The Non-Southerner’s Guide to Krystal

Food Features

Tiny sandwiches are the pinnacle of human advancement. They are our identity. Then, there is the Krystal, which takes tiny sandwiches to a whole new level. They are tiny hamburgers, so it’s okay to eat more than one. You try to aim for three, four at the most—too many Krystals is dangerous (More on that later). They creep into our minds on late drunken nights with a wonderful and disastrous idea: Let’s get some Krystals.

Why write a guide to Krystal when White Castle exists, you ask. Well, the chains differ in terms of business and identity. Despite having eerily similar menus, Krystal and White Castle are owned by different companies. Then, there’s the matter of culture. If you’re in the South, chances are your only associations with White Castle are the Harold and Kumar movies and the frozen foods section of supermarkets. Sometimes, microwavable White Castle burgers make it to bars, though the experience is nothing compared to a steaming, fresh Sackful.

We’ve seldom had it, but to Krystal-goers, White Castle is like soul food made in the North. Sure, you have it, but it’s way better here. Krystal is the South, plain and simple. Whatever you have, we do it bigger and better. Just compare the options for a sack full of burgers. White Castle, you have 10, but we have 12, which is more suitable for a redneck family picnic.

All right, enough with the comparisons. In the chance that any of you outsiders ever drive up to a Krystal window, here’s a breakdown of the food and the experience.

Krystal Burgers
Obviously you should go for what the restaurant is named after. Thin patty, condiments, smushy, small bread. The Double Krystal comes with extra smush. The best part is the collection of grilled onions hiding under the patty, closer to your tongue. If you don’t ask for cheese, you won’t get it, and might regret it. So ask.

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You can order a number of combos or go big with the Sackful of 12 burgers (plus two fries and two drinks). The Sackful actually isn’t the most extreme item you can order at Krystal. Double it, and you’ve got the Steamer, which is great for parties but will completely wreck your digestive system.


The Krystal Chik
Like the Krystal Burger, but instead with fried chicken. The Krystal Burger is the classic, but it never hurts to be adventurous.


It’s a tiny hot dog, so it’s more like a puppy. Clever, right? Also comes with chili or as a Corn Pup.


Other Mains
Did you know that Krystal has wings? Well, they do. Krystal also has a few “normal-sized” burgers, like the Big Angus. But let’s be real: we only go to Krystal for tiny squares.

Sometimes, Krystal has tiny fish sandwiches. Just… no. Never get fish from a fast food establishment, ever.


Side Items
Like other items on the menu, Krystal’s fries are small and salty. You can also order them topped with chili. As for other sides: why bother with Kryspers (which, according to Krystal’s site, are “hashed, formed into strips and fried until they’re perfectly hot, crispy and golden brown”)? And who the hell wants salad from Krystal? Grits might be okay. Just do fries. You can’t mess up there.


Krystal Breakfast
I’ve never had a Krystal breakfast sandwich, because truthfully the Krystal experience is not the ideal way to start your day unless you’re severely hungover and will be heading back to bed. This sandwich is like the burger, but with eggs and sausage instead of a hamburger patty. They call it the Sunriser. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you might even go for a Scrambler, which is what happens when you combine breakfast with the science fair project that shows how oil is less dense than water. I am not sure how to eat this, as I have never dared. The Scrambler comes in several varieties, all packaged in a styrofoam cup.

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Eating the Krystal
Eating a Krystal is kind of like eating a chocolate truffle: the first bite is to explore, and the next few are to savor. The middle of the Krystal is the best part, because sometimes these sandwiches aren’t aligned very well. When you open your bag, you’re hit by that tsunami of smell: beef, cheese, onions. Typically, the second Krystal you eat is the best of the bunch; it’s closer to the bottom of the bag, so it’s warmer than the first, which might be a little cold and crusty.

After Krystal no. 2, the experience slowly creeps downhill. You start to feel queasy and your belly pangs a little. You’re bloated from all the sodium, so you down your giant Coke and ultimately enter a strange coma. Was that worth it? Kind of.

Then, there’s the aftermath. You’d think that Krystal would combat alcohol, but those tiny burgers cause a hangover of their own. If I ever end up on death row, I’d request a Sackful as my last meal because then I’d actually want to die. We have a complicated relationship.

Well, outsiders and timid souls, there you have it, a crash course in Krystal that hopefully didn’t repulse you enough to never try a burger. Now get hammered and proceed to Krystal, and make sure you proceed with caution. And Krystal, if you’re reading this, please start making tiny grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sarra Sedghi (@sarrasedghi) is a freelancer based in Athens, Ga. Her perpetual food baby is named Frederick. She is currently making up for all the years when she didn’t like oysters, scrambled eggs or hot sauce.

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