Courtesy of Cornell University

March 6, 2023

Fast Food Dupes

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Living on Cornell’s campus secluded from easily accessible mega-chains and franchises means one thing: A lack of fast food. Sometimes even Louie’s Lunch (the fast-food truck by Risley) cannot satisfy my intense desire for Taco Bell, McDonalds or Panda Express. Despite how strong my cravings are, I prefer to use the unlimited dining hall plan rather than Doordash or Postmates to satiate my appetite. Eating at the dining halls around campus is a great way to save both your Big Red Bucks and regular money.  From this cheapskate mindset blossomed various creations of mine that are intended to mimic your favorite fast foods. These are what I refer to as my “fast food dupes”. Dupe is short for duplicate, and is widely used to reference any sort of substitute that works the same, but is cheaper than the original item. A fast food “dupe” is a recreation of a particular fast food item that is made using ingredients in the dining hall that taste and appear nearly identical to the original food.

So, I present to you — my best fast food dupes! 

In-N-Out Animal Style Fries: North Star Dining Room in Appel Commons has great fries, unlike In-N-Out burger. But still, sometimes I find myself drooling at the thought of an animal style burger and fries. The most important ingredient to animal style fries is the sauce. For this dupe, go to North Star and grab both a plate and a bowl. On your plate, lay as many crispy fries as your heart desires, and then add a heap of caramelized onions. Then in a separate bowl, add 3 pumps of mayo, ketchup and Thousand Island dressing. Mix and pour the sauce mixture over the fries and onions. Enjoy!

McDonalds Breakfast Sandwich: Missing McDonalds? Me too. But just because McD’s is unavailable doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your breakfast. Head to Morrison Dining and grab a mini bagel (or two). Put them into the toaster, and go to the hot breakfast line. Grab a plate and add a single omelet (with cheese preferably), a sausage patty and a pump of syrup. Go back to the toaster andgrab your bagel. You now have 2 options:

1. Add cream cheese to one bagel. Place the omelet and sausage on top of it. Add the other bagel. You’ve just made an Egg McMuffin!

2. Skip the cream cheese. Grab your bagel. Spread a dash of syrup over each side. Place the omelet and sausage on top of it. Add the other syrupy bagel. You’ve just created a McGriddle!

Waffle House Waffle: Ever wondered how you can turn your basic blasé waffle into something worth eating? Grab 2 plastic cups. Head first to the ice cream station, and scoop yourself whatever toppings you like. Personally, I’d get a combo of Oreos and sprinkles for color. Then head to the waffle station. Fill up the cup all the way with batter. Mix the toppings into the batter using a spoon. Pour the toppings-filled batter into the mold. Cook your waffle to perfection. Then, depending on whether you have a mild, moderate or extreme sweet tooth… add your toppings: Whipped cream, strawberries, syrup.. even ice cream. Is this really breakfast? No. But it’s a Waffle House, not a health house!

McDonalds Oreo McFlurry: Grab a mug from Appel. Scoop classic vanilla ice cream and place into the mug along with a couple scoops of Oreos. Use a spoon to stir the concoction together until the ice cream is melted and the oreos are incorporated. Enjoy! You can also do the same with M&M’s to resemble an M&M McFlurry.

Chipotle Bowl: Both Appel and Morrison have their own Mexican offerings. While Appel has the bowl option, which is most similar to Chipotle, Morrison (sometimes) has a taco bar in the grill section. Both are great options for a basic bowl. I personally prefer the Morrison taco bowl, so let’s go with that. First, grab a plate from the salad bar at Morrison. Add some spinach to the bottom of the plate (for health purposes). Then proceed to the cold toppings section of the taco bar. Add a heaping scoop of iceberg lettuce to your plate. Then proceed to the hot line: Add grilled chicken, taco beef, rice and beans. Ignore the glances of onlookers (they’re only watching you in envy…) who are wondering why you avoided the tortillas and taco shells. Head back to the cold line. Add sour cream, cheese and, of course, the habanero salsa. Grab another plate and head back to your table. Mix it together and enjoy! I personally think it tastes better than Chipotle.

Panda Express Orange Chicken Combo: Panda Express is amazing. But Cornell is even better. At Okenshields, the wok station offers items you would see on any Panda Express menu. If you have a craving for Panda, head to Okenshields. Grab a plate. Add a heaping scoop of General Tso’s Chicken. It’s crunchy, juicy and so, so yummy. Add either the vegetable/tofu fried rice or the lo mein. Then add a serving of cooked veggies — broccoli, carrots, etc! Tastes almost exactly like Panda.

Izze Sparkling Drink: Are you a sparkling water fan? If not, one of the best hacks to make sparkling water taste a little better is by adding a splash of juice to form a fizzy, sweet concoction. Go to any dining hall and add equal parts Bubly Lime sparkling water and apple juice to your glass. Swish your cup around, sip and enjoy!

Although fast food can be delicious and convenient, you can save money and maintain your health by making your own versions of your favorite commercialized treats in one of Cornell’s many dining halls. Although some foods you create at the dining hall may still have a high calorie count, it beats fast food that is filled with preservatives and additives. Additionally, you can customize your fast food dupe to make your meal as healthy (or not) as you like. 

Reva Rao is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]