Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Tribute To The Fast Food Burgers of Summer 2017!

Bidding summer adieu the only way that makes sense: by reminiscing on all of the seasonal, limited-time-only hamburgers that have been making us fat since Memorial Day.

By: Jimbo X

With Halloween rapidly approaching and the official cutoff date for autumn sneaking up on us (it's Sept. 22, if you were keen on the specifics), I reckon now is as dandy a time as ever to reminisce on the limited-time-only fast food hamburgers that made Summer 2017 one of the most memorable ever for people who don't care about dying ten years earlier than they should've. All in all it was a pretty solid season for special-edition burgers, with just about every major chain you can think of trotting out at least one major LTO offering. Really, this thing could've been 30 or 40 entries long if I honestly put the effort into it, but I reckon limiting the retrospective to just ten LTO burgers is good enough. So what do you say we cut the empty pleasantries and get right down to business, eh? Yeah - I didn't think your fat-ass would complain, no how.

McDonald's Signature Crafted Burgers!

This is as good a place as any to begin our whirlwind tour of seasonal fast food hamburgers, since the May launch of the trio above more or less marked the beginning of the LTO summer rush. The gimmick here was that Mickie's D was allowing you to custom build your burger from a select group of ingredients; i.e., you could pick a regular hamburger bun or a greasy ass artisanal roll, pack it with beef, fried chicken or grilled chicken, etc. The burgers came in three different dressings, which I've outlined from top to bottom; the pico-guacamole permutation, the sweet BBQ bacon iteration (which came with both grilled and fried onions) and the maple bacon Dijon variation, which was apparently the least popular of the trifecta since it got subbed out for the Signature Sriracha burger a few months after it dropped. All three were pretty good (if not overpriced) burgers, but really, they didn't offer anything wildly different from anything you've probably eaten before. Still, it was cool to see McDonald's at least try to bring a little diversity to their all-too-predictable menu lineup; maybe we'll get lucky and they'll finally resurrect the Arch Deluxe for Summer '18?

Hardee's Jalapeno Double Cheeseburger!

Hardee's (known as Carl's Jr.'s on the West Coast, for whatever stupid ass reason), is one of those chains that's ALWAYS releasing seasonal LTO Franken-burgers. Indeed, they usually trot out some kind of newfangled specialty sandwich every two weeks, and this here Jalapeno Double Cheeseburger is one of the better they've churned out over the last couple of years. The ingredients are pretty basic: you've got sliced pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, two chunks of beef and a couple of chunks of diced, pickled peppers thrown in for good measure. But what really made this sumbitch pop was the proprietary Santa Fe Sauce, which was a really nice goulash of chipotle, barbecue and some kind of mayonnaise like substance I just can't put my finger on (so yeah, it was probably just plain old mayonnaise.) Few things in life irk me as much as fast food that touts itself as being spicy that don't live up to their own hype, but this one really impressed me for a change. That you can still get these suckers for $2.50 a pop in locations in the remote American southeast suggests the things were quite the regional sellers; I take it these little buggers are now going to be an annual offering, right, Hardee's/Carl's Jr.'s executive marketing department?

Steak 'n Shake's Bacon 'n Cheese Triple Xtreme!

I'm not entirely sure how many words I can say about the Bacon 'n Cheese Triple Xtreme burger, but I'll give it my best shot. Obviously, the Steak 'n Shake offering is a humongous, 900 calorie-plus abomination of a sandwich, complete with no less than three huge ass strips of bacon. I don't remember too much about the sandwich (basically, it tasted like any other steakburger you'd get at the eatery, only far heavier) but I DO remember it having a downright preposterous amount of sodium in it - like, an entire day's worth. But hey, we don't eat fast food burgers because we're trying to live forever - we're just doing it to enjoy today while we're still able to, ain't we?

Chick-Fil-A's Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich!

Chick-Fil-A is a chain that doesn't fuck around with its core menu that much, so this early summer addendum to the line-up was a pretty big deal. As you can see with your own peepers, it was a grilled chicken breast topped with two strips of bacon, marble cheese and a hearty dollop of sugary (but not too sugary) BBQ sauce. I'm not sure which brand it was, but I assure you it was pretty doggone good - I mean, not as solid as the shit good old J.R. hawks, but good nonetheless. Anyhoo, I thought it was a very, very good little sammich, and since it only packed about 500 or so calories, it was also one of the healthier (I guess less unhealthy is a more fitting term) LTO burgers circulatin' around the fast-food-o-sphere. And apparently it's a pretty big hit with the bible-readin', first-wife-havin', homosexual-marriage-denyin' C-F-A base - I mean, here we are in September, and in my neck of the woods the thing is still being advertised all over the place.

Arby's Triple Thick Brown Sugar Bacon BLT!

So, uh, does a product still technically count as a burger even if it doesn't actually have a burger inside it? I'm hedging my bets and saying this Arby's LTO qualifies, despite its flagrant lack of a patty of any kind. As the picture above indicates, it's basically just a huge honking sandwich filled with lettuce, mayo, tomato and - the obvious selling point - three downright humongous pieces of artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising, deep fried sugar-encrusted bacon supplying it with its protein quotient. Alike Burger King, Arby's is a franchise that's always trotting out LTO stuff, a strategy akin to Sega's in the mid 1990s when they kept releasing consoles nobody in their right mind would've purchased out of the desperate, childlike hope that at least one of their wacky ideas would've stuck. And with that clumsy analogy in mind, the absolute best thing I can say about the Triple Thick Brown Sugar Bacon BLT is that it, indeed, tasted way better than anything that came out on the 32X.

Wendy's Bacon Queso Burger!

Really, Wendy's should've called this the "fuck your pants burger," because there's scientifically no way to consume it without getting at least four ounces of chili all over your blue jeans. Despite being billed as a "queso" burger, the bulk of the LTO sandwich comes in the form of a weird-tasting red sauce, which isn't quite cheese or chili - just this iffy, disharmonious batter runoff comprised of the two. Throw in a couple more bizarre toppings choices - ick, red onion and unmelted cheddar cheese! - and you have a strong candidate for the season's least special special edition burger. Unless by "special" you underhandedly mean "retarded," and in that case, this thing is unquestionably the specialist thing I've ate all summer, and that's coming from a motherfucker who just ate a two pound ice cream sorbet shaped like a watermelon

Freddy's Hatch Green Chile Double Steakburger!

As one of those "off-brands" that can't decide whether or not it's slightly upmarket fast food a'la Steak 'N Shake or a genuine, faux-prestige burger joint a'la Red Robin, it's pretty easy to forget Freddy's Frozen Custards and Steakburgers exists sometimes. And that's a shame, because some of the stuff the restaurant trots out, like this LTO Hatch Green Chile Double Steakburger, is actually pretty good. As the name implies, this is one spicy motherfucker, with a ton of grilled onions and diced jalapenos doused atop the patty, thus ensuring a most painful shat the next time your assbone meets toilet lid. But thankfully, this mustard soaked seasonal delight is so yummy going down that you won't even mind the fact it turns your asshole into a flamethrower 12 hours later. If they're still selling these suckers around your parts, do yourself a favor and give these things a try - but for fuck's sake, make sure you've got some 2-ply T.P. waiting for you at home.

Sonic's Ultimate Dunked Garlic Parmesan Chicken Sandwich!

Well, you can't say Sonic didn't at least partially deliver what they promised here. This sandwich came with what is EASILY the biggest chicken patty I've ever eaten in my life. We're talking a slab of deep-fried poultry easily the same circumference as a saucer plate, or maybe even a really small Frisbee. While the patty wasn't as flavorful as the usual Chick-Fil-A patty, it was definitely a step up from what you'd get at McDonald's or Burger King, for sure. As for the Garlic Parmesan part (they also sold buffalo sauce and bourbon barbecue doused iterations of the same sammich), they basically just dumped a fuck-ton of Italian dressing all over the lettuce then grated some Parmesan cheese and said "eh, good enough." The brioche bun was oilier than a motherfucker, and it was nigh impossible to take a bite without at least four or five splotches of garlic juice getting all over the place. Still, it was a damned filling and unexpectedly flavorful little LTO burger; now I'd LOVE to see what the chain can do with their own Chicken Parmesan sandwich.

Arby's Bourbon BBQ Triple Stack!

Yeah, I know we already took a look at one of Arby's seasonal offerings, but this thing was already on my camera roll and really, why waste such primo footage? Again, we can argue until the cows come home as to whether this quad-meated sandwich technically meets the criteria for a burger, but the way I see it, as long as it's dead something wedged in-between two sesame seeded buns and there's cheese all over it, by golly, it ought to count as a burger. Even now I'm not entirely sure what all was in that thing, but I think it was brisket, slivers of steak, mulched up turkey and brown sugar bacon. Oh, and there were some fried onion bits and cheddar cheese in there, too, and - of course - the whole damn thing was drenched in a savory, sugary bourbon-flavored barbecue sauce. And perhaps the most amazing thing about the item? Despite basically being an entire barnyard dumped in between two buns, it only registered 760 calories. Oh, and 2,470 milligrams of salt, which is only about 1,000 more than the FDA says is safe for daily human consumption.

Hardee's Charbroiled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich!

And we conclude with the only LTO burger of summer 2017 it would make any sense to conclude with - Hardee's Charbroiled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich, which is clearly the most idiosyncratically summery of any of the burgers we've taken a gander at in this article. This sandwich could only be released during summer, when the temps are north of 80 degrees at 7 in the morning and just walking around feels like a synthwave song. We're talking charbroiled chicken breast, we're talking a goddamn chunk of grilled pineapple on top of that and fuckin' half a bottle of teriyaki sauce dumped on top of that. Any other time of the year such a product would be deemed too ludicrous for consideration, but when it's boiling hot outside and sweat is dripping off your balls and the only sport that's on TV is baseball, all of a sudden spending millions to market and mass-produce a chicken-pineapple-and-teriyaki-sauce burger makes all the sense in the world. For better or for worse, this was the unofficial burger of summer 2017, with every bite tasting like Charlottesville, Mayweather vs. McGregor and the solar eclipse while "Stay" loops endlessly in the background. And in a way, that disjointed jumble of ingredients is an almost perfect metaphor for the season that was. We began with James Comey getting shitcanned and ended with Houston getting turned into Atlantis, and in the middle? We had the Hardee's Charbroiled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich, which I'll always remember eating in slow-motion while Coldplay and the Chainsmokers' "Something Just Like This" blaring in the ocean breeze. Not only do I have no problems labeling this sandwich the official LTO burger of summer 2017, I have half a mind to go on ahead and declare it the official physical embodiment of summer 2017 itself. Like a long lost lover, we'll never forget you, Hardee's Charbroiled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich - and all I can say is "thanks for the memories, but fuck you in the ass for ruining my only GOOD pair of khaki Dockers, you teriyaki-drippin' cocksucker."


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