When I read about the unique (and decidedly non-kosher) concoction of ground beef and vanilla ice cream that won the grand prize in a high-profile burger competition sponsored by the New York Beef Industry Council, it got me thinking: Is that as weird as it gets? After a bit of digging, I discovered the answer was a resounding “hell no,” so I compiled a list of other strange, real-life burgers. But that’s not all — I’ve also paired them with potential corporate sponsors and spokespeople who may want to exploit a lucrative, greasy cross-promotional opportunity. Yum!
Dark Vador Burger
As a promotional tie-in to the release of The Phantom Menace in 3D, the Belgian fast food chain Quick developed the “Dark Vador” Burger (French spelling). The weirdest thing about this burger, obviously, is the bun. It’s black — black like Darth Vader’s helmet, a coal miner’s lungs, or the heart of the Monsanto legal department.
Dark Vador might be a simple ploy to sell more fast food, but give credit where credit is due: Black food dye, and a lot of it, is what allows this burger to push people’s “what the hell?” button.
This sandwich also rivals the Yin/Yang Chinese mafia burger and the ill-fated Taco Bell Black Jack Taco for the title of “Least-Reflective Fast Food.”
Suggested sponsor: Dow Chemical, manufacturer of carcinogenic industrial colorant Carbon Black. (Carbon Black gives rubber tires and ink that characteristic midnight hue.) Bonus: The food grade version called “E152” is perfectly legal to use in Belgium.
The Krispy Kreme Burger
Sometimes I want to eat a lot of fat — I mean lard-buckets full of the stuff — but I’m always torn: “Do I want morning-breakfast-sweet fat, or do I want evening-dinner-savory fat?” Dilemmas like these are why people occasionally end up eating plain oatmeal with their fingers while twitching.
Thankfully, The Krispy Kreme Burger makes this whole question obsolete. Lacquering a beef patty, bacon, and cheddar between two glazed Krispy Kremes gives you all kinds of fat all together. It’s a great big happy family of fat.
Suggested sponsor: When fat and refined carbs are glued together in blessed matrimony, a heart attack can’t be far behind. Enter the Boston Scientific Corporation: It’s sold over a billion dollars worth of coronary stents since just 2009, and if they get onboard with the Krispy Kreme burger, they’ll sell a billion more. Imagine the co-branding possibilities in this partnership: Krispy Kreme burgers wrapped in waxed paper printed with the warning signs of a heart attack and Boston Scientific’s logo! Pre-op angioplasty surgery consultations that include complimentary Krispy Kreme Burgers for the whole family! The mind boggles.
The Everyman’s Foie Gras Burger
Adding mucho expensive (and ethically dubious) fattened duck liver to a burger isn’t necessarily unusual. High-end restaurants regularly tart up their burgers with caviar, lobster, foie gras, diamond-encrusted tennis bracelets (crunchy!) and other country-club condiments.
No, the weirdness here is the context. This burger, spiked with truffles and topped with foie gras, is on the menu at — wait for it – Wendy’s. How many Wendy’s customers really debate between a 99-cent cup of mixed-meat chili or the seared liver of a force-fed goose when planning lunch?
But you probably won’t see the Foie Gras Burger at your local Wendy’s anytime soon. This surprisingly reasonable $16 sandwich was developed just for upscale fast-food customers in Tokyo.
Suggested spokesman: This is the Olde English 800 malt liquor of foie gras, so to bump up the suburban respectability quotient while keeping the gritty realism alive, Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef-author-famous-TV-food-guy, should stand up and personally sponsor this sandwich. After appropriate soul-searching and bourbon-swilling, I’m confident his deep and passionate love for The Foie will overwhelm any qualms about getting into bed with the gauche fast-food biz. He’ll be a skinny, half-drunk, knife-wielding, filthy-mouthed Dave Thomas.
Big Ass Pile Of Bacon Burger
There must be something about fast food joints in Japan. Earlier this year, Burger King Japan ran a promotion that invited customers to add 15 slices of bacon to their burger for ¥100 (about $1.30).
Pushing the boundaries for cured pork digestibility and fast-food service standards, one customer apparently requested 1,050 slices. Your way, not exactly right away: Two hours and (one presumes) a few hog slaughters in the Burger King break-room later, he got his burger.
Suggested sponsor: As an obvious finalist in the “Most Nitrites You Can Fit On A Bun” category, this burger should be brought to you with pride by Pancreatic Cancer Surgeons everywhere. They’ll remind you of recent studies suggesting your risk for pancreatic cancer increases by 19 percent with every two-slice serving of bacon you consume daily. (Does that mean this customer has to contend with a 19,000 percent risk?) Bacon: If you don’t do it for you, do it for the cancer surgeons.
Nike Air Shoe Burger (see image)
Nike went way past a quarter-pounder to a Men’s Size 13 Medium: They commissioned Swedish designer Olle Hemmendorff to “interpret” an Air Max 90 and this is what they got. Looks like the special “ketchup filled gel cells” have sprung a little leak.
You have to wonder how the garment laborers of Southeast Asia who make Nike shoes feel about this artistic interpretation, since they aren’t generally paid enough to buy meat or Nike shoes, much less an iconic meat-shoe combo.
Suggested spokesman: Naturally, this burger would take gold in a “Tastiest Foot-in-Mouth” contest, and no one would be better qualified to sponsor that particular competition than Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, a man who spends almost as much time apologizing for his statements as he does campaigning. Oh, wait: Mitt Romney.