Saddle up for the 2,000-calorie burger
Being a columnist for spiked, you get a steady stream of lame emails from PR companies and institutions desperate for you to mention them in an article. Normally they hit the trash folder quicker than a shadow cabinet member can say ‘Ed Miliband is the right man to lead the Labour Party’. But in the case of an email from Birmingham City University I received on Monday, I’m happy to oblige – because it has brought my attention to the latest and possibly greatest over-the-top burger experience to be had in the UK right now. Not so much PR guff, then, more the performance of a valuable public service.
The burger in question is the Double Donut Burger, available exclusively at pub-restaurant chain Hungry Horse, which has attracted the ire of at least one neigh-sayer nutritionist at Birmingham’s third most important academic institution. This beast of a burger features two beef burgers topped with melted cheese, four smoked streaky bacon rashers and BBQ sauce served in two grilled, glazed ring donuts. This ‘deadly bargain burger’ provides, according to the press release from the institution they’re still calling ‘the old Birmingham Poly’, 1,966 calories, 53g of saturated fat (well over double the 20g daily allowance for women and children) and 8.2g of salt (the daily recommendation is no more than six grams).
Mel Wakeman, senior lecturer in applied physiology at the nation’s eighty-second best university, declared: ‘Hungry Horse obviously has no conscience and no doubt both its wallet and the size of its customers will be getting fatter by the week! To me, this is simply ludicrous and irresponsible. I am no killjoy but why is this sort of food available? This burger is literally a heart attack on a plate.’ The apparently humourless Wakeman, having literally sent both science and the English language to the knacker’s yard, rounds off with the kind of alarmist language that would make any horse bolt: ‘This so-called family friendly pub chain offers a huge range of highly processed food that is entirely unhealthy. Taking the children to an eatery like this will guarantee we continue to reinforce unhealthy eating habits, contribute to the obesity epidemic and increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and type-2 diabetes at an earlier age.’
While Wakeman bridles at the very existence of the Double Donut Burger, the rest of us see it for what it is: a joke. This is the kind of menu item that people laugh at, drunk men order as a challenge, and no one eats more than once (if they actually manage to eat it at all). It stands in the great tradition of gross-out burgers, like the (unofficial) McGangBang, where you stick a McDonald’s chicken burger inside a double cheeseburger for a super-calorific, two-dollar treat. It’s a chance to live the dream that is Man v Food. A clue might be the fact that the Double Donut Burger is being served in a pub – and since when have pubs been health-food shops?
Maybe Wakeman, who sounds like a bit of donut herself, should take her blinkers off and see that food shouldn’t just be about preserving our bodies – it can be about dumb, frat-house fun, too! The only tragedy is there isn’t a branch of Hungry Horse near the spiked office, or I’d be galloping over there to try one myself.
Rob Lyons is a spiked columnist. His book, Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder, is published by Societas. (Buy this book from Amazon (UK).) Read his blog here.
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