April 3, 2009

Sheetz of Friday afternoon fun

Some exciting news here at Rick's Food Critique: Next week I'll be launching a brand-new bi-weekly feature packed with the cheapest foods you can find. You may ask how that's different from my normal blogs, and the answer is simple. Normally I try to take price into account and stick to a relatively low budget. The new Friday feature will solely feature foods under $1.

Now that the promotional paragraph is out of the way, let's move on to today's topic: Sheetz. If you haven't spent time in a handful of states around Pennsylvania you might not have heard of the gas station with a special-order fast food restaurant in the back, and that's a shame. I've always enjoyed Sheetz, although I hadn't visited it recently. It's time to check up on the place.

A few years ago when I frequented Sheetz, the food was cheap and plentiful. Some of it, like the macaroni and cheese, was closer to plastic than food, yet it was still somehow satisfying. And more often than not the touchscreen menus offered generous quantities of decent quality food.

I'd heard a rumor the food has been going downhill lately, though. So I stopped by and ordered a Mad-To-Order pretzel melt, an old favorite. Four years ago my turkey pretzel melt would have come with any sauces I wanted upon piles and piles of hot sliced lunch meat.

The more things change, it seems, the less the stay the same. To say my pretzel melt had less meat than it would have four years ago is an understatement. The sauces (barbecue, honey mustard, ranch) were still available, but they all seemed like watered-down imitations of their former selves.

Maybe the recession took its toll and forced Sheetz to cut the quality of their food. Maybe my unscientific one food at one location sample of their menu isn't properly representative of the food quality as a whole. But this was the same location I previously frequented, and something was askew.

It's still a decently priced option, but my pretzel melt cost nearly five bucks. This drops Sheetz as a whole from a four spork joint to a three spork or even two and a half spork eatery.

Unfortunately, checking up on Sheetz turned out to be checking it down.

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