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Burgers Should Taste Better From a King

March 10, 2010

This is a disgusting story.  I had my first Burger King hamburger (in this case it was a double cheeseburger) in a long long time.

Honestly I cannot remember the last time I have eaten beef at a McDonald’s or Burger King.  I’m at McDonald’s more often that I would care to admit, driven largely by their omnipresence at highway rest stops and my mother-in-law’s unnatural love for their ice cream cones and sundaes.  Occasionally I’ll pop into a Burger King when presented with limited options for one of their veggie burgers.

In college I remember eating burgers from the two big fast food titans, except in West Philly we called them Murder King and McDeath.  Not because of the food they served, rather because of the shady neighborhood where they were located.  Sometimes they were just too cheap to resist.

But they really fell off my radar when I adopted a New Year’s resolution while living out in California to only eat one burger a month.  This was difficult because I love burgers.  The key was to make every burger count, and to make every burger special.  The big fast food chains just didn’t make the cut.  Heck, In-N-Out Burger even maxed out at one time per year.

So it had been a long time.  Then on Monday I found myself hungry, driving past a Burger King, and noticing the $1 Double Cheeseburger sale.  My curiosity got the best of me.  I pulled in the drive through and ordered that burger.

I was hoping for the best.

After all, fast food is designed to be delicious.  They have the best food scientists in the world working on how to engineer a tasty beef patty, and have it be consistent day after day, state to state.  How bad could it be?

Plus this was Burger King after all.  It’s flame broiled or something like that, and I had a distant memory of actually preferring the BK burgers.  This was going to be exciting.  It might even be good.

When I unwrapped the sandwich from it’s paper wrapper, I was first greeted to a slick of grease.  This was surprising.  Sure burgers are fatty, it’s what makes them so good.  But I had thought the flame broiling would lessen the grease factor, you know, since the burger isn’t being fried in additional fat.

But it’s just a little fat.  It was more surprising than upsetting.  And for those with even a little knowledge of the physiology of taste, fat equals flavor.

Except in this case, where it did not.

The only real flavor in this burger came from the condiments, which I blessed with every bite.  I would say to myself, “Thank you, warm pickle, for giving me some kind of solid texture and cleansing acidity to counteract this mushy greasy pile of goo.” Regretably the pickles didn’t last terribly long, and then I was left only with the sweet and tangy ketchup and the vinegar kick of the yellow mustard for comfort.

There was something about the double cheeseburger (minus the pickles) that was just unsettling.  The whole thing was very soft and unctuous.  Biting into it, the patties didn’t offer any resistance.  But as I chewed up my bite, the actual bits of meat from the patty proved surprisingly tough and chewy.  Especially the one little very hard bit, which I presume was a small bit of bone.  That and the one larger extra chewy bit, which I removed and identified as a piece of cartilage.  It was really difficult to eat this without thinking about the pink slime at every chew.

As much as the burger didn’t taste like anything going down, it had an alarmingly strong and persistent aftertaste.  And regardless what I tried to get rid of that flavor in my mouth and throat, nothing worked.  It was a lingering and unpleasant reminder of what I just did to myself.

For my $1.08 (after all I still have to pay NY taxes even though I live in Albany) I received:
460 calories, 27g of fat, 13g of saturated fat, 80mg of cholesterol, 1g of trans fat and 990mg of sodium.

Or you could trust this other source that says:
540 calories, 31g of fat, 15g of saturated fat, 100mg of cholesterol, 1g of trans fat and 1,050mg of sodium.

I am glad that I did this.  Now I won’t have to do it again for another ten years.  That is, if the kingdom is able to hang on that long.  Change is coming, and sprucing up the décor isn’t going to solve the problems this business is facing.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. tsetzer permalink
    March 10, 2010 11:24 am

    Please know that the hairs on my necks and arms stood up as I read about the mouth feel of the patty and the “bonus” cartilage and bone.

    I have not been a fast food customer since high school but by curiosity was piqued recently when passing a BK after having a few drinks. It seemed like a good idea at the time but the order board at the drive through was complicated for the non “regulars”….all the ordering by numbers and crazy names for the “meal deals”.

    I didn’t want to think about the little gems of gristle and what not in the beef. I am not a pickle fan and that rubbery crunch made me think if what biting into a finger might feel like. I was not able to get the entire thing down but the damage was done and the aftertaste was like no other. It is as vivid today as it was that night and I am not being dramatic.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane…or not.

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    March 10, 2010 5:13 pm

    BK has not kept up with the times. I have to admit–and I hate fast food–the new McD’s 1/3 lb. angusburger is pretty good. I go to Juicy Burgers and More for a local quality hamburger, though.

  3. March 10, 2010 11:10 pm

    Ad talk now.

    Crispin Bogusky is the agency for Burger King and they have this brilliant strategy of presenting the “king” who is an expressionless papier mache form on top of a human body so he’s somewhat abstracted and you can’t dislike him immediately. Right now they are running a spot which opens with the character running through some kind of hospital ward and people are trying to catch him because “the King has gone crazy” because he’s selling a steakburger for $3.99.

    The ad is so good that I want to buy a BK steakburger and give it away in support of the campaign. Point being, they’re not trying to sell you food but a post-ironic experience. If you happen to get fed that’s good, if you find bone shards there’s your calcium for the day.

  4. tsetzer permalink
    March 11, 2010 10:21 am

    Just make sure to take your Vit D so the bone shard calcium can be absorbed!

  5. March 11, 2010 11:24 am

    When I was little (maybe 7 or 8?) my mom had this talk with me about the FDA and what passes for burgers in the fast food industry. Now, this was almost 30 years ago. I am so thankful to my mom for talking to an 8 year old the way she did. I gave up fast food (save for the occasional order of french fries) just like that. At 8.

    When I became a mom I decided to start even earlier indoctrinating my children with the ideas that fast food is disgusting and really shouldn’t be consumed at all. An extreme idea to some but it’s how I feel comfortable living. I sat my son down in front of Super Size Me when he was 6.

    Recently (the past year) I tried both Five Guys and Chipotle and I’ve relaxed my standards enough to enjoy both from time to time. But I had a burger at Five Guys this week and I have to say, I felt so gross afterwards. Just sick and oily. I think I might have to go back to the way things were. I still feel OK about Chipotle from time to time.

  6. breadchick permalink
    March 11, 2010 10:42 pm

    Well, my issue with Five Guys is that I NEVER trusted burgers from any restaurant because of the gristle and knobs of hard fat I’d encounter. Really not good. So, I heard such great things about FG, and guess what…

    You guessed it, I’m sure. My dear old friends of gristle and knobs.

    Sounds like a garage band: Gristle and Knobs. Or, an underground diner joint. Is there such a thing?

  7. tsetzer permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:09 am

    I think I will use Gristle and Knobs for my March Madness bracket name – love it!

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