If you’ve never had to go visit your parents “down South,” after they sold your childhood home after graduation because the condo will be so much easier to take care of with just two people, you’re probably unfamiliar with the massively popular chain of “Perkins” family-style restaurants. Don’t feel bad; for the purposes of this review, all you have to imagine is a less-meticulously maintained Denny’s or Cracker Barrel restaurant, with giant laminated picture-based menus, indoor/outdoor carpeting lining the dining room, dark-colored leather booths, and someone sitting at the counter that will inevitably be both “eating biscuits and gravy” and “being a racist.”
It makes perfect sense, then, that on the strength of this brand, the Perkins chain would launch a new line of microwaveable breakfast sandwiches, including the aptly-named “Big Stack,” which features both sausage and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches between two maple-flavored pancakes, the “Triple Stack,” which boasts two sausage patties sandwiched between three pancakes, and our favorite, the “Ham Stack,”* which includes black forest ham, provolone, and egg, between two maple-flavored pancakes.
*”Ham Stack” was my nickname in college.
The first thing that you notice about the “Ham Stack,” and really, each of these microwaveable breakfast sandwiches, is that the people at Perkins didn’t even have the common decency to package this product in any kind of normal, civilized way, such as in a box, or even shrink-wrapped. Instead, these sandwiches are packaged in some kind of rigid-topped bag, where the ingredients tend to get kind of roughed up during shipment. The label promises “No Hassle Restaurant Quality,” which is a plus, because if there’s one thing we won’t tolerate on a busy morning, it’s being hassled by a breakfast sandwich.
We couldn’t have been less impressed by the individual components of this sandwich prior to cooking, which all have the feeling of being mass produced in ungodly quantities in different factories and then sent somewhere to be hastily assembled by nonviolent juvenile offenders enrolled in some kind of alternate sentencing agreement.
After wrapping in a paper towel and microwaving for the prescribed 50 seconds, things started to take a turn for a worse. We don’t want to go as far as to say that the Perkins “Ham Stack” violated its “No Hassle” guarantee, but the paper towel did stick to the sandwich a bit, and prove a little tricky to get unwrapped, especially once everything was microwaved to a blistering 240 degrees.
Admittedly, the sandwich did taste better than expectations and appearances would lead you to believe, though it never quite managed to reach peak “this is definitely food” levels. The pancakes contained a faint whiff of maple flavoring, more akin to “smelling a scented candle” than “eating a delicious breakfast.” The egg was a non-player, an insipid yellow disc of fake-scrambled bullshit that quite frankly, isn’t fooling anyone. Most of the cheese seeped out during microwaving, and wasn’t discernible at all. In terms of flavor, the biggest contributor seemed to be the ham, whose contribution consisted solely of “burningly intense saltiness.”
So, yeah. If you’re pressed for time on a hectic morning, are devoted heart and soul to the majesty of the Perkins brand, and are determined to eat something that is hot, fluffy, vaguely sweet smelling, has lots of layers of textures but not flavors, and tastes overwhelmingly of salt, Perkins has finally made it easy, provided you have a paper towel, a microwave, 50 seconds, and a pathological aversion to getting hassled. Everyone else can skip this one.