We all know the frustrating feeling of a restaurant carrying Pepsi products instead of Coca-Cola. You kind of say, “Fine,” and try to enjoy the rest of your meal. Yes, there are plenty of people who enjoy Pepsi, it’s obviously one of the biggest soda brands in the world, but in our heart-of-hearts, we all know it is #2 in the soda world.
There’s nothing wrong with being No. 2, obviously. You can make the argument that #2’s are often better than the most popular foods or restaurants out there.
Because of that, we’re going to show love to these backup options, as they’ve served us when, for whatever reason, what we really wanted wasn’t available. They need not be ashamed of being the second option, though. They’re like the NBA player’s go-to mistress when their wife isn’t in that particular city. They’re the side pieces of the food world.
The world doesn’t follow Ricky Bobby’s mantra of, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” If you can’t get Kevin Hart in a role, just get Katt Williams. If Beyonce couldn’t headline Coachella, Rihanna could have stepped in and done just fine.
Being someone’s backup choice is something to be proud of — at least you’re in the game.
Without further ado, here is the Backup Food Choice Hall of Fame:
The most well-known backup option in the world has to be Pepsi. Through the years, they’ve tried to woo us with flavors, gimmicks, and celebrities such as, “Pepsi Man,” Beyonce, Britney, Pepsi Twist, and a strange energy drink called Pepsi X. They even tried to convince us that Pepsi was the future in, well, Back to the Future. Pepsi might not ever jump over Coca-Cola, but we have to give them props for always innovating, and reminding us how much we love Coke.
Five Guys Burgers
Is there a little West Coast bias in this entry? Maybe, but around these parts, we feel Five Guys is a solid backup option to In-N-Out burger. It’s nice that Five Guys offer so many toppings to mask their often over-seasoned burger, and that’s an honorable deed that’s not lost on this list. Salute to the five men who aren’t quite In-N-Out, but still get it done.
Calling yourself the Burger “King” is bold, and being a top-5 restaurant chain in the world warrants bragging. Unfortunately for them, McDonald’s exists. If it weren’t for that red-headed clown and his iconic golden arches, Burger King could actually be king. BK still rides hard, though, often creating noise with trendy limited time offers such as Froot Loop shakes, Flamin’ Hot Mac n Cheetos, and Surge-flavored slushies.
Even with Chipotle hitting hard times, Qdoba is still looked at as the backup build-your-own burrito when you need to get white girl wasted. It’s probably not even fair, because Qdoba isn’t the one dishing out E. Coli every six months. Chipotle is weathering the storm, and that legendary guacamole seems to be keeping them afloat, while Qdoba chugs along with burritos that are just as good, yet just not quite as popular.
Here’s another solid fast food taco spot whose only fault is that it’s not Taco Bell. Del has a similar taco concept to Taco Bell, plus surprisingly good burgers and fries. Taco Bell just has more clout than them on a global scale, and always stays relevant with new products. Shout out to Del Taco for being open late, though. That’s always appreciated.
The Cup Noodles brand is so powerful that people inadvertently call Maruchan, “Cup Noodles.” There’s a good chance you saw the Maruchan photo above and said, “Don’t trash talk my Cup Noodles.” People still eat a lot of Maruchan, they just don’t realize it because as far as we’re concerned, every noodle in a cup is Cup Noodles. The power of Nissin’s effective branding.
Growing up, drinking Powerade was the equivalent of wearing off-brand shoes. Gatorade commercials had all the popular athletes, and they brainwashed us into wanting to scoop up all the electrolytes we can. You probably don’t even know what an electrolyte is, but Gatorade made you want it. Powerade usually has those grocery store bulk deals, so they at least win in that respect.
Starbucks pretty much runs the world at this point, right? As much as we like to say, “Support the little guy,” and try our darndest to find coffee elsewhere, but Starbucks is on every corner. Peet’s holds its own, however. If your city isn’t littered with Starbucks and actually gives you the Peet’s option, take it. While Peet’s is a pretty big chain in its own right, they’ll serve your dine-in coffee and baked goods in actual dishes. It actually makes you feel human, instead of like a vehicle passing through for fuel.
Let me start off by saying I love Ruffles. Cheddar and Sour Cream is my jam, but for whatever reason, those ridges sometimes turn people away. When you’re at a party and see a bowl of Ruffles and a bowl of Lays, those Lays disappear real quick, leaving Ruffles out in the cold. Y’all need to stop disrespecting Ruffles.
Usually, 7-Up is one of those drinks you enjoy at home, and hardly anywhere else. They’re rarely offered at restaurants, as we all know the lime soda of choice is typically Sprite. On that note, shout out to Mist Twist (though it’s still Sierra Mist to almost everybody) for being there when Sprite isn’t. It sucks not having Sprite, but you have to drink something.
They have “donuts” in the name, but you’re more likely to go there for their coffee than anything else. Sure, you can eat an OK donut there, but it will never match the warm feeling you get from a fresh Krispy Kreme donut. Yes, Krispy Kreme is the king of donuts, but Dunkin’ has the name power and will always be there to break your fall when you can’t get to a Krispy Kreme.
The Shakey’s experience is underrated, and the pizza is solid, but it unfortunately comes behind Chuck-E-Cheese’s, every time. Shakey’s was the birthday destination when you couldn’t get Chuck-E plans set up in time. Everything about Chuck felt magical, from the games, to the freaky animatronic band. Shakey’s is as good of a backup as there is, and it surely beats out Round Table. Oh, and have you ever had their mojo potatoes? Fire.
Sam’s Club Samples
Costco food samples are an event. It’s one of the reasons the warehouse is so enjoyable, especially as a kid. Sam’s Club has samples, too, so that’s good, I guess. Good for them. I’m sure some people enjoy Sam’s Club samples, but they sure as hell aren’t Costco.
Sure, KFC is the biggest fried chicken chain in the world, but if you put them side-by-side with Popeye’s and asked people to choose a crispy drumstick, Popeye’s would win that fight, hands down. There was a day when KFC’s 11 herbs and spices were all the hype, but the quality of Popeyes fried chicken has surpassed KFC, and has even gone global.
BONUS: Bobby Flay
Bobby Flay has become a bit of a household name, but he’s no Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay has become synonymous with celebrity chefs, and Flay is just behind him. The two have had a playful feud over the years, threatening a formal cook-off against each other, but never following through. Even then, we all know the fiery Scotsman would take down Flay.