Mozzarella Sticks: The Herald’s Hottest, Cheesiest Ranking Yet

Sadly by: Nicole Chedraoui 

Sponsored by: Lactose Intolerance 

There comes a point in every single Herald staffer’s career that can only be described as rock bottom–or in my case–cheesy bottom. I’m often a person whose writing very closely correlates to how I feel, and at this very moment in time, I identify solely with the mozzarella stick. Like the heavenly melted cheese of the Italians, I too, am being pulled apart. Coming out of a concussion with near days left in the entirety of my high school career, I feel my mentality has FAR surpassed that of senioritis.

I am, in short, a cheese brain right now. 

So instead of pressing important headlines or quirky buzzfeed articles, I will be subjecting you to my inarguably correct opinions on the universe’s best appetizer known to man: the mozzarella stick. 

As most of you women-in-STEM already know, there is a very particular formula that goes into creating the ideal stick of fried cheese, and not just everybody knows how to accomplish such a pressing feat. Nay, nay. I can count on one singular hand the amount of restaurants that don’t bring shame to the great mozzarella’s name. The perfect cheesy stick of God has the capability, no, the power to bring a grown man to his knees in a Walmart parking lot. It must possess a certain pizazz in its chemistry, and bring a certain WOW-factor into the mouths of the common-folk. It must crunch in all of the right places, sizzle in all of the admirable ways, and fall apart with the fragility and evanescence of a delicate flower. 

At my heart, I am positively a critic, some would say I’m something of “a born hater.” But today isn’t about the shaming or praising of various cheeses, nay, today is about bringing justice to the youth of the Heritage High School community, or more imperatively, their taste buds. It’s time we de-platform the establishments that try to pass these abominable rods of lactose as anything other than rubbish. 

It’s time to get Cheesy. 

Ranked from Worst to Best (derogatory). 

6. Chilis 

Chillis, you should be ashamed of yourself. You call yourself a restaurant. The only reason you’re still in business is because of the hit comedy “The Office” and the amount of memes and fan merchandise that have been made with your shameful name. I have never, not once in my whole life, ever uttered the words, “man, I could really go for Chilis right now.” Chilis is like the third friend in a friend trio who is left to walk behind their two friends on the side-walk. Chilis, in all of their entirety, can be described in one word: forgettable. So you must imagine how absolutely flabbergasted I was to create such a vividly horrid memory inside of their dingy establishment. Upon ordering the only correct appetizer option, the mozza stick, I was positively scandalized to see what was being delivered to my table. The oily, greasy, bubbling slates of garbage were piled high in trios of three, their mere presence mocking my hunger. These mozzarella sticks could not even be called sticks. 



There was no sizzle, no crunch, no cheese strings of heaven. Just chewy lumps of unrefined grease smothered in the shell of my own disappointment. 

I left the establishment positively famished with a cheese-sized hole in my heart. 

5. Farm Rich 

Contrary to the oily monstrosity that resembles the Chilis appetizer, the born and bred stand-by of frozen Farm Rich cheese sticks have the exact opposite dilemma. Farm Rich mozzarella sticks are dryer than a frat boys conversation on Tinder. They’re dryer than the sahara, and frankly, as crumbly as my current mental state. Where is the joy in watching the cheesy goodness fall apart? The hot, delicious pull away of the cheese from the stick? 




However, I must say, Farm Rich never claimed to be restaurant quality. In fact, Farm Rich was specifically made for the people who don’t want to pay to eat out and spend a bag on fried cheese. Fried cheese is fried cheese, and if you’re trying to manage a budget, there truly is no shame in indulging in these dry cheap vices. They’re just bad enough to be unsatisfying, but just good enough to not stop buying them. Mediocre, but cheap. The equivalent of buying nosebleed tickets to see Nickelback (no further explanation will be provided). 

4. Red Robin 

Much like Chili’s, I tend to steer clear of Red Robin, especially ever since their 2000’s food poisoning scandal. As somebody who has worked for a Darden company, you absolutely do not want to hear about the health and sanitation of these companies, and after seeing your first cockroach, there’s no going back. However, I found myself at a Red Robin recently, and of course, what else is there to do than order a shirley temple and a couple mozza sticks? 

So I did just that. 

And honestly, much like my fourth quarter senior year grades currently, it could’ve been worse! Were they good? No! Of course not! But they sure weren’t anything like the slippery rubber Chili’s is serving, and they’re definitely a solid letter grade better than your local grocery store frozen stand-by. They were definitely serving more rubber than a pair of Crocs, but at least they had a battered crunch and a salt-bae sprinkle of pizzaz! 

3. Olive Garden 

As a former Olive Garden employee, I shudder at the thought of saying a single positive thing about that particular “establishment” (shout out to my two years of Olive Garden-induced therapy). However, if this restaurant can do one thing, and one thing only (besides traumatizing their 16 year-old staff), it’s serve ALL of the cheese. You want Dessert? Gourmet cheesecake. Perhaps a salad? Definitely add the cheese. A cheese ravioli? How about some shredded cheese to top off your already steaming, melted pile of cheese? So you can bet your bottom dollar, they know their way around frying a stick of cheese. However, as many of you may already know, Olive Garden is nowhere close to real Italian food. 

Olive Garden is America’s Italy. 

And for that reason only, their mozzarella sticks are not nearly as superior nor authentic as our next two place holders. Do they have a crunch? Of course. A stretchy stringy masterpiece? Indubitably. However there’s no spunk, no oomph, nothing to write home to your mother about. They’re dry in all the wrong places and oily in all the annoying places, and frankly, I’m just projecting because of how much I hated working here. 

Moving on. 

2. Ill Bacio 

If you’re a reader from somewhere outside Wake Forest, you’ll probably have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, nor will you relate to my predicaments I am about to unload. Ill Bacio is Olive Garden’s older, classier, wiser, more-chique sister. If Olive Garden is Jake Paul, Ill Bacio is Dolly Parton. If Olive Garden is Carly Rae Japsen, then Ill Bacio is Taylor Swift. However the main and only problem I have with Ill Bacio is good God the prices are ASTRONOMICAL. A single slice of cheesecake was $10, who do I look like? Jeffrey Bezos? Located approximately 0 feet away from Heritage High School, you’d think they’d cater more to the young, dumb, broke high school kids (Khalid reference). Upon ordering perhaps the most scrumptious mozzarella sticks in my 18 years on earth, I was flabbergasted to find I only received 5 miniscule, skinny legend sticks, for a table of 4! Respectfully, that check shocked me more than the price of my college tuition. What do you mean that much money? For 5 sticks of fried cheese?? I had half a stick, and it was GLORIOUS, delightful even, but the price left me to have second thoughts.. 

The crunch was the crunchiest. 

The cheese was the cheesiest. 

Frankly it was a life-changing bite, but nobody should have to pay that much for fried cheese, sorry sir Bacio. 

1. Maggianos 

WE MADE IT LADIES AND GENTS! The final countdown! The grand reveal! The big cheese! At my core, I am nothing if not a hypocrite, so you may be asking yourself, “Nicole, I thought you said Ill Bacio was too expensive, isn’t Maggiano’s even more expensive?” HEAR ME OUT. Maggianos is Ill Bacio’s superior, cooler, way more indie-first class sister. Maggiano’s never claimed to be cheap; they just claimed to be the best. You are getting the BEST bang for your buck. The servings are larger than a medical student’s debt. The food is so heavenly it can make even the biggest skeptic religious. The atmosphere is divine, the quality is superb, and you can bet a cockroach has NEVER stepped foot into this fine dining establishment. The mozzarella sticks are out. Of. This. Universe.

Maggiano’s sticks are so upper-class, they aren’t even sticks, they’re bricks of cheesy righteousness. A 2’x 5’ of a creamy, palatable, delectable specimen. The crunch, the temperature, the consistency, the cheese–succulent, positively otherworldly. They’re not dry, they’re not greasy, they’re not too stringy, or too chewy. They’re just right. 

If the world’s two biggest haters (both Goldilocks and me) say they’re majestic, they surely are majestic. These mozzarella sticks cured my chronic illness, and they’ll cure yours too. 

That’s all for today folks, I hope you took every single thing I said to heart and had a fun time going down this cheesy road with me. If you’re reading this right now, go eat some mozzarella sticks, you deserve it! 


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