Culver's Menu Items The Staff Won't Even Eat

Customers holding cheese curds
Customers holding cheese curds - Culver's / Facebook

Culver's celebrated its 40th birthday in 2024, touting itself as the Midwesterner's choice for fast food. Although the burger joint's roots lie in a tiny Wisconsin town, its current presence in 26 states with more than 980 locations speak to the vast approval granted to its drive-in fare. The famous ButterBurgers and custard flavors correctly earn their keep as menu icons, yet dishes on the margins, whether that's the fried fish dinners or a limited-run sandwich here and there, garner equal enthusiasm among loyalists.

The blue-and-white chain has cultivated a squeaky-clean image of sorts. Certainly, by average drive-thru standards, this is a hard point to contest. Yet, there's sure to be an item or two that fails to fit the bill in one way or another — especially if you ask the people who work there. Over 20,000 people currently work at a Culver's location and, by their accounts, there are offerings they will kick to the sidelines regardless of supposed popularity. If you're new to Culver's, take heed of some of the menu items the staff won't even eat.

Read more: Fast Food Restaurants That Serve Low-Quality Beef


Strawberry Fields salad Culver's
Strawberry Fields salad Culver's - Culver's / Facebook

Even if Culver's salads aren't exactly health-forward (some contain more sodium than the cheeseburgers, for starters), they're not a bad way to incorporate veggies into your day. Seasonal varieties come and go, but the default choices are typically Garden Fresco, Cranberry Bacon Bleu, and Chicken Cashew. To our surprise, employees are crossing these items off their must-order list. What would be the reasoning in tossing out one of the sole green options from the menu? Apparently, the cheese-loving chain used to tumble together a spring mix that was leafy and fresh. Then, without much of a head's up, it switched over to an iceberg-romaine blend flecked with radishes and carrots.

The swap was small, sure. But it upset Culver's employees enough to relegate any salad bowl to the scrap pile. An alleged worker writing on Reddit accused the franchise of diminishing the salad's former quality, and as they complained, it "looks cheap and tastes meh." Another retail worker chimed in on the soggy greens allegedly spurring a string of guests to demand their money back. "I've witnessed at least 4 people come in and ask for a refund on the salad," they wrote.

And if you think employees are uniquely affected by the downgrade, you should see what loyal customers are saying. An Instagram follower implored the company to bring back the former salad mixture, "as it was tasty, and not offered by competitors."

Georgia Peach Custard

Georgia Peach Culver's custard
Georgia Peach Culver's custard - Frances N Dufern / Facebook

Popular Culver's menu items like the chain's custard draw many folks through its doors. The Flavor of the Day (or FOD to regulars) infuses a bit of fun into choosing a sweet treat, but the unpredictability can also be a gamble. By a wide margin though, it's clear workers detest one particular custard variety more than others: Georgia Peach. The spring-y combination should be good, shouldn't it? Besides swirling small chunks of the namesake fruit in the mix, the base is infused with the same sweet flavor you'd get chomping down into a peach from the farmer's market. However, the synthetic sensation it leaves behind is pretty unappetizing, garnering comparisons to air fresheners and toothpaste.

A Reddit discussion lambasting the fruit custard confirms its status as something of a menu black sheep by patrons and employees. On Reddit, one worker couldn't help unleashing ire when responding to a different Reddit thread gathering opinions on the best and worst Culver's custard varieties. "Georgia Peach is a lazy, boring flavor that ruins my entire day and sends me into a blind, violent rage whenever we have it," they said.

According to another Redditor, the flavor is apparently unpopular enough for that their store doesn't serve it at all. "We don't even offer it in our region," they attested, pointing to poor sales elsewhere.

Mashed Potatoes

Close up mashed potatoes gravy
Close up mashed potatoes gravy - John Nolen / Facebook

Culver hires are apt to slam the mashed potatoes, despite the seemingly pleasing nature of the side. On Franchising Chatter, a commenter identified themselves as a Culver's staff member by proxy of the low-down they supplied regarding the chain's spud-smashing process. They referred to the side dish as a joke and further attested that the real potatoes are as homemade as a Swanson TV dinner.

The gravy isn't immune from scrutiny either. In a Wizard of Oz-esque reveal, a team member on YouTube showed viewers a glimpse of bubbling gravy sludge from behind the counter. From the footage, it looks as of the beige goop would act better as wall spackle than topping your pot roast platter.

On the other hand, there are ways to redeem Culver's mashed potatoes if you have a little know-how. On Reddit, a different individual who identified themselves as an employee blamed inadequate seasoning for ruining the side. It's a mistake everyone makes when making mashed potatoes, but from the sounds of it, black pepper and garlic is just the fix for rejuvenating the taste. "They're only so bad because they're barely more than straight up mashed potato," the commenter insisted.

Pepper Grinder Pub Burger

Pepper Grinder Pub Burger
Pepper Grinder Pub Burger - Darin R. Pfaff / Facebook

Outside of the signature Butter Burgers, the Culver's sandwich lineup tends to incorporate unique creations only offered for a spell. This has certainly been true for the Pepper Grinder Pub Burger, a double-patty deal rolled out once before in 2015 and again in 2023. The components -- an everything-infused roll, Swiss and cheddar cheeses, bacon, and a peppery burger sauce for garnish -- suggest umami fans are in for treat. Despite that, employees from the Midwest titan aren't scrambling to get their hands on it. "It's a huge miss for me," a self-proclaimed employee of the Wisconsin chain posted on Reddit. "All I can taste is a mouthful of pepper."

The peppercorn spread was widely detested by patrons and staff alike. On Reddit, one alleged worker who sampled it speculated that they received a bad batch, given how the pungent condiment lingered on their palate for half an hour. Yet in a different Reddit thread the sauce was slammed on virtually identical counts, so maybe faulty preparation isn't to blame. But some customers at least begged to differ. Taking a different tack was theendorsement on YouTube, who not only graded the sandwich highly, but would have raised the score on account of getting more of the smoky spread.

Northwoods Walleye

Breaded fish sandwich on tray
Breaded fish sandwich on tray - Sam Williams / Facebook

Often reeling in hype for its fish dinners, Culver's has especially captured public interest during the season of Lent. The Northwoods Walleye, which only surfaces for a short time, is dished out in platters or as a sandwich with lettuce and tartar sauce. "I've tried it every year since I started working there and every time I question what everyone else sees in it," confessed a staff member writing on Reddit who was not alone in their opinions. A different poster identifying themselves as a current employee additionally took aim at the specialty catch, saying "I've always thought the Walleye was pretty bland to even disgusting."

On the Culver's subreddit, another discussion overwhelmingly vouched in favor of the cod. Unlike the walleye, this fish is offered as a regular menu item and seems to enjoy a better reputation among customers. Still, it helps to hear from those who've served in the trenches long enough, seeing as they can shine some light on whether a menu item is worth a try. So does the Walleye sink or swim? Take employees at their word and we're sure that you won't be missing out on much.


Cheese curd hamburger in wrapper
Cheese curd hamburger in wrapper - Matt Dow / Facebook

Picture a hockey puck of breaded and fried cheddar jammed onto a bun, and you've just about nailed the CurderBurger. The lactose-stuffed sandwich was initially an April Fool's prank in 2021, but following a media meltdown, Culver's brought it to drive-thrus for real. Today the chain parades it as an annual sensation in line with the McRib, having churned out millions of the menu items in the wake of its official launch.

Culver's employees aren't in on the joke, assuming the joke was that Midwesterners would be gripped by the tempting cheese pull in the burger, let alone lining up for one. With a staggering 920 calories, this oozing creation is pretty divisive among the workers. One Redditor remarking on their store of employment didn't find the sandwich appealing at all, claiming "they are kinda gross and unhealthy." Capping off the patty with a humungous curd is, of course, part of the novelty and not something that's bound to shock customers. Still, critics argue the regular cheese curds would have sufficed in selling the carnival-esque bombast.

Not every individual bearing the Culver's badge thought poorly of the CurderBurger, though they hardly had glowing praise for it, either. "As another employee, I think it's good as a one-time experience," granted a different commenter, while another user chimed in that it's tasty -- just not for every day. "I love it, but it is a gut bomb," they concluded.

Cheese Curds

Deep-fried cheese curds
Deep-fried cheese curds - Culver's / Facebook

When fast food lovers think of Wisconsin, they surely think of Culver's. The state and chain are inextricably linked in a symbiotic relationship forged by the prosperous dairy industry that feeds them both. Over $45 billion dollars were generated just last year in cheese and milk alone, according to the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Both ingredients factor into one of the region's favorite snacks: cheese curds.

So, it's no surprise the burger brand's made a name off of this battered treat, which regulars often tout as a must-try, especially to first-timers touring the Heartland. Ask employees who've fried up a basket lately though, and they'll tell you something's up -- and not in a good way. When a user aired grievances towards the iconic side on Reddit, a poster identifying themselves as a Culver's worker agreed that the fried delicacies tasted inferior. "They are softer and the cheese spills out 99% of the time no matter when we pull them," they commented, elaborating that the gooey insides were liquified and bland. Other complaints included excess starch overriding the cheese and lukewarm middles.

One Redditor claiming to be an assistant manager was reluctant to totally write them off, although they acknowledged, frankly, that Culver's weren't on par with the curds from local dives.

Chopped Steak

Chopped steak dinner plastic tray
Chopped steak dinner plastic tray - Dana Farmer Ward / Facebook

The Culver's Chopped Steak certainly suggests a juicy sirloin, but in reality, this traditional American entree is nothing more than hamburger meat served in a pool of beef gravy (with vegetables like mushrooms and onions). Searching the web for photos shows the typical order contains mashed potatoes, broccoli, and a roll, which is intentional: the template emerged from traditional supper clubs whose humble Midwest origins date back to the Great Depression, and which Culver's channels within its full-course dinners.

But would workers choose it? Not if they have anything to say about it. A poster on Franchise Chatter smeared the hot plate for its uninventiveness, writing "We literally smash two burger patties together and pour gravy on it." Meanwhile, a Reddit user claiming they've been hired by the chain echoed this disillusionment, finding the chopped steak made less of a splash among neither guests nor staff. "Eh in the 3 years I've worked here, it's been the least ordered item by far," they said.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries on napkin
Sweet potato fries on napkin - Culver's / Facebook

Sweet potato fries might not be any healthier than regular fries once oil comes into the equation. All the same, the orange-hued spuds offer a distinctly sweet flavor, especially compared to the standard shoestrings or crinkles. Culver's launched its sweet potato fries back in 2011 seemingly before the rest of the drive-thru landscape took notice (Burger King's would arrive only a year later).

But should your local drive-thru start slinging them again, your anticipation may be misplaced. Workers don't think they're anything to write home about. Replying to a question addressed to employees, a staff member clarified that the taste is sorely lacking. They also note that there's plenty of competition to give Culver's a run for its money. "Ours are mediocre and other places have so much better ones that are available year round."

A different Culver's worker expressed curiosity in tasting the sweet potato fries, though the assessment from higher-ups at their store poses a convincing argument against them. "My manager says they stink up the kitchen," they said.

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