What You Should Never Order From Rally's

Rally's, which was founded in 1984, is best known for its double drive-thru ordering system, lack of dining rooms, simple menu filled with affordable eats and unfortunately, and in many cases, its lackluster food. While some Rally's fans rave about its cheap fast food, others continuously allege that Rally's food often comes out cold, slightly soggy and lacking in flavor. Because of this, navigating the Rally's menu can be a difficult task, but to make it easier for you, here are the top items you should never order from Rally's.

But wait — you might be wondering if this list applies to both Rally's and Checkers. What's the difference, exactly? The answer is, yes, it does, and there's not a thing that's different between the restaurants except for their names. According to the Checkers & Rally's franchising group, Checkers acquired Rally's in 1999 and kept the Rally's name and branding in the geographical areas where Rally's was already prominent (the Southeast and South). However, the two restaurants have the exact same menu items and use the exact same ingredients provided by the exact same distributors — no matter where in the country they're located. They even share the same tagline: "Crazy Good Food."

So, rest assured, if you shouldn't order something at Rally's, you shouldn't order it at Checkers either. Now, let's review what to avoid at your next Rally's or Checkers fast food burger trip.

The Rally's chili is a meat mountain that might never end

If you've ever made sourdough bread, you know that your sourdough starter never really goes away, so long as you keep it alive. If you keep feeding it and using as much as you need for individual recipies, then theoretically, you could have dozens and dozens of loaves of bread for years, all from the same starter. Rally's chili is kind of like that. 

Every serving of Rally's chili — whether you order it solo or on a burger, hot dog or fries — can be traced back to a starter batch of chili that was never thrown away. According to one Redditor who claimed to be a former Checkers employee, "The 'chili' is just the past few day's unsold, sat-in-the-heater-too-long-to-sell-as-a-hamburger meat that gets chopped up and thrown in some chili seasoning and beans."

That in itself isn't too bad. Old hamburgers are gross, of course, but if the burgers are kept at a safe temperature, then the chili might not be any worse than eating a leftover burger that's sat in your fridge for a few days. The truly gross part, though, is that the concoction you're served upon ordering is part of a never-ending, ever-lasting, eternal pot of chili. As the same Redditor describes, "The batch of chili was never thrown out, just always sat there getting replenished with new chili sauce and meat, so some of the chili in there was months old at least."

You'll need to know a hack to avoid getting cold and soggy food when ordering this at Rally's

When it comes to burgers, Rally's and Checkers are probably most known for their Big Buford burger. As a double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo, it's a pretty standard variant of what you see at just about every fast-food burger joint, though maybe slightly sloppier. However, you can also order a simpler burger with fries — often for just $0.69. If you do, though, you may be disappointed in your meal.

Plenty of Checkers and Rally's reviews all say the same thing: The plain burgers and fries are woeful. As a Serious Eats reviewer noted, "Eating this burger was like eating a mustard and pickle sandwich with some synthesized protein matter thrown in for texture." A Franchise Chatter writer adds: "What's worst is that the most identifiable trend in the Checkers/Rally's burger experience is your likelihood of getting a burger that is not served hot. In fact, it is often the case that any slices of cheese added won't be melted."

Other reviewers, both professional and otherwise, complain of similar cold patties, unmelted cheese, flavorless ingredients, and sloppy craftsmanship. The only way to get around it? Order your food with added bacon. The bacon is cooked (or at least kept) hot and arrives on your burger that way, adding a little heat to your meal and doing what it can to melt the cheese.

Maybe go carb-free when ordering your burger at Rally's

Order a carb-free burger at any fast-food restaurant and what you get will be pretty simple: a burger with the bun removed, likely served up with a matching plastic fork and knife. While it might seem a little sad to some, it could be what you want to order the next time you go to Rally's or Checkers and you're craving a Big Buford. That's because the restaurants' employees have been caught numerous times doing unsavory things with the burger and sandwich buns, both on purpose and out of sheer negligence.

In 2015, a Baltimore Checkers employee could be seen in a YouTube video laughing as they threw a sandwich bun on the floor, wiped it across the tiles and then placed it on a burger. Checkers later released a statement saying the employee was fired and that the burger never made it to a guest, but how can corporate be so sure?

At a separate location in Tennessee in 2016, a Checkers restaurant was storing hundreds of buns just a few steps away from their toilets. Health department officials called the act a "public health emergency." Again, Checkers released a statement saying that the problem was resolved and all the bathroom buns were tossed rather than served, but the next time you head to Checkers, you might want to remember these two tales and opt for something bun-less.

Does Rally's have one of the worst limited-time menu items out there?

One Checkers and Rally's seasonal, limited-time menu item is the Philly Cheesesteak Burger. A burger topped with more beef — shredded steak — along with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and mayonnaise, it's been called one of the worst fast-food menu items out there, making appearances on Reddit forums for the same. One Redditor commented, "I just tried the Philly Cheesesteak Burger from Checkers. It. Is. Awful. Like I expected maybe it might not taste the best — usually I don't like their 'steak' anything — but it's barely even a burger and I feel like I'm eating baby food as squishy as most of it is." Other reviewers say similar things, such as "calling the stringy and greasy pieces of beef 'steak' is really stretching it."

Overall, the general consensus is that Checkers and Rally's aren't really known for high-quality ingredients and when they try to do anything beyond fast food, like steak, the odds aren't in their favor.

Rally's has all the trans fat you never needed

Trans fat has long been demonized as the worst type of dietary fat for your health. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that consuming trans fat regularly increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, weight gain and diabetes, and it's best to eat as little trans fat as possible. Knowing this, many restaurants have taken the last decade or so to slowly phase trans fat out of their menus. You can now find trans fat-free options at McDonald's, Burger King, Hardee's, Subway and more– but not at Rally's and Checkers.

Their biggest offender? The Triple Baconzilla burger. While this burger — which is topped with three patties, half a dozen strips of bacon, melted cheddar cheese, and then more cheese slices on top of that — ranks highly in calories (1,080), saturated fat (31 grams) and sodium (1,790 grams), it's the trans fat that really makes it stand out. With 4 grams of trans fat, the Triple Baconzilla burger is doing you no favors.

Here, have a Rally's burger with a teaspoon of salt

If it's your sodium intake you're watching, there's one burger you'll want to steer clear of when dining at Rally's or Checkers: the Smoky BBQ Bacon Buford burger. Topped with bacon, cheese, two patties, and barbeque sauce and a scant serving of veggies, it's obviously not a health nut's dream. But you might be surprised to learn just how high the burger ranks in the saltiness department.

With 1,870 milligrams of sodium, this burger is the second saltiest sandwich on the menu — second only to the Smoky BBQ Bacon Buford Triple, which boasts a whopping 2,500 milligrams of sodium. The FDA recommends that you consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, meaning these burgers — with no fries or anything else added — could account for nearly all of or possibly more than your sodium intake if you follow a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. Eating these burger is the equivalent of eating approximately a teaspoon of straight salt.

The saltiest item on the Rally's menu

When it comes to the saltiest item on the Rally's and Checkers menus though, it's not the burgers that you should worry about. Instead, it's the fries, or rather, any fry-incorporating side dish. For instance, the garlic parm fries and "stix" is a serving of both seasoned fries and extra-large mozzarella sticks (dubbed "monsterella stix" — cute, right?), all drizzled with a garlic parmesan butter sauce and more parmesan cheese on top, served up in a paper boat. All that parmesan and extra seasonings add a layer of extra salt to the already salty fries, as one reviewer attests: "The garlic sauce and parmesan both added a lot of flavor, but also a lot of salt to the already salted fries and cheese sticks. The mozzarella provided enough of a buffer against the salt to make the cheese sticks really enjoyable, but the thin fries didn't stand a chance and were super duper salty!"

All that salt adds up to 2,250 milligrams of sodium, or only 50 milligrams less than what you should have per day based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations.

Opting for the chicken at Rally's is not always your safest bet

You might assume that chicken is a healthier food option than beef – it's white meat, after all. However, when it comes to fast food, that's not always the case, especially when it comes to fried chicken. According to Men's Journal, when comparing a hamburger to a fast food fried chicken option, like a fried chicken sandwich, the burger is often a healthier bet. That might be especially true when considering Rally's bone-in Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings. Order the largest serving of these wings and you'll be treated to 2,040 calories, 2.5 grams of trans fat and 4,290 milligrams of sodium. Surprisingly, the boneless version of the same wings, even with their breading, is a little more diet-friendly at 1,870 calories. 

On the other hand, a Big Buford burger has 660 calories, 2 grams of trans fat and 1,730 milligrams of sodium. The lesson here? Don't fall for the trap that chicken is automatically healthier than beef, especially when in a fast-food setting.

In the same Men's Journal article, a Cleveland Clinic rep notes that when it comes to comparing a beef burger with fried chicken, "both [options] are high in fat and calories, but the chicken loses for a few reasons," including that "chicken is very often fried in trans fats, like partially hydrogenated oils," and trans fat is "so dangerous health-wise that the FDA has decided to ban it starting in 2018." 

Rally's Caramel Cheesecake Twix Crunch Loaded Milkshake is like a cup full of sugar

Can you say Caramel Cheesecake Twix Crunch Loaded Milkshake three times fast? Not if you drink enough of these milkshakes, considering you'll likely keel over from all the sugar. This milkshake boasts ingredients like cheesecake, caramel and chopped up bits of Twix candy bar, all blended into a Rally's or Checkers vanilla milkshake. While that certainly likely sounds tasty to most, it might not seem so appealing when you realize how much sugar each of these milkshakes contain: a staggering 96 grams of sugar, or quadruple the recommended daily amount, or 24 teaspoons of granulated white sugar.

According to the American Heart Association, the average American adult already consumes around 77 grams of sugar per day regardless, which is triple the recommended daily amount for women and adds up to 60 pounds of sugar annually. Kids consume even more, or an average 81 grams of sugar per day. All that sugar not only adds calories, but could also harm your health in other ways. So, you may want to think twice before ordering that large Caramel Cheesecake Twix Crunch Loaded Milkshake at Rally's.

Don't be fooled: At Rally's, fruit isn't always healthy

So you decide against the Caramel Cheesecake Twix Crunch Loaded Milkshake for your dessert at Rally's and think that surely, a fruity, slush-based dessert will be healthier. After all, slushes usually contain some fruit and are less fatty than dairy desserts. So, as far as desserts go, the Rally's Caribbean Colada Island Slushie can't be that bad, can it?

Unfortunately, it can. The large version — 21 ounces — of the Caribbean Colada Island Slushie packs 95 grams of sugar, which is only one gram less than the Caramel Cheesecake Twix Crunch Loaded Milkshake. So, enjoy your 24 teaspoons of white sugar! 

The Caribbean Colada treat is made with Minute Maid juice and some real fruit, though, so maybe it has a redeeming quality? However, according to Nutrtionix, burning off the calories from a 21-ounce Caribbean Colada Island Slushie would require 110 minutes of walking at 3 miles per hour, 39 minutes of running at 6 miles per hour, or 57 minutes of cycling at 10 miles per hour for a person weighing about approximately 140 pounds. You'll have to decide if the few minutes of pleasure for your tastebuds are worth the extra time it'll take to burn off all that sugar.