shouted down by the #AllStarburstMatter crowds who are constantly spewing nonsense about how the entire Starburst empire was based on pink and red Starburst, and orange and yellow should be happy they were allowed to exist in the same bag for so long. They would praise Starburst for eliminating those pesky orange and yellow Starburst for them. Are those the kind of selfish people we want running the show?

Let’s get back to uniting, not dividing. Don’t be tempted by the ease of having your preferred flavor pre-separated for you. As Denzel Washington said: “Ease is the greatest threat to progress, not hardship.” Don’t allow them to tell America that only one flavor really matters.

Stop Starburst now. For America.

Popeye’s (Irving, TX)

If you like cold chicken tenders and gross fries, this is the place for you!

Just close the rest of the prep area down and turn it into a bakery for those biscuits, ’cause they were the only acceptable thing associated with this place. In fairness, I would probably eat 70 of them at one sitting, given the opportunity, they’re so delicious (and I’m such a glutton). I discovered afterwards that I could’ve just bought a dozen biscuits – had I ordered that, I might have been willing to overlook the flies coming around the table every so often. 

I have been to other Popeye’s that weren’t gross, but I wouldn’t go back to this particular location with your money.

El Pollo Loco (Grand Prairie, TX)

Somehow, despite them being all over the place when I grew up in Southern California, I don’t remember ever having gone to El Pollo Loco.

That…was a mistake. (Or perhaps they have changed their menu in the 20+ years since then.)

Thanks to their insistence on moving into my work’s neighborhood and what I’m calling a “Take 5” day, wherein my favorite CEO gives us five bucks each to go grab some food at a local restaurant as a team, I went and tried an avocado chicken burrito. And I added a chips and queso. And some avocado salsa.

If you’re squeamish about seeing a couple dozen chickens on sticks being grilled, maybe order your food ahead of time and don’t look up as you’re paying for your food. If you’re not, appreciate the presentation, which is certainly better-looking than the typical assembly line of frozen food at many other fast-food joints.

Each time I’ve gone to this location (and it’s now been a lot since I’m writing this about nine months later), the food has been fresh and the service has been great. I went to another location (Watauga) and they had horchata, which is apparently Spanish for “Churros you drink.” πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Also, they have regular churros if you like. Is it REAL Mexican food? Nah. Is it πŸ’£? Yup.

Hyatt Regency Dallas (Dallas, TX)

Last October, the company I work for had an International Conference at the Hyatt Regency (and around town). I played no part in selecting the menu, but I salute those that did.

Since I didn’t have to pay for the food, it was already automatically great in my book, but when you can have things like unlimited fajitas or meat from land, air, and sea in one meal…what more can a fella ask for?

(This isn’t so much a review as it is me telling you I ate a lot of great food for free. Sorry for bragging.)

A dish as tasty as it is made unattractive by my desire to mound as much of it on one plate as possible.
Plating, schmating. Fish, chicken, and beef along with various sides? Yes.
Breakfast sandwich and cantaloupe. Not seen: Pineapple, which I either ate or waited for a second plate to eat.

Chick-Fil-A Catering

First of all, let’s make something clear. Waffle fries are overrated garbage, an insult to both fries and waffles. You can’t fit many into a fry container and the few that you get don’t fit well into sauce containers. They have way too much potato for their surface area as well.

That said, waffle chips are absolutely amazing. Everything that is wrong with waffle fries is corrected -they’re just as salty as regular chips, but with a little more airiness and texture. If I were putting chips in my sandwich, they would be ideal…but they’re too good to NOT eat by themselves. Why do they continue with the foolishness of waffle fries in their restaurants?

We’ve had Chick-Fil-A’s catering a few times at work, and I’ve tried a few of their meal options, all of which are good. The chicken is tasty and they top things properly. But all the meals come with waffle chips and the cookie in every box, so really, the main course doesnt matter. Somehow, there are always extra chips and cookies left over, too! Man, I love seeing the email saying we have catering for lunch.

Chapps Burgers (Grand Prairie, TX)

Chapps was just a restaurant I passed by daily on my way to work, until they closed down to remodel and rebrand as Chapps Burgers. When you add “Burgers” to a name, there’s at least a 90% chance I’m interested in eating there (exception:Burger King).

Emoji review: πŸ‘ (The emoji reviews are probably going away soon, in case you can’t tell.)

Anyway, the new place had a Mooyah/Five Guys style ordering process, with a slightly classier vibe. The vibe costs a little more, and the burgers are different, but an acceptable option.

As you can see in the photo, the burger patty is on the thick side and doesn’t reach the edge of the bun. (I think I’m becoming a fan of thin patties; you can get more flavor with that extra surface area and that just makes more space for more cheese. That’s what we call a win-win, unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case, I’m sorry for your loss.) So if you like ’em, in the misapplied words of Sir Mix-A-Lot, “real thick and juicy,” Chapps might have the burgers you’re looking for. 

Their fries were…well, it’s been a few months, but I’ve forgotten them, so they’re forgettable.

Major selling point: They did have Big Red as a fountain drink option. That’s very Texan of them and also something I heartily endorse. 

I wasn’t upset about my experience at Chapps, but Im not really compelled to break my new streak of days driving by it on the way to work without going in, either.

Arby’s (Irving, TX)

I know, I always eat at super-classy joints, so what am I doing at Arby’s? Why, trying a smokehouse brisket sandwich, of course.

Emoji review: πŸ„πŸ˜

I ate this a longggggggg time ago, but I remember the restaurant was fairly empty and clean. The tables looked cool. The Kid’s Meal toy was a pretty fun little flip book with constellations and galaxies.

The brisket sandwich was a disappointment, because of course it was. I ordered brisket at Arby’s and I live in Texas. So that’s on me. I had forgotten that curly fries were standard at Arby’s, so that was a nice surprise.

All in all, a very OK experience that doesn’t provoke anger towards Arby’s, but I wouldn’t ever say “Let’s go to Arby’s!”*.

*Unless they’re bringing back the 5 for $5. Or the real Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, which was incredible to have at a fast food restaurant.

Wingstop (Irving, TX)

Apparently Wingstop’s Facebook advertising worked to gain them at least one customer. I already knew I liked them because I like (boneless) wings and french fries, and they have tasty versions of both.

Emoji review: πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸ—πŸŸπŸŸπŸŸπŸ˜™πŸ˜™

Continue reading Wingstop (Irving, TX)

Jack in the Box (Grand Prairie, TX)

One of the things that’s so sad about the eastern half of the country is that they don’t have Jack in the Box, which has been my 24/7 fast food jam for a couple decades now. One of the delightful things about the DFW area is that it has pretty much all of the regional chains. In N Out? Got it. Waffle House? Got it. Shake Shack? Got it. Smashburger? Got it. There are also plenty of Jack in the Boxes, including one near work. And we often get coupons in the mail!

Emoji review: πŸ”πŸŸπŸ’πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Continue reading Jack in the Box (Grand Prairie, TX)

AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)

I was given an opportunity to take a free ticket to the Cowboys’ preseason game against the Dolphins and since I’d never been to AT&T stadium, I snapped it up. I’d looked at tickets to the game against the Seahawks last year, and since standing-room only “seats” were going for over $100 for a regular season game, I sure wasn’t planning on buying my way into the stadium anytime soon.

Emoji review: ⭐,πŸ”, πŸ”΅πŸ§€, 🍣 Continue reading AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)