Thursday, January 31, 2008

the hamburger hierarchy

A few days ago I was passing by an In-n-out Burger restaurant and I said to myself, "Self, everyone around here raves about In-n-out Burger. Sure, the last couple of times you tried it you were greatly underwhelmed, but maybe they were just having a bad day. It would be a shame if you were missing great hamburgers because of a bit of bad luck, so you should try it again." Impressed with my reasonableness, I decided to listen to myself and give In-n-out Burger another chance.

Why do I listen to that idiot? Once again, In-n-out Burger proves that it is almost possible to make a hamburger that is not even worth eating. Now don't get me wrong. Hamburgers are one of the greatest food technologies of all time. I don't know that I have ever had a hamburger that was actually not good --even the prepackaged hamburgers that you buy from a vending machine and heat in the microwave are good-- but In-n-out Burger comes as close as I have ever tasted.

Here is the hamburger hierarchy:

1. Fudrucker's
2. homemade hamburgers, Whataburger, and hamburgers from diners and similar restaurants
3. Jack-in-the-Box and Burger King
4. Wendy's, McDonald's and Carl's Junior
5. burger's that you buy from a vending machine and heat in a microwave
6. In-n-out Burger

I'm not kidding here. In-n-out Burger really is in last place on that list. Sure, I'd eat one, but I'd rather have any other hamburger. Heck, I'd rather have a chicken sandwich. Yes, that's right --I'd rather have a chicken sandwich than an In-n-out burger.

A few comments on the other entries may be in order. I didn't just put Fudrucker's at the undisputed #1 position because they claim to have the world's best hamburgers. I put them there because every Fudrucker's hamburger I've ever eaten has seemed to me at the time to be the best hamburger that I've ever eaten. I don't know what makes them so great, but they are.

I also don't know why Jack-in-the-box is better than Wendy's or Carl's Junior. As far as the quality of the ingredients, I would tend to put both of those other places in front of Jack's. But Jack's burgers just taste better.

Also, I've been a bit negative about McDonald's before. I suppose it is time to admit that at the time I wrote that post, I hadn't eaten at McDonald's in years. The problem I had with McDonald's was an entire summer working at an office where the only place to go for lunch was McDonald's. An entire summer eating every lunch at McDonald's may have colored my judgment of the place slightly. But two years ago, I tried McDonald's again, and found that I had regained my appreciation for Big Macs and Quarter Pounders. It was a good day.

So the only thing left unexamined, is why so many of my acquaintances swear by In-n-out Burger. Maybe it's the bread. In-n-out Burger has somewhat sweet buns. They don't do anything for me, but I suppose others may like them. The ingredients are good quality, say Wendy's/Carl's Junior/Burger King quality, but the beef is so tasteless that it may as well be a vegiburger.

No comments: