The Year That Was: Burgers in 2008
The Year That Was continues with a look at what happened in burgerdom in 2008. Holy cow, some stuff sure went down!
Extreme burgers are often a recurring theme in any given Year in Burgers, and 2008 was no exception. The biggest exception here is that A Hamburger Today was able to contribute in no small way to this legion of madness, with both our Hamburger Fatty Melt and Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt. Other burgers that went to the extreme: the deep-fried cheese-stuffed cheeseburger made from bacon, the McD's McChicken–Big Mac mashup, Paula Deen's bacon-doughnut-egg brunch burger. Which fast food burgers were the biggest? Tucker Shaw investigated in Portfolio magazine.
Acclaimed Chains Expand
California's The Counter moves East, while D.C.'s Five Guys moves west. (And north: There's now a Five Guys in my neighborhood. Hooray!) Our own Robyn Lee, though, says "meh" to the 5G burger but "mwah" to the fries.
And, oh, yeah: Kanye West is bringing Fatburger to Chicago.
This is HUGE news that I'm sorry I'm making official here in a wrap-up, but I will have more on this later, in a proper post. You see, in late August, Robyn Lee took the reins as editor of A Hamburger Today. If you noticed a sharp uptick in the awesomeness of the site, that would be why! She's done an amazing job—far better than I was doing. Go, Robyn!
In September, AHT began Twittering. Follow us here!
You thought you were safe from Shack news, huh? No dice, buddy. It's one of our favorite burgers here in New York City, and there was big Shake Shack news this year.
In January, it installed heat lamps as part of its new year-round schedule. The heat lamps took longer than expected, but we figured out a way to eat burgers even on the coldest of days (above).
Then it was announced that the New York Mets' new stadium would have a Shake Shack location in it when finished. And then the Shack opened a location on the Upper West Side. In 2009, I want a Shack in my neighborhood. Danny Meyer, are you reading this?
Oh, and Ed "Don Quixote" Levine won't stop beating a dead horse when it comes to the frozen french fries here. Ed, get over it. You go to the Shake Shack for burgers first, frozen custard second, and fries never.
Man does not live by burger alone. Were that the case, we'd all blindly consume the stale-bunned, hockey pucks at the nearest McKing. True burger fans hunger for a deeper understanding of their favorite food, and, luckily, two books that lavish obsessive attention on this dish hit the bookstores in April.
It was a lame run for burgers in pop culture this year. Too-precious-for-its-own-good indie hipster flick Juno popularized the burger phone. If that's not bad enough, Iron Man Tony Stark won back his freedom from terrorists, and then asked for Burger King as his first meal Stateside. Maybe that's because the character's portrayer, Robert Downey Jr., claims that BK saved his life. And on Survivor, a competitor paid $400 for a burger. Add to that Burger King's lame Whopper Virgins ad campaign and Flame body spray, and you've got some real low points in burgerdom.
Personally, I got a little tired of hearing about Pat La Frieda–powered burgers in New York City. It's just beef, people! But still, Nick's posts (here and here) about the outfit's new Black Label blend kicked some serious ass.
The Year That Was in Burger Videos
Andy Warhol Eats a Burger
Creepy McD's Commercial
Best Three Seconds in Burgerdom
Big-Name Chefs/Celeb Chefs Do Burgers
Early in 2008, Time magazine IDs a trend that had been well in the making already. That didn't stop lots of big name and/or celeb chefs from jumping everbody else's train: Gordon Ramsay professes love for In-N-Out while Eric Ripert digs McD's and Burger King and Ferran Adrià digs Mickey D's (and, um, tell me why we respect these guys as chefs again?).
Rachael Ray had a burger bash in New York City, where she's also planning on opening a burger joint. Oh, and you remember who won that Burger Bash and how it caused a minor uproar among food snobs? Katie Lee Joel (who defended her patty melt here).
The Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful
A Chihuahua on cheeseburgers. Noted without comment.
Cheeseburger in a can: Yes, for real.
The Rube Goldburger Machine. Sweet!
Shopsins Conan Burger is a cheeseburger combined with pancakes and served with real maple syrup and hot sauce.
The quest for the perfect burger is neverending, thankless, and delicious. An episode of How I Met Your Mother has a pitch-perfect take on this fool's errand, with Marshall and the gang teaming up with Regis Philbin.
The 1-Up Mushroom Burger! Yippee!
One of the minor annoyances of blogging for a living—and of being a veteran of three-plus years of blogging burgers in particular—is that you end up seeing a handful of memes over and over and over and over. All of a sudden the crochet burger dress flares up and makes the rounds on the blogs. Or the super tiny hamburger meal set. Or the Heart Attack Grill. Or the Googleburger. Or any burger with doughnuts for a bun. But, as I said, it's a minor annoyance and one that I'm grateful to put up with as one of the hazards of a job that is bringing you awesome burger news.
The Fatty Melts
Speaking of memes, we seem to have created one of our own with the Fatty Melt family—The Hamburger Fatty Melt (a burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches as buns) and The Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt (a bacon-added Fatty Melt). I would be absolutely thrilled if these guys became recurring burger memes! (Heck, we made it into this round-up of the Top 11 Weirdest Burgers.
Oops, did I already mention the Fatty Melts above? Yeah, I did. But they're so awesome they just had to begin and end this review. And I'm out!