When the New York Times article came out in May of this year about the BOTM club, there were many different reactions. Many supported us, suggested some of their own favorite haunts, and wished us well. Others felt like we were doing nothing more than accelerating the demise of civilization as we know it. Regardless of where you fell on the spectrum, it is evident that hamburgers are a big part of the American culture. From Adam and Jason’s bacon cheeseburger grilled cheese sandwich, to Hubert Keller’s $5,000 FleurBurger at the Mandalay, hamburgers come in all shapes, temperatures, toppings, buns and sizes.
But the power of the hamburger is not limited to its effect on the digestive tract, or ones breath. Whether Jimmy Buffett is having a Cheeseburger in Paradise, or the Olympia Café is serving a cheeburgah-cheeburgah, the burger is everywhere. La hamburguesa is practically a fixture on the silver and small screens, creating countless memorable moments for millions and millions of moviegoers. Now there have been a number of documentaries that either focus on, or incorporate the hamburger. For the purposes of this article, let’s keep it light, and start our journey into the hamburger in Hollywood.
1934 – We Aim to Please
The hamburger appears to have made its real debut courtesy of one J. Wellington Wimpy, Popeye’s intelligent, sometimes devious and always gluttonous sideman who was rarely seen without his favorite food, the hamburger. In fact, “J-Wimps”, as no one ever called him, always uttered the famous phrase; “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” (incidentally, it is this phrase which helped spark the blog that we all know and love – A Hamburger Today).
1986 – Hamburger: The Motion Picture
It may not get better than this. I have one name for you – DICK BUTKUS
Russell, played by a young Leigh McCloskey (arguably most famous for playing Kevin in Just One of the Guys), has worn out his welcome at various institutions of higher learning. However, if he is to inherit his uncle’s trust fund, he must earn a college degree. Russell comes across his school of salvation, Busterburger University. But Russell quickly learns that Busterburger University is no walk-in-the-park. In fact, who better than to keep Russell on the straight and narrow than Drill Sergeant Drootin, played by none other than the aforementioned Dick Butkus. Again, it doesn’t get any better.
1987 – Hamburger Hill
Not what I would call the comedy of the group, Hamburger Hill was about a brutal battle that took place in May 1969 during the Vietnam war. As this article is supposed to be light-hearted, let’s move on to a different tragedy…
1987 – Leonard Part 6
I don’t think Bill Cosby would consider this his finest hour, but it can’t go without mention that the protagonist, secret agent Leonard Parker (Mr. Jello himself) is able to save the world from certain domination by hurling hamburger patties at the bad guys. For obvious reasons, I’m going to stop here.
1994 – Pulp Fiction
Granted, there are too many memorable scenes and lines from this Tarantino classic. But two scenes stand out for us burger lovers above the rest. In the interest of brevity, I’m going to highlight the second scene because it incorporates the dialogue from the first.
When Jules Winnfield, played by Sam Jackson, and Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta, set out to retrieve a briefcase for the mercurial Marsellus Wallace, played by Ving Rhames, they eventually locate the briefcase at the apartment of one of Wallace’s misguided employees, leading to this exchange:
Jules: Hey kids! How you boys doin'?
Jules: Hey, keep chillin'. You know who we are? We're associates of your business partner Marsellus Wallace. You do remember your business partner don't you? Let me take a wild guess here. You're Brett, right?
Jules: I thought so. You remember your business partner Marsellus Wallace, don't you, Brett?
Brett: Yeah, yeah, I remember him.
Jules: Good. Looks like me and Vincent caught you boys at breakfast. Sorry about that. Whatcha havin'?
Jules: Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast. What kind of hamburgers?
Jules: No, no no, where'd you get 'em? McDonalds? Wendy's? Jack in the Box? Where?
Brett: Big Kahuna Burger.
Jules: Big Kahuna Burger. That's that Hawaiian burger joint. I hear they got some tasty burgers. I ain't never had one myself. How are they?
Brett: They're good.
Jules: Mind if I try one of yours? This is yours here, right?
Jules: Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger. Vincent, ever have a Big Kahuna Burger?
Jules: Wanna bite? They're real tasty.
Vincent: Ain't hungry.
Jules: Well, if you like burgers give 'em a try sometime. I can't usually get 'em myself because my girlfriend's a vegitarian which pretty much makes me a vegitarian. But I do love the taste of a good burger. Mm-mm-mm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
Jules: Tell 'em, Vincent.
Vincent: A Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that?
Brett: Because of the metric system?
Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett! You're a smart motherfucker. That's right. The metric system. What's in this?
Jules: Sprite, good. You mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?
Brett: Go right ahead.
Jules: Ah, hit the spot.
1997 – Good Burger
How could you not pull off a movie featuring a young Kenan Thompson, Sinbad, Tessio (Abe Vigoda), Shaquille O’Neal, Carmen Electra, George Clinton and Arliss (Robert Wuhl)? This work of genius details the epic battle between Good Burger and Mondo Burger, similar to
2004 – Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
An instant cult classic. Only slightly similar to the BOTM’s quest to find the best burger in NYC, Harold and Kumar are two stoners whose munchie craving “spark” a journey to find the local White Castle that relocated years before. Through a series of unfortunate and ridiculous events, the journey becomes much more than they bargained for.
2007 – Juno
“…can you hold on a second, I am on my hamburger phone…”
The hamburger is, and always will be, an integral part of the Hollywood scene. So to everyone that’s read this article (sorry, you probably could have enjoyed a nice bacon-cheeseburger or two in the time it took you to read this), I lay the challenge on you to give me feedback on the following:
1) What have I missed?
2) Do the same for TV.