August 27th 2002
reminded me why I have not set foot in a fast food joint in
My local Burger
King is right across the road from my favorite bike shop, and from where
I get most of my fruits and veggies, a nifty little place owned and run
by nice folks from somewhere south of the border... The contrast is
meaning to try this "thing" just to encourage Burger King to
do the right thing... and this week I finally walked across the
Glued to the
glass door is a huge photo of a glorious veggie burger, that looks two
inches thick, with two big fat slices of juicy tomato, a giant lettuce
leaf, a plump crusty sesame bun and a crunchy golden roasted veggie
patty. I'm suckered in. Even though the poster inexplicably says: Try
One - Next Time, I'm determined to try one like "now?" –
this time around?*
The moment I
set foot into the place, I get this God awful feeling I'm suddenly waiting in
line at the motor vehicle department. The same kind of oppressive
and cold floors send a chill up my spine. There's a topographic map of
Connecticut rivers on the wall for some strange reason, so I lose myself
into that while waiting my turn behind the rope.
eating at the tables and moving about is overweight, with sunken eyes, looking
dramatically undernourished. All the kids behind the counter act like
they just jumped off the illegal immigrant truck. They're sweating,
they're rushed, they have a glazed look over their face, like hamsters
trapped in their cage, like deer caught in headlights. You know they
hate wearing the silly hats.
The only white
face in the bunch is a tall white man with red hair and freckles,
dressed all in black, looking more like a muscle bound Irish prison
warden than a restaurant manager, quietly giving orders to his captive
staff through his wireless headset microphone.
I try to find
the veggie burger on the lit sign above their heads and there it is:
$1.99. Ouch! That's a bit steep for two slices of make-believe bread and
mystery fake-meat. I can almost get a decent all-natural chicken sandwich in a
health food store for that price. I thought Burgers at BK were like, ¢99
It's all I
order as the girl throws me this is-that-all-you-want look. She gives me
a number and I wait on the side for a few minutes as other people walk
past me with their order pre-made, all ready to go, waiting for them
under the infra-red keeping-it-warm lamp.
I can see into
the kitchen, where my veggie patty has been liberated from its
frozen box and thrown on the gooey grill to swap spit with its meat
handling everything with surgical gloves. Didn't anybody tell them human
hands contain natural anti-septic while plastic gloves just shuttle
germs from one place to the other? I shutter, good thing the thing's
After a few
minutes a small little white wrapper falls down the chute and my number
is called up. The girl slips it in a bag to-go wondering what planet I'm
corner I notice another poster on the wall of an old fashion diner, all
shiny steel siding and neon lights, a nostalgic remnant from America's
love affair with Route 66... The very thing shops like BK have displaced
and annihilated with their crappy, crappy food eaten by folks who don't
seem to know any better.
I get the
creeps and walk out to get some fresh air, back to the vegetable market
where everybody is having a good time replenishing rapidly dwindling
shelves. I leave the burger in the bag in my car and I don't open it until I get
looked quite sad, all lukewarm, flat and soggy. I stare at it,
wondering if I really want to subject my stomach to the abuse. I
apprehensively and cautiously take my first bite. There's only one tomato slice
and it's so small I don't find it first bite around. There's no lettuce
leaf to speak of except for a few slivers of industrial iceberg. I
chance another bite and find a miniature tomato slice swimming in white
The veggie patty
itself tastes OK, just O.K., but it's burned to a charcoal black crisp
drippin' sloppy meat fat. I can't really
make out what's in it, probably soybean GMO. I remember to stop eating
so I can take a picture.
The first two bites were so salty
I'm suckered into gulping down the rest. Two minutes later I regret it. My
belly rebels, like when I eat too many potato chips. I can feel my
to find some heavy duty enzymes...
I've never read
Fast Food Nation cover to cover. I'm sure it's a great book. It got a
lot of great press. But a few days after I had my one and only
experience with BK's timid attempt at pleasing PETA,
I found this amazing new title at the local public library:
Food, Fast Track, Immigrants, Big Business and the American Dream"
In it I learn that
today all the workers at Burger King are either Latino, Asian, African
or Hindi, and that each franchise owner is usually white making $150,000
a year, seven times more than the poor slob doing all the s... work.
I can't help thinking
that if you let these kids run loose and free in the kitchen to prepare
their own traditional foods, the kind their mother cooked for them where
they grew up in their native land, it would taste so much better.
Everybody would be wearing a big smile and having a great time
experimenting and making people happy. But that would be Disneyland.
The first quote in
Fast Food, Fast Track is from a fast food worker in Chinatown:
"We are all from
China but speak different languages. I speak Mandarin. They speak
Cantonese. So we are always communicating with English."
While Burger King is
destroying your taste buds and your stomach lining with food cooked
without love, it's also hard at work fermenting the next peasant
pitch-fork rebellion. So it ain't all bad.
If, like in the movie
Signs, aliens came from outer space and decided to fatten up suburban humans before
couldn't have concocted a better ploy!
*Hey BK PR guys? What's up with that
remark? Why would you only want BK customers to try the BK Veggie next
time? Is there some kind of subliminal failure message in that
poster so in a few months you can quietly discontinue veggie burgers and
tell the world veggie burgers didn't sell, kinda like what GM did with
the EV1 electric car?
In the UK...
BK Veggie Burgers vs Veggie Whoppers
- Bait & Switch!!!
Written on 06.08.01
Advantages: Used to have the tasty Veggie Whopper.
Disadvantages: Are now switching the Veggie Whopper for the BK Veggie
Burger. They don't tell you that they are selling you a Veggie Burger. They taste disgusting.
Oh they are a tricky bunch at Burger King.
I have been happily eating Burger King Veggie Whoppers for some time now. Not all the time, mind. Just every now and then when I've had a heavy night or am on the way to catch a train and am in a hurry.
It is then that Veggie Whoppers hit the spot- they taste nicer, fresher, and feel healthier (no joke here) than their McDonald's counterpart which is a greasy fried patty of peas, carrots and other veg fodder from Old McDonald's farm. Burger King's Veggie Whoppers don't sit as heavy in the stomach as the Spicy Beanburger (which is a beanfest laying on a heavy slice of cheddar cheese). I like Veggie Whoppers and am glad that Burger King makes them.
It was only a few weeks ago that I was about to catch a train. I queued up at Burger King and ordered a Veggie Whopper meal. I spotted a poster which heralded something called the new BK Veggie Burger. What is that, I wondered. But wasn't curious enough to try it myself. It looked a lot like the McD's version of vegetarian.
After I boarded the train and was careening safely down the track, I opened my bag and found no Veggie Whopper. Instead it was a BK Veggie Burger. I took a bite and wanted to retch. It was oily, crunchy on the outside with soft, smooshy, veg inside with the consistency of baby food. It made me feel sick. After two more bites, I confirmed it was officially disgusting and threw it in the bin. Was I a victim of the old bait and switch? I thought so. And by that time I was on the way to another town too far to complain about it.
Last week, I again went to Burger King and was conscious that I might unwittingly get a BK Veggie Burger. I ordered a Veggie Whopper and then clarified by saying, "I am ordering a Veggie Whopper right?" and the girl with the heavy Spanish accent said, "You want a veggie burger." No, I said, Not a BK Veggie burger. Not that monstrosity that is in that poster up there, I affirmed. I want a Veggie Whopper.
"All we have is the Veggie Burger."
I left there with only a portion of onion rings. They are not getting away with this. The sign says that these BK Veggie Burgers are only around for a limited time- perhaps they cut a deal with Old McDonald's Farm and have received a surplus of inadequate discuses of fried vegetable surprise but I for one am not buying any of it.
I am boycotting Burger King until the return of the original Veggie Whopper. I hope that you veggies in the audience do the same.
Warning: New Burger King Veggieburger Contains Butter