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Cheese Krystal hamburgers are shown in this Friday, July 12, 2019, staff file photo in Chattanooga, Tennessee. / Staff file photo

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Krystal through the years

We start with a tear in our eye and — a little anticipation that our cholesterol numbers will drop.

You see, Krystal, birthed in Chattanooga in 1932, has filed for bankruptcy. Who knows? Maybe I am partially to blame. Parenthood has led me to fewer late nights and way fewer drive-bys for a sackful of delicious sin.

The burger company, known for its forever aromatic little squares of beef, grease, pickles and buns, appeared in court this week; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Krystal has between $10 million and $50 million in resources and more than $100 million in debt.

Even University of Alabama grads acknowledge those numbers don't add up.

Who knew the price of pickles and onions could go up so quickly?

For lots of us, news of a bankrupt Krystal means another chapter closing on our young adulthood.

Long before Taco Bell became the home of the fourth meal, Krystal was the go-to for soon-to-be-hungover folks everywhere. And even if the choice was between South of the Border or Krystal combos, well, my answer was always a very emphatic "Krystals — now and forever."

So TFP superstar Dave Flessner's breaking news from earlier in the week that Krystal was going bulging-belly up was staggering.

Fast-food chains are fighting for their lives as our eating habits shift. Calorie counters. Kale salads. Raw veggies and some fat-free dip. Rice cakes that probably taste like Styrofoam packing peanuts. Heck, the fact that it was called fast food because you need to eat it so fast that you can't taste it has been blurred by the realization that fast is not always best.

I'll bet you $1,000 that Peloton lady never had a Krystal as she ballooned up to 3 pounds overweight.

Maybe the lurch toward "health fast food" started with Subway, which became the fastest-growing food chain in the world because of a mix between the $5 footlong and a pervert pitchman who lost 300 pounds (not counting his soul).

In the end, healthy eating adds years to your life, I guess. It also subtracts years from your enjoyment of life. When was the last time you drove by Panera and thought, man, "Forget chili-cheese fries, I want a Baja Grain Bowl?"

It saddens me for the future generations that Krystal might no longer be an option for those willing to sacrifice health, a few dollars and some change from the cupholder for a couple of steamed square burgers that is the Krystal experience.

Not to belittle the demise of a company that potentially could cost hundreds if not thousands of people their jobs, but leaving Chattanooga for Atlanta tasted a lot like the beginning of the end.

Prices went up. Hail Marys — all-you-can-eat Krystals deals? — and five CEOs in 11 years. A marketing pitch of "Live a little" that had less than little impact.

In Chattanooga we figure things out, right? We add logistics firms when we have the worst highway interchanges in America. We manage a way for the sugar cakes of every 40-plus-person's childhood lunch to sponsor a renowned triathlon event, for Little Debbie's sake. When VW proved that Fahrvergnügen actually meant "free of a catalytic converter," did we blink an eye?

Of course not.

We take care of our own, extra onions and all.

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Jay Greeson

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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