Sippy Cup Soup Coming to the Drive-Thru?

Kelli Best-Oliver

banh mi sandwich

While I love cooking at home, there are occasional nights when neither me nor my husband have the energy to put something together. Sometimes we order in, other times we drive through. But here in flyover country (St Louis, Missouri) our options for takeout might not be limited, but they are monotonous. Why isn't there a wider variety of options for drive-thru food? Namely, actually healthy drive-thru options?

I'm sure part of the problem is portability: fast food restaurants need to sell food items that primarily can be eaten while driving. The other part is viability, as in the product needs to be something that will sell, which means my dream of tofu wraps probably won't be coming to a McDonalds near you.

So what do I wish would join the burgers and fries? Check out five foods I think could legitimately make it on a fast-food, drive-thru window.

Soup. Maybe it's because it's winter and most of the country is covered with a blanket of snow, but I wish soup was more widely available via my car. McDonalds offers it in some locations, but it still comes in a bowl, which is not conducive to driving. St Louis Bread Company (Panera Bread, to the rest of the nation) started installing drive-thrus in several locations around the country, and their rotating menu of soups is just what I'd like to be available. How hard would it be to create a sippable container, like those that Campbell's makes for their Soup At Hand line? A simple modification to packaging might make soup a more viable option for those driving and eating.

Fresh fruits. Like, real, whole pieces of fruit. Not sliced apples in plastic packaging sprayed with citric acid, but pure, unadulterated fruit. An apple. A banana. Something free of food additives and/or cholesterol. I'm sure America would let me down and it would be a giant failure in terms of sales, but good God, cutting a double cheeseburger with an apple would almost make me feel better about the cheeseburger.

More wraps. Take note, Burger King research and development: the bun is sooo passe. Tortillas, pitas, and flatbreads are where it's at. Can we get gyros? Pad thai-insipired chicken wraps? Bulgogi? Take almost any tasty ethnic food, wrap that up in a tortilla or flatbread, and make millions.

Banh Mi. Did any of you watch The Great Food Truck Race? It was a sort of Amazing Race meets Top Chef, and the runner-ups (who arguably should have won) was a team called the Nom Nom Truck, who sold only the Vietnamese deliciousness called banh mi. They absolutely killed sales in almost every town they visited with these sandwiches, which combine French baguettes with various meats and pickled vegetables. They are tasty and usually cheap, but I'd gladly pay a premium if I could pick one up via a drive-thru if I was experiencing a banh mi emergency. What? It could happen.

"Adult" Lunchables. Let me set the record straight: I think Lunchables are yucky. They are flavorless, full of sodium and preservatives, and downright terrible for you. But what I do like are cheese plates and charcuterie. I don't expect something upscale. Hell, I'd take a Christmas plate of cheddar and summer sausage with some Town House crackers. But package some real cheese with a bit of meat, some crackers, and fruit, and you'd have a portable and tasty meal on the go.

Maybe this is all just wishful thinking on my part. What food do you wish you could pick up via the drive-thru lane?

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