7 Very Big Burgers

istock.com/Bealf Photography
istock.com/Bealf Photography

What’s better than a big, juicy burger, piled high with all the fixings? An even bigger burger. Some restaurants have taken the “bigger is better” philosophy to heart, crafting monstrous lunch options that take special spatulas to flip, multiple servers to carry, and a whole team of people to consume. Take a deep breath, and let’s dive in to some of the most infamous heavyweight burger contenders. Burger King’s so-called “Whoppers” have nothing on these.

Vegans and vegetarians, turn back now. There’s nothing here for you.

1. The T-Rex – Wendy’s

A Reddit user took a picture of a genuine menu item that was sold at a single Canadian Wendy’s franchise, consisting of nine patties sitting neatly atop each other in a stack surely too large to fit into anyone’s mouth, no matter how hard they try. The T-Rex originated as a joke, fake-advertised in an old issue of Sports Illustrated (as recreated on the menu board pictured above), which inspired customers to try their luck at ordering it in real life. A Wendy’s in Canada’s Manitoba province readily complied—until abruptly pulling the 2-pound, 4-ounce behemoth, possibly due to pressure from the corporation after the burger went viral online. The T-Rex, now extinct, will nonetheless live on in burger history.

2. The 911 – Wiener and Still Champion

Tucked away on the second page of a menu that also boasts country-fried bacon and deep-fried pickle chips, Chicago-area restaurant Wiener and Still Champion’s 911 burger is a three-pound behemoth with nine patties and eleven slices of cheese. It’s otherwise known as the “Triple Undisputed,” the largest of three “Undisputed” burgers, the smallest of which starts at a comparatively reasonable one pound—advertised as “only for the very hungry.” There’s no such suggestion for the double and triple varieties, probably because the owners couldn’t conceive of a single customer hungry enough to actually order them. Ironically, the restaurant isn’t even mainly a burger joint—as the name suggests, they’re hot dog people.

3. Mount Olympus – Clinton Station Diner

Like Wiener and Still Champion, New Jersey’s Clinton Station Diner offers a range of burger sizes to accommodate customers of varying degrees of acute starvation, starting at a not-so-petite one pound, called the “Achilles.” The mythological reference is intentional, as the names of its larger burger brethren make clear: The next size up is the 2-pound Hercules, followed by the 3-pound Atlas. Zeus is a burger meant to be shared: The restaurant challenges diners to either finish the entire 7-pound thing in three hours or less, or to bring a friend to help get it down in an hour and a half.

As if a burger roughly the weight of a healthy newborn baby weren’t enough, Clinton Station Diner’s crowning glory is Mount Olympus (shown here), which isn’t pulling any punches with its name: At an even 50 pounds before the bun and assorted toppings, the restaurant’s flagship burger would incur overweight baggage fees on most airlines. It’s so big that if a team of five with big dreams and even bigger stomachs manage to suffer through it all in under three hours, the burger is free, and the restaurant will pay them $1000 on top of that. Start training, burger-lovers.

4. Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser – Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub

Not to be confused with the 24/7 restaurant chain, Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub is home to the most outrageous burger challenges in Pennsylvania. Their burgers come in varying degrees of difficulty, from the 2-pound Pub Challenger to the 25-pound Beer Barrel Burgenator, which requires the challenge participants to call ahead at least 72 hours in advance.

Their most ambitious menu offering, however, is another thing entirely: Their website warns that the 50-pound Belly Bruiser is “not a ‘challenge,’” instructing them to consult a server for further details—and probably a liability waiver just for letting the thought cross their mind. It sounds like Denny’s owners know that so much meat can only end in tears.

5. World’s Biggest Burger  – Black Bear Casino Resort

At what point is a burger no longer a burger, but simply an enormous pile of meat and bread? Apparently, no one has gotten that far yet, since the largest burger in the world currently tops out 2014 pounds and has remained uncontested since its victory in September 2012. The reigning champion was additionally topped with “60 pounds of bacon, 50 pounds of lettuce, 50 pounds of sliced onions, 40 pounds of pickles, and 40 pounds of cheese” and measured 10 feet across, from one end of the bun to the other. The burger was not only a culinary wonder, but an architectural one: the feat of flipping the immense patty required the assistance of a mechanical crane. The Guiness World Record adjudicator reported that the burger “actually taste[d] really good.”

6. Absolutely Ridiculous Burger – Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar

It’s no one-ton burger, but hometown favorite Mallie’s in Michigan has broken the record for largest commercially available burger three times, most recently in 2012 with its 1000-pound masterpiece, created in collaboration with Tom Pizzica, host of Food Network’s Outrageous Food (above). The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger was its first successful record-holder, way back in 2008, at a relatively modest 134 pounds post-cooking. All the records Mallie’s has broken since then have been the restaurant’s own.

7. 100 x 100 – In-N-Out Burger

It’s an open secret that beloved West Coast burger chain In-N-Out will customize any order within the limits of what’s in the kitchen. A Double-Double is a standard customer order, comprised of two beef patties and two slices of cheese on a standard bun. Particularly hungry patrons can spring for a triple-triple, a quadruple-quadruple, etc. One group of friends decided that standard wasn’t going to be enough for them, and boldly ordered a 100 x 100: a full hundred beef patties with as many slices of cheese, to split between the eight of them. The In-N-Out workers on shift that night obliged, and thus the group’s stomach-churning, record-setting ordeal began.

After paying the $97.66 bill and not ordering fries with that, the burger warriors collectively tackled their enormous order. To their credit, they finished it all, but not without expressing horror at the disgusting pile of “sweaty-oily cheese” clinging to the patties. Some 19,490 total calories later, at least one member of the group said he hasn’t touched In-N-Out since. There’s such a thing as too much burger.

Why Isn't Fish Considered Meat During Lent?

AlexRaths/iStock via Getty Images
AlexRaths/iStock via Getty Images

For six Fridays each spring, Catholics observing Lent skip sirloin in favor of fish sticks and swap Big Macs for Filet-O-Fish. Why?

Legend has it that centuries ago a medieval pope with connections to Europe's fishing business banned red meat on Fridays to give his buddies' industry a boost. But that story isn't true. Sunday school teachers have a more theological answer: Jesus fasted for 40 days and died on a Friday. Catholics honor both occasions by making a small sacrifice: avoiding animal flesh one day out of the week. That explanation is dandy for a homily, but it doesn't explain why only red meat and poultry are targeted and seafood is fine.

For centuries, the reason evolved with the fast. In the beginning, some worshippers only ate bread. But by the Middle Ages, they were avoiding meat, eggs, and dairy. By the 13th century, the meat-fish divide was firmly established—and Saint Thomas Aquinas gave a lovely answer explaining why: sex, simplicity, and farts.

In Part II of his Summa Theologica, Aquinas wrote:

"Fasting was instituted by the Church in order to bridle the concupiscences of the flesh, which regard pleasures of touch in connection with food and sex. Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust. Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products."

Put differently, Aquinas thought fellow Catholics should abstain from eating land-locked animals because they were too darn tasty. Lent was a time for simplicity, and he suggested that everyone tone it down. It makes sense. In the 1200s, meat was a luxury. Eating something as decadent as beef was no way to celebrate a holiday centered on modesty. But Aquinas had another reason, too: He believed meat made you horny.

"For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods."

There you have it. You can now blame those impure thoughts on a beef patty. (Aquinas might have had it backwards though. According to the American Dietetic Association, red meat doesn't boost "seminal matter." Men trying to increase their sperm count are generally advised to cut back on meat. However, red meat does improve testosterone levels, so it's give-and-take.)

Aquinas gave a third reason to avoid meat: it won't give you gas. "Those who fast," Aquinas wrote, "are forbidden the use of flesh meat rather than of wine or vegetables, which are flatulent foods." Aquinas argued that "flatulent foods" gave your "vital spirit" a quick pick-me-up. Meat, on the other hand, boosts the body's long-lasting, lustful humors—a religious no-no.

But why isn't fish considered meat?

The reason is foggy. Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, for one, has been used to justify fasting rules. Paul wrote, " … There is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds" (15:39). That distinction was possibly taken from Judaism's own dietary restrictions, which separates fleishig (which includes land-locked mammals and fowl) from pareve (which includes fish). Neither the Torah, Talmud, or New Testament clearly explains the rationale behind the divide.

It's arbitrary, anyway. In the 17th century, the Bishop of Quebec ruled that beavers were fish. In Latin America, it's OK to eat capybara, as the largest living rodent is apparently also a fish on Lenten Fridays. Churchgoers around Detroit can guiltlessly munch on muskrat every Friday. And in 2010, the Archbishop of New Orleans gave alligator the thumbs up when he declared, “Alligator is considered in the fish family."

Thanks to King Henry VIII and Martin Luther, Protestants don't have to worry about their diet. When Henry ruled, fish was one of England's most popular dishes. But when the Church refused to grant the King a divorce, he broke from the Church. Consuming fish became a pro-Catholic political statement. Anglicans and the King's sympathizers made it a point to eat meat on Fridays. Around that same time, Martin Luther declared that fasting was up to the individual, not the Church. Those attitudes hurt England's fishing industry so much that, in 1547, Henry's son King Edward VI—who was just 10 at the time—tried to reinstate the fast to improve the country's fishing economy. Some Anglicans picked the practice back up, but Protestants—who were strongest in Continental Europe—didn't need to take the bait.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

This story was updated in 2020.

Wine Isn't for Everyone—but Wine Soap Might Be

These wine soaps are made to smell like chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir, and pinot grigio.
These wine soaps are made to smell like chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir, and pinot grigio.
UncommonGoods

A bottle of wine is often a nice offering for a friend or party host, but the etiquette of gifting wine can be tricky, especially among non-drinkers. If you’re looking for a memorable gift that doesn’t come with a set of murky rules, consider this set of four wine soaps instead, which is available for $30 from UncommonGoods.

All four soaps are handmade in Monroe, Georgia, from natural ingredients like olive oil, coconut, cocoa butter, and mica. While they don’t contain any actual wine, each bar of soap is inspired by a popular variety of red or white wine—“chardonnay” smells like citrus, while “pinot noir” contains hints of berries, plums, and apples.

Creator Heather Swanepoel told UncommonGoods she was inspired to create the wine-scented soaps when she was invited to the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World. “I wanted to make sure to wow the guests and give them no reason to doubt why we were there,” she said.

If wine isn’t your thing, Swanepoel also sells scented soap inspired by flowers, chocolate, and beer.

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