In Basket Review No. 48, I promised a new type of review.
Here we are, in the 50th installment of these blogs. And here I am, bringing you a new type of Basket Review.
The thing that sets this review apart, is that we went to a few of the same type of places (gas stations) and roped them all into one blog post to compare and contrast, rather than just doing one place. I know, I know, what a bombshell, right? Like how do I come up with this stuff?
Whatever. Let’s get to it.
Stop No. 1 was Casey’s. And wow, what a sad sight these were.
The taste matched the the look. These were not good chicken strips. They were dry and had a Walmart frozen food aisle vibe to them, and there was no crisp factor. They managed to burn the edges of the strips black in some spots, while leaving the middle underdone, which is almost impressive. And one of the strips was stuck to the bottom of the container. These were probably sitting in the warmer for a couple hours.
As you can see, there were zero fries, or tots, or wedges or any form of potato in the vicinity, so those were a solid zero out of 10. We were able to find a packet of Ken’s ranch dressing, which tasted like ranch dressing.
Though sad, these were still chicken strips, the greatest food that ever was, so I initially gave them a 3.7, which is a point too high. 2.7 is more fitting.
ALSO, it cost $5 for these three depressing chicken strips with no sides. That’s borderline treason. At Hornbacher’s, I can get three (sometimes four, depending if the worker is feeling generous) chicken strips, two sides, a biscuit and a sauce of my choosing for $5.50. Let that one sink in.
I do still enjoy Casey’s, though. Its pizza can definitely go toe-to-toe with any household name pizza chain. And the employees at my neighborhood Casey’s are always very friendly. So be like me and don’t let this tarnish Casey’s. It’s a great convenience store.
Next, we headed from south Moorhead to north Fargo to Stamart Travel Center.
This was my third time in Stamart Travel Center. A few years ago, I drove from gas station to gas station one night in search of grape Arizona, which apparently is the white rhino of juice drinks. No one had it, but Stamart Travel Center, which was like my eighth stop on that journey, did. I bought four of them. I didn’t check to see if they still have grape Arizona.
However, Stamart did have a proper chicken strip basket for $5.50. This was a big improvement from Casey’s.
The strips were OK. They were pleasantly crunchy, but the chicken was on the dry side. The fries (potato wedges) weren’t that good, but they weren’t disgusting. There wasn’t any crisp and also lacked the fluffy factor in the center, along with being dry. Everything was pleasantly salty, though.
Apparently, nacho cheese is the dipping sauce of choice here, because this vat of nacho cheese was sitting in the basket with the other items. It was a new experience for me, dipping chicken strips in cheese, and I can’t say it’d be one of my first five sauce choices to pair with my chicken strip basket.
I’ll go 5.1 for the Stamart basket. It’s plain, but it was salty and will get the job done if you’re in a pinch and need some food for the road or to satisfy a 2 a.m. craving.
Truck stops/travel centers have some weird stuff, man. They were selling dream catchers for $25. Who goes to a truck stop, sees that and thinks, “Thank God. A dreamcatcher. That’s exactly what I came here for.” I’m sure those really fly off the shelf.
From Stamart, we headed downtown to Lewis and Clark/Petro Serve. They had the exact same chicken strip basket as Stamart. The exact same strips, the exact same potato wedges and it came with cheese sauce.
It’s a good thing this basket was a clone, because I’m realizing as I’m typing this, that I didn’t take a photo of it. The potato wedges were cooked better and were fluffy on the inside, though still dry, so I’ll give Petro Serve a 0.1 point advantage and bump them to a 5.2.
We wrapped up my dinner break by hitting the Moorhead M&H, which didn’t have chicken strips. So it gets a 0.0.
Correcting my Casey’s score to 2.7, the average Fargo gas station chicken strip basket is a 4.3, which isn’t including the 0.0 I handed out to M&H. Its subordination doesn’t have to ruin it for everyone.
Much love to Emma for joining me on this trek. She writes really good stories and you should read them. She’s even written about this blog.
If you’re still here at the end of this long, long blog post, thank you. I appreciate you. I hope things are going well for you.
PS: Emma and I tried to do this a couple weeks ago after I got off work at 11ish p.m. and we were unable to find one open gas station that had chicken strips. We stopped at like six gas stations all over the city and ate zero chicken strips. Oh, well. That’s life. We got it done. 2.7. 5.1. 5.2. 0.0.
You ever try Hennessy with your chicken strips?