Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Theory Of Origin Burger

After reading this column in today's Forum about burgers that don't live up to the hype, I realized something. Something fundamental and seismic. Something wonderful and terrible. Something that can't be described with mere adjectives. Uh, other than the ones I just used, I mean. It is a new theory of the culinary universe. I call it the Theory of Origin Burger. It states:

The ability of a hamburger chain to create a great burger diminishes with each new creation.

That styofoam will be your tomb.

I've tried just about every new burger the legacy chains have ever crammed into a styfoam container or wrapped in greasy wax paper. Remember the McDLT? How about the Rodeo Cheeseburger? The big legacy chains, Burger King, McDonalds, Hardees, Wendy's; they've tried everything over the years. Burgers with ranch dressing. Burgers with avocado. Burgers with pineapple. Burgers with chicken sandwiches stuck in the middle. They all come, stay for awhile, then drop a twenty dollar bill on the nightstand and say, "later, baby." I try all these johnny-leave-quickies once. Once. But Burger King should have quit after the Whopper. McDonalds has the Big Mac. Wendy's, the classic. Hardees, well okay, Hardees burgers suck everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. Bad example.

A corollary to the Theory of Origin Burger is this:

The more desperate the attempt, the longer the name.

Look at the two burgers that serve as the subject of John Lamb's -- why yes, that is the same John Lamb who will be presiding over my pending nuptials. I know an honest-to-goodness journalist.-- fine article linked above. Burger King's BK Stuffed Steakhouse is certainly a mouthful to say, but with a name like that you know it's not going to be good. How about McDonald's affront to brevity; the Angus Chipotle BBQ Bacon Burger has no choice but to be consigned to the dustbin of history. The name clearly came from the unholy union of a blindfolded dart board tosser and a peyote-addled stream-of-consciousness poet.

Neither has the simple elegance of the chains' flagship sandwiches. Whopper. Big Mac. Short, sweet, to the point. The chains got it right the first time. Further experimentation was, is, and always shall be unnecessary. These lurching forays into burger genesis may provide a brief titillation, but that twenty dollar bill is really a poor substitute for the real thing.

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