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Bacon Is Popping Up in Fast Food. Here’s the Best Use of It.

If you're seeking bacon and want it fast, Arby's is the way to go.
If you're seeking bacon and want it fast, Arby's is the way to go.
TC Fleming

If you eat fast food on a semi-regular basis — and you’re reading a story about fast food so you probably do — you may have noted an uptick in bacon items over the last year or so.

The conspiracy theory is that this is driven by tariffs. American pork is no longer being exported to China and Mexico in the numbers of years past, and without the same demand, the price has dropped.

That the prices have dropped is undeniable, but we’re still using the term “conspiracy theory” because none of the companies involved have copped to it. Business Insider asked McDonald’s and Wendy’s, and both declined to admit tariffs are a factor. But caring about the reason for this bacon renaissance may be missing the forest for the trees. We shouldn’t lose sight of the bottom line, which is that we are in bacon boom times.

Of all the bacon items available, I have not found and do not expect to find anything better than the brisket bacon beef n’ cheddar at Arby’s.

I was raised in an Arby’s family. Since they don’t have Chick-fil-A-esque lines at the drive-thru, I think Arby’s families are relatively rare. But I really think the chain does some exceptional work, and the beef n’ cheddar is the mainstay.

That, for me, is a big part of what makes this dish work. They’re not trying to conceive of a whole new sandwich. They’re taking something you already like and they’re adding brisket and bacon.

This seems like a formula that could work with anyone. If I were negotiating to buy a new car and the dealer told me that upon closing there would be a Styrofoam container in the passenger seat with a dinner portion of beef and brisket, that would impact my decision. They slide these extra meats on top of the regular roast beef and they function almost like a meat cheese. It’s divine. They do include cheddar sauce, so there is also a cheese-cheese.

On the other side of the bacon ledger are the bacon fries being offered by multiple chains. Of course, they include cheese to create a little adhesion between the fries and bacon, and that’s where the problem comes in. They’ve all opted for cheese sauce, and it ruins the crisp levels on the fries. Having quick access to quality cheese fries is, of course, a dream of mine. But I have to be honest and say we’re just not there yet.

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If I could provide a little support to my earlier contention that Arby’s is very good, the Jamocha Shake is the best drink in the fast food game, and I don’t know that there’s a second place. Then there’s also their array of tasty sides. The curly fries are good, but if you’re really serious, swap them out for a slider. Arby’s has a fine selection of delicious mini-sandies. I prefer the pizza one.

Jon Stewart made a career out of making jokes at the expense of this fine chain all because their name is funny to say out loud, but you should not be fooled: They feature an impressive menu, and they’ve done as well as anyone trying to make bacon lemonade out of the bacon lemons that global politics have handed us.

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