I lurched away from the table after a few hours feeling like Elvis in Vegas — fat, drugged, and completely out of it. — Anthony Bourdain
The fast-food game is a forever-changing, forever-evolving contest to see who can grab the biggest chunk of the billions and billions of dollars that people spend annually for an easy, quick meal. A game in which the relative taste of your product versus a competitor's doesn't really matter. It more about who can win the advertising battle and flood people's brains with enough indicators and subliminal messages.
It's basically, who springs to mind when I'm lazy and hungry?
The battle isn't easy or cheap. You have to stand out. You have to change the bread on a sandwich to a fried chicken breast. You have to offer a taco made of waffles. You have to add even more bacon to things that don't need any more bacon! This is how you win, dammit!
And now Arby's, in an apparent effort to appeal to the millennial crowd, has introduced the next big thing in fast food. It's huge. Gigantic. Colossal.
It is … the meat mountain.
And it's exactly what it sounds like.
It's two chicken tenders, 1.5 ounces of roast turkey, 1.5 ounces of ham, 1.5 ounces of corned beef, 1.5 ounces of brisket, 1.5 ounces of Angus steak, 1.5 ounces of roast beef, three half-strips of bacon, one slice of swiss cheese and one slice of cheddar. Between two buns.
(I like how they put only two measly, dainty slices of cheese on there. It's almost like they're saying, "Hey, we don't want to overdo it or anything.")
And the price for all of this artery clogging, double-chin-conducing, impotence-inducing, literally-will-kill-you goodness is only 10 bucks.
Check and mate.
Arby's, you've gone and done the impossible, which is bring me to orgasm with nothing but deli meats and a few chicken tenders. Well, it probably wasn't impossible, it's just that I'd never attempted to do that before.
It also should be said that the exalted elevation that is Meat Mountain isn't the only glorious destination of note on the fast-food map. I did some research.
There's the Gulf of Gordita, the gorgeous Five Guys Fjord and of course, the Great Whopper Watershed — a region that is directly connected to the Great Dismal Swamp-ass.
There's been talk for years about the existence of a Secret Sauce Valhalla, a magical land overlooking the Valley of Value and Three Bun Gorges. No one's ever confirmed these reports.
I personally like to cover myself in oil and vinegar and then spend a week each summer on the Cold Cut Coast. Although after a particularly grisly home invasion and robbery last year, it doesn't hold the same appeal to us dollar-menunaires that it once did. Also, a side note here — and I hate to point fingers — but they found one ridiculously oversized shoe at the scene, and all signs point to these gruesome heists perpetrated by the Hamburglar and his associate, a slow-witted, amorphous blob who goes by ...
(looks down at notes)
... a Mr. Grimace.
Exotic world destinations aside, the question is, can Meat Mountain be topped? Is there another fast-food place so willing to vomit chunks of goo in the face of basic human decency? Have we finally reached peak fast food?
Probably not. And you can bet your fat, fast-food ass that something bigger and better will come along. Something that will keep heart-stent manufacturers rolling on beds covered with hundred-dollar bills.
The executives at Arby's — hell, every executive at Big Fast Food — knows what we want. It isn't McSalads or yogurts. Nope. We want death on a plate. We just don't want to know it's death on a plate. We want it to sound cool. We want a "deep-fried derecho of awesome sauce" (patent pending).
Until then, we have the Mountain. And being the intrepid explorer that I am — some have called me the Tenzing Norgay of eating fast food and lying on the couch — I went to Arby's to order the Meat Mountain.
Listen, it can't be denied that the concept is spot-on. It's an attention grabber, no doubt. The execution of said Mountain, however, I find to be lacking. It's basically a sloppy mess of grease and loose, random meats that no human or animal with a will to live ever should attempt to endure.
Not that it will stop them or me from making the attempt, again and maybe again.
Well played, Arby's. Well played. S
Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.