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11 Human and Animal Bodily Byproducts That Sell for Cold, Hard Cash

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Humans and other animals ooze and excrete valuable substances that are worth a pretty penny on the open market. There's a very specific going rate for much of what's inside us (especially the gross stuff). If you're thinking about getting in on the bodily fluid trade, here are 11 icky substances expelled by living things that are worth some serious cash.

1. Guano, Seabird, and Bat Poop

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You don't have to be Ace Ventura to know that the feces of seabirds and bats makes for great fertilizer. The demand for guano is high and the industry is once again thriving, but the smelly commodity is not mined with the same fervor that it was in the late 1800s, when the multimillion-dollar poop trade inspired diplomatic disputes and proxy wars throughout the Pacific islands and South America.

2. Ambergris (Whale Poop/Vomit)

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Ambergris is a bile substance that is digested and excreted or coughed up by sperm whales. It hardens in the ocean and occasionally washes ashore, looking like a large stone. Freshly pooped or spewed, ambergris has an intensely foul odor. But after a careful aging process, the hardened vomit takes on a sweet, earthy scent—highly prized in the fragrance business for its use in colognes and perfumes. Finding a couple pounds of ambergris on the beach is nearly as good as happening upon several thousand dollars in hard cash.

3. Toddy Cat Coffee Bean Droppings

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When the Asian palm civet, or Toddy cat, eats scavenged coffee beans during harvest season, it deposits (poops) them out the other end of its digestive tract with the outer shell removed and the beans' flavors somehow enhanced. Ground up, the bean droppings make a cup of joe worth anywhere from $8 to $30. Caffeine aficionados swear by the stuff.

4. Human Eggs and Sperm

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This one is no surprise, but the reverse gender wage gap is interesting. While men's sperm typically fetches somewhere between $50 and $200, in 2010, a woman could earn upwards of $5000 for donating a portion of her more finite supply of eggs.

5. Human Plasma

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Most people give their blood away for free. Suckers! The part of your blood that fills it with proteins that help it clot—the plasma—can make you $300 a month.

6. Human Hair

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My friend once tossed his wet, recently shaved hair through the open window of a college sorority's bathroom. All he got was dirty looks and vengeful rumors. He should have sold his hair to wig makers, who actually pay for the locks.

7. Bird Spit

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About 400 years ago, someone in China saw white nest cliff swifts building nests out of their saliva along the high sea walls of the coast and thought, "wow, that would make a great soup." The delicacy has been incorporated into various Chinese dishes ever since. A pound of the stuff is worth more than $1000.

8. Scorpion Venom

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Scorpion venom can leave you writhing in pain, or even dead. It can also land you several thousands of dollars. It's highly prized because protein in the venom can be used to make drugs for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis.

9. Elephant dung coffee

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Like the Toddy cat coffee of Indonesia, the coffee made with beans digested by elephants in Thailand is apparently dark, smooth, and expensive. After a slow, slow roast in the digestive tract of Asian elephants, the coffee beans are ground, brewed, poured into a mug, and sold for $50.

10. Silk

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James and his giant peach weren't in it for the adventure, they were in it for the silk and the cash. Even with the advent of synthetics, real silk remains coveted by the fashion world, making silk worm farming fairly profitable.

11. Castoreum (Beaver Butt Secretion)

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Castoreum is the fluid extracted from the castor sacs, or scent glands, of beavers. The sacs are located right between the base of a beaver's tail and its anal glands. Though castoreum is produced in limited amounts (you can imagine why), it is sellable, as it has a rather pleasant smell and is used in some perfumes (and also as a food additive).

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The 50 Best Drive-In Restaurants in the U.S.
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The prime of American drive-ins might be behind us, but there are still plenty of these nostalgic roadside eateries available. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a more specialty meal, drive-ins offer one benefit that most other restaurants simply can't—fries and floats from the comfort of your own vehicle.

1. ORIGINAL SONIC DRIVE-IN // STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA

sign at the original sonic drive-in
Yelp/Kenneth H.

Sonic might now be America’s largest chain of drive-ins, but it got its start as a single restaurant with a slogan of "Service with the Speed of Sound." The original Stillwater location opened in 1959 and was fully renovated in 2015—it now has TVs to watch sports and an outdoor fire feature, but the the original sign is still on display and the carhops will still roller-skate out to your vehicle to deliver cherry limeades, chili cheese coneys, and tots.

2. MUGS UP ROOT BEER // INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI

Located in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Mugs Up has been serving homemade root beer in old-fashioned frosted mugs since 1956. And with their trademark loose-meat Zip Burgers still only costing $2.15, and a side of onion rings only setting you back $1.75, Mugs Up feels like a preserved slice of mid-century Americana.

3. RED RABBIT DRIVE-IN // DUNCANNON, PENNSYLVANIA

The '50s-style Red Rabbit Drive-In hasn't changed much since Sam and Maggie Snyder opened on Mother’s Day 1964: You’ll still find fried chicken dinners, ice cream, pizzas, made-to-order milkshakes (in regular and thick!), and fries sprinkled in “Bunny Dust” on the menu, and it’s still in the family—Sam and Maggie retired in 1988 and handed the baton to their daughter, Cindy, and her husband. Stop by and sink your teeth into the drive-in’s signature Bunny Burger, a beef patty with smoked bacon, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and a special mayonnaise-based sauce on "a special seeded roll." There’s no indoor seating, but hungry diners only have to put on their hazards and a server will come out to their car; they either eat in their vehicles or at picnic tables. Red Rabbit is closed in December and January; plan accordingly!

4. THE VARSITY // ATLANTA, GEORGIA

the varisty drive-in
Ken Lund, Flickr // CC by SA 2.0

If you’re looking for a chili dog in the ATL, the call of Varsity’s signature "What’ll ya have?" is too hard to resist. When it opened in 1928, Varsity was a small hot dog stand located near Georgia Tech University, perfect for college kids to pop in for a cheap bite. Today, it’s a sprawling restaurant that can accommodate 800 people inside and 600 cars, and the carhops still don paper caps while delivering Frosted Orange milkshakes and slaw dogs to the masses.

5. MATT'S PLACE DRIVE-IN // BUTTE, MONTANA

Matt’s Place, opened by Matt Korn in 1930, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. There are plenty of delicious treats to try here, from hand-churned ice cream to a BBQ pork sandwich, but the real stand-out is the Nut Burger. Cooks use an ice cream scoop to toss the ground beef on the grill; it’s flattened into a patty, cooked, and placed on a bun, where it’s topped with Miracle Whip mixed with salty chopped peanuts. There are seats inside this 2016 winner of the James Beard American Classics Award, but car-hop service is also available.

6. CAMERON'S LOBSTER HOUSE // BRUNSWICK, MAINE

When in Maine, stop by Cameron’s Lobster House in Brunswick. This drive-in seafood spot serves fresh-caught crab and lobster with every meal, including breakfast (crabmeat omelet, anyone?). Whatever time you stop by, come hungry: Menu options include a seafood combo appetizer (half a pint of scallops, shrimp, and crabs), lobster stew accompanied by oyster crackers and a grilled biscuit, and a "must try" lobster BLT that comes with chips and a pickle (if you upgrade the sandwich to a basket for an additional $3, you can choose an additional two sides). Park and leave your lights on for car-side service (there are also options to eat inside the restaurant or at outdoor picnic tables).

7. ARDY & ED'S DRIVE IN // OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN

ardy and ed's drive-in
Ardy & Ed's

Ardy & Ed's Drive In has been a summer staple in Oshkosh since 1948. Originally called the Southside A & W Drive In, it served root beer, hot dogs, and chips, before changing names—and owners—and becoming Ardy & Ed's Drive In. Even if you don’t own a vintage convertible, you can still swing by and order a draft root beer and drink it by the shores of Lake Winnebago.

8. DRIVE IN // TAYLORS FALLS, MINNESOTA

Located in the tiny town of Taylors Falls, the Drive-In turns cars into a time machine that transports passengers back to the 1950s. Poodle skirt-clad carhops bring orders of crinkle-cut fries, homemade root beer, and bison—yes, bison—burgers.

9. FENCE DRIVE-IN // MILTON, PENNSYLVANIA

Enjoy the Susquehanna River view with your burger while dining at Fence Drive-In Restaurant, a roadside drive-in located on Pennsylvania’s Route 405. It’s famous for its fish sandwich, but owner Matt Rabb also serves fresh-cut French fries; hand-breaded shrimp, scallops, and chicken; and homemade tartar sauce, red sauce, and cabbage salad, using the same recipes that founders Bob and Elva Reitz used when they first opened the Fence in 1951.

10. WAGNER'S DRIVE-IN RESTAURANT // BROOKLYN PARK, MINNESOTA

wagner's drive in
Yelp/Kohleen L.

Twin Cities residents with classic cars can show off their rides at the family-operated Wagner’s Drive-In Restaurant, which hosts a Monday Night Cruise Night where a group of motorheads called "The Wag-Niters" meet to enjoy fast-food favorites, admire other vehicles, and enjoy one another’s company. (Just don’t get any ketchup on their seats.)

11. SUMBURGER RESTAURANT // CHILLICOTHE, OHIO

Opened in 1953, Sumburger Drive-in in Chillicothe, Ohio was originally housed in a trailer and fittingly named "Trailer Drive-in." The following year, the restaurant moved to its present-day location, expanded, and changed its name to Logan View Drive-in. But since customers referred to their burgers as "some burger," they changed their name to its present moniker in 1974. Enjoy bourbon-fried chicken, fresh strawberry pie, and burgers smothered in a special "sumburger sauce" delivered carside, or drive across town to Sumburger’s newly opened sit-down restaurant for an indoor meal.

12. THE CHATTERBOX // AUGUSTA, NEW JERSEY

Settle in outside the Chatterbox or in its cozy, circular dining room for good food, classic cars and motorcycles, and great conversation. Expanding on the traditional drive-in’s all-fast-food menu, The Chatterbox offers wraps and seafood, too, although you can’t go wrong with a hefty half-pound Angus burger.

13. SUPERDAWG DRIVE-IN // CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

superdawg drive in
Jondoeforty1, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A Chicago institution for almost 70 years, Superdawg brings only the best in all-beef hot dogs and classic, kitschy culture. Don’t miss the gift shop for t-shirts, key rings, and wedding cake toppers, all emblazoned with the drive-in’s lovable dancing hot dog mascots. "From the bottom of our pure beef hearts," the slogan goes, "thanks for stopping."

14. SKYWAY DRIVE-IN // AKRON, OHIO

Love fast food but hate feeling guilty about where your food comes from? The Skyway is the place for you. All of the drive-in’s burgers and sandwiches are made with fresh, locally sourced food. Dig in to their signature double-decker Sky Hi burger with cheese, pickles, and their special house Ski Hi sauce.

15. ED WALKER'S DRIVE-IN // FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS

The oversized neon sign outside of Ed Walker's may advertise their French dipped sandwiches, but according to reviews, the real showstopper is the Giant Cheeseburger—5 pounds of beef on a homemade sourdough bun, which comes with a pie server for dishing up slices of burger. Rumor has it that when Ed's first opened in 1943, they served a side of moonshine to those in the know. Though that’s likely no longer the case today, customers can still legally get a beer delivered to their cars.

16. BAR-B-Q KING DRIVE-IN // CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

There will be no multitasking here; the fare at Bar-B-Q King is sit-down-and-focus food that requires both hands and a lot of napkins. Guy Fieri of the Food Network is partial to the eatery’s barbecue fried chicken. Add some onion rings and a cherry lemon SunDrop and you’ll be good to go.

17. SYCAMORE DRIVE-IN // BETHEL, CONNECTICUT

sycamore drive in
Janine Lamontagne

Once a week during the summer, the sleepy little town of Bethel becomes a hotspot of rock and roll. Sunday cruise nights at the Sycamore drive-in draw chromed-up classic cars, leather jackets, and laughter from all over the local area. Be sure not to miss their root beer float with homemade root beer.

18. STEWART'S // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

You might know the name for their root beer—invented by Ohio teacher Frank Stewart in the 1920s—but Stewart's has evolved to include about a dozen drive-ins scattered across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia (they also have sit-down restaurants). Customers rave about the chili dogs, crinkle-cut fries, vast menu, friendly service, and of course, the root beer floats.

19. DICK'S DRIVE-IN RESTAURANTS // SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

One of the few Northwest drive-throughs left, Dick's is a nostalgic throwback in a city experiencing rapid change; several of the five Seattle locations date back to the 1950s or early '60s. Although the simple burgers (with locally made buns) don’t offer any customization, they're a great deal and a beloved late-night eat. Fans especially swear by the cheeseburgers.

20. FRISCO'S CARHOPS // CITY OF INDUSTRY, CALIFORNIA

frisco's drive in
Yelp/Brenda A.

Frisco’s carhops serve more than just burgers. The Carhops—who are decked out in pink skirts and roller skates—will deliver your food with a side of song and dance. The house specialty is the parmesan sourdough bread, which they swap for the buns on their burgers, but the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in case you need a pancake pick-me-up in the morning.

21. AMMONS DRIVE-INN RESTAURANT AND DAIRY BAR // WAYNESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

If you want an old-timey meal at an old-timey price, you can't go wrong at Ammons, where a hamburger still costs less than $2. The menu has more than just burgers, though. You can also pick up some fried seafood, barbecue pork, a whole cheesecake, or one of their handmade shakes. The nearby Asheville Press recommends the cobbler, which comes in various flavors that rotate throughout the week.

22. MAC'S DRIVE-IN // WATERLOO, NEW YORK

Mac’s Drive-In has been operating every summer since 1961, when it was one of the first fast-food joints in its area and the first to offer curb service. Locals and tourists visiting the Finger Lakes have eagerly awaited the hamburger stand’s opening day ever since. In 2015, they served up 1500 pounds of French fries—all cut fresh on-site—on the first day of the season alone. Don’t leave without a frosty mug of Richardson’s beer, which they pour from a mini-keg that’s been a fixture on the front counter since the restaurant first opened.

23. CHUCK-A-BURGER // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Chuck-A-Burger's '50s-style burger and shake experience doesn't end with the food: On the last Saturday of each month through September, the drive-in hosts a classic car show featuring customs and hot rods.

24. DARI-ETTE DRIVE IN // ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA

dariette drive-in
Jerry Huddleston, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Dari-ette Drive In goes beyond the normal burger-and-fries fare of most diners, serving up Italian specialties, too. Operating since 1951, they claim to serve the best meatballs in the Twin Cities and were featured on the first season of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. If you can’t give up the idea of having a burger at a drive-in, you can order the Pizza Burger, a patty melt made with Italian seasoning and homemade red sauce.

25. THE BEACON DRIVE-IN // SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA

It may not be great for up-close conversing—the place goes through three tons of onions a week—but the seven-decade-old Beacon is worth the drive for its Chili-Cheese-A-Plenty, a burger drowning in chili and French-fried potatoes.

26. DOG HOUSE DRIVE IN // ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO

In general, walking in the footsteps of Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman is a terrible idea. Hitting up Dog House along Route 66, as he does several times in the AMC series, is one of the exceptions. Dog House is known for its spicy chili dogs, but patrons also say Dog House makes the best Frito Pie around.

27. KING TUT DRIVE-IN // BECKLEY, WEST VIRGINIA

You can get your burger fix here, but King Tut's menu is more than beef: Stone-baked pizza is served daily, and all of their breads are made in-house. Opening daily (save for Wednesdays) at 11 a.m., workers get there early to start making pies from scratch.

28. PEPPERMINT TWIST // DELANO, MINNESOTA

Gourmet burgers attract the adults, but it's the adjoining teddy bear-themed playground that keeps the kids occupied at Peppermint Twist, a favorite of Delano locals. The location was painted hot pink in the 1980s to make sure they stood out against a nearby Hardee's. It worked, and the Twist is a regular fixture of Minnesota "best of" lists.

29. KELLER'S DRIVE-IN // DALLAS, TEXAS

Keller's is one of the few places in America you can drive up, order a beer, and sip it in your car. If suds aren't your thing, you'll still get a buzz from their famous No. 5 burger—two patties on a poppy-seed bun.

30. BILL'S HOT DOG STAND // YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN

Famous for their chili dogs, Bill's also offers up a little bit of performance art. When patrons pull up to the bright yellow shop, car hops take their order instead of a speaker system. The servers then relay the menu items to workers inside via hand signal.

31. BOOMER'S DRIVE-IN // BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON

Homemade milkshakes are practically a prerequisite for any self-respecting drive-in, but Boomer's goes a step further by sourcing from a local dairy farm. The custom is to order one of their regular or monthly special shakes and then use it as a dip for their trademark waffle fries.

32. CORRAL DRIVE-IN // GUYMON, OKLAHOMA

The menu at this drive-in movie theater goes beyond popcorn. The Corral is home to a full-kitchen pizzeria and grill serving up specialties like calzones and Philly cheesesteaks, but customers who don’t have the appetite for a full meal can find more typical movie theater concessions like hot dogs, nachos, and chili cheese fries as well.

33. GEORGE THE CHILI KING // DES MOINES, IOWA

george the chili king signage
Yelp/David D.

George the Chili King opened in the 1950s when drive-ins were a popular option for hungry motorists. A lot has changed since then, but their carhop service and all-American menu remains the same. The restaurant serves drive-in classics like burgers and fries, but (obviously) it's the chili that made it a local institution.

34. BOBO'S DRIVE IN // TOPEKA, KANSAS

Located on 10th Avenue in Topeka, Kansas, Bobo’s Drive-In is hard to miss. Hungry travelers can recognize it from the neon tubing poking out from the roof or the vintage 7-Up sign overlooking the road. Inside and in the parking lot, Bobo’s serves specialties like onion rings, apple pie, and burgers topped with their signature Spanish sauce.

35. MURDO DRIVE-IN // MURDO, SOUTH DAKOTA

Murdo Drive-In has been serving comforting roadside fare to locals for over 30 years. Every May, the restaurant reopens and fires up the grill for customers dining inside, on the front patio, or in their cars. But note that they close for the season on August 31, so you'll have to go elsewhere for burgers and soft-serve during the fall and winter months.

36. FROSTOP DRIVE-IN // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

You can't miss Frostop—it’s the drive-in with the giant rotating mug of creamy root beer perched on top of the building (or on a pole). The first Frostop opened in Springfield, Ohio, in 1926, serving classic soda fountain fare like burgers, shakes, and, of course, frosty mugs of root beer. Frostop had 350 locations across the U.S. at its peak in the early 1960s, but now they're down to just a handful in Louisiana, Illinois, Idaho, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Utah. You'd do well to find one, whether for the nostalgia factor or for the cold-brewed root beer made from the original recipe.

37. RAINBOW DRIVE-IN // HONOLULU, HAWAII

Rainbow Drive in
Eugene Peretz, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

When Rainbow Drive-In first opened in 1961, the menu included $.25 hamburgers and $1 steak lunches. Prices have inflated a bit since then, but the owners still pride themselves in serving classic Hawaiian lunch plates—with plenty of mahi mahi and spam options— at affordable prices.

38. MAC'S DRIVE-IN // MCCOOK, NEBRASKA

For homemade pies and tarts, thick shakes, and perfectly crispy fries, look no further than Mac's in McCook, Nebraska. Customers can order from their cars or opt for an inside booth, where they place their orders using phones at each table. And if that’s not kitschy enough for you, you can always order the Jell-O salad for just $1.60.

39. MOON LIGHT DRIVE IN // TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA

The Moon Light Drive In is appropriately named—it’s just a five-minute drive from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. When the owners opened the now-iconic establishment in 1964, they had the Apollo missions in mind. Locals and NASA tourists alike rave about the perfectly cooked burgers and creamy milkshakes, which one Yelper declares "the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life."

40. DOUMAR'S DRIVE-IN // NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

Doumar's Drive-In.
iStock

After introducing the first waffle cone at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, Abe Doumar turned his sweet invention into a business. Doumar's still uses Abe’s original waffle iron to make their ice cream cones 100 years later. Ice cream isn’t the only item you’ll find on the menu of this Virginia drive-in. They also serve burgers, hot dogs, and barbecue.

41. KING LOUIE'S DRIVE-IN // WOOD RIVER, ILLINOIS

This St. Louis-area burger stand is enough of a local fixture that when the owners of 18 years made the recent decision to start closing the restaurant each Sunday, they posted their personal cell phone number for patrons to call them with questions and comments. While you're there, make sure to try the homemade root beer, which you can buy by the gallon, and if you dare, try the King of the Jungle Challenge—if you can finish a 2-pound burger, loaded potato planks, and a 32-ounce soda in under 30 minutes, you’ll win a t-shirt and eternal glory.

42. RODEO DRIVE-IN // BREMETON, WASHINGTON

Built in 1949, the Rodeo Drive-In now claims to be largest drive-in movie theater north of California (they can hold about 1000 cars) as well as one of the oldest in the country. But they’re also known for having a great food selection, including Philly cheesesteaks, "mega-pizzas" with all the toppings, fish and chips, and distinctive pizza dogs. The use of a pager system means you can watch the movie in your car (they have a selection of latest releases, not just old favorites!) while you wait for your food, instead of standing in line.

43. WAYNE'S DRIVE INN // LAWTON, OKLAHOMA

Locals love the juicy burgers, steak fingers, ice cream, onion rings, and endless drink combinations at Wayne's (they've got 12 homemade flavors for mixing; the cherry limeade is a particular specialty). The servings run large, and so does the nostalgia—the business has been open since 1950.

44. AVI'S SCREAMERS // WICKENBURG, ARIZONA

avi's screamers drive in
Yelp/Rob P.

People drive from out of town just for their green chili burgers and chili cheese fries at Screamers, and leave raving about the taste and low prices. More than just a novelty stop, the hand-pressed burgers won’t disappoint.

45. JERRY'S CURB SERVICE // BEAVER, PENNSYLVANIA

Jerry's Curb Service has been flipping burgers and delivering fries and shakes to your car window since 1947. As legend has it, the Steak Salad was invented at Jerry's in the 1960s when an unnamed patron ordered a steak sandwich, hold the bun, with fries and salad dressing. According to Jerry’s, "Not one to disappoint a customer, [Jerry's wife] Donna Reed placed the order. She noticed the man cut up the steak, mixed in the fries and poured the salad dressing on top. Curious about this rather odd concoction, Donna decided to try it for herself, but with one small change. Donna placed her sliced steak, fries and salad dressing atop a fresh bed of lettuce." Today you can order Donna’s version as well as the man’s original order.

46. DON'S DRIVE-IN // TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN

With its neon sign, red banquettes, and summertime carhop service, Don's Drive-In is a delightful 1950s throwback. The menu is chock full of American diner classics—burgers and dogs (cooked "the way you like 'em," chicken fingers, patty melts, onion rings, and hand-dipped milkshakes and malts—and has barely changed since Don’s opened its doors in 1958 (although we’re guessing the veggie burger is new).

47. THE PARKETTE DRIVE-IN // LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

Originally opened by Joe Smiley in 1951, the Parkette underwent a renovation and restoration in 2008. New owners Jeff and Randy Kaplan may have given the kitchen and dining room a makeover, but the car port call boxes, carhops, and landmark 40-foot-tall sign remain. Order a Poor Boy—a double-decker burger with all the fixings invented by Smiley—a Hot Brown Burger, or some Kentucky fried chicken for a gut-busting meal. The Parkette also hosts regular "cruise ins," or classic car showcases, in its parking lot.

48. THE DONUT HOLE // LA PUENTE, CALIFORNIA

The donut hole
Yelp/Indah K.

If you’re the kind of person who is afraid of driving through tunnels, the Donut Hole might be the place that helps you get over the phobia. Drive into short tunnel that’s capped by two 26-foot fiberglass doughnuts. The landmark, founded in 1968, is open 24 hours and boasts flavors ranging from the classic cake doughnut to ones covered in Fruity Pebbles.

49. FALAFEL'S DRIVE-IN // SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

In 1966, Anton and Zahie Nijmeh moved to San Jose and opened a drive-in, where they sold typical American fare like burgers, hot dogs, and onion rings. But that was just the beginning. The couple slowly started to introduce falafel and other middle eastern foods into the mix. Where else do gyros, kabobs, tabbouleh, and delicious "yogurt drink" share menu space with fries and shakes?

50. CHARLIE'S DRIVE-IN // HORTONVILLE, WISCONSIN

When it comes to Charlie's Drive-In, Elvis has never left the building: For less than three bucks, the King of Rock can serve you a classic burger. Each Tuesday, the restaurant, which has been operating for 1965, hosts a classic car night where anybody driving a classic Chevy or Caddy will get a free mug of root beer with a sandwich.

Written by Erika Berlin, Stacy Conradt, Michele Debczak, Kirstin Fawcett, Shaunacy Ferro, Kate Horowitz, Bess Lovejoy, Erin McCarthy, Lucas Reilly, Jake Rossen, and Abbey Stone.

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The Best Burger in All 50 States
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From five-pound meat monsters to greasy, drive-in comfort food, America’s most delicious burgers come in all shapes and sizes. To honor National Hamburger Day, we compiled the best burger from each state based on quality, preparation, creative flavors and, of course, taste. So dig in, find some new and well-known burger joints, and let the meat sweats ensue.

1. ALABAMA // J AND J GROCERIES

Location: Bessemer, Alabama

Housed in an old brick gas station, J and J doubles as a grocery store and burger joint. The restaurant’s simple, classic—and often messy—burgers are served up for takeout or dine in, the latter providing a fun way to mingle with locals and experience some small-town Alabama culture.

2. ALASKA // THE WEST RIB PUB & GRILL

Location: Talkeetna, Alaska

The West Rib Pub & Grill is famous for its gigantic “Seward’s Folly,” a five-pound Caribou burger topped with ham, 12 slices of bacon, 12 slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, and the restaurant’s homemade “Fat Ass Sauce.” Those opting for portion control can go with the Northern Lights burger, filled with Caribou meat, onions, bell peppers, jalapeños, and Swiss cheese.

3. ARIZONA // INGO’S TASTY FOOD

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

burger at ingos tasty food
Ingo's Tasty Food

Ingo’s Tasty Food, an upscale outdoor food stand, takes pride in its fresh, local ingredients and made-from-scratch menu. The popular Paris Texas burger, a beef, bacon, cheddar, pickle, and apple barbecue sauce delight, is one of the restaurant’s many mouthwatering options.

4. ARKANSAS // MIDTOWN BILLIARDS

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Some may consider Midtown Billiards an after-hours dive bar, but this hot spot is more than just pool, partying, and jam sessions. It’s home to the famous Midtown Burger, along with the gigantic half-pound Gut-Bomb Burger, which is served beneath a variety of toppings, including bacon, cheddar, eggs, and SPAM. Yes, you read that right: SPAM. The bar was damaged in a fire last fall, but is on track to reopen this summer.

5. CALIFORNIA // FATHER'S OFFICE

Location: Los Angeles, California

burger at fathers office
Alan Nakkash, // CC by NC-ND 2.0

Father’s Office is one of California’s most decorated restaurants, and its iconic house burger has a loyal fan following among locals and visitors alike. The Father’s Office Burger isn’t outrageous in size or topping selection. In fact, diners can’t ask for customizations or substitutions—the restaurant doesn’t even carry ketchup—which is why, perhaps, this simple sandwich has reached a state of near perfection.

6. COLORADO // HIGHLAND TAP AND BURGER

Location: Denver, Colorado

Highland Tap and Burger may be a casual neighborhood bar, but there’s nothing casual about its award-winning Shroom Luva’s burger. With unique, upscale ingredients—including Emmenthaler cheese, white truffle aioli, and shaved foie gras—it’s easy to see how this burger stands out from the crowd. Not a mushroom “luva”? Try the Tap Burger, a beef patty with Eli’s root beer pulled pork, onion rings, American cheese, cheddar cheese, and the Highland Tap and Burger’s signature sauce.

7. CONNECTICUT // FLIPSIDE BURGERS & BAR

Location: Fairfield, Connecticut

It’s easy to see why Flipside Burgers & Bar draws a crowd: the menu has a seemingly endless list of unusual, adventurous sliders, and burgers. We’re talking mac n' cheese burgers, burrata burgers, goat cheese sliders and oh so many more. One of the most popular menu items—the potato-chip-topped crunch slider—is a safe, scrumptious bet for first-time Flipside diners.

8. DELAWARE // DOGFISH HEAD BREWINGS & EATS

Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Dogfish Head has a cult following for its wildly amazing beer selection, but the beloved brand actually got its start as a beer and food company at the Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Today, foodies and beer nerds can enjoy fresh-from-the-source beers and delicious Dogfish Head bites, including the Get Him to the Greek Burger, a wood-grilled lamb and chorizo burger topped with goat cheese, feta, cured tomatoes, red onions, arugula, and cucumber tzatziki sauce.

9. FLORIDA // ENGINE NO. 9

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Casual, laid-back Engine No. 9 is home to one of the most upscale, elegant burgers in all of Florida: the Van Helsing. This giant, juicy burger, served with roasted jalapeños, roasted garlic bulbs, pepperjack cheese, and crumbled bacon, is one of many reasons St. Petersburg locals return to Engine No. 9 regularly.

10. GEORGIA // HOLEMAN AND FINCH PUBLIC HOUSE

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Wally Gobetz, Flickr // CC by NC-ND 2.0

 

Holeman and Finch’s iconic double cheeseburger (of which they limit to 24 highly sought-after burgers per night) has some major history: the burger served today descends from their original burger, which debuted at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. More than 100 years later, the burger remains an icon throughout Atlanta, at both the Holeman and Finch Public House as well as the offshoot H&F Burger joints sprinkled throughout the city (where there's no limit on the number made each night).

11. HAWAII // PINT + JIGGER

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Diane Y., Yelp

Honolulu’s Pint + Jigger combines two of the greatest things in the world—beef and beer cheese—for a popular burger that brings diners back again and again. The Pint + Jigger Stout Burger is served with beer cheese, garlic aioli, lettuce, pickle, and French fries. To make the burger "more expensive" (their words, not ours), add caramelized onions, fried onions, bacon, or avocado. Looking for a true explosion of the taste buds? Combine all four toppings.

12. IDAHO // MOON TIME

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Coeur d'Alene residents can’t speak highly enough about this neighborhood hangout. The traditional Moon Time burger is six ounces of perfectly cooked beef, topped with melted cheddar and caramelized onions. For those seeking more flair, there’s the Mediterranean Lamb Burger, served with melted goat cheese, oregano pesto mayo, and grilled vegetable relish.

13. ILLINOIS // LOCKDOWN BAR AND GRILL

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Given its loud, heavy metal music and rough-around-the-edges atmosphere, Lockdown Bar and Grill may not be the best first date spot, but it’s far and away Illinois’ best burger joint. Located in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, Lockdown’s hardcore vibe carries over into its burgers. Highlights include the signature Lockdown Warden, which is infused with bacon, leeks, garlic, and shallots, along with the Fat Elvis, with peanut butter, bacon, flambéed banana, butter, and brown sugar.

14. INDIANA // FARM

Location: Bloomington, Indiana

FARM operates under the fresh, local, farm-to-table ideology, which shines through in its popular dishes like the award-winning “Food Network Fave” Lugar Burger. This bison burger, a legend in the Bloomington area, has a unique espresso-chile rub, and can be upgraded with peppered bacon and a choice of cheddar, Swiss, goat, or blue cheese.

15. IOWA // RIDES BAR & GRILL

Location: Fort Dodge, Iowa

Don’t let the drab exterior and skull logo fool you: Rides Bar & Grill makes one of the most delectable burgers around. Rides’s signature Burn Out burger—an open-faced hamburger topped with fries, chili, cheese, ham, bacon, and onion—has placed this dive bar on the “top burgers of Iowa” lists year after year.

16. KANSAS // BRGR KITCHEN + BAR

Location: Prairie Village, Kansas

burger at BRGR
Daniel H., Yelp

BRGR’s menu offers a unique blend of elegant-yet-edgy burgers, including the Road Hoss, topped with bacon, cheddar, and onion straws, or the Fast Cow, an espresso-encrusted burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, and rosemary aoli served on an English muffin. The restaurant’s trendy vibe and top-notch service make it a regular dining spot for those around the Kansas City suburb.

17. KENTUCKY // OLLIE'S TROLLEY

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

For a teeny, tiny kitchen, Ollie’s Trolley offers surprisingly big flavors. The Ollie Burger—served with mozzarella cheese and Ollie Sauce—is a delicacy among Louisville locals. Insider tip: Ask for a second order of fries. With Ollie’s signature seasoning, one order is never enough.

18. LOUISIANA // ABITA BREW PUB

Location: Abita Springs, Louisiana

Abita Brew Pub, the restaurant arm of Abita Brewery, offers a number of tasty entrée options, including their well-known Killer Burger, a 10-ounce patty topped with fried onion rings, pepper jack cheese, and the signature Abita wing sauce. The restaurant is housed in Abita’s first brewery, and the main dining room offers a sneak peek at the company’s original 15-barrel brew-house.

19. MAINE // GRACE

Location: Portland, Maine

When a burger is so popular it needs its own Twitter account, you know it has to be good. Grace’s beloved Grace Burger—or should we say @GraceBurger—is topped with cheddar, tomato confit, and pickled onions and is a staple of the restaurant's bar menu.

20. MARYLAND // ABBEY BURGER BISTRO

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

burget at abbey burger
Kirstie L., Yelp

Walking up to the Abbey Burger Bistro feels like a stroll through Brussels, but rest assured—with toppings like fried eggs, peanut butter, and crab dip—these burgers are American through and through. While the restaurant offers unusual burger options like bison and Gochujang spiced duck, Abbey Burger Bistro has perfected the Black Angus patty down to the last juicy bite.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // TASTY BURGER

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Tasty Burger may have a hole-in-the-wall vibe, but its consistently long lines make clear that this delicious burger joint is no hidden gem. Given the restaurant’s proximity to Fenway Park and multiple college campuses, Tasty Burger attracts an interesting mix of rowdy fans, drunk college students, hipsters, and families. The burgers may not be exotic or fancy, but boy do they hit the spot.

22. MICHIGAN // DUGGAN'S IRISH PUB

Location: Royal Oak, Michigan

Burger and fries from Duggan's Irish Pub.
Jamie, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Duggan’s Irish Pub has a relaxed, casual ambiance, a robust beer list and—most importantly—an award-winning, enormous burger. The Famous Big Chief Double Decker Burger is not for the faint of heart. It comes with two quarter-pound patties, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and Duggan’s secret curry-flavored sauce. Those looking for a less intense meal can try the Little Chief, a smaller portion with the same great flavors.

23. MINNESOTA // 112 EATERY

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ask any Minneapolis resident for their burger recommendation, and nine times out of 10 they’ll suggest 112 Eatery. The restaurant’s popular 112 Cheeseburger takes the traditional cheese-and-patty sandwich to a new level. Its ground beef patty, mixed with butter, eggs, onions, and a variety of seasonings, is served below a pile of gooey, melt-in-your-mouth brie.

24. MISSISSIPPI // NEON PIG

Location: Tupelo, Mississippi

The Neon Pig—famous for its delectable Smash burger—is a fan favorite across Mississippi. The burger offers a hearty combination of aged filet, sirloin, ribeye and bacon, topped with pickles, bacon bits, and pickled onions. Plus, the Neon Pig doubles as a butcher shop, which gives it a major advantage when it comes to serving fresh meats.

25. MISSOURI // TOWN-TOPIC

Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Town-Topic is more than a tasty, beloved burger joint—it’s a staple in Kansas City’s history. After introducing its iconic five-cent burgers in 1937, Town-Topic quickly developed a following that has kept the eatery buzzing to this day.

26. MONTANA // RICHWINE'S BURGERVILLE

Location: Polson, Montana

Open for more than 50 years, Richwine’s Burgerville drive-thru restaurant has offered an unusual, 100 percent bull hamburger in an old-school, nostalgic setting. Richwine’s is open seasonally, from early March through the end of September.

27. NEBRASKA // STELLA'S BAR & GRILL

Location: Bellevue, Nebraska

burger on a table at stellas diner
Edward P., Yelp

Stella’s Bar & Grill is known for its popular burgers, including the traditional Stella Burger, which is served with cheese, bacon, and a fried egg. Hungrier, more adventurous diners can have a go at the Stellanator challenge, which involves eating the restaurant’s monstrosity of a sandwich (a stack of six burgers, six fried eggs, six slices of cheese, 12 slices of bacon, lettuce, tomato, jalapeños, peanut butter, and more) in less than 45 minutes. For dessert, it’s BYO Tums.

28. NEVADA // MIDTOWN EATS

Location: Reno, Nevada

Midtown Eats is a family-owned, locally sourced restaurant that’s known for experimenting with traditional classics. From the lamb burger with olive tapenade and tzatziki to the elk burger with caramelized onions and garlic aioli, Midtown Eats has a delicious, perfectly prepared burger variety that keeps locals coming back for more.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // LEXIE'S JOINT

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

While Lexie’s may be known for its creative burger toppings, it’s the precise preparation of each and every patty that keeps new and old customers coming through its doors. The popular Stairway to Heaven burger is served with cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, braised short ribs, and caramelized onions, while its Wild Things burger comes topped with bacon, avocado, muenster cheese, tomato, and sriracha aioli.

30. NEW JERSEY // BURGER 25

Location: Toms River, New Jersey

low carb burger at burger 25
Burger 25

Named for its 25-burger menu, Burger 25 offers some of the most unusual concoctions in the country, including a French onion soup burger, a mac 'n' cheese burger, and a breakfast burger. While it has an extensive variety, Burger 25 carefully cooks each patty to perfection to ensure the core of the burger is as good as its toppings.

31. NEW MEXICO // BUCKHORN TAVERN

Location: San Antonio, New Mexico

Food experts across the country continuously name Buckhorn Tavern’s Green Chile Cheeseburger one of the best burgers in the U.S. The small, family-owned Buckhorn Tavern is so popular that many visitors actually plan their trips around this burger hot spot.

32. NEW YORK // SHAKE SHACK

Location: New York, New York

What started as a hot dog cart in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park has turned into a mouthwatering phenomenon. Try the beloved ShackBurger or ‘Shroom Burger at one of Shake Shack’s many locations across New York City, including its original site at Madison Square Park’s southeast corner. Expect long lines, but rest assured your tasty reward is well worth the wait.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // THE LIBERTY

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Billy M., Yelp

The Liberty serves up some of North Carolina’s largest, most delicious burgers in a trendy, hip environment. Try the Black Angus Fresh Ground Liberty Pub Burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, onions, pickles, lettuce and tomato, or go even bigger with the American “Crunch” Burger, served beneath a tall stack of chips, bacon, and pimento cheese.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // SICKIES GARAGE

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

With 50 burgers on the menu, even the pickiest eaters can find something they like at Sickies Garage. As you’d imagine, Sickies has a number of unusual concoctions—we’re talking glazed doughnut, jalapeño, and peanut butter burgers—but it’s best known for the enormous Sickies Burger, which comes with peppered bacon, fried egg, pulled pork, BBQ sauces, cheese, onion rings, and hot sauce.

35. OHIO // THE MAID-RITE SANDWICH SHOPPE

Location: Greenville, Ohio

Many Ohioans know and love Swensons in Cleveland (including Akron native LeBron James), but few have heard of hidden gem Maid-Rite in Greenville. Established in 1934, Maid-Rite’s loose-meat burgers have a cult following among those in on the tasty secret, with many driving hours out of the way to get their fill of delicious Maid-Rite and Cheese-Rite sandwiches.

36. OKLAHOMA // S&B’s BURGER JOINT

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Housed in a renovated garage, S&B’s Burger Joint pairs chill vibes with tasty burgers and sliders, such as The Smokin’ Okie, topped with jalapeños, smoked gouda, bacon, mayo, and BBQ sauce. Want your burger with a side of flashbacks? S&B’s plays old-school music videos on its flat screen TVs, so prepare for a blast from your teenage past.

37. OREGON // KILLER BURGER

Location: Portland, Oregon

Killer Burger diners can’t speak highly enough about the restaurant’s 100-percent beef Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon Burger. The restaurant’s homemade peanut sauce—as well as the option of bottomless fries—make Killer Burger a must-visit for locals and tourists.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // GOOD DOG BAR

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

burger at Good Dog burger
Bader A., Yelp

Stuffed with Roquefort cheese and topped with caramelized onions, the Good Burger at Good Dog Bar has a loyal Philly following. Environment-wise, Good Dog Bar has the greatest decorating theme of all time—dogs!—and its craft beer list isn’t too shabby, either.

39. RHODE ISLAND // HARRY'S BAR & BURGER

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Harry’s Bar & Burger specializes in sliders, letting diners try a combination of quirky burgers without bursting any pant buttons. Unique menu items like the Pig Pile Burger, with BBQ pulled pork, and the Mother of All Burgers (MOAB) with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and fried onion strings can be tempting, but don’t forget the simple, delectable Harry’s Classic Cheese slider.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // THE PARK CAFE

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

The Park Cafe is a quaint, friendly, farm-to-fork restaurant that offers, among other fresh entrees, an absolutely scrumptious burger. The restaurant is known for its simple, local ingredients, but those who order the traditional Park Burger are pleasantly surprised to find that behind this classic beef, bacon, and spicy mayo goodness lies the most delicious burger in South Carolina.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // BLACK HILLS BURGER AND BUN CO.

Location: Custer, South Dakota

When people rave over “The Hot Granny” in Custer, South Dakota, they’re not talking about an attractive grandma—they’re salivating over a bacon, cream cheese, jalapeño, and sweet/spicy jalapeño sauce burger. The Black Hills Burger & Bun Co., home of “The Hot Granny,” offers a number of meat options, including a traditional beef patty, a buffalo burger, or—for those who can’t decide—both, with two patties on one burger.

42. TENNESSEE // LITTON'S MARKET AND RESTAURANT

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Since 1949, Litton’s has served up an array of southern comfort foods in a casual, “everyone knows your name” setting. Litton’s most popular burger, the Litton Thunder Road, comes with pimento cheese, sautéed onions, and jalapeños, and all six of its burgers are served between fresh buns, baked onsite daily.

43. TEXAS // ALAMO SPRINGS CAFE

Location: Fredericksburg, Texas

Way off the beaten path in Fredericksburg, Texas, lies a small, unassuming cafe with a major, mouthwatering secret: the best green chile cheeseburger in Texas. Alamo Springs Cafe has a loyal following of locals and tourists who go out of their way to get their hands—and mouths—on this award-winning burger. With green chiles and a jalapeño-cheese bun, the Alamo Springs Cafe Green Chile Cheeseburger provides a spicy little taste of Texas.

44. UTAH // SALT CITY BURGER CO.

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Bacon lovers, rejoice! Salt City Burger Co. is what bacon enthusiasts’ dreams are made of. Three of the restaurant’s signature burgers have the word “bacon” in the title, and with a full-service condiment bar, those crispy strips can be added to every single burger on the menu.

45. VERMONT // KEVIN'S SPORTS PUB AND RESTAURANT

Location: North Bennington, Vermont

Kevin’s Sports Pub and Restaurant has the laidback vibe of a neighborhood sports bar, with simple yet mouthwatering burgers that keep loyal customers coming through its doors. For a flavorful experience, try the Kevin’s Burger, or for a traditional bite of beefy goodness, go with the tried-and-true (and tasty!) Classic Burger.

46. VIRGINIA // MELT GOURMET CHEESEBURGERS

Location: Leesburg, Virginia

burger at Melt
Megan T., Yelp

There’s a reason Melt wins the best burger award year after year—its burgers are seriously that good. Try its classic burger for a simple taste of grilled perfection, or get exotic with options like the Tex-Mex Burger, the Caprese Burger, or the Greek Lamb Burger, topped with roasted garlic and feta.

47. WASHINGTON // JOHN HOWIE STEAK

Location: Bellevue, Washington

As its name suggests, John Howie Steak knows a thing or two about meat. Their expert chefs make a mean, massive half-pound prime beef burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, and their own special “drive-in sauce.” Word on the street is it tastes just as delicious heated up on day two or three, so grab a doggy bag and don’t let a single bite go to waste!

48. WEST VIRGINIA // JIM'S DRIVE IN

Location: Lewisburg, West Virginia

Jim’s Drive In, an iconic Lewisburg restaurant, has been serving up tasty, classic burgers to this West Virginia community for more than 60 years. Today, Jim’s continues to operate as a traditional drive-in restaurant, with carhops and all. The popular Famous Ranch Burger is a must-try for all first-time diners.

49. WISCONSIN // AL'S HAMBURGER SHOP

Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Al’s bare bones exterior believes the pure brilliance that's going on in the kitchen, particularly when it comes to the restaurant's beloved—and award-winning—Al Burger. With a tiny seating area that fits maybe 20 people, Al’s is definitely a hole in the wall, but this authentic, old-school diner is no secret among locals. The restaurant’s cheesy, gigantic burger brings fans back in hungry hordes.

50. WYOMING // THE BIRD

Location: Jackson, Wyoming

the bird burger at the bird
Clay E., Yelp

With stunning views and scrumptious burgers, it’s no wonder The Bird is such a popular spot. The restaurant’s famous burgers are prepared fresh daily, and are available with a variety of toppings—think guacamole, salsa, grilled onions, and fried eggs—all sandwiched between two perfectly toasted English muffins. Talk about burger heaven.

A version of this story originally ran in 2016.

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