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5 incredibly delicious chain restaurants you should never, ever eat at and 1 you should but can't

You know you want to. But sorry, you can't.

Fast food. It's kind of a big deal here in the USA.

A moment of silence, please. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.


And who could blame us? Fast food is, to use a scientific phrase, tasty as all get out.

But some chains, well. It's painful to admit, but they're bad for us.

Not because they're slowly clogging our arteries — we already knew that. Bad for us in the metaphorical heart, not the literal heart. Cosmically bad for us. Bad for us in that they pretend to be our friends, but in reality, they're talking behind our backs about how we have a weird-shaped face or whatever.

They're doing bad, shady things to the world is the point.

They are delicious. So so so so so so delicious.

But you can't eat there. You just can't.

#6. PAPA JOHN'S

Why it's so delicious:

If there's one belief that my big Italian family managed to drill into my brain when I was a kid, it's that chain pizza tastes about as good as an old rusty piece of sheet metal. Or maybe a used napkin, on a good day. And, like a fool, I never questioned it.

Until I met the "The Meats."

Oh. Hello there. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

The Meats is a pizza. From Papa John's. It is a pizza full of meat.

Here are the list of meats on The Meats:

  1. Sausage
  2. Pepperoni
  3. Beef
  4. Bacon
  5. Canadian bacon
  6. Eagle (probably)
  7. Sacrificial lamb (pretty sure I tasted that)
  8. Unicorn (definitely)

So yeah. That's it. Naples can pretty much just close up shop. There's just no more need.

Pack it in, boys. We're done here. Photo by Inviaggiocommons/Wikimedia Commons.

Oh, and see that little cup in the corner?

Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

That's Papa John's special garlic sauce. It's basically garlic, butter, and chemicals that bring your grandmother back to life so that you can tell her you love her one last time, giving you that sense of closure you always needed. That's how good it is.

Papa John's also sells something called a "Cinnapie."

Suggested serving si— oh, never mind. Who am I kidding? Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

It's a cinnamon bun. The size of a pizza.

Needless to say, I totally didn't eat the whole thing in a single sitting. What are you looking at? Stop looking at me like that.

Why you can never, ever eat there:

Like most of America, I always assumed "Papa John's" was just a generic name ideated up in some corporate copy factory. Possibly tied into a mascot of some kind. A pizza-tossing horse maybe, with a vaguely racist mustache. Needless to say, I was extremely surprised to learn that Papa John is an actual human.

His name is John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John's. And in a move that just screams "humility," he put himself on all the pizza boxes.

Of course this is him. Of course it is. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

In August 2012, Papa John got on the phone with a bunch of reporters to talk about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

"Oh," you're probably saying to yourself, "I bet he wanted to discuss how awesome it is that, under the law, his kids can stay on his insurance until they're 26. Or how the law is expected to dramatically lower health care spending nationwide. Or maybe just gush about how happy he is for the millions of people who will now suddenly be covered for the first time in their lives. I bet that was what that was about."

Nope. He mostly wanted to explain that Obamacare means you'll be paying more for pizza. And you're gonna like it.

Byron Tau, Politico:

"If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders' best interests," Schnatter vowed.

Specifically, 11-14 cents more. Which means ... sorry University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Cribbage Club, the cost of next Wednesday's pizza-n-chill info sesh just increased by about $1.56. Thanks, Obama!

Oh, and Schnatter also implied that some franchisees would cut worker hours to get out of having to provide them with health care required for employees working over 30 hours a week under the ACA. Of course, he later clarified that he wasn't saying he would cut their hours personally but, you know — it's out of his hands.

Nice prescription plan you got there. Shame if something happened to it. Photo by Ildar Sagdejev/Wikimedia Commons.

Now, you might be thinking, "Well, sure, that's harsh, but look. He's just trying to do the best he can in a shaky economy. If he's asking his employees and customers to take one for the team, I'm sure he's making an even bigger sacrifice somehow. Because Papa John is a leader. And that's what leaders do." And naively, I assumed that too.

Until I found out about his house.

Sarah Firshein, Curbed:

"Schnatter lives in a 40,000-square-foot castle on 16 acres in Kentucky; the property includes a 22-car underground garage ('complete with an office for valet parking, a car wash, and even a motorized turntable to move limousines') and a 6,000-square-foot detached carriage house."

That's right. Papa John is Batman.

Now, numbers are just numbers. It's hard to get an idea of what 40,000 square feet looks like without actually seeing it in real life.

Thankfully, I used to live about 20 minutes away from Papa John, so I drove to his house and took a picture.

Like most rich people's homes, it is blocked by a sh*t ton of bushes. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Just trust me. It's a freaking enormous house. You can Google it.

I certainly don't begrudge the guy having a garish, cream-colored mansion the size of a small moon. Hell, I have one too in my dreams. But dude. You're gonna live in that thing and then threaten to nickel-and-dime your customers and employees on pepperoni prices and healthcare? Bad optics. Bad, bad optics.

It's like that old sailor saying, "A captain always watches the ship go down with all his crew screaming inside of it as he soars away in his private helicopter."

Don't eat at Papa John's. I know you want to. I want to. But don't. Just don't.

#5. SONIC

Yes, please. Let's go to Sonic right now.

BEHOLD! The mighty bacon cheeseburger toaster! Gaze ye upon it in all its glory! A third-pound patty of heavenly manna slathered in barbecue sauce on two slices of Texas toast.

Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

And what's this in my cup holder? Is this the fabled CHERRY LIMEADE OF LEGEND? Miraculous lime wedges and a maraschino cherry sinking beneath the roughly crushed ice pellets into a sea of pink sugary mirth? Verily, do not look directly at it, or it will surely blind you.

Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Oh, hey — look! Some onion rings. Cool.

Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Sorry, bub. No more Sonic. Not ever.

Fast food is delicious. We've already established that. But the typical fast food experience? Usually leaves something to be desired. Take a burger, wrap it in some paper, and slap it on a tray. Maybe you squirt some ketchup into a thing, and that's the highlight.

But not at Sonic. Sonic has a concept.

You see, Sonic is a drive-in. And you get car-side service. From carhops. Just like in the '50s.

All of these children are currently collecting Social Security. Photo by ftzdomino/Flickr.

Indeed, very little has changed at Sonic in the past 60-odd years.

Including salaries for Sonic carhops.

As of May 2014, the median hourly wage for fast food workers in America was $9.19/hour. Which is objectively terrifying. But compared to comparable employees at Sonic, other fast food workers are straight up building motorized limousine turns in their 40,000-square-foot castles.

As of June 2015, Sonic carhops made roughly $6.70/hour on average, according to Glassdoor. Even as a survey estimate, that's far less than the (already meager) federal minimum wage and state minimum wages in all but eight states.

How is that even legal? According to multiple former carhops, and at least one official complaint, because Sonic crew members bring the food to you (often on roller skates), they are classified as tipped employees at some stores and therefore exempt from minimum wage requirements.

Which begs the question. Do people tip Sonic carhops?

Maybe. Maybe not. At the very least, it is the subject of great confusion on the Internet.

Sonic certainly doesn't make it easy either. Here's what happened when I tried to pay at Sonic's automated credit card reader back in March...

No receipt. No place to tip.

At this point, you're like, "Ooh, burger!" and proceed to forget about your fiduciary responsibility to your fellow humans. But even if you do remember when the carhop eventually brings out your receipt, there's no tip line.

Both times I went, only the customer copy came out. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

So you have to tip in cash. Which you might or might not have. At least that's what happened to me when I went (for ... uh, research).

No matter how you look at it, it's really difficult to tip at Sonic. So lots of people just don't do it.

To confirm this suspicion, I creeped on the guy next to me.

Not him. But this is a public domain image of the truck he was driving. Photo by IFCAR/Wikimedia Commons.

And sure enough, no tip. Nada.

Stop going to Sonic, everyone. Stop it right now. Don't even think about it.

I know you're thinking about it. Stop.

#4. WENDY'S

Wendy's is amazing.

Wendy's is all like: We're the Target to McDonald's Walmart. Sure, we look similar, but our food just seems ... better, doesn't it? Healthier and more ethical, somehow. You can totally trust us. We'll even sell you a baked potato if you want!


But instead, you get this. And no jury in the world would convict you. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Wendy's is an infernal den of smoke and mirrors.

Wendy's: We actually pay even less than McDonald's does.


Average crew member salaries. McDonald's photo by Cruiser/Wikimedia Commons [altered]. Wendy's photo by Mike Mozart/Flickr.

Ha! Gotcha hook, line, and sinker, you fast food hippie!

#3. CRACKER BARREL

You guys. Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel, you guys.

Quick, here's a pop quiz. How much food can you get for $8.99?

Six! Six dishes! Ah ah ah! Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

If you responded "all of it," congratulations, you have won. If you are among the folks historically lucky enough to be at Cracker Barrel right now, you can avail yourself of meatloaf (solid), chicken and dumplings (delicious), fried okra (heavenly), and a big piece of ham ('nuff said). Also baked beans, turnip greens, and two corn muffins. All for less than nine dollars.

"But Eric," you might whine, "All that food is so ... beige."

Yeah. Beige like a fox.

Not beige. Photo by digitalprimate/Flickr.

Listen. There is nothing that looks less appetizing than classic American comfort fare. It's mushy, brown, and smells kind of like baby food. But it is freaking delicious. If you want texture and vibrant colors in your food, go eat pad Thai.*

*Seriously, go eat pad Thai. Pad Thai is delicious. You should always be eating pad Thai.

Also, have I mentioned this?

There's your color, you jerks. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

That's raspberry sweet tea. If you could take the feeling you get when your aunt Helen presents you with a hand-knit sweater on Christmas morning and liquefy it, that's what you'd get. Free refills too! You could, and should, have eight of those.

Seriously? Don't go to Cracker Barrel. What were you thinking?!

I'll tell you why in a minute. But first we have to talk about segregation.

Photo by Jack Delano/Wikimedia Commons.

Segregation. One of the darkest chapters in American history. Under the pretense of separate-but-equal, white leaders in the South excluded black Americans from nearly all aspects of public life. But after decades of heartache, violence, and struggle, thanks to the historic efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders, segregation was finally legally abolished in 1965.

Except at Cracker Barrel, which waited until 2004, when the U.S. Justice Department told them, "No, really. Now stop."

Fox News:

"At least 42 plaintiffs, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, accused the Lebanon, Tenn.-based company of discrimination in federal lawsuits filed in Georgia. Black customers in 16 states also said they were subjected to racial slurs and served food taken from the trash, while Cracker Barrel management ignored or condoned such actions.

The announcement comes four months after the company settled a Justice Department lawsuit accusing Cracker Barrel of similar discrimination claims at dozens of restaurants, mainly in the South. That settlement found that black customers at many of the country store-themed restaurants were seated in areas segregated from white patrons, frequently received inferior service and often were made to wait longer for tables. Blacks who complained about poor service also were treated less favorably than whites, the settlement said."

"OK," you're probably saying. "Fair enough. But that was over a decade ago." (Side note: 2004 was over a decade ago. You are so old.) And you'd be right! Cracker Barrel hasn't been accused of serving black people food from the garbage or segregating its dining rooms since Usher's "Confessions Part II" was on the radio. A lifetime ago (if you're a medium-sized dog)!

But while Cracker Barrel has undeniably gotten better, let's just say the road to full enlightenment has ... taken a weird detour in the past few years.

You see, Cracker Barrel isn't just a restaurant. It's also a store. A country store. The kind ma and pa used to run out back behind Old Murdoch's soda fountain, as imagined by the VP of branding of a multimillion-dollar biscuit corporation.

You might also be familiar with a little show on the A&E Network called, "Duck Dynasty," about a talking beard and his family...


Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.

...who murder your favorite Sesame Street character over and over again.

Please don't kill me. I love you. Photo by Tom Morris/Wikimedia Commons.

It turns out the talking beard has opinions on more than just eliminating Donald, Scrooge, Daffy, Darkwing, and all the McDuck triplets from God's green earth, which he expressed in a 2013 interview with GQ:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks because we're white trash. We're going across the field. ... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people'—not a word! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

This, understandably, ruffled a few feathers (presumably, Robertson later shot the duck said feathers were on).

But times change. This isn't the '60s anymore (or, in Cracker Barrel's case, the early '00s). And mercifully, Cracker Barrel did the absolute minimum amount of the right thing they could possibly do and pulled some (not even all!) Duck Dynasty merchandise from their stores.

Until, like, a day later when they put it all back.

Corinne Lestch, The Daily News:

"Company brass did an about-face on Sunday — re-shelving the goods and apologizing for 'offending' any customers...

'You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you,' officials wrote in a statement posted on its Facebook page."

Backbone, ladies and gentlemen. Curvy, weird duck backbone.

Since that was two years ago, I went back the other day to see if maybe Cracker Barrel had quietly phased out the Robertson's T-shirts and hoodies when no one was paying attention. But sure enough...

One day, I'll make Duck Admiral. One day. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Boom. Still there.

For maximum effect, they are shelved right next to the military swag.

Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Because putting your life on the line to defend the United States of America from enemies at home and abroad is about as noble as mowing down a bunch of waterfowl with a high-powered semi-automatic.

Minus 7 bazillion for that, Cracker Barrel. But hey! Plus one for stocking Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.

The bomb. Dot edu. Photo by Eric March/Upworthy.

Those things are my jam.

If you go to Cracker Barrel, we are so not talking. Yep. You heard me. The camping trip to Red River Gorge is going to be awkward.

#2. CHICK-FIL-A

The Chick-fil-A original chicken sandwich is the pinnacle of human achievement.

The pyramids. The Magna Carta. The Apollo missions. PlayStation 4. This season of "The Bachelorette."

Combine them all. Multiply by 10. Sprinkle with holy water and shoot them out of a cannon into the sun. What you get is not even worth half the pickle chip on a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich.

Your move, Ancient Egyptians. Photo by Jay Reed/Flickr.

Between those two unassuming buns is an explosion of salt, fat, umami (whatever the hell that is), and the overwhelming feeling that justice has been done somewhere in the world. If they could speak, any chicken would surely tell you that being hacked up into tiny bits, deep fried, and stuffed in this sandwich is like getting into Chicken Princeton.

In fact, the first bite of any Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich is such a sacred experience that they close all the restaurants on Sundays.

And I haven't even mentioned the waffle fries.

You know what? Best not. Best not even mention the waffle fries. Photo by Jay Reed/Flickr.

OMIGOD, you guys, you can absolutely never, ever, ever eat at Chick-fil-A.

Look. I'm not naive. I know that, deep down, most of my favorite brands are probably giving lots of money to nightmarishly evil causes on the sly.

My favorite brands. Also, I have favorite brands? Gross. Image by J.J./Wikimedia Commons.

I have to believe Apple just put a down payment on a giant coal plant somewhere in China. I'm sure Doritos wants to repeal the estate tax. And dollars to doughnuts Krispy Kreme is investing in Sudanese cobalt mines. But at least I can take comfort in the fact that it's not personal. It's just what's best for business.


Business. Photo by thetaxhaven/Flickr.

Chick-fil-A is one of those brands. But what sets Chick-fil-A apart is that their donations have nothing at all to do with putting more money in the hands of their obscenely wealthy top brass and everything to do with making sure Dan at the register and Leon at the drive-thru window can't file their taxes together even though they love each other deeply.

Josh Israel, ThinkProgress:

"As Chick-fil-A's corporate foundation came under heavy criticism last year for its long record of anti-LGBT behavior, the company attempted to distance itself from its political record, claiming it intended 'to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.'

But despite suggestions by some that the company's WinShape Foundation had already scaled back its anti-LGBT giving before that point, its newly released annual IRS filings for 2011 indicate nothing of the sort...

In 2011, the group actually gave even more to anti-LGBT causes. Its contribution to the Marriage & Family Foundation jumped to $2,896,438 and it gave the same amount to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and National Christian Foundation as it had in 2010. In total, the anti-LGBT spending exceeded $3.6 million — almost double the $1.9 million from the year before."



Look, I give Chick-fil-A a lot of latitude. After all, they make an absolutely bomb chicken sandwich.

Still, I'm really not sure I want them to weigh in on whether Leon gets to visit Dan in the hospital when Dan is 97 and has terminal shingles.

Now, unlike most of the other examples on this list, Chick-fil-A got big press play. There were boycotts, counter-boycotts, and counter-counter-boycotts. Which prompted CEO Dan Cathy to reach way down deep and do some soul searching.

The conclusion he came to?

"You know what, I just realized we're a chicken company. Probably best not to get involved after all."

"Cathy agreed that the 'lingering identity' of Chick-fil-A with 'anti-gay groups' that jumped to its defense in 2012 has meant 'alienating market segments.'

'Consumers want to do business with brands that they can interface with, that they can relate with,' Cathy said. 'And it's probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.'"

And Chick-fil-A made good on its word — sort of.

According to their tax documents from 2012, Chick-fil-A only donated to one anti-LGBT group that year. That's down from — and I'm using a technical term here — a buttload in 2010-2011.

But that's still one more donation to an anti-gay group than a reasonable chicken sandwich company should be proffering.

So keep up the fire. Do not eat at Chick-fil-A.

Believe me, I know it hurts. But stay strong.

#1. IN-N-OUT BURGER

It gives me no pleasure to break this to you, but you probably can't eat at In-N-Out Burger.

Photo by Zink Dawg/Wikimedia Commons.

"Wait, nooooooo! I love In-N-Out," you might be thinking. "I thought they were actually pretty good corporate citizens."

"I'm going to punch you in the face if you tell me I can't eat at In-N-Out," you might also be thinking.

And I don't blame you. Because In-N-Out is so freaking good. But please. Just go with me here. I promise I'll explain everything. You've made it 4,000 words. Bear with me for a few more. It's all I ask.

In-N-Out Burger: cheesy meat patty of the gods.

This is what a triple-triple from In-N-Out looks like.

Stop it. Photo by Christian Razukas/Flickr.

This is it. The most delicious burger on the planet. You can keep your Shake Shacks, your Five Guys, and your Smashburgi. This is truly, madly, deeply the one.

If you actually took one of those burgers and put it under a microscope, this is what you would see.

If you zoomed even further in, you would learn the exact moment you were going to die. To this day, no one has done it. Painting by Johann Liss/Wikimedia Commons.

And the best part? The burgers are super cheap.

There aren't enough superlatives in the world to do the place justice. There is no greater pleasure in this world than the taste of an In-N-Out cheeseburger. That's a fact.

And I've been to a Bon Jovi concert.

So what's the problem? Why can't I eat at In-N-Out??!?!

You can't eat at In-N-Out Burger because you are probably among the approximately 76% of Americans who don't live in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, or Texas.


And coming soon, Oregon! Photo by Dave Sizer/Flickr.

As your West Coast friends probably never fail to remind you every single day of your life, In-N-Out burger is their secret special thing.

Dear God. Please. Shut. Up. Image via Thinkstock.

And as much as I hate to admit it, they're basically right. As of June 2015, In-N-Out burger is only available in five states. And, statistically speaking, you probably don't live in one of them.

It's a massive shame for the rest of us. Because compared to most of its chain brethren, In-N-Out is basically a choirboy, straight-A-student role model.

Sure, In-N-Out is a multimillion-dollar meat factory like the rest of 'em. But, relatively speaking, In-N-Out has a lot going for it. A lot going for it.

It is one of very, very, very few high-profile companies in America owned by a woman.

It's food is also reasonably locally sourced and fresh, even earning praise from "Fast Food Nation" author Eric Schlosser.

And, perhaps, most importantly:

The average In-N-Out crew associate makes $11.61/hour(as of June 2015, according to Glassdoor). Not super great in the grand scheme of things but a fortune by fast food standards.

In-N-Out proves that it is possible to operate a profitable, reliably delicious fast food chain in 2015 and not be a complete ethical idiot.

Plus, let's not forget...

#Neverforget. Photo by Christian Razukas/Flickr.

Here's my advice. Move to California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, or Texas right now. Or Oregon, to jump the trend. And go get yourself an In-N-Out Burger.

You will thank me tomorrow.

And every day. For the rest of your life.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Family

I told a kid a riddle my dad told me when I was 7. His answer proves how far we've come.

This classic riddle takes on new meaning as our world changes for the better.




When I was 7, my dad told me a riddle.

"A man and his son are driving in their car when they are hit by a tractor-trailer.

Photo via iStock.

(We were driving at the time, so of course this was the riddle he decided to tell.)

The father dies instantly.

The son is badly injured. Paramedics rush him to the hospital.

Photo via iStock.

As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, I answered:


"The doctor is his mom!"

Photo via iStock.

My dad first heard the riddle when he was a child in the '60s.

Back then, most women didn't work outside of the home.

Few of those who did had college degrees, much less professional degrees.

Female doctors were few and far between.

Back then, it was a hard riddle. A very hard riddle.

By 1993, when I first heard it, the notion that women could be highly skilled, highly trained professionals wasn't so absurd.

To me, it was normal.

I knew women who were lawyers. Bankers. Politicians. My own doctor was a woman.

To be sure, women still faced challenges and discrimination in the workplace. And even 20 years later, they still do.

But at its core, the riddle is about how a family can work. And that had changed. Long-overdue progress had rendered the big, sexist assumption that underpinned the whole thing moot.

A very hard riddle was suddenly not a riddle at all.

I never forgot it.

Now, I'm 30 — almost as old as my dad was he first told me that riddle.

My dad at 30 (left) and me at 30. Photos by Eric March/Upworthy and Mary March, used with permission.

I don't have kids, but I mentor a child through a volunteer program.

Once a week, we get together and hang out for an hour. We play ping pong, do science experiments, and write songs. Neither of us like to go outside.

It's a good match.

One day, we decided to try to stump each other with riddles.

He rattled off about five or six.

I could only remember one: The one about the man, his son, and the surgeon.

Photo via iStock.

I thought it would be silly to tell it.

I was sure that, if it was easy in 1993, it would be even easier in 2014. Kind of ridiculous, even.

But a part of me was curious.

It had been 21 years — almost as long as it had been between when my dad first heard the riddle and when he shared it with me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so easy.

Maybe I was missing something obvious, making my own flawed assumptions about how a family could work.

Maybe the world had changed in ways that would be second nature to a 13-year-old but not to me.

So I began:

"A man and his son are driving in their car, when they are hit by a tractor-trailer. The father dies instantly. The son is badly injured and is rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look at the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, he answered: "it's his other dad"

Photo via iStock.

Times change. Progress isn't perfect. But no matter what shape a family takes, at the end of the day, #LoveWins.


This article was written by Eric March and originally appeared on 06.21.16

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Family

Mom finds brilliant way to tell her kids the 'truth' about Santa and other parents take notes

If you're a parent struggling how to break the news, this might help.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

How to tell your kids the truth about Santa.

"It's the mooost wonderful tiiiiime of the — OH NO, did Charlie just ask if Santa is real?!"

If you're a parent in a household that celebrates Christmas, you can likely relate to the dreaded Santa Claus conversation. It may come with tears, it may come with tantrums, and it may even be worse for you, seeing that heart-wrenching look of disappointment spread across your child's once-merry face.


It's a dilemma Charity Hutchinson of British Columbia was pondering, as a mom to two young boys and the two nephews she cares for as well.

family, advice, truth for kids

Hutchinson family and the truth about Santa.

Photo by Theresa Easter Photography.

One of Hutchinson's nephews raised the notorious question, telling her he no longer believed in Santa Claus.

"I felt sad because he seemed disappointed telling me his news," she explained in a message. "And in that moment I didn't know what to say to him."

Hutchinson soon stumbled upon some advice online, finding what she described as “by far the best idea I’ve seen about telling your kids about Santa."

The idea of Santa may seem frivolous to many adults, but to believe in something much bigger than yourself, only to learn you've been lied to by the people you trust most in the world? That can be a really big deal to a kid (and can possibly even create long-term trust issues for them, as one study found). The Santa conversation is one many parents understandably want to get right.

So when Hutchinson saw one of her friends on Facebook share an anonymous post detailing a strategy for breaking the news to your kids without disappointing them, she was thrilled.

Hutchinson loved the idea so much, she shared it on Facebook as well:

This is by far the best idea I've seen about telling your kids about Santa. Had to share! *********"In our family, we...
Posted by Charity Hutchinson on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This is how it works:

1. Find a time to take your kid out, one-on-one, to a favorite spot and deliver the great news: The time has come for them to become a Santa.

"When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready. I take them out 'for coffee' at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made: 'You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too.'"

The post suggests pointing to a few different examples of how your kid has shown empathy or done something nice for another person throughout the past year. Let them know it was in those moments they proved themselves worthy of finally "becoming a Santa" themselves.

2. Assure your kid that they're ready to become a Santa because they understand the true meaning of giving (it's not just about the milk and cookies).

"You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE."

Get them talking about all the reasons they think Santa's the best. They may start out by pointing to his sleigh-riding skills or the fact he can go around the whole world in just one night. But move the conversation toward Santa being not so much of a cool person, but a cool concept that's focused on giving. Handing out presents makes the spirit of Santa a spectacular thing. Because your kid understands why giving back matters too, it's time they become a Santa themselves.

Also, "make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone," the post notes.

3. Now that they're in on the secret, have them choose someone who could really use a great gift and devise a plan to give it away — secretly, of course.

"We then have the child choose someone they know — a neighbor, usually. The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it — and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving."

In the original post, the writer explains that their oldest child decided to buy a gift for a neighbor who always walked out to get the newspaper without her shoes on. Their son spied on the neighbor one day from the bushes to estimate her shoe size — he predicted she wore mediums — and then slipped a pair of slippers under her driveway gate one evening with a note "from Santa." The following morning, the neighbor was spotted wearing the slippers. Their son was ecstatic.

4. Remind them that being a Santa is top-secret business. And that, next year, they can carry on with their selfless Santa duties once again.

"I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did or he wouldn't be a Santa. Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them."

One year, for instance, he polished up a bike for a family friend's daughters. The writer's son was just as over the moon about giving the gift as the daughters were about receiving it.

In a little over a week, Hutchinson's post has racked up thousands of Likes and shares, with plenty of thankful parents chiming in in the comments.

"I never imagined it would be so popular!" Hutchinson explains. "I mean, it felt special when I read it and completely gave me goosebumps, but I didn't realize it would go this far."

Where the original post came from is still somewhat of a mystery. As The Huffington Post reported, it seems to have first cropped up in 2007 in an online forum. Ever since, the idea has floated around the web here and there, but has only made waves recently with Hutchinson's post going viral.

The secret of being a Santa, so to speak, has already worked its holiday magic on Hutchinson's once-suspicious nephew.

Filling him in on becoming a Santa was an instant game-changer, she says.

"His eyes lit right up," she writes. "That excitement and joy returned to him and he couldn't stop asking me questions! ... Instantly I could see the wheels were turning and he started planning who his special target would be and what he would get them and how he'd pull it off."

Hutchinson is happy her simple Facebook post has turned into something so special. "It isn't just a nice way to break the news to your kids," she writes. "But it really teaches them about the true meaning of Christmas and how you should always give to others."


This article originally appeared on 12.09.16

Pop Culture

Alan Tudyk creates Reddit account just to connect with fan who missed out on talking to him

The 'Resident Alien' star sent the sweetest message to a fan who lamented not telling him how important the show was to her.

This is how you treat a fan.

Even if you don’t typically get star struck, odds are there’s one celebrity that would send you into a nervous fit should you ever come face-to-face. Especially if that celebrity was part of a project that meant a great deal to you.

Like, how do you tell them that a movie or TV show they starred in changed your entire outlook on life in the 30 seconds that you’re probably allowed to interact with them? You can’t. So instead you say something lame alá “Gee, I’m your biggest fan,” as they politely sign some memorabilia, and then your time is up. Opportunity for connection with someone who greatly impacted your life: gone.

This is what happened when a fan of the sci-fi comedy “Resident Alien” got a chance to meet the show’s star, Alan Tudyk, at a convention.


Unfortunately, nerves got the best of her, and she “blew” her chance to share how meaningful the show has been during a particularly dark period of her life. Filled with anguish and embarrassment, she created a throwaway Reddit account just to vent about the experience.

“I went to Fan Fest Boston and met Alan on Saturday,” her post began. “I wanted to tell him that ‘Resident Alien’ was the first show that made me laugh after my husband died this winter, that it helped me to feel human again, and I wanted to thank him for that.”

via GIPHY

However, the OP was very aware of how “exhausted” Tudyk appeared, and the long lines of people still waiting to see him. Plus she knew they couldn’t say their piece “without crying.”

So instead, she “stood there awkward and stupid,” and made a joke about “Firefly,” the show that launched Tudyk’s career.

The entire debacle left the OP regretting that she never got a chance to let Tudyk know “that his work really affected someone and helped them through a hard time.”

“I know he probably wouldn’t care and he would forget by the end of the day so I’m not sure why it’s bothering me so much, but I just really wanted to say thank you.” the post concluded.

Well, through the almighty power of the internet, Tudyk found out about this post. And he responded in such a thoughtful way.

resident alien, alan tudyk

A photo of Tudyk's response

preview.redd.it

Here’s what he wrote:

“My friend sent me this. Sorry you feel like you missed your opportunity. I have read your message. I love that you have such a beautiful connection with the show. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I’m glad you’re finding your laugh again and honored that I’m a part of that. Your story and similar stories I’ve heard are so touching. It makes me feel like my work, which I appreciate getting to do, has worth beyond the Hollywood hustle of it all and the BS business of show business.”

Tudyk even gave the OP another opportunity to meet, inviting her to come by the following day before he hopped on a plane so that he could also say “thank you in person.”

Though the OP wasn’t able to meet Tudyk that day (she explained in a follow-up post that it would be her kids’ first Father’s Day without dad, and they had to “come first”), she noted that she would return to the same convection next year, and tell it to him again—this time in person.

She also ended her heartwarming post with a very appropo “Resident Alien” quote, in which Tudyk’s non-human character Harry reflects:

“Everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves. Yes, there is strength in numbers, but maybe it's simpler. Maybe humans just feel better when they know they are not alone on this earth.”

Kevin Parry / Twitter

Toronto-based animator and video wizard Kevin Parry has gone mega-viral for his mind-boggling collection of videos where he turns himself into random objects.

In a series of quick clips he changes into everything from a pumpkin to a bright yellow banana and in most of the videos, he appears to suffer a ridiculous death. The videos combine studio trickery with a magician's flair.


Parry is a self-taught stop-motion animation expert who cut his teeth working at Laika, the animation studio best known for films such as "Coraline," "ParaNorman," and "The Boxtrolls." But he's had so much success on social media he moved back to his hometown of Toronto to "do the YouTube/Instagram thing."

Parry told Newsweek that the secret to his videos is speed.

"The inspiration for these transformations was to create the shortest possible videos with the most impact," he said. "I specifically made the balloon one to be 4-5 seconds long but to be as shocking and surprising as possible. That's why it starts with me falling—I thought what could be more scroll-stopping than someone falling face-first into the floor."


This article originally appeared on 2.15.22

Family

What to do when you're the child of an alcoholic

My dad was an addict, and growing up with him taught me a lot.

Photo with permission from writer Ashley Tieperman.

Ashley Tieperman and her father.


There was never just one moment in my family when we “found out" that my dad was an addict.

I think I always knew, but I never saw him actually drinking. Usually, he downed a fifth of vodka before he came home from work or hid tiny bottles in the garage and bathroom cabinets.


My name is Ashley, and I am the child of an addict. As a kid, I cried when our family dinner reservation shrunk from four to three after a man with glassy eyes stumbled through the door. I didn't guzzle the vodka, but I felt the heartbreak of missed birthdays. I feel like I should weigh 500 pounds from all the “I'm sorry" chocolate donuts. I had to grow up quicker, but it made me into the person I am today.

addiction, coping, 12 step programs, recovery

Me and my dad.

Photo with permission from writer Ashley Tieperman.

I spent many years shouting into journals about why this was happening to me. But this is the thing that no one will tell you about loving someone who has an addiction: it will force you to see the world through different eyes.

Here are some things I've learned:

1. When your family's yelling about burnt toast, they're probably also yelling about something else.

My family yelled about everything — and nothing — to avoid the messy stuff. We all handled my dad's addiction differently. My brother devoured sports. My mom took bubble baths. I slammed doors and slammed boyfriends for not understanding my family's secrets.

Regardless of the preferred coping mechanism, everyone feels pain differently.

2. Your "knight in shining armor" can't fix this.

Boyfriends became my great escape when I was young. But when I expected them to rescue me from the pain I grew up with, it never worked out. No matter how strapping they looked galloping in on those white horses, they couldn't save me or fix anything.

In the end, I realized that I had to find healing on my own before I could build a strong relationship.

3. “Don't tell anyone" is a normal phase.

When my dad punched holes in the wall, my mom covered them up with artwork. I wanted to rip the artwork down to expose all the holes, especially as a bratty teenager. But eventually I realized that it wasn't my choice. My parents had bills to pay and jobs to keep. I've learned it's common to cover up for dysfunction in your family, especially when it feels like the world expects perfection.

4. Friends probably won't get it, but you'll need them anyway.

Bulldozed by broken promises, I remember collapsing on a friend's couch from the crippling pain of unmet expectations. I hyperventilated. Things felt uncontrollable and hopeless. My friend rubbed my back and just listened.

These are the kinds of friends I will keep forever, the ones who crawled down into the dark places with me and didn't make me get back up until I was ready.

5. You can't fix addiction, but you can help.

When I was a teenager, I called a family meeting. I started by playing a Switchfoot song: “This is your life. Are you who you want to be?"

Let's skip to the punchline: It didn't work.

It wasn't just me. Nothing anyone did worked. My dad had to lose a lot — mostly himself — before he hit that place they call “rock bottom." And, in all honesty, I hate that label because “rock bottom" isn't just a one-and-done kind of place.

What can you do while you wait for someone to actually want to get help? Sometimes, you just wait. And you hope. And you pray. And you love. And you mostly just wait.

6. Recovery is awkward.

When a counselor gave me scripted lines to follow if my dad relapsed, I wanted to shred those “1-2-3 easy steps" into a million pieces.

For me, there was nothing easy about my dad's recovery. My whole family had to learn steps to a new dance when my dad went into recovery. The healing dance felt like shuffling and awkwardly stepping on toes. It was uncomfortable; new words, like trust and respect, take time to sink in. And that awkwardness is also OK.

7. I still can't talk about addiction in the past tense.

Nothing about an addict's life happens linearly. I learned that early on. My dad cycled through 12-step programs again and again, to the point where I just wanted to hurl whenever anyone tried to talk about it. And then we finally reached a point where it felt like recovery stuck.

But even now, I'll never say, “My dad used to deal with addiction." My whole family continues to wrestle with the highs and lows of life with an addict every single day.

8. Happy hours and wedding receptions aren't easy to attend.

My family will also probably never clink glasses of red wine or stock the fridge full of beer. I'm convinced happy hours and wedding receptions will get easier, but they might not. People get offended when my dad orders a Diet Coke instead of their fine whisky.

Plus, there's the paranoia factor. Surrounded by flowing liquor, I hate watching my dad crawl out of his skin, tempted to look “normal" and tackle small talk with people we barely know. I've learned that this fear will probably last for a while, and it's because I care.

9. If you close your eyes, the world doesn't just “get prettier."

With constant fear of the unknown, sometimes our world is not a pretty place. I remember watching the breaking news on 9/11 and feeling the terror of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers as if I was there.

My dad numbed the anxiety of these dark days with vodka, but this didn't paint a prettier world for him when he woke up the next day. I've dealt with the fear of the unknown with the help of boys, booze, and bad dancing on pool tables. Life hurts for everyone, and I think we all have to decide how we're going to handle the darkness.

10. Rip off the sign on your back that reads: “KICK ME. MY LIFE SUCKS."

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see only my broken journey. In some twisted way, I'm comforted by the dysfunction because it's kept me company for so long. It's easy to let the shadow of my family's past follow me around and choose to drown in the darkness.

But every day, I'm learning to turn on the light. I have to write the next chapter in my recovery story, but I can't climb that mountain with all this crap weighing me down.

11. It's OK to forgive, too.

Some people have given me sucky advice about how I should write an anthem on daddy bashing, or how to hit the delete button on the things that shaped my story.

Instead, my dad and I are both learning to celebrate the little things, like the day that he could change my flat tire. On that day, I didn't have to wonder if he was too drunk to come help me.

I can't forget all the dark nights of my childhood.

But I've learned that for my own well-being, I can't harbor bitterness until I explode.

Instead, I can love my dad, day by day, and learn to trust in the New Dad — the one with clearer eyes and a full heart. The one who rescues me when I call.


This article was written by Ashley Tieperman and originally appeared on 04.27.16