Free cotton candy!
November 6, 2010 2:46 PM   Subscribe

All you can eat just got a little stickier. The number one all-you-can-eat chain Golden Corral is rolling out cotton candy to all of its buffet lines nationwide.

An important update to this MeFi post from last year. "Cotton candy will be included in the price of a regular buffet meal, [corporate chef Debra Olson] said."
posted by MattD (61 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
2010 will be remembered as a gilded age of fine, affordable food, what with this, the McRib Revival, and the Double Down.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:48 PM on November 6, 2010


Golden Corral has a military appreciation day on Monday November 15th when any current or former member of the US armed forces eats for free.

I was all set to hate on all-you-can eat buffets but I recently went to an all-you-can-eat vegan Chinese food buffet and damn if I wouldn't live there if I could.
posted by ChrisHartley at 2:52 PM on November 6, 2010


DIABEETUS
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:52 PM on November 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


The number one all-you-can-eat chain Golden Corral

Based on my experiences eating there, they're really more of a number two all-you-can-eat chain.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:54 PM on November 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


I choose to view this as directly related to the midterm elections.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:56 PM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hadn't heard of this chain before, and it completely bemuses me that there aren't any in Chicago or NYC or Boston. I assume they're deliberately avoiding big cities? It seems strange, because I'd be curious to eat at one of these places...
posted by LSK at 3:00 PM on November 6, 2010


My dad recently took me out to lunch there. A senior lunch special was in effect so it may not be quite so much a Golden Years Corral all the time as it is then, but if my diabetic father is any representative sample of the patronage, I have a hard time imagining cotton candy is going to be one of the high-demand offerings.

Also: I'm generally kindof down on buffets, but the food was better than I expected.
posted by weston at 3:03 PM on November 6, 2010


LSK, it's a lot like the food at a Boston Market, assuming it also had a salad bar, infinite desserts, and shouting children.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:03 PM on November 6, 2010


A word to the wise: do not ever EVER eat cotton candy while bearded.
posted by Schmucko at 3:03 PM on November 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Can someone check if they've put the "fat free!" sign over the stuff?
posted by Lukenlogs at 3:07 PM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I hadn't eaten cotton candy since I was a kid, and that was a very long time ago. Earlier this afternoon I went to a sort of county fair with a small child and her father. She got cotton candy, it came in a plastic bag, I had a bite of it, it was really gross, chemical-tasting. I wonder if they used natural flavoring when I was a kid.
posted by mareli at 3:15 PM on November 6, 2010


My dad really liked Golden Corral. He somehow managed to eat only the healthiest stuff they had (literally taking food apart to get at it if he had to) -- which isn't saying a ton, but there's something really comfortable and appealing about buffet culture. You get those plastic warped-pattern cups and the nice booth seat, and you can pull the big handle down and watch the soft-serve pile into your little bowl.

Cotton candy though...wow. I guess in moderation, it might be fun for a night out with the kids if everyone is like, starving to death for junk food.

(But honestly, I'd try it)
posted by circular at 3:17 PM on November 6, 2010


I hadn't heard of this chain before, and it completely bemuses me that there aren't any in Chicago or NYC or Boston. I assume they're deliberately avoiding big cities? It seems strange, because I'd be curious to eat at one of these places...

There are several on the outskirts of the Chicago 'burbs. I've been to the one in Gurnee, and there are others in Elgin and Aurora. It's not great food. It's not even good food. It's a place where you can eat a lot of mediocre food for a very small sum. The one in Gurnee does have horchata on tap, though, which is worth the extra two or three bucks.
posted by honeybee413 at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


honeybee413: If you like horchata, you should try the Rice Dream Rice Nog. It's like Christmas Horchata. Seriously.
posted by circular at 3:24 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Weird, I've never heard of this place before. Apparently there are four in my area, but they're all pretty far out... The only non-Asian buffet chains I've seen where I am otherwise are Old Country/HomeTown Buffet, Ponderosa, and CiCi's Pizza.
posted by limeonaire at 3:24 PM on November 6, 2010


Definitely a suburban strip-mall sort of place, around DC, at least.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:30 PM on November 6, 2010


I don't know how this makes much difference. Golden Corrals tend to be in the outskirts around here. And the couple times I've been, they're ok for what they are. Better than the shit selection at the Hometown Buffet. Cotton candy seems more of a county fair kind of thing to me, but if it gets folks in the doors...
posted by 2N2222 at 3:33 PM on November 6, 2010


Golden Corral has a military appreciation day on Monday November 15th when any current or former member of the US armed forces eats for free.

Last Veteran's Day I think 95 percent of the junior enlisted on my boat went to Applebee's for a free meal. A free meal is a free meal I guess, but my standards are too high for that.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 3:40 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


In all truthfulness, all the weird devolution of fast and chain food has kind of turned me off of mainstream cuisine. So much so that I'm thinking about phasing out meat so that I'm no longer the main demographic for this junk. There's still a part of me that sees this stuff, and thinks "That might be good," and I want to starve it of the animal fat it thrives on.

For lunch today, I tried a Garden Burger Chipotle Black Bean burger. It was alright. Could have used a bit more spiciness, and maybe the texture could have had a bit more chew. I'm talking about it as a sandwich ingredient, not a beef replacement. Of course, all that mildly spiced bean stuff felt like a bit much bread with a bun.

I would have better preferred it with two patties with some condiments, cheese and maybe some bacon in the middle. But then it'd just be flexitarian and cost a lot, since veggie burgers are pretty expensive. And that's probably the "GIMMIE A MCRIB" part of my brain talking.

Yes, I know the best vegetarian food is best made from whole foods and carefully prepared, but I'm also probing the quick, low quality stuff for when I'm in a hurry or just really want something awful.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:43 PM on November 6, 2010


Our nearest buffet restaurant, Western Sizzlin, has been serving cotton candy for years. When my kids were little, they loved getting a bag of cotton candy to take home after dinner. I don't get why this is news.
posted by amyms at 3:45 PM on November 6, 2010


Is this why I'm fat?
posted by Ad hominem at 3:45 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, can we have a love-in of Soy Nog/Rice Nog? That stuff is definitely my favorite seasonal product. It's like eggnog, minus the intense richness. Eggnog is almost like a gauntlet to get through an entire glass without saying "I'm done with nourishment for the rest of the week."

Nicely done, vegans.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:46 PM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I assume they weave edible underwear out of cotton candy, so I'm all for it!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:53 PM on November 6, 2010


A note of sadness for NYers. I recently found out that Temple In The Village near NYU closed down. I am very sad.

More topic-ish, my girlfriend is very annoyed that we get Golden Corral commercials in Brooklyn but not the actual restaurant. Please explain the attraction of this wondrous place. Especially considering the whole cotton candy thing, if you would be so kind.
posted by Splunge at 3:54 PM on November 6, 2010


Please explain the attraction of this wondrous place.

Are you serious? Tons of food. For cheap. Stuff your face. Bring the kids. Bring grandpa. Everybody eats. Make yourself sick. God Bless America.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:59 PM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Damn I miss Temple In The Village... sigh...
posted by Splunge at 4:01 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Big deal. My mom has her own fairgrounds size and quality cotton candy machine.
posted by orthogonality at 4:02 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Golden Corral has had a grip on Georgia for years (surprise!) Mr. Pearlybob has always called it Golden Urinal. Seems to fit.......gag!!
posted by pearlybob at 4:21 PM on November 6, 2010


A bunch relatives and colleagues of mine genuinely love this place. Thus I end up going semi-voluntarily maybe twice a year to the one near me, it's hit-or-miss quality wise. Excellent, made-to-order omelets at breakfast, and their salad and fruit bars are good too. But their shrimp is sub-Red Lobster quality, and the steak in Sizzler-level shoe leather.
posted by aerotive at 4:35 PM on November 6, 2010


I feel like New England has been missing out on this whole buffet thing. I thought it was invented by the Chinese.
posted by theredpen at 4:38 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Setting aside the fact that pretty much all chain restaurant food is fairly loathsome, I like Golden Corral pretty well. The selection at the one near me is astonishing, and everything is pretty good. I mean, yeah, if you think the gumbo is going to taste like dear old mom used to make you are sorely mistaken, but there is surprising variety of stuff, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (the better to tamp down your 'prime rib' and fried shrimp, I suppose), and the different dishes actually taste like they are different dishes - not 30 different versions of the same food, like at some other buffets.

If I can help it I'll never eat at a Chili's, Applebees, Olive Garden (well, I guess I can imagine eating at an Olive Garden - but I won't like it!), or whatever, but I'll eat at Golden Corral from time to time, happily.

And next time I'll try the cotton candy.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:47 PM on November 6, 2010


It's been awhile since I moved but I am pretty sure I remember them advertising heavily when I lived in the Boston area. I thought there was one on Comm Ave past BU.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:06 PM on November 6, 2010



I feel like New England has been missing out on this whole buffet thing. I thought it was invented by the Chinese.


I'm not sure you're missing out on anything, really.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 5:08 PM on November 6, 2010


but if my diabetic father is any representative sample of the patronage, I have a hard time imagining cotton candy is going to be one of the high-demand offerings.

The only time i went to buffets with my grandmother when I was really young, and I spent the majority of the time at the soft-serve ice cream station. Sugar is one of the best motivators to go and spend time with grandparents.
posted by hopeless romantique at 5:24 PM on November 6, 2010


I love buffetts.

Also, Golden Corrall is constatntly advertised on cable channels here in NYC, but there isn't a location for miles. Same with Sonic. That's fucking cruel.
posted by jonmc at 5:33 PM on November 6, 2010


In my opinion, Golden Corral is wonderful. It surely is better than Old Country Buffet. I almost always get fried chicken and vegetables there as well as sweet tea. The fried chicken is better than that of KFC or just about anywhere I can think of. I like the variety in vegetables: collard greens, asparagus, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, etc. Sometimes Golden Corral even has barbecued pork ribs. Their ribs are quite good. On one occasion I even found chicken and dumplings (which was better than Cracker Barrel's).
posted by millardsarpy at 5:38 PM on November 6, 2010


Pepsi Pink.
posted by JHarris at 5:50 PM on November 6, 2010


I'm sorry, but the linked story is totally burying the lede. Did anybody catch this:

...she said during the Culinary Institute of America's Worlds of Flavor conference this week in Napa Valley.

They let the Golden Corral people into the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley? That must have been...awkward. I imagine something like Rodney Dangerfield pissing off the stuffed shirts in Caddyshack. Either that or the scene in every sword-and-sandal epic where they march the captives into the Pharoah's throne room through an angry, murmuring mob.
posted by PlusDistance at 5:59 PM on November 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, Golden Corrall is constatntly advertised on cable channels here in NYC, but there isn't a location for miles. Same with Sonic. That's fucking cruel.
posted by jonmc


You're not missing much on both counts, jon. I've been to GC maybe twice and don't have high expectations for a buffet that has "corral" in it's name and with that in mind it still managed to be kind of awful. As for Sonic, the drinks are good at least.
posted by nola at 6:30 PM on November 6, 2010


Golden Corral's breakfast buffet has something like five or six forms of potato. Plus they have plain grits AND cheese grits!!!
posted by candyland at 7:08 PM on November 6, 2010


I saw Ernest Borgnine at an Old Country Buffet once. I mean, I'd rather have had cotton candy, but you take what you can get.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:26 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


nola, here in Queens, pretty much the only buffets are Chinese or Korean ones that run about $8 at lunch time. At one place there was a mysterious dish that according to the label on the sneezeguard was called "Casino Clam." The conjuring up of an image of a complimentary-cocktail-slurping mollusc sitting at a roulette table shouting "Big Money! Big Money!" did not make up for the mediocre eats.

So anything would be a step up, all-you-can-eat-wise.
posted by jonmc at 7:44 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


... if my diabetic father is any representative sample of the patronage, I have a hard time imagining cotton candy is going to be one of the high-demand offerings.

Actually, cotton candy is mostly air. If you take an average sized bag of cotton candy and dissolve it down, you'd have way less sugar than in almost all of the other dessert options at a buffet restaurant. Cotton candy is a sensible "once in awhile" treat for diabetics.
posted by amyms at 8:23 PM on November 6, 2010


Q. So what'd you have for lunch?

A. Oh, I had a light lunch, just some cotton candy.
posted by jefbla at 8:39 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


For Bostonians, drive to the Walpole Mall on Rte. 1 and stare in amazement at the Old Country Buffet. Then find someplace else to eat (or, since you made it all the way out there, drop some quarters at the old-timey arcade, the one where you can redeem tickets you win playing skeeball for tiny Tootsie Rolls and pencils).
posted by adamg at 8:42 PM on November 6, 2010


Because the people who eat there aren't fat enough already.
posted by aacheson at 8:54 PM on November 6, 2010


The problem isn't the availability of food... but the desire for food. The animal-instinct that eating is done, now.

Epidemiology indicates we're dealing with disease rather than economics. This is very hard for reactionaries to deal with.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:38 PM on November 6, 2010


Golden Corral? Sounds like a deep-fried a petting zoo.
posted by Davenhill at 9:55 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is this post a plug for Golden Corral?
posted by millardsarpy at 10:24 PM on November 6, 2010


Also, Golden Corrall is constatntly advertised on cable channels here in NYC, but there isn't a location for miles. Same with Sonic. That's fucking cruel.
posted by jonmc


Did you know that Sonic food isn't actually food? It's actually shit that the carhops shit out of their distended, diseased bowels and put in shiny wrappers and then give to you so you'll eat it. They are laughing at you as you eat this shit, because they're poor but hey, at least their not eating shit.

That is the truth.
posted by Avenger at 11:18 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Avenger said: Did you know that Sonic food isn't actually food? It's actually shit that the carhops shit out of their distended, diseased bowels and put in shiny wrappers and then give to you so you'll eat it.

You, my good man, have clearly never experienced the joy of a Sonic BLT with a side of tater tots and a cherry limeade. Get thee to your nearest Sonic, stat!
posted by amyms at 11:53 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know of only one person who has eaten at the Golden Corral. When she told me I kinda wondered why she admitted it along with where my relationship with her is exactly headed.

She told me she got paid by some secret shopper company to do it. I realized that getting paid is exactly what it would take for me to eat at there too. She is the only person I have personally known who has eaten there. I kinda almost dumped her for that.

Golden Corral is gross. Like unidentifiable in the ER, type of gross.

Oh, I'm no gourmet. My favorite dish in the world is ramen...not the fancy kind...usually the cheapest in any nation around the world. But fuck it, golden corral is what happens when you take something that once resembled food and then burn, boil, bake, salt, and FRY all the nutrition out of it and run it through a macaroni press. You add the brown sauce and red sauce and finally get the finished shiny yellow (???) product.

And that is what I have to say about The Golden Corral.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:48 AM on November 7, 2010


Quantity IS quality.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:34 AM on November 7, 2010


With a name like Golden Corral, why aren't we eating from a feed bag or a trough? (cue Onion link)
posted by fungible at 6:27 AM on November 7, 2010


Buncha hoity-toity ivy-leaguers in here galdurnint.

Golden Corrall is a lovely little oasis off the interstate where you can put down like, $10 and strafe a mile long buffet that includes fried chicken, tacos, pizza, and everything in between. It's an endless parade of disgusting opulence and waste: people from other countries hate us for it, but it's only because they aren't a part of it.

USA! USA!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:17 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gluttony, the Internet, and you.
posted by mistersquid at 7:41 AM on November 7, 2010


Wally's Supper Club, Flint. That's what a real buffet is about. I doubt it still exists, and I'm not talking about their diner on Pierson Road, either.

Nowadays, for me, it's vegetarian buffet occasionally. The one I've found isn't that good, too Indian for my taste. I like some good old-fashioned American vegetarian food, like Gary Null used to serve in NYC.
posted by Goofyy at 8:49 AM on November 7, 2010


Why is it that nobody has made gourmet tater tots? Tater tots, to me, express the values of grease and potatoes in their purest forms. Perhaps somebody could make a fine tater tot from premium pork fat, organic russet potatoes, and fleur de sel sea salt.

I'd pay at least 5 dollars for a bag of those. And maybe throw in another five for three or four waygu beef sliders on freshly baked sourdough rolls.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:03 AM on November 7, 2010


I feel like New England has been missing out on this whole buffet thing. I thought it was invented by the Chinese.

Whole Foods has a really good buffet. In NYC they have seating upstairs (in at least two of their locations)... It was a bit pricier than ideal, but when I lived near to one, I used to get lunch there not infrequently, because it really was good food. Actually I can think of a bunch of health food stores that have buffets.

But yeah, other than that, korean or chinese food, usually.
posted by mdn at 2:10 PM on November 7, 2010


honeybee413: "It's a place where you can eat a lot of mediocre food for a very small sum."

While a lot of their food is mediocre, a couple of things are really good. Specifically the bourbon chicken and the pulled pork, IMO.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:41 PM on November 7, 2010


Whole Foods has a really good buffet. In NYC

I will check out Whole Foods; thanks. But I guess I was thinking of pig-out restaurant buffets, not grocery stores (although I've managed to get fat without one somehow). I do remember Bread & Circus having a fantastic one in Cambridge!
posted by theredpen at 3:32 PM on November 7, 2010


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