Once Upon a Hamburger

The Burgers Went Missing


Cheap hamburgers

Cheap crappy hamburgers.

 Cheap, crappy, warmed over, gas station hamburgers wrapped in foil gently aging under heat lamps.

Once upon a time these were the mainstay of long road trips when meal time rolls around and the nearest food joint is over an hour away.  They were the life saving ambrosia at 1:00 am when you’ve decided to drive through the night to cut out a hotel bill.

A thin slab of processed mystery meat a worrisome shade of grey and a plain old bun.  If you eat them too often you may get ill. But once in a while, under the right circumstances, they taste like the best thing on Earth.


Or they once did.


I slept late today.  I’ve been up until midnight or later all week long.  I wanted to squeeze every last second of sleep I could get this morning.  No time for making breakfast.


All I wanted, all I CRAVED was a crappy, foil wrapped, gas station hamburger.


No one had them anymore.


They had cheese burgers and strange potato things shaped like hot dogs.  They had crispy burrito things.  I’ve tried them before and don’t like them. It’s the strange, processed, mystery cheese they put in them.  I don’t like it.  The warming trays where the hamburgers used to sit are filled with breakfast biscuits with sausage, chicken or ham with cheese or egg and cheese. 


They have hamburgers in the cold section.  They make the break look fancier, put cheese on them, and are trying to make the meat look and sound more upscale.  But then you have to microwave it.


(Side note: if you are driving thought a state that does not tax groceries.  If you buy it cold and then heat it you do not get charged tax.  If you heat it first then buy it, you are charged tax.  Cold it is a grocery.  Heated it is fast food. Strange rule.)


I think that gas stations are trying to offer ‘trendier’ food in an effort to seem more upscale.  But they put cheese on EVERYTHING.


I like cheese.  I like it for itself.  I like to try different kinds of cheese.  I like it plain or on a cracker.  I do not like it on or in most foods.  And the strange cheese used in fast food is even worse.


You can’t find a classic, gas station burger.  At least not at the places I stopped this morning.  The type of burger that makes you think of Wimpy and makes you want to say, “I’ll gladly pay you tomorrow for a burger today” just for the amusement factor.  So many of the people working at gas stations are too young to recognize the quote anymore.


I did not get any of the alternatives.  I decided to skip it and mourn the passing of a cultural icon to convenient travel food.



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