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The Failed Burger Hypothesis

May 31, 2017

After the Tour de Burger earlier this month, I had some follow up work to do.

One of the great things about the Fussy Little Tours is that by the end of the day, each attendee gains a much deeper understanding about the idiosyncrasies of a specific food. That is just the natural consequence of trying five different versions of the same thing over the course of an afternoon.

With that understanding, one might be able to go back to a place that provided a good but not great experience, and fine tune an order so that it might produce a better outcome.

Foolishly, after my visit to Jumpin’ Jack’s, I thought I could improve upon the Jackburger.

For those that don’t know, the Jackburger has a lot of similarities to the Big Mac. While it’s missing a few components, the one that’s added contributes many of the same flavors and textures of what’s been omitted.

The Jackburger build goes like this: two all beef patties, cole slaw, slice of cheese, and nothing else on a sesame seed bun. And like the Big Mac, the Jackburger bun has a top, bottom, and middle.

It’s good. And it’s certainly special. But I thought it could be better.

While there are some who are unimpressed with the dispassionate flame grilling, executed behind the line at Socia’s well loved seasonal burger stand, I found myself transfixed by the transformation of raw beef patties into fire licked burgers glistening with rendered beef fat.

Fat is flavor. Or at least that’s the mantra. Burgers that are cooked on the griddle might glisten from a heavy hand with the cooking oil. But to see such succulent patties coming off of a grill? Color me impressed.

The thing was that the Jackburger wasn’t a good vehicle for this. All of that bread sucked up the “juices” and because the patties were separated by a third piece of bread, there was no layer of cheese between two hot greasy beef patties.

That is the magic layer of the double cheeseburger, where beef fat and cheap sliced cheese combine to form the beefy cheesy sauce of my dreams.

So, I thought, maybe the answer here is to just get a double cheeseburger with cole slaw. And as long as we’re tinkering around with this sandwich, how about we add fried onions. You know, because, fried onions.

After carrying around this notion with me for weeks, this past Saturday, I found myself in Schenectady on a gorgeous afternoon with a few hours to kill. It was a perfect day for Jumpin’ Jack’s. So I gave it a go.


Any guesses where the thing failed? It should have been obvious to me, but the reality is that quick service burgers aren’t something with which I have a ton of familiarity.

It was the meat. The patties themselves.

In the Jackburger beef patties have someplace to hide, each nestled between relatively thick slices of bun. And that helps to distract from their compressed texture. But when you put two of them together in a simple steamed bun that can barely constrain the juicy, fatty mass within, this sandwich becomes all about the meat.

And the meat just isn’t that good.

Sure, the greasiness was glorious. But even the slaw, when served on the side, wasn’t quite as good as when heaped on the Jackburger. For whatever reason, the slaw seemed wetter.

So, it’s back to the drawing board. Now, I’m thinking that the answer may be as simple as a basic cheeseburger with sliced onions. Perhaps the glory of Jumpin’ Jack’s is that the straight up cheeseburger has the equivalent melting fat of a double.

Anyhow, to pull a win out of an unsuccessful outing I headed to Mohawk Taproom where I enjoyed a tall glass of Edward. That’s Hill Farmstead’s pale ale, and while I’ve had it before and liked it a lot, this was the first time that I truly loved it.

Maybe it has something to do with washing down the greasy burger. Maybe it has something to do with having it enough times. Or maybe I’m able to appreciate it more that I have a wider knowledge of the pale ale category.

It’s hard to say. But the taproom has good, fast, and free WiFi so I was able to get a bit of work done too. So it was a win all around. Except for the burger part. Still, I’m hoping to test this new hypothesis out sometime in the next few months.

I’ll keep you posted.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2017 11:04 am

    Needs pickles.

  2. albanylandlord permalink
    June 1, 2017 12:39 am

    Mmmm. Edward is fantastic.

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