The Jelly Scale: A Diner Rating System

diner  -  2015-07-01
A scale for all diners to be labeled unequally
Diner jam by Stephen Cummings / CC BY 2.0

If you have ever traveled with me, you will know there are few things I enjoy more than a good greasy spoon diner for breakfast. Before traveling to any new city the first thing I do is lookup what diners are in the area, and try out new ones. Usually, I will do a new diner every morning— although sometimes a diner will be worth going to again and again. Almost every time, I will order a similar plate: two eggs over easy, bacon, hashbrowns, and toast. Although, sometimes I cannot turn down a good plate of pancakes or french toast.

After traveling to all of these diners, I have come up with my own rating system to decide the fanciness of the diner in question. It is a logarithmic scale, meaning that each level is multiplied in the level they are at, rather than just added on linearly. I want to share with the world, the Jelly Scale™.

One Jelly

One jelly diners have the saddest assortment of jelly possible. You sit down, and get excited that you are in a true diner, then as you get your toast you look in the jelly basket to only find grape jelly. No strawberry, no marmalade— just grape to be seen. At this moment you usually are immediately taken back to when you mother gave you grape cough syrup as a child, and are horrified that your sad white toast will only be accompanied by what you hope is real butter.

Two Jellies

One jelly diners can easily be turned into a two-jelly diner by the introduction of a second jelly type. Usually this is an inclusion of both Smucker’s grape jelly and a marmalade of some kind. The important distinction is that there are none of the holy grail of jellies— strawberry. The basket is devoid of that red we long for on a daily basis to take that bleached-flour bread into something a little more magical.

Three Jellies

Three jellies diners are my sweet spot, they are what I generally am always looking for. In fact, I can say with certainty that most of my favorite diners I have seen along the way are in this category. They have all the Smucker’s jellies, most importantly strawberry. Ah yes, that glorious flavor that will make any morning go from drab to fab, and probably the most important of all the small, plastic, jelly-filled containers at the diner.

Four Jellies

Once we leave the three jellies category, the scale starts picking up considerably on the level of fanciness. We start leaving the greasy spoons, and start getting to places that think omelettes can be made with only egg-whites. I in fact speak of diners that do not have Smucker’s at all, but instead those little Dickinson's jars of fanciness. These diners are the first of the upscale diners, and try to achieve a bit more class with a slightly classier jam selection.

Five Jellies

These diners are the Buckingham Palace of diner experiences. They shun the lower-class diners with their store-bought jams and jellies, in favor of making their own. In my experience, they change twice as much for my eggs and and believe firmly (and incorrectly) that kale should be on a breakfast menu. Although their bacon is usually the best of all the diners, their toast is rarely that bleach-white color that is longed for in breakfast diners— usually something more brown and with seeds is served instead. Although there are times and places for these diners, they are certainly only for a more sophisticated morning and generally shun me when I wear my workout clothes inside.

A Rating System: Complete

It is important to note that this rating system is only to determine the fanciness of a diner, and in no way is deterministic of the quality of the food provided. I have had many great diners in all categories, although I have indeed found most success in the three jelly category. I look forward to trying new diners everywhere I go, and at some point will start collecting a list of my favorites in another post, although I will have to go back to ensure my jelly rating is currently accurate for all of them.

For the comments, I have one question— where are your favorite diners where you live? Where do I need to go when I travel? And most importantly: What is there Jelly Scale™ rating?

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