Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Burger King YUMBO is Back!

It's a BK blast from the past ... that no one under the age of 45 will have any nostalgic recollections of!

Late last year, I started noticing some peculiar signage on the local Burger King establishments. My initial thought when I saw the little message boards declaring "the YUMBO is back," I imagine, was similar to the reaction of a good 98 percent of the American populace: "what the fuck is a YUMBO?"

As a proud member of that technologically-dependent monoculture known as Gen Y, I had never even heard whispers about a "YUMBO" before. That, I assure you, is for a good reason: the original item was removed from the main Burger King menu line-up forty goddamn years ago.

From a marketing standpoint, this has to be one of the most bizarre fast food promotions in quite some time. While catering to the nostalgia-obsessed masses isn't really anything atypical in the fast/processed food-o-spheres, what is atypical is launching a nostalgia-themed campaign targeting the over 40 demographic. Sure, sure, today's young 'uns (whose only true religion is vapid materialism) can be expected to shill out some extra dough for a six pack of Surge and a box of French Toast Crunch, but trying that same ironic-overconsumption pitch to guys encountering mid-life crisis?  Something tells me these dudes aren't exactly going to be jumping for joy at a Screaming Yellow Zonkers relaunch.

The inexplicable appeal to greying Gen X'ers aside, I suppose the most important thing we can talk about regarding the new ... err, old ... product is, of course, it's taste. Retro-pandering aside, is it actually something worth cramming into your maw while driving 80 miles per hour down the Interstate  -- which, believe it or not, is actually a bona-fide crime in some states?

With a name like a "YUMBO," I was expecting literally anything. I mean, shit, it could be a yam-flavored hamburger, or Whopper topped off with Bubble Yum. Yeah, that might sound a little childish on my part, but we actually live on a planet where KFC is selling hot dog wieners wrapped up in fried chicken to people -- nothing is too absurd to consider these days.

As it turns out, though, the "YUMBO" is actually a fairly unremarkable item -- it's a hot sub, really no different than the kind of hoagie you would get at Subway, albeit without the appeal of telling some dude who probably doesn't know English that you want extra banana peppers on your sandwich.

In terms of ingredients, you get the expected goods. There's two elongated sesame seed buns, a fat wad of sliced ham, a ton of American cheese, iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise. There's probably some additional sauce or spice in the mix too, but odds are, you won't really detect it, unless you really, really have a keen tongue for artificial flavorings.

In terms of mouthfeel, this is a really unusual offering. While the ham and cheese are both fairly warm, the rest of the sandwich is pretty damned chilly, which means you get a somewhat frustrating alternating texture every bite. Overall, I'd say the sandwich itself tastes pretty good, but that warm-cold-warm sensation is a big turn-off. Hey, if I wanted a bi-polar burger, I'd be petitioning McDonalds to  bring back the McDLT.

The "YUMBO" is being advertised as a limited-time only offering, and I assure you, it's most definitely going to stay that way. Despite the fact that they sometimes sell me hamburgers sans the actual hamburger patty, I've always been a pretty big admirer of Burger King, who unlike McDonalds, is fairly willing to try out crazy bullshit from time-to-time. That may also explain why McDoanlds annual sales trump BK's, but this is The Internet Is In America, gosh-damn-it, not Forbes or The Economist.

Of course, the downside to being experimental is that, a lot of times, your experiments just plain suck. Now, I am not saying the "YUMBO" is a bad product by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, if you need a quick nom for lunch, it actually is somewhat flavorful and filling. That said, it really doesn't stand out in any way, shape or form as an individual item. Even the fast food gimmicks that aren't as palatable (the Taco Bell waffle, I'm looking at you) at least have some semblances of individuality to them, which the "YUMBO," unfortunately, just doesn't have. The "Yumbo" is sort of like that one girl in your class who is a solid 5 in looks, but really plain Jane and devoid of quirkiness. I mean, yeah, you probably could make out with her, but you are much more drawn to the 4 with a nose ring that refers to the teacher as crude body parts, or even the 3 with neon purple hair who doesn't wear deodorant and cites Anton Levay in English essays. With fast food -- as it as with high school romances -- it's ultimately a lot more about the experience than it is taste, in any manifestation.

So, the "YUMBO." To conclude: it's OK. Not good, not bad, just sort of there. You probably will not be able to eat eight in a row like most Taco Bell offerings, but it is somewhat flavorful and it will fill you up in a way that doesn't leave you too bloated and/or gassy -- which is actually something of a rarity for contemporary fast food offerings.

If you want to experience this thing, I'd advise hitting up your local BK as soon as possible, because it's probably going to be silently pulled from the national menu any day now, and only time will tell if the item gets relaunched in 2054 as an appeal to today's knee-high fast food aficionados. 

As far as revivalist fast food offerings go, I think we're beginning to tread a little thing here. Outside of full on TCBY-like rebrandings of dormant chains like Burger Chef, our nostalgia-based offerings are whittling away -- and yes, McDonalds probably will give us that pineapple burger thing for Lent before Taco Bell ever thinks about re-releasing its good enchiritos. For shame, America. For shame.


  1. The name of this meal is quite unique.. For me its hard to digest this much uniqueness…. After exploring this,  I am sure this is not my thing to have.
    Burger King

  2. That is really a great news dear but I have already hired San Francisco restaurants for my upcoming events and that is why I was wondering if I can serve these burgers there as well?


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