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Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub
Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub

7 Very Big Burgers

Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub
Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub

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

That picture isn’t Photoshopped. 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

Youtube

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

David Ciancio/Burger Conquest

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

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

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

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

What Up Willy

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.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Little Women
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gutenberg.org

Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is one of the world's most beloved novels, and now—nearly 150 years after its original publication—it's capturing yet another generation of readers, thanks in part to Masterpiece's new small-screen adaptation. Whether it's been days or years since you've last read it, here are 10 things you might not know about Alcott's classic tale of family and friendship.

1. LOUISA MAY ALCOTT DIDN'T WANT TO WRITE LITTLE WOMEN.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Louisa May Alcott was writing both literature and pulp fiction (sample title: Pauline's Passion and Punishment) when Thomas Niles, the editor at Roberts Brothers Publishing, approached her about writing a book for girls. Alcott said she would try, but she wasn’t all that interested, later calling such books “moral pap for the young.”

When it became clear Alcott was stalling, Niles offered a publishing contract to her father, Bronson Alcott. Although Bronson was a well-known thinker who was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, his work never achieved much acclaim. When it became clear that Bronson would have an opportunity to publish a new book if Louisa started her girls' story, she caved in to the pressure.

2. LITTLE WOMEN TOOK JUST 10 WEEKS TO WRITE.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Alcott began writing the book in May 1868. She worked on it day and night, becoming so consumed with it that she sometimes forgot to eat or sleep. On July 15, she sent all 402 pages to her editor. In September, a mere four months after starting the book, Little Women was published. It became an instant best seller and turned Alcott into a rich and famous woman.

3. THE BOOK AS WE KNOW IT WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN TWO PARTS.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

The first half was published in 1868 as Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The Story Of Their Lives. A Girl’s Book. It ended with John Brooke proposing marriage to Meg. In 1869, Alcott published Good Wives, the second half of the book. It, too, only took a few months to write.

4. MEG, BETH, AND AMY WERE BASED ON ALCOTT'S SISTERS.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Meg was based on Louisa’s sister Anna, who fell in love with her husband John Bridge Pratt while performing opposite him in a play. The description of Meg’s wedding in the novel is supposedly based on Anna’s actual wedding.

Beth was based on Lizzie, who died from scarlet fever at age 23. Like Beth, Lizzie caught the illness from a poor family her mother was helping.

Amy was based on May (Amy is an anagram of May), an artist who lived in Europe. In fact, May—who died in childbirth at age 39—was the first woman to exhibit paintings in the Paris Salon.

Jo, of course, is based on Alcott herself.

5. LIKE THE MARCH FAMILY, THE ALCOTTS KNEW POVERTY.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Bronson Alcott’s philosophical ideals made it difficult for him to find employment—for example, as a socialist, he wouldn't work for wages—so the family survived on handouts from friends and neighbors. At times during Louisa’s childhood, there was nothing to eat but bread, water, and the occasional apple.

When she got older, Alcott worked as a paid companion and governess, like Jo does in the novel, and sold “sensation” stories to help pay the bills. She also took on menial jobs, working as a seamstress, a laundress, and a servant. Even as a child, Alcott wanted to help her family escape poverty, something Little Women made possible.

6. ALCOTT REFUSED TO HAVE JO MARRY LAURIE.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

Alcott, who never married herself, wanted Jo to remain unmarried, too. But while she was working on the second half of Little Women, fans were clamoring for Jo to marry the boy next door, Laurie. “Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only aim and end of a woman’s life," Alcott wrote in her journal. "I won’t marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone.”

As a compromise—or to spite her fans—Alcott married Jo to the decidedly unromantic Professor Bhaer. Laurie ends up with Amy.

7. THERE ARE LOTS OF THEORIES ABOUT WHO LAURIE WAS BASED ON.


Frank T. Merrill, Public Domain, Courtesy of The Project Gutenberg

People have theorized Laurie was inspired by everyone from Thoreau to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s son Julian, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. In 1865, while in Europe, Alcott met a Polish musician named Ladislas Wisniewski, whom Alcott nicknamed Laddie. The flirtation between Laddie and Alcott culminated in them spending two weeks together in Paris, alone. According to biographer Harriet Reisen, Alcott later modeled Laurie after Laddie.

How far did the Alcott/Laddie affair go? It’s hard to say, as Alcott later crossed out the section of her diary referring to the romance. In the margin, she wrote, “couldn’t be.”

8. YOU CAN STILL VISIT ORCHARD HOUSE, WHERE ALCOTT WROTE LITTLE WOMEN.

Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts was the Alcott family home. In 1868, Louisa reluctantly left her Boston apartment to write Little Women there. Today, you can tour this house and see May’s drawings on the walls, as well as the small writing desk that Bronson built for Louisa to use.

9. LITTLE WOMEN HAS BEEN ADAPTED A NUMBER OF TIMES.

In addition to a 1958 TV series, multiple Broadway plays, a musical, a ballet, and an opera, Little Women has been made into more than a half-dozen movies. The most famous are the 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn, the 1949 version starring June Allyson (with Elizabeth Taylor as Amy), and the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder. Later this year, Clare Niederpruem's modern retelling of the story is scheduled to arrive in movie theaters. It's also been adapted for the small screen a number of times, most recently for PBS's Masterpiece, by Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas.

10. IN 1980, A JAPANESE ANIME VERSION OF LITTLE WOMEN WAS RELEASED.

In 1987, Japan made an anime version of Little Women that ran for 48 half-hour episodes. Watch the first two episodes above.

Additional Resources:
Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography; Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women; Louisa May Alcott's Journals; Little Women; Alcott Film; C-Span; LouisaMayAlcott.org.

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Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Is Causing Another Explosive Problem: Laze
Mario Tama, Getty Images
Mario Tama, Getty Images

Rivers of molten rock aren't the only thing residents near Hawaii's Kilauea volcano have to worry about. Lava from recent volcanic activity has reached the Pacific Ocean and is generating toxic, glass-laced "laze," according to Honolulu-based KITV. Just what is this dangerous substance?

Molten lava has a temperature of about 2000°F, while the surrounding seawater in Hawaii is closer to 80°F. When this super-hot lava hits the colder ocean, the heat makes the water boil, creating powerful explosions of steam, scalding hot water, and projectile rock fragments known as tephra. These plumes are called lava haze, or laze.

Though it looks like regular steam, laze is much more dangerous. When the water and lava combine, and hot lava vaporizes seawater, a series of reactions causes the formation of toxic gas. Chloride from the sea salt mixes with hydrogen in the steam to create a dense, corrosive mixture of hydrochloric acid. The vapor forms clouds that then turn into acid rain.

Laze blows out of the ocean near a lava flow
USGS

That’s not the only danger. The lava cools down rapidly, forming volcanic glass—tiny shards of which explode into the air along with the gases.

Even the slightest encounter with a wisp of laze can be problematic. The hot, acidic mixture can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. It's particularly hazardous to those with breathing problems, like people with asthma.

In 2000, two people died in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from inhaling laze coming from an active lava flow.

The problem spreads far beyond where the lava itself is flowing, pushing the problem downwind. Due to the amount of lava flowing into the ocean and the strength of the winds, laze currently being generated by the Kilauea eruptions could spread up to 15 miles away, a USGS geologist told Reuters.

[h/t Forbes]

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