This article originally appeared on VICE US
Hello, I'm Nick Gazin, VICE's art editor. Although my main thing is art, I also like eating food. I am fascinated by the boxes in the frozen food aisle of my grocery store, and I like to take them home with me and find out if the contents match the marketing.
Last week I reviewed fish fingers. This week I bought some frozen fast food things, including White Castle Cheeseburgers, Pierre's Drive Thru Chicken Sandwich, and Tower Isle's Mild Beef Patties. (Beef patties, for the sadly uninformed, are pastry shells that have seasoned ground beef, and sometimes cheese or pepperoni inside).I think of beef patties as more of a bodega [off-license deli] thing than fast food, but who cares? Here's how it went:
White Castle Cheeseburgers
When White Castle was founded in 1921, Americans were nervous about eating ground meat, mainly thanks to Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle, which documented some of the horrible stuff going on in the meatpacking industry. So the founders of the pioneering fast food joint supposedly made sure their restaurants were as clean as possible as a way of reassuring customers that their tiny hamburgers didn't contain pieces of ground-up humans. Today White Castles are still pretty clean for fast food places, but they have the rep of being the kind of place you go only when you're drunk.
But you don't have to have a boozy night to get White Castle – you can just buy a box of frozen sliders. Six little, steamed meat-cookies come in the box and after microwaving them for two and a half times longer than the box suggests, you get some pleasant little food things.
The box suggested adding pickles and my favorite condiments, so I added pickles and tried out Grey Poupon, Worstershire, horseradish, Tabasco, and sofrito on the different burgers. None of them were perceptible over the trademark White Castle flavor—that dried-out meat taste, mixed with the taste of onions and the floury bun.
I really enjoyed these but I wouldn't recommend eating all six burgers sober as I just did.
Pierre's Drive Thru Chicken Sandwich
I took the sandwich out of its little plastic bag before I microwaved it. I wasn't supposed to do that so I microwaved it a second time with the bag back on.
It was only slightly spongy and well-spiced. The bread was fine and not too spongy. But nothing was crispy.
Fun fact: Pierre's Drive Thru is not, and has never been, a real drive thru. It's a brand owned by a company called AdvancePierre Foods, which also owns all kinds of other frozen food items that are perfectly edible and safe to consume. This is a good sandwich if you like your meals nondescript.
Tower Isle's Mild Beef Patties
The factory that makes these is on Atlantic Avenue, by Highland Park in New York. I know that because my friend Melvin was here when we ate these and he told me. He holds Tower Isle's Frozen Food in high regard.
"They're the oldest beef patty brand. They set the bar for what a quality beef patty should look and taste like in both quality and flavor," Melvin told me. "They come in varying spice degrees which are surprisingly accurate."
He's right about everything: The pastry crust was golden and flaky, the meat was hot and delicious and molten like lava. This is better than frozen food has any right to be.
I smoked a joint to honor the ancient Jamaican tradition of me getting high and eating junk. Maybe it's all the Blue Dream, but this is the best frozen meat thing I've eaten. I can't wait to eat the spicy variety. I'm so hiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhhhhh! Well, back to work.
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