Make My Burger Plain Or Don’t Make It

by Kevin Burton

  Maybe you call it “the works” I call it the worst.

   I’m talking about the slimy toppings people put on their burgers.  I mention burgers to follow up on my National Cheeseburger Day post (“White Castle, The Little Burger That Could,” Sept. 24). But you can extend this to other foods. 

   “Goop” is the all-inclusive term I use for mustard, ketchup, mayo, salad dressing and all the other things people splash on their food.  Goop is anathema to me.  It’s a deal breaker.

   Once years ago I was riding in a car with Bob Miller, one of the catchers on the Columbus Vipers beep baseball team.  We were driving through some burger joint. I must have repeated at least three times that I wanted my burger plain because when we got to the window, he said “I want a cheeseburger plain, heavy on the plain…”

   I still think that’s one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard and I use it to this day.  It sounds like something Hawkeye Pierce, the main character from M*A*S*H would say.

   Somewhere along the way Wendy’s became my default fast-food place because they get the order right a very high percentage of the time.

    Those of us who want our burgers and other food plain constitute an oppressed minority. If you order a burger with no special instructions it always arrives with all the goop. 

  I didn’t ask for all of that, I protest, to no avail. You have to specifically say you don’t want the goop. 

   Goop is normal, acceptable, mainstream. It’s the way the in group does things. Plain is abnormal, special

   “Plain burger you say? Oh de-ah….”

    Here is a question typical of our plain-food tribe. Someone asked this on Reddit. I will insert the word “ninny” where the language gets a little dicey.

   “I can’t do ketchup – like, it’s a problem, even seeing or mentioning it will instantly kill my appetite. Same almost goes for most other condiments, as well as pickles. I like my burgers plain.”

   “Somehow, when I order fast food or likewise, nearly half of the time I buy a burger, they come back with all the usual condiments. I make an effort to stress the ‘plain’ part but it’s frequently ignored. I am then that one (ninny) who sends it back, because I’m not going to spend $6 for a meal I can’t eat.”

   “What’s an effective, reasonable way to ensure I always get my burgers plain? Do I just say ‘make sure it’s plain’ like three times? I just don’t know and it annoys me that this is so common. Thank you. I’m sorry for sounding like a (ninny). I’m just slightly frustrated.”

   One of the answers mentions telling the worker you have allergies and that’s why you need the food plain. But I don’t have allergies, and anyway, why should I have to have to explain why I want plain food?

   You agree to pay their price you get exactly what you asked for. There is a very basic business agreement there.  Am I wrong about this? Is that too much to ask for?

   Did I give them part of their money or all of it?

   “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us,” was part of the “have it your way’ promotion at Burger King years ago.  Remember that? Lettuce and pickles I can deal with, onions, tomatoes and almost all forms of goop, get them out of my sight, out of my life. 

   Ever remind a restaurant worker you wanted food plain, only to have them wipe off the offending goop?  Not good enough, not close.

   Hey Jimmy Buffett, great tune, “Cheeseburger In Paradise,” but if my burger comes with all that stuff on it, that’s paradise lost. 

   Those who ask “Heinz 57 or A1” are missing the point. If a cut of meat is any good it won’t need goop to bring out the flavor. 

   Doughnuts with cream inside them are awful and jelly is a million times worse. 

   And guacamole? To me it looks like some kind of sadistic punishment, invented by a teacher. Get out of line and you stay after school and eat, guacamole.

   That would be enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. 

  There are few exceptions to my no goop rule. Barbecue sauce is one. Used to think I liked McDonald’s chicken nuggets until the day I forgot to ask for the barbecue sauce. 

   At least in the case of the nuggets, you don’t order them and have them slathered with some sauce unless you specifically ask for that not to happen.

   It’s enough to make me want to make my own burgers.

   Hey, good idea that.

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