When I began this investigation a few short days ago, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get out of it. Now, I admit that this whole thing has been more fun than I expected, and so far I think every joint that thinks I’m worth five bucks plus tax has its merits.
So, maybe if I was more familiar with Burger King’s current ad campaign, I wouldn’t have had high expectations. If someone were to literally poop in my cornflakes, I’d suppose it’d be fair to say that this would make me feel that way.
When I walk into the Ellensburg Burger King, I ask if they have a $5 lunch, and the cashier says, “No.” Taking her word for it, I leave the restaurant and head towards the Jack in the Box, thinking that MMDG was mistaken when he put BK on my to do list. A couple of quick messages to him assures me that BK has a $5 deal.
He tells me, “They have ‘we re-invented the $5 bill’ commercials.”
I don’t think these guys understand what’s out there.
Before going back inside, I scan the posters stuck to the windows, and this is when the disappointment sets in.
The main problem with BK’s $5 deal is that it’s not a lunch. It’s a mix-and-match of a selection of sandwiches, and that’s it. No fries, no drink, no damn dessert. The “deal” part of this promo is immediately questionable. Anyway, I return to the counter and the cashier acknowledges that I was just there. I ask about this two sandwiches for five-dollar deal, and she lists off my choices: a Big Fish, a chicken sandwich, a spicy chicken sandwich, an Italian chicken sandwich, a Big King and an extra long BBQ cheeseburger. All of these things can be found on the BK value menu for between $1-$3 or in a combo, between $4-$6. I’m so distracted by the lack of sides and beverages, I don’t get the prices of individual sandwiches. I do however note that a small fry is $1.89 (medium $1.99) and a small drink is $1.79 (medium $1.99), and I think in my head that throwing in one or the other wouldn’t break the bank. I end up ordering an extra long BBQ cheeseburger (they took the time to spell it on their marquee) and a Big King. I will say in hindsight that I should have ordered at least one of the chicken sandwiches because that seems to be the main food that makes this thing special. In the moment, I just wanted to eat something familiar and dwell a little while.
I will say that the food wasn’t dissatisfying. The extra long cheeseburger is like the old Rodeo Burger except the extra-long is, like, longer. If you liked a Burger King grilled hamburger with onion rings, cheese, Bull’s-Eye barbecue sauce, and nothing else, then this is a tasty sandwich. From my point of view, this is a tasty sandwich. The Big King is not what its name makes it out to be. I feel like I keep stepping on rakes. On the poster, the sandwich’s construction is similar to a Big Mac. A bun with a patty on top, stacked with a bun, then a patty on top, then the final bun, plus all the fix-ins. I usually order fast food burgers without lettuce (I don’t like greasy lettuce), and I don’t do mayo. The cashier informs me that the Big King comes with “King sauce,” so I ask her what that means, and she goes, “Honestly, I have no idea.”
“Awesome.” And then I order it. While it looks substantial on the poster, it turns out to be a Whopper Jr. with an extra bun and patty. They should really change the name of that sandwich. They should save “Big King” for when they really mean it. If it were called “Double Whopper Jr. with cheese,” we’d be square.
Dwelling on what’s ultimately an insignificant transaction got me thinking about the Jaden and Willow Smith interview: how do I negotiate the duality of these feelings? On the one hand, I’m upset with how lame this deal is compared to just about every other place, including Taco Bell. The other deals serve a variety of offerings from their menus, which I think is important. Not only that, but I don’t think Burger King’s deal can compete because it doesn’t give enough. But when I think of all that, I also think the opposite of all that.
I am really full. The Big King and the extra long BBQ cheeseburger have sunk into my gut. I feel them just sitting there, and I can’t imagine being hungry for a few hours. In a certain respect, the Burger King $5 mix-and-match may be the best deal because of how filling it is, but I’m more into the fullness and sex appeal of the other restaurants’ deals.
Presentation: 1/3 – The sandwiches came wrapped on a tray, nothing special.
Satisfaction: 2/3 – Was it filling? Yes. Could I have used a small drink? Or some salty fries. Or onion rings.
Value: 2/3 – Again, even if it doesn’t look like a meal, it felt like a meal when I was through. But they totally fucking cheat you out of a side or beverage. If it came with a beverage, we’d be square.
T + 3 hours: 3/3 – Much like my frustration, this meal lingered inside of me long after I ate. It’s kind of a plus, but I’m reminded of the old saying, “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.” Interpret as you like.
The Conclusion: a late night lunch with Jack.