The 5 Scariest Things About Denny's
In the recent kerfluffle regarding Denny's new sandwich, the Fried Cheese Melt, we seem to have forgotten that it's far from the only reason to be afraid of the 24-hour restaurant chain. Allow us to remind you.
1. The Grand Slamwich It's understandable that people were so horrified at the thought of a cheese sandwich that had been fried twice, they allowed this one to slip under the radar like it was no big deal. We think it might actually be worse for you than the Fried Cheese Melt, however, because it's basically an entire goddamn Grand Slam Breakfast between two slices of bread. And not just any bread: potato bread, the most calorically-dense type of bread you can have before you simply start using pancakes. The Grand Slamwich contains two scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, American cheese, and mayonnaise. That's right: sausage, bacon and ham. It's a side of chitlins away from containing an entire pig. And scrambled eggs, plus mayonnaise? Good God, man. How eggy is too eggy, Denny's? Not to worry, though: The Grand Slamwich also comes with a "maple spice" spread, so it turns out it's classy, after all.
2. No Locks Denny's had been a 24-hour chain for many years the first time the chain closed on Christmas Day, 1988. In fact, they'd been perpetually open for so long, many of the restaurants didn't even have locks, and many that did had lost the keys for those locks. Just think about what that means for a second. If some kind of horrible sewage accident were to occur (and you have to think that in all that time, there would have been at least one such accident at some Denny's, somewhere), what did they do? Did they close up shop until the problem was remedied? Or did they keep right on serving Super Birds while Excretor the Poop Monster slugged it out with Mario, Luigi, and the Ghostbusters? And what about when the zombies come? What happens then? Nope, we're just not comfortable in a place that can't shut down when it needs to.
3. The Racism Denny's was slapped with a class-action lawsuit by not just a few, but thousands of African-Americans who had been denied service, forced to wait while white people were seated, charged more for their food than white customers, or discriminated in some other way by Denny's restaurants all over the nation. Well, as regrettable as these instances are, such things were common not just in the Jim Crow South, but all over the nation before the Civil Rights Movement really gained power in the 1960s, and - wait, this happened in 1994? Holy shit, Denny's. That means this happened after key cultural figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, and MC Hammer had bridged many of the racial divides of yore. What was the thinking? "Fuck 'em, what are they gonna do?" You're familiar with the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, right? And really, was there anything stupider to do in the early '90s than discriminate against black people? Culturally, it was not a happy time for them, Denny's. True, it takes balls to overcharge black people while the actual Rodney King riots are going on outside, but not the good kind of balls. Still, after they were forced to pay out $54.4 million to the nation's minorities, Denny's did create a racial sensitivity training program for its employees, so we're sure everything is just fine now, and that kindly 75-year-old waitress isn't thinking fondly back to the days before she was forced to treat these darn brown people just like you treat ordinary decent white folks.
We'll have a burrito made by Hoobastank...and a glass of kitten blood. Thank you.
4. What Must Be On Their iPods A couple of years ago, Denny's introduced its Rockstar Favorites, a line of meals designed by actual rock stars. Sounds like it could be pretty cool, right? Who wouldn't want to dive into a plate of Rolling Stones Bangers 'n' Mash after a long night rocking out to local bands? Well, not only were the dishes not that satisfying, the "rock stars" in question were artists loved chiefly by those whose idea of "getting into new music" is buying the latest volume of "Now That's What I Call Music" and jamming the same three tracks over and over while they drink the blood of kittens or set orphans on fire or whatever it is these soulless fucks do when they're not laying ruin to the Billboard charts. Artists' dishes like Taking Back Sunday's "Taking Back Bacon Burger Fries" and the Plain White T's "Plain White Shake" have come and gone, and now the only Rockstar Favorites that remain are Jewel's "Acoustic Smoked Chicken Quesadilla," Rascall Flatts' "Unstoppable Breakfast," Los Lonely Boys' "Texican Burger," and of course, Hoobastank's "Hooburrito." If we were intentionally trying to piece together a mixtape of dull, irritating music for a friend of ours, we could hardly do better than those artists. It's weird to us that Denny's, which specializes in food for the poor, drunken late-night punk scenester, would choose a rock-themed concept comprised mainly of lawyer rock.
5. Health Inspections In October 2004, Dateline NBC aired a special called "Dirty Dining," wherein they investigated the top ten most popular "family and casual dining" establishments in the USA and reported on their findings. Of all the chains, Denny's had the fewest violations. Wait, so how is that scary? Doesn't it mean that Denny's is fairly clean? Not necessarily. It really only means that every other restaurant investigated was filthier than a Denny's. Ahhh, now the horror is starting to sink in. Keep in mind that every time you dine at an IHOP, Red Lobster, Waffle House, Chili's, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Outback Steakhouse, or Bob Evans (whatever the hell that is), you are eating in a restaurant that couldn't beat your local Denny's for fewest health code violations. Maybe we're being "glass-half-empty" on this, but that doesn't raise our opinion of Denny's, it trashes our opinion of those other nine places. Thanks, Denny's. Thanks for ruining Red Lobster's cheese biscuits forever.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.