I like Cracker Barrel. For starters, I feel young when I'm in there. Part of this is because of the other customers. You ever look around in a Cracker Barrel? Most of the people that eat there are the uber elderly. Some of them still drive, even though they've shrunk to 4'2" and can't see over the dashboard of their car. Doesn't matter, though - they can't see past the hood ornament anyway. Then there are all the elderly folks who arrive by bus. They're the parents to the ones who are still driving.
(I have a theory about those buses. You know, most of us now make our own travel arrangements online, so we really don't need travel agents, yet travel agencies still exist. My theory is that travel agents make their living arranging bus trips from nursing homes to Cracker Barrel.)
And the restaurant itself makes me feel young. I hate it when my dining experience includes looking at the "antiques" on the walls and realizing they are my childhood playthings. At Cracker Barrel, the stuff on the walls is so old, no one really knows what all of it is. Not even the corporate decorators. It's not their fault, though. They're probably from Long Island and don't know much about rural antiquities. They figure if it's rusty and doesn't have "Made In China" stamped on the bottom, it can be nailed up in a Cracker Barrel. For all we know, we're eating our turnip greens under an 18th century toenail fungus gouge.
All the antiques also have a homeschooling benefit. When my kids get unruly, I can say, "
Quit it, you little heathens. See that bus out there? How would you like me to put you on it? You can be the colostomy bag attendants. Oh, dear children, gaze upon the wondrous display on yonder walls." Then I can go home and count the whole thing as a history field trip, satisfied that my kids can now identify a 1922 potato chip can.
The food at Cracker Barrel isn't what I'd call exciting, but it makes me feel good in a "another layer of fat cells are going to keep me warmer" kind of way. Especially the biscuits. Mmm, biscuits. When I get to heaven, I'm going to eat biscuits for every meal - with more than one measly pat of real butter and the sugariest blackberry jam I can find - and still be able to fit in my size 6 slim fit robe. No elastic waistbands in heaven, baby.
Anyway. Sometimes I have trouble ordering my meal at Cracker Barrel. I'm too much of a stickler for proper grammar, I guess. Like the other night. The meal I wanted was Chicken & Dumplings. Except on the menu, it was written, "Chicken and dumplin's." I can't tell the waitress "I'd like chicken and dumplin's," without feeling like I need to follow it up with, "and please bring a jug of moonshine." And then I'd probably get carried away and say something like, "I'm celebratin' my engagement to my cousin, Purvis. 'Course, most folks call him Prunehead on account of that time he got locked in the smokehouse where his daddy makes beef jerky."
But the thing I like best about Cracker Barrel is the after-dinner shopping extravaganza.
...to be continued....