I don’t watch television — as an editor, I’m too poor for cable, which makes me indifferent guardian to multiple dormant widescreen monoliths — so, sadly, I ain’t hip to the latest epicurea. Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked into Carl’s Jr. to confront its newest sandwich, the Most American Thickburger.
Since I haven’t seen the commercials, I’m not sure if Carl’s Jr. actually expects patrons to eat this affront, or if it’s a deft if cynical gastro-political commentary on these United States.
For posterity, its ingredients: A one-third-pound beef fist domed in melted cheese beneath grilled hot-dog slices primered in ketchup and mustard, all dumped atop a sigh of tomato and skirt of lettuce (a none-too-subtle dig at our prevailing opinion of vegans), their sham of a pretense of a sensible diet countered by a bottom layer of Lay’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips and pickles. The concept is uniquely American: a brazenly unhealthy fraud we’ll devour like happy fools.
In the interest of objective journalism, I ordered one. Just as advertised, it tasted like the rusted hulk of an Airstream slathered in paranoia. By the time I finished my fries (they were out of complementary cigarettes), I’d started seven arguments on the Democrat-Herald’s Facebook page, sending combatants to dubious, GIF-heavy websites supporting my positions. I called Bill O’Reilly a master historian and Michael Savage a sober oracle while wondering why anyone ever thought Jon Stewart was funny; I mean, why do these pundits have to express their opinions, anyway, when all they do is create division between reasonable people who agree with me and barking idiots who belong in kennels, you understand, don’t you, sir, what has HAPPENED to this country, MY country, when did we become so reactionary, why is everyone quick to cry foul when we should all just wait until all the facts are in before passing judgment, and let’s assign blame where it truly belongs, on the mainstream media and Obama and Orcs and robots and Hollywood and Caitlyn Jenner and sassy short-haired female diner-waitress feminist unmarried urbanite bisexual hipster mommy bloggers under the age of 30, oh, they’re SO THE WORST I KNOW RIGHT?
Seven hours later, I awoke on the railroad tracks near Pacific and Madison with a half-eaten copy of Ann Coulter’s “Mugged” in my left fist and a head still ringing with Jeb Bush’s childhood memories. According to the police log, I became the “frightened guinea pig of warring ideologies, babbling into the conflicting jungles of American Spectator and Matt Taibbi.” Further reports revealed that I found succor at Pop’s Branding Iron, where American cuisine is affable and familiar, then promptly passed out in relative tranquility.
So no more Carl’s Jr. for this fella — until next summer, when the fast food giant unveils the Thickburger’s counterpart: a pistol between two slices of bread.