Thursday, November 10, 2011

The five stages of Runza

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 9:30 AM

The Runza sandwich is a handful.
  • The Runza sandwich is a handful.
In the shadow of McDonald's, the green and yellow awning of Runza beckons cars from Johnson Drive. The Nebraska chain has been dishing out bierock (which they call a Runza sandwich) in Mission since May, but I've managed to steer my car past without a second thought. That all changed yesterday when it was 2 p.m. and I had a serious hankering for crinkle-cut french fries. The good news is that their fries are the best version of the crinkle-cut fries that you remember from school lunches — hot, fatty and salty. As for their signature sandwich? I'm still trying to figure out what I think of it.

Stage 1: Confusion. The Runza is food built for eating behind the wheel, in that it's self-contained, courtesy of a soft, torpedo-shaped bun encasement. But things get a little murkier once you bite into it. There are elements of White Castle, Hi-Boy and the Kolache Factory coming together in one sandwich. The first bite is sweet from the bun and comes with a bit of a cabbage-y aftertaste.

Stage 2: Commitment. When dealing with any new food category, it's important to resist judging it until the final bite, in the same fashion that a new beer deserves to have the entire bottle to impress you. So I set my jaws to chew and attempted to give the Runza sandwich a fair shake.

Stage 3: Enthusiasm. Several bites in, and I was happy. The sandwich had elements of sweet and salty, and I was beginning to understand the legion of Runza fanatics. Then I got to the unmelty part of the American cheese, and I lost some heart.

Stage 4: Bewilderment. I confess that the heel of my Runza didn't make it out of the paper wrapping. I made it about two-thirds of the way through, and one intensely cabbage-y bite had me rethinking the entire proposition. I realize that I'm judging the sandwich before its last bite, but had I finished, I can say with certainty that I'd never be pulling back through the drive-through.

Stage 5: Gentle Letdown. Let's just say it was I, not you, Runza. I think I wasn't ready for whatever it is that you're throwing down inside that meat pocket. Perhaps we can find common ground in another six months. I might even like you on Facebook.

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