Food Review: One Curd to Rule Them All


One might think that with cheese curds, one gets what one pays for; however, my experiences have suggested that this is not the case.

Claudia Miller, Student of Journalism

In the world of fast food sides, little compares with the fried golden treasure that is a cheese curd. I wanted to know which was the superior curd, so I went on a quest to find the best of these crispy treats.

I decided to determine the best fast-food cheese curds in the valley from four restaurants: A&W, Dairy Queen, Tom’s and Culver’s. I ordered the smallest size every restaurant had to offer, which was a consistent 5 oz. serving. I evaluated them based on cheese flavor, breading flavor, breading texture, ratio of cheese to breading and price.

First, I tried the A&W cheese curds. These curds cost $3.29 before tax, the lowest price. These cheese curds had a light, yet crispy batter, and contained white cheddar inside. The batter was light enough to give the cheese a chance to shine, and while the cheese was salty, it lacked a distinct flavor.

Real 100% Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese lightly breaded and golden-fried,” A&W accurately claims. Overall, these were pleasing cheese curds to eat.

I had never tried Dairy Queen cheese curds before this culinary adventure, so I was surprised to find that the cheese curds from Dairy Queen looked and tasted the same as those at A&W. On top of that, the price was $3.29 as well. I looked for a difference between the two, but failed to find any.

Dairy Queen claims that these curds are “Poppable pieces of cheese, fried until warm, melty, and crisp,” which is an inviting description, and an accurate statement. These cheese curds were as enjoyable as A&W’s.

Up next on the chopping block was Tom’s cheese curds. These were slightly more expensive than the last two options, falling at $3.49, but they also provided a different experience.

These curds had a distinct cheese flavor, despite the fact that the batter was thick and crunchy. While a slightly lighter batter would have been preferable, I can understand the appeal of the extra crunch.

“There’s just way too much batter on these, it’s just not necessary,” said Brandon Schmall, fellow NHS student, confirming my theory on why these curds were not as enjoyable.

Finally, I reached Culver’s cheese curds, the most recognizable out of all of the fast food curds in the area. Culver’s claims these cheese curds are “made using the freshest, un-aged yellow and white Wisconsin cheddar cheese, deep-fried golden brown for a warm buttery crunch,” but they did not live up to the expectations.

The cheese flavor itself was good, but it was buried under thick, over-seasoned batter. Additionally, these cheese curds were the most expensive, costing $3.89.

One might think that with cheese curds, one gets what one pays for; however, my experiences have suggested that this is not the case. Culver’s cheese curds cost the most, but they were not the best. Tom’s cheese curds were average, but when better cheese curds are available for a lower price, no reason exists to settle for mediocrity.

The award for best cheese curds goes to both A&W and Dairy Queen for their use of a lighter batter that keeps a crunch on the outside while simultaneously taking a back seat to really let the cheese shine.