Wednesday, May 11, 2011
TBG Eats: The NEW California Whopper from Burger King
Current Weight: 162.2 lbs.
By my unofficial count, there are only three states in America with enough weight to effectively be used as de facto adjectives. But, let's be honest: Texas is a shameless, insufferable self-promoter and any restaurant or song with a New York designation is almost certainly inferring the city, not the state. Sorry, Coxsackie.
That leaves us with California. Below, in no particular order, are the five most prominent "California" fixtures in my life.
California Love -- Arguably, the most enduring song to come out of Death Row Records' reign atop the commercial rap industry from 1992 through 1996. Tupac Shakur's erosion into self-parody had yet to begin in earnest and Dr. Dre still gave a damn. To this day, it still kills me that relatively lesser-known cities such as Rosecrans, Pasadena and Sacramento got shout outs on this track. "Someone send Danny Boy out to buy a Thomas Guide! We're still two cities short on the outro!"
California Angels -- Long considered Southern California's other baseball team, the Angels used an all-state moniker from September 1965 through the end of the 1996 MLB season. As an Oakland Athletics fan living in Los Angeles County; the rival Angels provided me with YEARS of howlingly awful baseball and occasional quasi-contention that would inevitably end in delicious heartbreak for their fan base.
California Pizza Kitchen -- I don't hold any elitist aversion to national chain or faux gourmet pizza, but CPK does nothing for me. The wait to get a table always falls somewhere between 30 minutes and "Oh, that's ridiculous", while the food is uninteresting and predictable. All of their pizzas have an assembly line look – whether topped with Japanese eggplant or caramelized pears or Tzatziki sauce – and the menu tries too hard to be cool. 20 years ago, everything would be served with Oakley blades and share a studio with Studs.
California Gold Rush -- James W. Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in January 1848 was the flashpoint for my home state's first population explosion. More importantly, it inspired the 49ers nickname of San Francisco's terrible NFL team and one of my favorite episodes of the seminal 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, Challenge of the Superfriends. In "The Time Trap", Gorilla Grodd and The Legion of Doom created a time-travel device. As part of their villainous scheme, they arrived at Sutter's Mill the day BEFORE gold was discovered and plundered all the precious metal.
California Highway Patrol -- I'm old enough to remember CHiPs and the waning days of the Erik Estrada sex symbol craze. The late 1970s must've been a wonderful time to be a reasonably attractive minority on television. I mean...who was Estrada's Hispanic competition for the teen idol set? Desi Arnaz, Jr? (And, he was only half Cuban...and, half this.) If 21-year-old Aaron could've stolen Gorilla Grodd's aforementioned time travel plot device, I'd have OWNED black America. (I know how that sounds, but I'm keeping it in.) With the possible exception of Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, I was better looking than every other African-American actor the decade produced. I'm still keeping it in!
Honorable Mentions -- Fine...here's your Hotel California, people. I wish I could say the Eagles and this song meant something to me, but in the category of "California", I actually liked this song more. I've never seen the film Kalifornia or Showtime's Californication, but I seem to have inadvertently avoided everything David Duchovny's ever done. And, Mrs. Bootleg asked that I add one of her all time favorite movies, California Suite. The ensemble cast includes Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby...which only strengthens my earlier ethnic point.
Straight from the trendy Whopper Bar in New York City comes the regionally released California Whopper from Burger King. On it, Swiss cheese replaces American, while the familiar lettuce, tomato and onion toppings are joined by guacamole and strips of bacon.
Guacamole has been lazily synonymous with California for decades, but GOOD guacamole transcends the tired stereotype and is an especially versatile food. Burger King's guacamole is not good. There was plenty of it on my Whopper and the artificial "just add water" avocado flavor overwhelmed my sad little mouth.
BK's novelty Whoppers live or die with the quality of their sauce/soft topping. Previously, the Angry Whopper and Whiplash Whopper worked because the sauce was the star. On the California Whopper, the guacamole brings everything else down. The bacon is muted and the processed Swiss cheese isn't the least bit pronounced. The meat maintains BK's ubiquitous smokiness, but the end result isn't worth the geographic exploitation.
Congratulations, California Whopper. You've joined Jordan almonds, London broil and Manhattan clam chowder in that regard.
Grade: 1.5 (out of 5)