The Drip

The Drip

Emmalyn Meyer

In my opinion, nothing goes better with a meal than water. When it comes to eating out, I can definitely be classified as the “just water for me” customer. It’s the cheapest option, the healthiest pick, and, honestly, I’m not big on soft drinks – the fizziness turns me off. But I can say that, unlike men, not all water is created equal. Well, maybe it’s created equal, but it sure doesn’t taste the same everywhere you go! And it’s not always free, either.

For that reason, I’m determined to find the best cup of ice water that a fast food restaurant can offer. My grading criteria will include the following: price of water, taste, type of ice, and where it falls on the pH scale. This is not a formal investigation into the kind of water that each restaurant uses, nor why or how they choose to offer that kind; I am solely interested in what water provides the best wash-down of a meal. I will be testing the ice water served at 8 restaurants in Southwest Fort Wayne, ranging from inexpensive to pricey fast food.

 

My House

I wanted to start with the most subpar cup of water that comes for free: the tap water at my house. I live out of the city limits, so I drink well water. It doesn’t cost a dime, but there is an odd fizziness and biting taste that is as close to soda water that tap water can get.

Starbucks

Starbucks blesses the taste buds with a smooth, almost perfect taste. It does appear to have a strange aftertaste, and it doesn’t have the capability to wash down a meal as other restaurants do, given Starbucks’ product list. Despite that, it’s a worthwhile cup of water.

Dunkin’

Try as I might to be unbiased, I must mention that I am an employee of this franchise. Now – biased, of course – I have to say that it’s some of the best-tasting tap water around. However, it comes at a premium of 50 cents for some inexplicable reason, and I can’t justify spending money on tap water.

Wendy’s

Wendy’s is probably my favorite fast-food establishment, so the quality of the water was even more disappointing to me. It didn’t taste like much, so it embodied the flavor of the paper cup that held it. I think I’d get a Frosty for 1.29 instead!

Arby’s

I have a soft spot for Arby’s, due to nostalgia and the high-quality food vs. low prices tradeoff, but after my paper-water experience at Wendy’s, my expectations were low. However, the water was delicious, cold, and refreshing and it reminded me of why I embarked on this journey in the first place.

Taco Bell

This cup of water had a familiar taste, or lack thereof, which normally would bode well; however, even with ice, it lacked an undefinable component that prevented it from reaching its full level of refreshment. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it as a complement to some of the Bell’s spicier offerings.

Chick-fil-A

True To their charitable nature, Chick-fil-A offered free water, and with the combination of a Styrofoam cup, perfectly crunchy ice, and perfectly smooth water, this had to be the most enjoyable icewater for me.

Originally published in the Spartana Issue 7 (April 2021)