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Something happened at Cracker Barrel today that I’d like to discuss.

The lady in the booth next to us actually asked the waitress if the “Mama’s Pancake Special” is “healthy”. Yes, this woman pretended to be concerned about nutrition while sitting in an establishment where the tables double as checker boards and the waffles come standard with whipped cream unless you indicate otherwise. Asking your Cracker Barrel waitress if the food is healthy is like asking your executioner if the guillotine is safe. And I know that sounds like an unflattering comparison but really I say it with affection. Personally, I love the joint. I generally know I’m going to love any place that serves food and has the word “barrel” in its name.

I’m also fond of Cracker Barrel because, for better or worse, it is the quintessential modern American restaurant. Think about it. Before you even get to your seat and your 6 dollar 1300 calorie plate of carbs, pork and sugar, you have to wait for a table while standing in a gift shop. All of us who entered this building are obviously prone to making bad decisions and now we’re left to wander aimlessly around these racks of absurdly expensive novelty mugs and wind up toys, all while our already questionable judgment has been even further fogged by the pains of hunger? God help us. We don’t stand a chance. In fact, I would be the proud new owner of a mechanical chicken that dances and clucks to the tune of a Cee Lo song, if not for the intervention of my wife. I swear, she NEVER lets me blow 39 dollars on dancing toy chickens.

But my favorite thing is the fact that the gift shop actually sells its own Cracker Barrel merchandise. I couldn’t help but imagine the guy who buys the Cracker Barrel t-shirt ending up on the bus sitting next to a dude wearing the t-shirt he got after completing last week’s charity 5k. Do you think the Cracker Barrel t-shirt guy would feel the appropriate amount of shame and self hatred? Probably not. After all, he is wearing a freaking Cracker Barrel t-shirt.

Anyway, all that matters is that when everything is said and done you’re guaranteed to leave the place poorer and fatter than you were going in. Like I said, it’s the quintessential American restaurant. A microcosm of American society. It’s almost poetic.

And now that I’ve become the first person to ever use the word “poetic” to describe a diner, I’ll just wrap this up.

God bless the USA.