But of course dining out is also about how the restaurant makes you feel, and Freddy's is also known among its fanbase for its next-level customer service -- notoriously cheery and attentive -- which has drawn as much attention as its food.
“The food isn’t the only thing keeping me going back,” Andreo said. “I’m never a number [there]. They’re always beyond friendly.”
Then there's the custard. McDonald’s might have new ice cream machines that break down less frequently, but it’s still soft serve. In-N-Out has a couple decent shake options, and Shake Shack, well, Shake Shack definitely has shakes. But Freddy’s is all about the custard, that egg-heavy delicacy that seems to elude the understanding of dessert-lovers outside the Midwest and the beach towns of the Northeast. Freddy's and Culver's have more or less become the nationwide ambassadors of the decadent frozen treat.
“Custard is super-premium ice cream, and [we make it] fresh throughout the day,” Redler told me. “It’s denser, and doesn’t have ice crystals.”
Unfamiliar, I dipped into the PBC&B, with vanilla custard, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and bananas. It was topped with a whipped cream and a cherry, and combined with the cherry red seats and the throwback diner vibe of the whole place it felt like jumping into a time warp. My second time warp of the day, in fact.
Food, like music, has that quality. Taking a particular bite can send your brain into a tizzy and suddenly long for a time when you weren't even born, much the same way a bar of music can make you long for a bygone era you were never part of.
Now, I wasn’t alive to know what it was like for Freddy to enjoy a burger and a custard back when he was growing up. But I do know eating Freddy's feels simultaneously nostalgic, authentic, and modern. It’s a tough mix to pull off. But when it’s done right, it's a beautiful thing. Freddy's has managed to take that feeling and franchise it across America while maintaining its small-town vibe. They traffic in nostalgia, sure, but the nostalgia wouldn't mean much if the burgers and shakes didn't hold up their end of the bargain.
After one visit, I think they've made a FredHead of me.
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