Learn about American fast food

VIP Subscription- 9WSO Download

If you’d like to speak English like a native, check out:

Effortless English VIP Program

EnglishAnyone The Vault – Fluent For Life

Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to English Topics. My name is Alisha. And, today, I’m joined again by…
Davey: Hi, I’m Davey.
Alisha: Welcome back, Davey. And, today, we are going to be talking about “Famous American Fast-food Restaurants.” So, I hope you’re hungry. I’m slightly hungry. Let’s discuss some things that maybe people outside the US haven’t heard of before, maybe you have, I don’t know. I’m going to start with one, probably the most obvious one today. I chose it. I chose “Taco Bell” as my first one because I have a strong affinity, I have a strong connection to Taco Bell because when I was a high school student, it was like the cheapest thing you could get in terms of fast-food restaurants. They had a deal. It was like three tacos for a dollar or something like that, something extremely cheap. Because the idea of the food there–it’s just a taco shell with like some questionable meat like substance and a sprinkle of questionable cheese. Everything is questionable at Taco Bell. And then, everything—
Davey: Yeah, it used to be their slogan, I think.
Alisha: “Everything Is questionable at Taco Bell. Ding!”
Davey: Yeah, they went first run for the border, right? Has a better ring to it.
Alisha: Aha! Run for the border of your digestive system.
Davey: Oh…
Alisha: So, anyway, I chose Taco Bell because it was everything high school, me and my high school friends, everything we loved. It was cheap and it was cheesy and it was meaty and you could eat a bunch of them and there was spicy sauce for the people who decided to be stupid and just try to like, I don’t know, wanted to make it as spicy as possible.
Davey: And your body can still take all those calories then.
Alisha: Right, right. And now, if I eat–if I even look at a Gordita Supreme, I gain 15 pounds.
Davey: Yeah, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it anymore.
Alisha: So, Taco Bell, I chose Taco Bell for today because there’s a special place in my heart for the special food you can find at Taco Bell.
Davey: I understand.
Alisha: Mm-hmm.
Davey: All of mine are in the same sort of category.
Alisha: Yeah?
Davey: I kind of–I don’t really like fast food and I’ve never really eaten a lot of it but there are a few fast food places that I really have a soft spot for.
Alisha: Okay.
Davey: And so, my first one is one of those and it’s “Sonic.” And, this is a regional one. This is not all across the country. It’s pretty limited to the south, to the southern states. And then, I think, maybe a few other states, maybe there’s one in Arizona or somewhere, I don’t know. But, where I grew up, I grew up in a Sonic state, we had Sonic. It’s a drive-in, it’s an old-style drive-in or you drive up and park your car and reach out and push the button and then give your order and they’ll come out and bring you your food. Some of them they would even come out on roller-skates like the old school 50’s era kind of diners but most of them they just come out of sneakers. But, you go and get like a milkshake and a burger and when I go home, when I when I go to my hometown and visit my family, I’ll oftentimes pop into Sonic and get a hamburger because I have a soft spot for them.
Alisha: Mm.
Davey: They’re good.
Alisha: I think a lot of the stuff we’re going to talk about today has like a strong nostalgia factor about it, for sure. But, drive-ins are rare.
Davey: They are.
Alisha: I mean, drive-ins were rare 20 years ago.
Davey: They are rare.
Alisha: So, I wonder, how many Sonic’s have converted to just being a plain old fast-food.
Davey: I don’t know. I mean most of the Sonics in my hometown there’s I can think of four or five or six and I think they’re all still drive-ins.
Alisha: Wow.
Davey: I’m pretty sure. Oh, but I will say one this really drove me nuts. When I moved away from my hometown and I was 18, I moved across the country, I was at Washington state and I don’t think there’s any Sonics in Washington State but they would have TV commercials and it drove me nuts because we see the commercials and I wanted to go to Sonic and I couldn’t go to Sonic.
Alisha: Ah.
Davey: Well, I like Sonic.
Alisha: I see. That’s a problem, that’s a dilemma.
Davey: It’s a problem. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Sonic burger.
Alisha: Sonic dilemma. Alright. Great. Alright, let’s move on to another one. That was actually also a drive-thru.
Davey: “A and W.”
Alisha: “A and W.” Yeah! A and W, depending on the location you went to, it was some of them were drive-thru or rather, not drive-thru, drive-ups?
Davey: Drive-ins?
Alisha: Drive-in, that’s it. Sorry. Drive-ins, oh, my gosh. Drive-ins, yeah. So, you would– as you said, drive your car up there and then you would order and somebody would bring it out to the car. But, the thing that was most famous arguably about A and W is A and W root beer float.
Davey: Oh, delicious.
Alisha: Yep. She’s like, “Yeah!” Root beer, though, is one of those things that people either love or they hate. I understand that in the UK, a root beer is like a flavor of toothpaste so people really don’t like it.
Davey: I think a lot of people outside of North America, US in particular, don’t like root beer.
Alisha: I think so.
Davey: It’s delicious. I love root beer.
Alisha: So, if you don’t know, a root beer float is root beer, it’s a sweet–how would you even describe the flavor of a root beer?
Davey: Sweet but a bit bitter.
Alisha: There’s a little bitterness and carbonated.
Davey: Mm-hmm.
Alisha: It’s a soda. It’s a sweet carbonated soda with a little bit of bitterness. But, a root beer float is that soda with vanilla ice cream put inside. So, it’s a dessert, it’s a treat. And, A and W is perhaps most famous item on their menu is the root beer float. Of course, you can make your own root beer float at home, however, you like but this one’s kind of their item, their must get item. A and W has a special place for that root beer float. Yep.
Davey: And, a key feature of the drive-in, the drive-in as opposed to the drive-thru. Drive-thru, you drive through, you place your order you get your food into your car and you drive away. A drive-in, you park your car, they bring you your food and then you sit in your car and eat it.
Alisha: Mm-hmm.
Davey: I guess you could drive away.
Alisha: You could drive away, I suppose. Though some of them, I think, the really old-fashioned ones, they’d put a tray on the window of your car.
Davey: Yes. Sonic does those.
Alisha: Ah, yeah?
Davey: Mm-hmm.
Alisha: Hmm. Yep, yep. And, the waitstaff would be on roller-skates.
Davey: Mm-hmm.
Alisha: And all blondes, too… Great. Alright, next one.
Davey: Yeah, my next one is also a nostalgic one from my hometown in Tennessee which was “Krystal.” Krystal, I’m pretty sure is the same as White Castle. But, in some parts of the US, it’s White Castle, but where I grew up, we had Krystal. They’re famous for being really cheap but they’ll give little sliders. Small little steam hamburgers or steamed buns. They are quite small. I mean, you can eat three or four or five, maybe three of them are the same size as one hamburger at Sonic or Burger King or something like that. So, it’s good if you just want a nibble, you know. If you and your friend drive-thru Krystal drive-thru and you don’t want a whole meal, you can just get one little slider. It’s good for a snack and they also had they had like spicy chicken sandwich sliders that I love.
Alisha: That sounds good.
Davey: There was one really close to my high school. And so, sometimes after school, I would go to Krystal and get some sliders.
Alisha: Hmm. Krystal, yeah. I have no idea but when you said, “White Castle.”
Davey: I’m pretty sure. I think it might be the same company. The menu is the same.
Alisha: Okay.
Davey: But I haven’t been to that many White Castles.
Alisha: Ah, yeah, we didn’t have a White Castle in my town when I was growing up and so I didn’t really go to that one but there was a really famous movie about a couple guys trying to get sliders at White Castle. “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” It was just a story about a couple guys who, in the middle of the night, decide to go to White Castle to try to get sliders.
Davey: Yep. As unhealthy as they are for you.
Alisha: Yeah.
Davey: That movie is a testament to how good they are.
Alisha: Yeah.
Davey: They’re tasty.
Alisha: Yep. It’s just one of those little craving foods. Alright. Good. I’ll go to my next one. I don’t know if you could really call this a fast-food place but its sort of one of those locations that I liked to visit from time to time and it made me feel like I was making a somewhat healthy choice, I guess, the place is called “Jamba Juice.” Jamba Juice doesn’t really do burgers or fries or anything fried at all. Actually, this is a place that does smoothies. And, I think maybe they did milkshakes as well or like frozen yogurts. Everything was drinks really. So, you could sort of make your own smoothie. You could put the fruit you liked or maybe yogurt you liked or a vitamin or something like that. You could put it all in a blender and the staff would make it for you and you’d walk out with a Styrofoam cup hilariously.
Davey: Uh-huh.
Alisha: You get this big Styrofoam cup to enjoy your Jamba Juice in. But, Jamba Juice, I think they kind of pitch it as a sort of healthy option but they’re just these massive smoothies that you can, I don’t know, use as breakfast replacement, if you like. So, they tended to be a little more popular among people who were, perhaps, more health-conscious. So, they were trying to market themselves as of being a bit more, I don’t know, friendly to the body than some of the other chains.
Davey: Better for you than a Krystal burger, for sure.
Alisha: Aha. What’s your last?
Davey: My last one, again, on the nostalgia train is “Dick’s” which is local. It’s a local fast-food place in Seattle. So, I lived in Seattle for a number of years, it’s kind of my second hometown. I lived there for more than ten years and there is a local chain, a fast-food chain called Dick’s. Dick’s Burgers and they are delicious. I think a couple of them might be drive-ins, actually, but the one that I always went to in the neighborhood where I lived was not a drive-in. You would go in but they’re phenomenally cheap and the way that they’re so cheap is everything’s small. Small burgers, so you can actually get a couple of them. You can eat a couple and then that’s kind of equal to one hamburger. They’re bigger than sliders. Small fries, milkshakes. But, they charge you, they would charge you for ketchup and mustard. They’d charge you $0.5, a nickel for a little paper cup full of ketchup and mustard and the burgers were like $1.10 or something.
Alisha: Wow, that’s really cheap.
Davey: Very cheap. And, again, if you weren’t starving, if you just wanted kind of a quick bite in the afternoon, a quick artery-clogging bite, you could go in and get a Dick’s burger.
Alisha: Mm-hmm.
Davey: They didn’t have sets. You know you go into fast-food places now and everything’s a combo.
Alisha: It’s a combo.
Davey: They didn’t do combos. They had burgers, fries, sodas, and milkshakes and that was it. You would just say, “I want one of that and one of those and one those.”
Alisha: I see. It’s like a build-your-own combo sort of thing.
Davey: Mm-hmm.
Alisha: That sounds good.
Davey: It’s very good, very delicious. And, they were open really late, too. You could go midnight or 1:00 in the morning, yeah.
Alisha: Aha. I feel like the burger concept has really evolved over time. So, something like that and then there’s been this very like traditional, everybody knows, McDonald’s and Burger King. Then, I think, maybe ten years ago or so, what was popular was In and Out Burger.
Davey: Oh, yeah.
Alisha: Right? Because In and Out had a very limited number of burgers available on the menu. But then, they were supposedly like this secret menu.
Davey: There is a secret menu.
Alisha: Right? You had to know, you had to ask for something special if you wanted to get it from the secret menu. But, that was supposed to be a really good burger chain. And now, there’s one, which I haven’t been to, Five Guys.
Davey: Oh, yeah.
Alisha: I don’t know anything about Five Guys but I’ve heard that it’s really, really good.
Davey: Yeah, I think I went to one a few years ago. I don’t remember where.
Alisha: Hmm. So, it seems like burgers burned the brand of burger. It seems to continue evolving. So, there’s like these places that offer small burgers, that offer like build-your-own burgers, though I feel burritos and Mexican food are quickly—maybe—actually, I shouldn’t say this because I don’t really know. What the current situation in the US is now. But, I feel like there are a lot more burrito places that are doing similar things that burger places were in the past. By that, I mean, like making your own.
Davey: Oh, yeah.
Alisha: So, now, there’s like–what’s it called like Taco del Sol, I think, in the states.
Davey: Oh, yeah.
Alisha: Where there’s Chipotle, as well. So, it’s like these places where you go—
Davey: Taco del Mar.
Alisha: Taco del Mar, that’s it. That’s it, that’s it. So, they’re like these places that are kind of introducing more options than just Taco Bell and Burger King.
Davey: Right.
Alisha: But, they’re kind of branching out too, “Well, what do you actually like?”
Davey: Right.
Alisha: I don’t know. I don’t remember what part was that.
Davey: Well, I don’t know either but I’m hungry now.
Alisha: I’m hungry now, too, actually. Anyway…
Davey: Can’t get any of those.
Alisha: No, no. That sounds good. Time to go home and make some sliders, I guess. Sounds good. Alright. So, those are a few famous American fast-food chains or famous, perhaps, North American fast-food chains. If there are other fast-food chains that you know of in the US that you really liked or you really hated, let us know in the comments. If there’s a fast-food chain from your country, too, that you think is interesting, that people should know about, let us know about that, too.
Thanks very much for watching this episode of English Topics. If you liked the video, please make sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already. Also, come check us out at EnglishClass101.com for other stuff, like culture points and maybe some other discussions about maybe US culture, as well.
Thanks very much for watching us this time and we’ll see you again soon. Bye-bye.
I thought that was the, “Stop this sound!”
VIP Subscription- 9WSO Download
%d bloggers like this: