Monday, September 6, 2010

TBG Eats: The NEW Philly Cheesesteak Burger from Carl's Jr.

Current Weight: 171.4 lbs.

Last week marked my 15-year anniversary as a resident of San Diego.

Most of you know I was born and raised 90 minutes north up in Long Beach. I am unabashedly and unapologetically Californian through and through.

And, if you're from California, you undoubtedly realize how ridiculous that last sentence reads.

Y'see, California is a convenient piñata for every other state in the union. The clichéd critiques have been unchanged during my lifetime with the top five being: traffic, smog, cost of living, liberals and homosexuals. But, the best thing about California – aside from climate, diversity, tolerance and the fact that the smog and the most obscene traffic congestion are exclusive to LA (two hours from where I breathe and drive) – is that its residents don't wear the state on our sleeves.

It's not that we're without residential pride; it's just that our home state doesn't define us.*

* -- Yes, there was a flood of pro-California music that came out during the (maybe, just maybe media-created) East Coast/West Coast Rap Wars of 1994-1996. With the lone exception of Tupac and Dr. Dre's California Love, none of it has held up over time. Westside Connection sold two million copies of their first album in 1996. Name ONE song from it. See? You can't. Even Ice Cube couldn't represent with conviction.

A few years ago, Domino's Pizza created an especially contrived ad campaign called "American Legends". The chain came up with "six famous regional tastes" and filmed a series of screamingly unconvincing commercials…featuring a lot of screaming.

Traffic and smog?! Oh, it's ON, Memphis, Tennessee!

Even by the scripted, simple-minded standards of most 30-second spots, no one can be that passionate about pizza unless you're from New York.**

** -- My perception may be skewed from repeated viewings of Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing". I mean, who orders a slice of pizza on the hottest day of the year inside the stifling confines of Sal's Famous Pizzeria? Wouldn't a mixed greens salad with candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing be infinitely more refreshing? Wouldn't it?!

I've never understood the whole "state identification by food" thing. I used to work with a guy who was originally from upstate New York. Every Friday, someone would bring in bagels and every Friday, he'd rail against California's version of chewy Jewish food. "These are more like rolls!", he'd always exclaim. I assume in New York, the consistency of bagels is a cross between beef jerky and

At the same job, I worked with a woman from Texas. She often lamented the lack of "real" barbecue in Southern California. This tickled me for a variety of reasons. Was she expecting San Diego to have perfected heavily-sauced, slaughtered pig parts when she moved out here? Did she realize that even in states that are recognized for their barbecue (Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina) some of them do it differently than Texas?

Carl's Jr. is opening themselves up for criticism from Keystone State transplants with the re-release of their Philly Cheesesteak Burger. (They could also be criticized for the terrible commercial below, but this isn't one of my AiAA posts.)

The Philly Cheesesteak Burger first went into "limited time only" rotation back in 2006. Even though it's not a regular item, it's rumored to be part of the restaurant's "secret menu" that customers can (kinda-sorta) clandestinely order from. And, now it's…uh, back. According to CJ's website:

Juicy steak with sautéed green bell peppers, onions and melted American and Swiss cheeses, all piled on top of a charbroiled beef patty and served between a seeded bun.

Since Carl's Jr. takes great pride in cooking their hamburgers over an open flame, I'm going to assume the thinly-sliced steak, onions and peppers gets the reheated-in-a-microwave treatment. The too-perfect square of melted processed Swiss cheese leads me to believe my theory is correct.

All of the "Philly" toppings were surprisingly lacking in flavor. I've previously eaten the company's
Prime Rib Burger and that was a much more successful union of two foods on a bun. The onions and peppers here add nothing, while the remaining burger components (just meat, cheese and mayonnaise) are unexceptional for fast food fare.

Save your breath, Philadelphia. An unsatisfying eatin' experience like this speaks for itself.

Grade: 2 (out of 5) Calories: 750 Fat: 45g


Lew B. said...

I went through a brief period where I was trying to "Represent" by putting a San Diego Native bumper sticker onmy '72 Pinto Station Wagon. Turns out, nobody cares.

Also, I've always felt people from other places were lucky because they had all the memories of other places which can make them appriciate this more.

The only thing better than this is Catalina Island. And if society doesn't collape and I actually get to retire, that's where you'll find my tired ass in about 15-20 years.

NY Jon said...

Continuing the "Do the Right Thing" myth-busting, I was born and raised in Brooklyn and never once saw Rosie Perez dancing in front of my building.

Tom said...

The clichéd critiques have been unchanged during my lifetime with the top five being: traffic, smog, cost of living, liberals and homosexuals.

You forgot "pro-sports franchise stealing".

that mexican guy said...

How much longer before my fellow Mexicans crack the pantheon of reasons for everyone outside of California to hate California? We aren't as worthy of predictable criticism as traffic and smog?

You disappoint me, conservative America.

SHough610 said...

Sorry Mex, until Arizona and Texas go to their deportation plans (and I don't think that's out of the question) California isn't alone.
Cam, my grandparents lived in Redwood City for over 20 years, and with the exception of the cost of living none of those complaints applied there either or were complaints.

As for the "Philly Cheesesteak burger", as ThatPhillyGuy here I guess I should be the one to take it's authenticity to task. H'okay: NO ONE gets swiss cheese on a cheesesteak in Phila, it's wit wiz or witout. I've never had bell peppers on mine (I usually get witout wiz, wit onions, and wit mayo). And Pat's and Geno's are totally overrated tourist traps. Check out Tony Luke's or D'Alessandro's.

acctg.sean said...

"Bow Down", "Gangstas Make the World Go 'Round", "Only in California". Three songs from the Westside Connection album. Didn't even have to look it up.

Also when I moved to California for good, my racist grandparents from West Virginia (no seriously - that's how I've referred to them since I was 12) wrote me a lovely letter that explained why they would never come visit me.

Some of their reasons were "gang violence", not wanting to support Hollywood's immoral commerce/tourism (I was living 150 miles south of Hollywood at the time) and earthquakes.

Sorry Mex...IIRC, you guys weren't listed among their reasons.

Aaron C. said...

@Sean -- "Only in California" was on Mack 10's second album (1997), not on the Westside Connection release. You've scored a 67% in your attempt to show me up. That's a "D". (I'll bump it up to a "C" if you can find that letter your grandparents sent you.)

@Sam -- I need to get out there. I can't even get a knock-off cheesesteak out here. (Some of the casual dining chains sell 'em, but there isn't one *cheesesteak restaurant*.)

@MEX -- Stop. They hate you plenty.

@Tom -- Hey, if not for us, you might've ended up a Giants or Dodgers fan. And, if the Kansas City A's had never moved here, I might now be following some scrub expansion-level ballclub with weak local ties that doesn't acknowledge its history or tradition.

@Jon -- Find me a greater opening credits sequence in cinematic history. I've got the 1999-2000 Criterion Collection DVD of that in my closet somewhere. Need to watch it again.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the biggest difference between Texas 'cue and nearly any other place is that Texas is all about the beef, not pork

acctg.sean said...

Dammit. All those Westside Connection, WC and Mack 10 albums from 1996-98 just blend together.

On the subject of barbecue: weren't you the one who invented the "macaroni and cheese theory", Cam? The notion that there are just some foods that black folk cook better than white folk? Does barbecue apply?

Other Joe said...

I'll see you Bow Down and raise you "In California" by Daz Dillinger. I believe it was off of the perfectly titled "Retaliation, Revenge, and Get-Back"

Also I found two articles that you might like:

1) The old school wrestling fan in me is sad today:

2) Taco Bell is now advertising a chicken flatbread sandwich... you know what to do

Aaron C. said...

@Other Joe -- Forgot about "In California". It was released during the two-week window when Death Row attempted to build around/market Daz Dillinger as the label's post-Snoop, post-Dre, post-2Pac savior. It's a good track, actually.

(Also, in Anvil's defense, this arrest still ranks higher than his 1998 WCW run. And, damn it, Taco Bell...aren't I supposed to be on your press release e-mailing list?! Why am I just hearing about this?)

@Sean -- How many black folk have you seen in the kitchen at Phil's? Like rock and roll, urban slang and light-skinned women, we've lost our grip on it. (See what I did there?)

nicka said...

to that philly guy...i am from connecticut (let's not even try to pretend any food from here is any good) but spent much time going to philly..i will agree with you to avoid genos and pats and that tony lukes kicks ass. I would also like to point out that not only is swiss cheese not an option but neither are bell peppers.

love Steve's Prince of steaks as well.