The Ringer’s Fast Food Rankings Are A Disaster

You may have seen this list recently. It is a crime against common sense.

Any time you put together some kind of inherently subjective list, there will be complaints. It’s almost the point of it. If everyone already agreed on the best of anything there wouldn’t need to be a list. It’s why you see lists of best pies or best quarterbacks of all time and why you don’t see lists of best NFL teams of 2016 or best swimmers at the Beijing Olympics.

But also the point of a subjective list is to put forward something that implies you know anything about the subject. In other words, you want to avoid immediately losing all credibility. Any website could publish a list of the best pizza toppings and put artichoke number one but what’s the point?

That was the case with the Ringer’s recent outing. Even Bill Simmons, the site’s CEO called an emergency podcast to rip the list.

Let’s run through the problems with the list.

Things That Aren’t Fast Food

If we’re going to make a list of top fast food items, we need to stick to fast food items. You can’t throw carrot cake on a list of best pies just because it’s also a dessert.

So Krispy Kreme at #40, Chipotle Tacos at #23, Auntie Anne’s at #17, at Dairy Queen Blizzard at #7, you’re off the list. Chipotle is fast casual. Dairy Queen is an ice cream shop. If you say we’re driving to get some fast food and then you show up at Krispy Kreme or Auntie Anne’s, my only response would be “…the fuck?”

Weak Top Three

The fast food draft is deep. But if you’ve got the top three picks, you should be able to build a dream team.

This is the equivalent of passing on Jordan and Olajuwon to take Sam Bowie, Sam Perkins and Steve Butt with the top picks. If a sane person was making this list, Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries wouldn’t make the top 25. In-and-out is good but perpetually overrated. It’s not in the same ballpark as Five Guys or Shake Shack so I don’t even know why we’re talking about it. McFries are a great item. But it’s still a side. I understand the idea of judging each item for what it is, but that’s like putting a kicker as the NFL MVP just because he had a great year.

All This Weird Shit

Three desserts in the top 10? 2 In-and-out burgers that are basically the same thing in the top 11? Jack in the Box tacos ahead of Taco Bell tacos? So many fries. McApple Pie and McHash Browns in the top 30? The Arby’s Beef n’ Cheddar doesn’t even make the list? Subway cookies at #39? What the fuck?

An Attempt At Fixing This Mess

Here’s a Top Ten that at least makes sense:

  1. Chick-fil-A Sandwich
  2. Shake Shack Burger
  3. Five Guys Burger
  4. Raising Cane’s Chicken Box
  5. Popeye’s Chicken
  6. Arby’s Beef ‘n Cheddar
  7. Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch
  8. In-and-Out Burger
  9. McDonald’s Fries
  10. Wendy’s Frosty

Now is that everyone’s personal favorite list? No. But it’s at least coherent. A range of primary items covering burgers, chicken and taco, plus one fry and one dessert.

You could throw in something from Sonic, Culver’s, Whataburger, Arby’s Curly Fries, the Crossainwich, regional favorites Bojangles or Zaxby’s, something from McDonald’s breakfast menu to round out the top 20.

It’s almost as if I’ve eaten fast food before.