Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gastronomy of Garbage: Dunkin' Donuts Waffle Sandwich

I can't tell if I have no goals for this blog or too many. Among the goals I may or may not have is to become America's foremost critic on junk food. My qualifications:

* I eat a lot of junk. When I think about the portion of my diet that's produced by discount chains, it feels like a personal failure. My parents would weep. But shit happens - might as well make the most of it.
* I recognize good food. I grew up in a foodie family. I consume and appreciate haute cuisine; I just don't feel compelled to enter the rat race of 20 billion writers and critics and bloggers jostling to find the right bon mot to describe David Chang's latest pork preparation. Many people do this well; far fewer -- and none that I know of -- are willing to offer the same attention to the crappy, pre-frozen end of the dining spectrum. Which leads to my final advantage.
* I don't condescend to the product. This is the most important trait. Kudos to those people with the time, money and/or commitment to eat only grass-fed, humanely slaughtered meat and organic, fresh-off-the-farm produce. Most of us eat crap sometimes. We know it's not made from quality ingredients. We know it will make you obese if you have it too often. But we eat it, and like anything else we eat, some of it tastes great and some tastes awful. To me the Big Mac is a delicious burger. The Angus Third Pounder (ironically, marketed as a more refined product) is an atrocity. Within the realm of highly processed, systemized, machine-prepped food offerings, there's no reason we can't separate the triumphs from the catastrophes. And there's no reason I shouldn't be the man to do that.

With that typically brief introduction, I'm here to comment on a newcomer to the scene: the Dunkin' Donuts Waffle Breakfast Sandwich. I won't even leave you in suspense. The thing is fantastic. It follows the evolutionary path that can be traced back through the McGriddle, the bagel sandwich, the croissant sandwich, the biscuit sandwich and, if you want to be expansive about it, any Lumberjack's or Hungry Man's breakfast that's ever been served at any diner in America.

If Zeus needed a hangover cure ...

It combines the salty crispness of the breakfast meat with the fluffy sweetness of the breakfast griddle and wraps them around the timeless morning ballast of the egg. While the flavor combination is tried-and-true -- a near-Platonic ideal of the Western breakfast -- the Dunkin' offering takes it a step forward, distilling the heavenly taste triad into its most concentrated on-the-go essence. What separates the DD Waffle Sandwich from similar attempts at maximizing the meat-egg-bread trinity, notably the McGriddle, is its ability to be simultaneously doughy and light, like a fine bread pudding.

A staunch gourmet might prefer to see a greater crisping on the outside of the waffle, for textural contrast. I almost prefer its uniformly squishy mouthfeel (I often enjoy things less al dente than is officially prescribed). I also like the way the pliable little delicacy instantly conforms to whatever grip you apply to it, as if daring you to squeeze it into a ball and shove it down in one sweet bacony bite. (And I encourage any YouTube exhibitionists to do this and post the results.)

In short, the Dunkin' Waffle Sandwich may represent the very pinnacle of the breakfast sandwich form. I don't know where we go from here. Perhaps if a new generation of food scientists invented a way to enwreath the egg layer in an atoll of ketchup-infused tater tots, we'd have a superior morning option. But I fear that's like me hoping for my great-grandsons to develop the ability to fly. Until that leap of unexpected innovation, I'll be shoveling down as many of DD's waffly morsels as my cholesterol will allow. Thank goodness my Dunkin' franchise is 24 hours.


  1. Well duh, we should do a video where you squeeze that monstrosity into a ball and eat in in one fell swoop. Hopefully it won't expand, nerf-style in your throat. Also, I can't believe you gave me a hard time about peppers!

  2. This is great stuff!! I strongly encourage you to pursue your goal of becoming America's foremost junk food critic (which, according to your mom, would beat hell out of a law career).