by Kate Hickey

We all know that feeling—in a remote location with growling stomachs. The fear settles in as your mom suggests that dreaded proposition… “How about Panera?” My heart falls into the empty abyss that is my hungry stomach. I am sick just thinking about it. I throw my head back in despair as I accept defeat—I will have to choke down the product of America’s most overrated food establishment.

My whole life I have been opposed to Panera. It all started with the “bagels and cream cheese.” The bagels are chewy and taste like cardboard. The cream cheese has no flavor and almost works against the bagel. Panera fails to create even the simplest of pastries, which are typical staples of most food establishments. If a restaurant can’t make a relatively mediocre bagel and cream cheese, how can they be trusted?

Once I deemed Panera’s bagels repugnant, I moved toward the chicken noodle soup. Let me advise those who merely contemplate ordering such a soup from Panera—don’t. One might expect chicken, noodles, and a salty broth when ordering the classic “chicken noodle soup.” Unfortunately, Panera feels it is necessary to serve its customers anything other than the contents of chicken noodle soup. The “soup” contains dishwater with a miniscule pinch of salt, microscopic pieces of shredded “chicken” with mushy vegetables. “Where are the noodles?” one ordinary customer might ask. A fair question indeed. However, Panera may or may not include noodles, depending on the day. When I look for a solid chicken noodle soup, I expect noodles, as included in the name. Once again, Panera falls short in an area it considers perfected.

If you still don’t believe me, allow me to direct your uncertainties to the ever-so-wise Scott Parsons. In his words, “Panera isn’t good.” I advise anyone with taste buds to avoid Panera at all costs—trust me it’s not worth the excessive price. I hope I have effectively convinced you to find Panera as overrated as I do. Remember, hunger is less painful than choking down the product of America’s most overrated food establishment.