Iconic Movie Critic Roger Ebert Was A Huge Fan Of Steak 'N Shake

Founded in 1934 by Gus Belt, Steak 'N Shake got its name from fusing the words "steakburger" and "milkshake" together (via the official website). Since then, it has become a landmark in American fast food history, and no one was a bigger diehard fan than legendary movie critic Roger Ebert. To him, nothing compared to the sweet "symphony of taste and texture" of a Steak 'N Shake steakburger. As he once stated in his blog, California's prodigal fast food joint In-N-Out doesn't even rank close, which he described as a "drippy, mushy mess on a soft bun."

To say the late Ebert was Steak 'N Shake's biggest fan would be an understatement. He was a free-of-charge spokesperson and loyal customer all wrapped up into one. "If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be from Steak 'N Shake," he wrote on his blog before his passing in 2013. The chain was the cornerstone of Ebert's life, from his early childhood to well into his adult years. It's where he took friends and family and where he wanted to treat former president Barack Obama and his family to dinner. Ebert even gushed that he would even recommend Steak 'N Shake's chili spaghetti to the Pope, who resides in the mecca of Italian cuisine. The celebrated journalist dedicated his life to criticizing and writing about films, but his favorite pastime was clearly eating, thinking, and talking about Steak 'N Shake. Hopefully, a steakburger and hand-dipped milkshake was waiting for him past the pearly gates.

The Ebert-Steak 'N Shake love story lives on

The entertainment industry was devastated to hear of Roger Ebert's passing in 2013. Sadly, this also signaled the end of Ebert's long-standing love and loyal fanship for Steak 'N Shake. However, in a series of coincidental events, their story has lived on. At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, for example, journalist Ben Kenigsberg noticed something rather peculiar: The opening of France's first-ever Steak 'N Shake franchise at the same time of the festival's premiere of "Life Itself," a documentary about Ebert (via RogerEbert.com). Even more interesting was the fact that it was only a stone's throw away from Hotel Splendid, where the late movie critic always resided when attending Cannes. It was never confirmed whether the location was a tribute to "Life Itself" or the one-year anniversary of Ebert's passing, but the timing is very suspect.

According to Patch, Steak 'N Shake also tied itself to old-fashioned movie culture during the pandemic by relaunching its drive-in service. A drive-in allows customers to park, place their order via an app, and receive their order from a carhop via the comfort of their car. This was all happening at the same time that Americans were experiencing the rebirth of drive-in movie theaters. Eating a steakburger, fries, and milkshake while watching a drive-in movie seems to be the exact cinematic food experience Ebert would have wanted — if only he was still here with us to enjoy it.