Excuse Me, You Want What On Your Burger?

Raw Power                                   VS.                                                               Pure Genius

The male species is one strange animal, and I can say that because I’m part of the tribe. Competition seems to be bred into us from birth but reaches extreme levels in our early twenties. Where am I getting this unofficial data? From eye witness experience this past weekend at BnD’z.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, we offer all of our customers the ability to Create Your Own Masterpiece. Whether it’s a hot dog or burger, everyone who comes into the restaurant has the opportunity to not only select what toppings they want, but also what type of meat, bun, how it’s cooked, etc. When college-aged men come in, it always seems to turn into some type of primal ritual to see who is the Alpha Male.  In this instance, it was a classic brain versus brawn scenario.

With local universities back in session, we definitely saw a spike in business, but one particular group of three that came in on Saturday night seemed to have an agenda. Who was going to order the most….let’s say “unique” burger and proceed to eat it regardless of how, uh…mismatched the toppings, bun and type of meat were.

These students, Steve, Joey and Dylan, approached the counter and announced their intentions prior to ordering.

Joey: So just to review, we can each have anything on our burgers we want, right?

Dylan: Or hot dog.

Steve: There is no way you two can order something crazier than me! I studied the menu before we came, I have it all planned out!

Me: Uh, yeah, absolutely, we can put anything on the menu on your burger or hot dog. Just fill out the checklist here and we will get your Masterpieces ready.

Steve and Joey began to playfully trash talk each other as they completed their forms. I offered a pencil and form to Dylan, who seemed quite reserved. Me: Here you go.

Dylan: That’s ok, sir.

Me: Please, call me Doug. You’re not involved in this craziness?

He glanced over at his friends, returned his focus to me and nodded with a sly smile. Something was up, and I have to admit I was curious to see how this was going to play out.

Here is what each of the students ordered:

Joey

An 8oz Shredded Chicken Burger, medium well on a pretzel bun. Toppings included: wasabi horseradish cheese, garlic, neon green relish, jalapeno peppers and a fried egg for good measure.

Joey seemed pretty happy with his order as he turned to Steve and the silent Dylan, flashing a confident smile.

Steve

An 8oz Veggie Burger (“Coach says I have to cut back on red meat!”), medium rare on a gluten-free bun. Toppings included: celery salt, garlic, Lawry’s Season Salt, diced onions, pickles, grilled onions, green peppers, cole slaw, mac ‘n cheese, sauerkraut and plain old mustard.

At this point a crowd gathered around the register, everyone interested in what was transpiring. How was Dylan going to top these orders?

Dylan

Regular hot dog, medium well…..on a white bun…..no toppings.

The groan from the customers, Joey and Steve echoed through the dining room. I smiled at Dylan. I could tell he was smart, and it had nothing to do with the CMU logo on his t-shirt.

The food was prepared and presented to the three friends, who were now surrounded by curious onlookers. Joey and Steve dug in with valor, as Dylan just sat, staring at his plain hot dog.

I have to give them credit. Steve got three rather large bites of his Frankenstein creation down when he announced he couldn’t go on. “I love everything on it, man, but not together! I’m out!”

Joey, eyes watering, most likely from the combination of wasabi horseradish and jalapeno peppers, forced himself to take a fourth bite. With his mouth full he proclaimed “I win! You culdnt enan et halv….”

As his unintelligible victory speech proceeded, Dylan nonchalantly grabbed a fork and scraped all of the toppings from both of his friends burgers, proceeding to clump the mess onto his hot dog. A murmur began among the spectators. Steve reached up and placed his hand over Joey’s still moving mouth, pointing with his other hand at their quiet friend.

Dylan began to eat this now mess of a hot dog….in three bites. The crowd cheered as Joey sat down, defeated. Steve stood and bowed to his friend, the newly-crowned Alpha Male in this bizarre competition.

Dylan smiled to the crowd, then locked eyes with me. “Doug, I could really use a drink of water.”

THE GREAT HAMBURGER CONTROVERSY

Since the beginning of time, every great invention has been marred in controversy. Are you in the camp that feels Marconi invented the radio or do you passionately believe that Nikola Tesla was the true mastermind behind this communication marvel that all of use on a daily basis? Are you from the John Lennon camp that believes the majority of Beatles songs written with his partner, Sir Paul McCartney, were more of his construction, or do you know in your bones that McCartney was the true genius behind some of the most timeless songs in history? Was the telephone conceived by Alexander Graham Bell or was it stolen from a concept by Johann Phillip Reis? Did Frederick Albert Cook make it to the North Pole first or was it Naval engineer Robert Peary? Does anyone really care?

Maybe not, but we should. True credit should be given to these pioneers, the real inventors, creators and discovers who, in a moment of inspiration, brought the world something special. Something that we’ve all taken for granted, such as catchy pop songs or the device we hear them through. What about food? Is there any meal we take more for granted than the All American Hamburger? Can we even be sure the hamburger is an American invention at all?

Let’s roll up our sleeves and take a look at the anemic amount of facts we even have about the origin of this sandwich. Once all of the data, urban legend and distant recollections of those who claimed there were their for the genesis of this tasty meal has been presented, you can come to your own conclusions in regards to The Great Hamburger Controversy.

The Year: 1200 or so. Genghis Khan supposedly fed his armies meat and bread, eaten hurriedly together as the Mongols warriors moved into Russia.

The Year: 1763. Author Hannah Glasse wrote in a cookbook about Hamburgh Sausage, minced meat served on toast.

The Year :1897. Dr. James Salisbury invents a steak dish sold to the public for breakfast, often included on a hard roll. The Salisbury Steak became so popular it advanced up the meal chain into a common dinner dish.

The Year: 1885. Fifteen year old entrepreneur Charlie Nagree operating a food stand at the Outagamie County Fair in Wisconsin realized he would sell more product if his client’s could take their beef to go, walking through the fairgrounds while enjoying their meal. He called his Hamburg Steak sandwiches “Hamburger Charlies”.

The Year: 1880. Athens, Texas cook Fletcher Davis sold several meat sandwiches with his wife from a cafe on Tyler Street.

The Year: 1885. The same year Charlie Nagree was peddling his Hamburger Charlies in Wisconsin, brothers Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio were selling ground beef sandwiches at the Erie County Fair. They claimed the term “Hamburger” originated from the town Hamburg located in New York state.

Interesting, isn’t it? Who really was responsible for the invention of this delicacy we’ve all come to know and love? Chances are you may be asking yourself, “Does it really matter?” Well, maybe not, it’s not like we’re pondering the meaning of life here, but I live and breathe hamburgers, and hot dogs, and pretty much each of the well known All American Foods. It’s important to me as the proprietor of BnD’z. I can’t answer the question as to who should get credit. I really don’t think any of us will ever know. But if I could go back in time and meet that individual, I would love to shake his hand…..unless burgers really were invented by Genghis Khan, then I’d have to make sure he was in a really good mood first!

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