Studying abroad for the last four months in the U.S. has certainly expanded my vocabulary (not to mention my waistline): chili cheese, bacon ice cream, peanut-butter Oreos. The idea that you can fill chicken nuggets with pieces of bacon and sell it in frozen package form may seem ridiculous to Australians – but here in the States, folk just “do what tastes right” (Wendy’s). It’s almost too easy to hate on Americans for being fat. Along with George Bush and Rebecca Black, fast food is often the source of America-bashing tirades. Really, Australians aren’t all that healthier, but you have to give Americans some props for their carefree ability to embrace their inner glutton. Enter “Fat Sandwich Company”, a recent but popular addition to the fast food scene in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
Founded by two university students in New Jersey in 2006, the premise behind Fat Sandwich is simple: if it’s cheesy, greasy, and/ or capable of inducing a heart attack – put it between two buns of bread. I was assured by friends (American and non-American alike) that experiencing Fat Sandwich should be on my Must Do Before I Leave the U.S. list, along with: play beer pong at a frat party, watch the Superbowl, and weep to drunken renditions of the Star Spangled Banner. Yet for most of my semester here in Illinois, Fat Sandwich has remained the stuff of fast food legend. Until last week.
On entering the restaurant, I was greeted with an overwhelming waft of pure grease. That, and the 27 different sandwich options, left me dizzy and slightly giddy. What to choose? The “Fat Milf” (cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, bacon, with mayo and ketchup) or the “Fat Motherclucker” (grilled chicken, American cheese, with mayo and ketchup)? The “Fat Sorostitute” sounded tempting: buffalo chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and jalapeno poppers (jalapenos filled with cheese, breaded, and then deep fried). For the adventurous, there is the “Big Fat Ugly”, where for $25 you get 2 rolls filled with 4 cheeseburgers, double cheesesteak, chicken cheesesteak, gyro meat, grilled chicken, bacon, sausage, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese bites, fried mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, pizza bites, onion rings, hash browns, mini corndogs, with mayo and ketchup. Best of all? If you finish the Big Fat Ugly in 15 minutes, it’s free. In the end, I settled on the “Fat WalkofShame”, complete with bacon, cheesestreak, egg, with mayo and ketchup. All Fat Sandwiches come with fries (inside the bun), and are available for order online. Not only do they deliver sandwiches, but they also bring beer and cigarettes to your front door – for your convenience.
To be fair, Fat Sandwich can be an underwhelming experience if you’re a vegetarian. My housemate’s boyfriend Jeremy, who tried the vegetarian option, described it as a mouthful of cheese-infused bread. “There was one strip of bell pepper (capsicum),” he said forlornly, “but I think it was an accident. They probably didn’t mean to put it in there.” For carnivores, however, Fat Sandwich is a delicious and decadent romp through the world of fast food. Not to mention that eating becomes entirely unnecessary for at least two days afterwards. My rating: four out of five mozzarella sticks.