Monday, October 19, 2015

The Burger King Halloween Whopper!

It's one of the most remarkable seasonal items to come along in quite some time ... and also, it appears to turn your turds teal. 

By: Jimbo X

In 2014, Burger King unveiled not just one but two limited-time-only "black Whoppers" in Japan -- both of which featured bamboo charcoal-darkened cheese and a heaping helping of squid ink

Even in a world where one can walk into a store and buy Oreos-flavored Oreos, that idea might just be a bit too weird for Obama's America. Nonetheless, the core concept -- a big, midnight-hued hamburger -- was something that certainly appealed to today's fast-food-loving masses. After all, this is a country that gobbled up a hot dog and potato chip-stuffed sammich by the truckload over the summer ... a chemically dyed bun is relatively mundane in comparison. 

Eschewing the squid ink, the Americanized "black Whopper" is instead imbued with A1 steak sauce, which is not only "baked" into the buns, but also generously splashed all over your meats, cheeses and veggies wedged in between them.

Burger King is no doubt promoting the shit (and more on that, literally, a bit later) heavily. They've even modified their time-honored paper-crowns to feature a more foreboding, Day of the Dead-like design. Granted, the thing does look more than a little out of place next to the overpriced glass-case cookies and Chicken Fries cut-outs, but then again, it is Halloween -- normalcy is not expected, nor necessarily wanted

As a dude with an unabashed admiration of both the All Hallow's Eve season and mass-marketed, terribly unhealthy food stuffs (with a minor in consumer marketing psychology), of course I wanted to give the newfangled "Ha1loween Whopper" a try. (You see what they did there? By changing the "al" following the H in "Halloween" to the name of product co-sponsor "A1," Burger King actually promotes a portmanteau, if you will, of the steak sauce provider and ties it back into the seasonal theme via a thematically appropriate pun. So yeah, some dude who went to Harvard probably got paid $800,000 to dream that one up.) Alas, beyond the flashy, in-house digital screen advertisements and all of the neat cardboard accouterments, did the product itself actually live up to all of the highfalutin hype? 

(And yes, the fully assembled crown doth indeed look, as the kids today say it, tubular and quite bitchin'.)

In terms of sheer aesthetics, this thing is a five-star, 10-out-of-10, walk-off-grand slam. It's not just that Burger King is selling a limited-time-only variation of their marquee product in a seasonally-fitting onyx casing, it's also the way in which the product is presented, too. If the bones-themed Burger King crowns weren't enough to get you in the autumnal mood, the fucking wrapper would, for sure...

Holy shit, you literally have to unwrap a mummy to eat it. It's such an incredibly small -- and frankly, a functionally unnecessary detail -- but it just adds so much to the overall experience. All in all, this wrapper might just be my favorite thing about the product as a whole -- I totally didn't expect to peer into my paper bag and find a freaking Universal Monster peeping back at me, and for that, I applaud Burger King to no end.

But, what about the burger itself? Well, let's take a closer look at the product, why don't we? 

For those wondering, yes, this thing is very much a traditional Whopper, which tastes indistinguishable from the daily menu item that is devoured en masse throughout America. Strangely, the A1 mix-in doesn't really alter the taste of the burger all that much. In fact, it took about three or four big bites before I even noticed that it had a particularly steak saucy texture and taste to it. 

It's really hard to tell from the photographs, but really, the bun itself isn't 100 percent black. In fact, it's actually more of a dark brown M&M color, but it's kind of hard to mass-market "the all-new dark auburn Whopper," I take it. Taste-wise, it does seem to feel a little soggier and softer than your standard sesame seed bun, but at the same time, I didn't really detect a particularly strong A1 vibe, either. 

No matter your take on the culinary desirability of such a product, there is no denying that it takes some time to adjust to it. Perhaps owing to generations and generations of white patriarchy-fueled racism, we've kind of been conditioned to not find black foodstuffs attractive. Sure, you can say that's out of indisputable molecular biology and the fact that most rotten and fungal-infected foods turn black, but I know systematic prejudice when I see it, smell it and taste it. (Also, in the above photo, the more I stare at it, the more it resembles one of the titular creatures from Alien puking up a Big Mac. I honestly have no idea if that's points off, or points for.) 

And, of course, you're interior meal is the expected jumble of iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, non-fried onion rings, mayonnaise and char-grilled beef, topped off by a dainty dollop of A1 paste. So yeah, if you like the basic Whopper -- and just as long as you don't have a severe aversion to steak sauce -- you will probably enjoy this one quite a bit. Also, do you think that the steak sauce theme is perhaps an oblique homage to blood-soaked slasher favorites like Friday the 13th and Halloween? Eh ... probably not. 

Which brings us to that which cannot be ignored regarding the Halloween Whopper: namely, the fact that it turns your feces a nice bluish-green hue after digesting them (Warning: this shit ... literally ... is NSFW.) 

Fundamentally, this is nothing new with food coloring-tinted items (lest we forget the famed Boo Berry Spatters, which are pretty much a seasonal hallmark up there with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown around my parts.) Alas, it appears that not that many Americans are not as familiar with such a phenomenon ... and perhaps it is a brilliant marketing move on Burger King's part to expand the product's penetration in the national (sub?)conscious. [An interesting side note: apparently, the burger's squid ink counterpart in Japan didn't result in the same external consequences.]

Considering the deluge of extra media attention that little "feature" has afforded BK, methinks it's not an altogether unplanned part of the P.R. putsch ... you just know somebody had to have noticed something in the test market runs (pun, oh my god, so intended)and figured it would make for some incredible after-market word of mouth advertising. 

"Come try the all-new, limited-edition Halloween Whopper, kiddos," I imagine one of the tongue-in-cheek early slogans beginning, "it's just as much fun coming out as it is going in!


The Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreos Milkshake!

You really can't have a special, seasonal, limited-edition food product without also having a corresponding seasonal, limited-edition beverage to accompany it. I think it is in the Bill of Rights somewhere, between that part about not having to let British soldiers sleep in your house and black people only counting as 66.7 percent people in the electorate. 

Which brings us to BK's Pumpkin Spice Oreos Milkshake, which is ... well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like

Now, from the nomenclature, you may be tempted to regard this is a special dairy-dessert comprised of bits of the proprietary, seasonal Pumpkin Spice Oreos. Alas, if you though that, you would be wrong as a mother fucker, as this product is actually a standard vanilla milkshake, loaded with ample bits of crumbled up sandwich cookie, and tinted orange with an unusual pumpkin spice-like fluid.

I know this is going to sound like the most backhanded compliment ever, but this thing tastes just like a delicious pumpkin spice-scented candle. Go ahead, walk into a Pier One or a Yankee Candle, get a whiff of one of their autumnal-themed wax decorations, and slurp on this bad boy, and just tell me they aren't one and the same, chemically. While the general idea of sucking down a milkshake that kind of tastes like a puree of incense and air freshener may sound like a thumbs down review, it's actually far from it: somehow, someway, Burger King has mass produced one of the yummiest, tastiest foodstuffs ever that doesn't actually taste like it should be edible whatsoever.

It's a controversial perspective, to be sure, but I reckon I liked this here milkshake variation ... which, depending on the lighting, looks almost indistinguishable from the gaseous surface of Jupiter ... is an even better seasonal tie-in product than the Halloween Whopper. Sure, the minstrel-show burger is cool and all, but its really nothing more than the same old same old, just dyed a different color. This, on the other hand, tastes unlike any fast food beverage I have ever slaked upon. As mystifying and bewildering as the Halloween Whopper may be, this is the enigmatic, and strangely unheralded, L.T.O. food item that Burger King ought to be marketing the hell out of in the run-up to Oct. 31. 

Give it a try if you haven't, fellow fast food connoisseurs ... this thing is destined to become a cult favorite in a few years time. 

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