By Joe Darby
Years, ago in the old Popeye cartoon, there was a character named Wimpy. Wimpy absolutely loved hamburgers. He would buy them by the dozen and he would frequently tell his friends, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
Well, just call me Wimpy II. I too absolutely love hamburgers. And I have loved them as long as I can remember.
I did a rough calculation a while ago and figure that I have probably eaten about 10,000 hamburgers in my life. If that seems an astonishing amount, it’s only an average of three a week since I was in my teens. And considering I’ve been alive for more than 28,000 days altogether, perhaps it’s not really an excessive amount.
My doctors will no doubt disagree with that last remark. But, thank goodness, all tests indicate that my heart blood vessels are amazingly clear, especially considering my diet.
But I expect to continue enjoying hamburgers for just about as long as I live. Until I find the perfect burger.
There are so many different kinds and styles of hamburgers now. Some are delicious and, even being the hamburger connoisseur that I am, I will admit that sometimes I come upon a bad hamburger.
Since this is not a commercial, I won’t mention any hamburgers by brand name. From time to time I eat the burgers at all of the popular fast food outlets — you know the ones I mean. Each one is different, and which fast food joint I go to depends on my hunger mood at the time. Sometimes I feel like Brand A and sometimes I feel like Brand B.
One thing I have learned, also. Just because you go to a nice “sit-down” restaurant and pay anywhere from $10 to $15 for a burger, doesn’t mean you’re going to get a good sandwich. Some of the driest burgers I’ve ever eaten were served by restaurants with linen table cloths and candles on the table.
Let me tell you about the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my life. I ate them many years ago and they were sold at a drive-in restaurant on Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge, not too far from the LSU campus. It wasn’t a chain outfit, but a locally owned place. Behind the drive-in parking spots was a very nice bar, run by a German woman who was a World War II bride. The bar was called the Fraulein Lounge. I can’t remember the name of the drive in itself. (What that may tell you about me, I’m not sure.)
Anyway, I do remember those hamburgers. They were served wrapped in foil. It’s difficult to exactly describe what made them so delicious. The meat was of good quality. They were classic burgers, that is, contained the necessary ingredients of lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mayonnaise. And gosh, were they juicy! The taste was just superb. And believe it or not, with all the 10,000 or so burgers I’ve had in my life, I’ve never enjoyed quite their equal.
The only thing was, they were a little pricey. They were 40 cents a piece. Yes, you read that right. I say they were pricey because most hamburgers in the early 1960s were 25 cents. But I was more than willing to pay that 60 percent premium for the best burger I ever had.
Let me digress for a moment on the price of food at the time I was going to LSU. There was a hot dog stand not far from the hamburger drive in that sold you six full-sized hot dogs for $1. A buddy of mine and I would often go there when we were hungry and eat a whole dollar’s worth each. Filled us up pretty well, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, hot dogs have their place, but this column is about hamburgers. I will continue my search for the perfect hamburger, one of the more enjoyable of my many hobbies. In fact I had a fast food burger just today. It was good. But it wasn’t perfect. So the quest goes on.