Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Eat, Swallow, and Drop Dead

Upon further reflection, I have come to two conclusions about my nightmare-inducing culinary experience of this past weekend. First, that my ailment was not the result of what I ate at my favorite steak house, but of some undercooked meat that I nibbled on at home that morning; and second, that even if the steak and salad bar meal was not the ultimate cause of my sickness, I am of an age where my metabolism is slowing down and I really need to consider smaller portions. I've always had a tendency to be overweight, but more so now than ever before.

But wait! What if I ever decide to pay a visit to Clearfield County, and I get hungry from all that driving? After all, it is almost 2 1/2 hours away. I might be able to put aside concerns over my weight, my metabolism, and my eating habits -- especially if it means $350, just for eating one sandwich. Oh yes, Denny's Beer Barrel Pub is at it again. I had heard about the six pound burger. If only, I thought, I were about ten years younger. I could have handled it then!

I am going to pass on the opportunity to try this new addition to Denny's menu. This cheeseburger totals fifteen pounds. That is the total weight of the entire sandwich; you are not getting fifteen pounds of beef. This is what you are getting:

The newest burger, dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, is as big around as the inside of a car tire and should be approached with relish.

A cup and a half, that is. It also comes with a cup and half each of mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup, a head of lettuce, two onions, three tomatoes and 25 slices of cheese, which go on 101/2 pounds of ground beef and a bun that is made by a local bakery.

The burger starts out, as burgers typically do, as a large slab of raw ground meat -- 280 ounces of extra lean beef shipped up from Pittsburgh. That's enough beef to make 70 McDonald's quarter pounders.

The cost is forty bucks, if you aren't going to eat it all in one sitting. I could conceivably feed my family of six for almost an entire week on this monster. Now for my next question: as someone who enjoys cooking at home, I know that the bigger the burger, the more difficult it is to keep in one piece. How does Denny's maintain the physical integrity of the Beer Barrel Belly Buster?
Kitchen manager Matthew Williams mixes in eggs and bread crumbs and other ingredients he won't disclose to hold the beef together, and then puts it into an auto sham -- basically a big broiler -- for 21/2 hours while the grease sizzles and jumps in the pan.
"Other ingredients he won't disclose". Some sort of edible super glue, perhaps? Hey, I know -- Tomato Paste! After the carefully glued 10 1/2 pound burger pattie leaves the broiler, it is charbroiled on a grill, then gets dressed. With 5 pounds of condiments. Who would eat such a thing? Denny's had some people in mind, and reached out to them to test the burger:
Professional eaters tried to team up to eat the first burger on Saturday, but were stymied by its sheer size.
Professional eaters????? When I read things like that, I realize that I missed my true calling in life. I might even be retired by now. Professional eaters -- if Uncle Jed hadn't struck it rich by finding oil on his property, this would be Jethro Bodine's line of work. Jethro had that kind of metabolism. In many respects, he was a hero because of it. Unlike the do-gooders who try to ruin everyone's fun:

"What's the point of having a hamburger that's 15 pounds?" said Madelyn Fernstrom, associate professor and director of the UPMC Weight Management Center. "It's ridiculous. There's nothing that is redeeming about it."

The caloric value of a burger this size means that it should be consumed by about 30 to 40 people, she said. Healthy or not, if you grill it, they will come.

Yes, but they will most likely come to watch someone else eat it. Will anyone finish it? Unlikely -- at least I wouldn't place bets on anyone finishing in five hours. But it is nice to know that something like this exists so close to home, in case I am ever in the mood for some not-so-fast food.


Honnistaibe said...

Summer of 1966 I worked at Camp Kon-o-kwee..about five miles west of Zelienople. Somewhere between the camp and Elwood City was a Dairy Queen knockoff, Dairy King or something like that. They had a special 3 or 4 of us would go in on.. twelve (12) hamburgers and a gallon bottle full of fountain root beer for $ 2.00!

Honnistaibe said...

Place was called the "Twin Kiss".