I ate the Arby’s ‘Good Burger’ so you don’t have to

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The new “Good Burger 2 Meal” from Arby’s doesn’t actually include any new or special items on the menu. However, I would describe the centerpiece of this meal as a “good burger,” so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Let me be clear: If you order this, all you’re going to get is an Arby’s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger, a strawberry milkshake and some crinkle fries. Now, that’s a perfectly acceptable fast food meal. But I don’t want anyone out here getting too excited for this value meal promoting a straight-to-streaming movie that’s a sequel to the critically acclaimed movie from 1997 that I’m pretty sure won the Oscar for Best Picture.

(Correction: It has come to my attention that “Good Burger,” starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, has a 33% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a rating of 5.8 on IMDB. I’m also told that the film lost Best Picture in 1998 to “Titanic.”)

Arby’s “Good Burger 2 Meal” | Review

The centerpiece of the “Good Burger 2″ meal is the Arby’s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger, which debuted on the menu in 2022. Oddly enough, the Nickelodeon-tinged promotional spin applied to this meal is probably the more accurate name.

The “Wagyu” in question is in fact a “Wagyu blend” that is made up of 51% “American Wagyu” and “49% ground beef.” That’s actually a step down from 2022, when the burger was marketed as “52% American Wagyu.”

Translation: Arby’s is once again doing backflips to put the word “Wagyu” on the name of a burger and have it be legally accurate.

The “Wagyu” is marketing nonsense. But it is a good burger.

It’s even on-brand with the burger from the original movie. It’s a hefty-sized patty topped with pickles, lettuce, red onion, cheese, tomato on a nice, chewy bun. What’s key here is that it also has a really nice burger sauce.

Burger sauce was a revolutionary idea and vital plot point from “Good Burger.” It’s what kept the restaurant afloat in the face of the giant, chemically enhanced burgers from Mondo Burger across the street.

You’ve got to remember, this was 1997. Burger sauce wasn’t really a thing. This was the first I’d heard of anyone putting something besides ketchup or mustard on a burger.

We barely knew what good food was back then. Things like Hot Pockets and Bagel Bites were revolutionary concepts at the time. We, as a society, were just starting to grasp the idea of Pizza Hut stuffing a pizza crust.

We were so innocent back then.

What does it taste like?

The Burger – Despite the marketing focus being on the Wagyu, it’s the sauce and cheese that do most of the heavy lifting here. That’s not a bad thing. When you take a bite, you get a delightful smash of flavors that check every box for what you want from a burger.

There’s a good moisture balance. There’s just enough crunch and fresh vibes from the veggies. The bun is nice and chewy. The patty doesn’t add too much in terms of flavor. But it does add a nice meaty texture that’s the right amount of crumbly.

The sauce is great. It’s got a nice pop that breaks up the fats and starch of the burger, giving some much-needed acid and a tiny bit of peppery heat.

The Shake – Here we’ve got a pretty straightforward, solid milkshake. It tastes like a standard vanilla base that’s been hit with a good dose of that industrial-grade red strawberry syrup. The end result is a shake that tastes like strawberry milk.

The texture is pretty good. It hits that sweet spot where you can sip it through the straw while also using the straw to scoop it out.

The Crinkle Fries – There’s something about the salt on fast food fries that immediately identifies them as coming from a fast-food joint. It’s this very thin, sharp saltiness that you don’t get in a lot of places.

Otherwise, yeah, they’re crinkle fries.

So is it any good?

As I have mentioned, yes, this is, in fact, a good burger.

The final word

The real question I have here is how faithful the burger sauce on this burger is to the movie. The sauce isn’t quite as pink and goopy as what we see in the movie. But it’s got a similar hue.

Now, the actual recipe for the sauce is kept somewhat a mystery. The character Ed says that you “start off with a little lemon juice and some ketchup” before he’s tackled by Dexter, who says the recipe needs to stay secret.

But in the scene where Ed is making the sauce, we see him sprinkling in some Carnation malted milk before adding pickles, a whole unpeeled onion and what might be red pepper flakes from a big bowl.

The ruling: Yeah, this sauce is close enough.

“I ate it so you don’t have to” is a regular food column looking at off-beat eats, both good and bad. It runs every other Thursday-ish at noon-ish.

You can send any praise/food suggestions to nomalley@masslive.com. Please send all criticisms and questions about Nick’s strange fascination with ‘90s kids’ movies to nsimmons@masslive.com. You can check out the rest of the series here.

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