by Connor Huchton
What is the meaning of life? Why is this one of my favorite meals? Why do I come to this place so often? Should I try something else? Should I explore the world of the fast food menu and choose variety over pure, uncomplicated deliciousness?
These are the questions I ask myself as I enter the local Whataburger(s). I feel centered when I eat the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich on Texas Toast. There is nothing else to think about beyond the chicken strips, cheese, and barbecue sauce that encompass its glorious center. I can feel only happiness as I chew, mixed with the slightest trepidation at that the knowledge that someday, the meal will end, and I will regret that I didn’t savor every bite just a little bit slower and that I didn’t eat my fries first. But as I bite, I forget these things. I forget it all. I forget everything but impeccable taste and the immersion that only this kind of sandwich I can bring.
At the local Whataburger I frequent, many employees are already aware of what I’m going to order (or seem almost expectant as I mutter and point at the picture of the sandwich that never quite does its constant delivery of joy proper justice). I order the only non-breakfast meal I have ordered from Whataburger in years, and go to my seat to eagerly, and then discontentedly. wait. Oh, that endless wait – the nervous staring into the open kitchen, the glancing at my order number nervously, the drumming of my fingers of the table – it’s never-ending. But it does eventually end, and I stare down, in awe more than anything else, as my food is placed before me.
I sometimes feel a tinge of sadness brush up against my joy as I eat this shining example of rare fast food dreams and possibility. The sadness stems from an unalterable truth – the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich on Texas Toast has no hope of ever enjoying me to the same level that I enjoy it. It can’t speak to me as it’s all too quickly devoured and digested in the confines of my bacon-filled stomach. The sandwich likely does not understand my appreciation of its greatness, and that unevenness ever so slightly haunts each bite.
But all of that can be overcome, because ultimately, this is one of the greatest food items commonly available for purchase in these United States. I don’t know what barbecue sauce Whataburger is putting in these things, but it’s absolutely unbelievable, and the perfect complement to the chicken strips that wait within the two pieces of bread. The sandwich is a centerpiece for a simple combination – chicken, barbecue sauce, cheese, and bread – but it’s so filling and balanced that the four components make each individual part better and more noticeable. The chicken strips consume your taste buds, but only reach greatness because of the flavor-adding BBQ sauce and the texture-adding Texas Toast*.
*Important Note To First-Time Eaters Of This Sandwich: The Texas Toast is absolutely vital. It’s far better than the bun on its own, and worlds better as part of the sandwich. A hamburger bun just doesn’t work in this context. I still have respect for hamburger buns, though. Don’t get me wrong.
There is nothing diffused about the HBCSSTT; it is nothing if not concentrated taste. Every bite is infused with as much or more understanding of life and transcendence than its predecessor. It’s a sandwich that will make you remember the simple things, and will bring you uncomplicated delight. It is a reprieve, and it may be as close to easily attainable fast food perfection as mankind will ever get.