25 of the Craziest Burger Toppings in the U.S.

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There are plenty of ways to dress a burger besides lettuce, cheese, and tomato. (Sushi? Um, okay.) In preparation for National Hamburger Day on May 28, we’re serving up the most unique burger-enhancing toppings in the U.S.

1. HOT FUDGE // MCGUIRE'S IRISH PUB // PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Why wait for dessert? Patrons of the Irish saloon can mix sweet and savory by ordering a three-quarter-pounder Black Angus beef burger covered in a scoop of hot fudge-drizzled vanilla ice cream.

2. RAMEN // RAMEN BURGER // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Keizo Shimamoto's iconic Ramen Burgers can be found stateside at various flea markets and food courts across New York. This burger packs USDA prime beef patties between noodle-buns seasoned with scallions and shoyu glaze. At the height of the craze, hundreds of diners lined up to try this phenomenal burger creation.

3. CREAM CHEESE // GRILL 'EM ALL // ALHAMBRA, CALIFORNIA

Heavy metal-inspired Grill 'Em All's food truck and restaurant (Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has eaten there!) has two cream cheese-topped offerings: Napalm Death, which also has pickled jalapeño, jalapeño poppers, and habanero aioli; and the Witte with deep-fried bacon, Sriracha, grilled onion, and malt vinegar aioli. Cream cheese is a frequent addition to their rotating burgers of the week, and the joint has been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and won Season 1 of The Great Food Truck Race.

4. PEANUT MAYONNAISE // MATT'S PLACE // BUTTE, MONTANA

Nut Burger at Matt's Place
Craig L., Yelp

At The Treasure State’s oldest drive-in restaurant, the most popular menu choice is a surprising one. Those in the know opt for the Nutburger—a beef patty covered in a crushed peanut mayonnaise.

5. PULLED PORK // B SPOT // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

A carnivore’s delight! The menu at this casual eatery, with eight locations in the Midwest including Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit and Indianapolis, includes the award-winning Porky: a burger covered in pulled pork, coleslaw and Cleveland-style barbecue sauce (made with brown mustard).

6. MANGO, PEAR, AND PINE NUTS // FLIP BURGER BOUTIQUE // ATLANTA

At Top Chef All Stars winner Richard Blais’ upscale burger joint—where they claim to “take the American classic and flip it on its head”—you can order burgers comprised of steak tartare, shrimp, lamb, and bison. But perhaps the most unique offering is the raw tuna tartare patty that comes dressed with soy dressing and wasabi mayo, and topped with Asian pear, avocado puree, pine nuts, and a mango sphere.

7. BACON GRILLED CHEESE // VORTEX BAR & GRILL // ATLANTA

Atlanta’s Vortex Bar & Grill ups the ante with their Triple Coronary Bypass: two patty melts and a bacon grilled cheese serve as buns. The sandwich consists of two slices of white bread, four slices of thick, buttery Texas toast, 18 strips of bacon, 24 ounces of sirloin, 18 slices of American cheese, three fried eggs, and mayo. The 7000-plus calorie meal comes with cheese- and bacon bits-covered tots.

8. FRIED BANANA AND PEANUT BUTTER // BOSTON BURGER COMPANY // BOSTON

The King burget at Boston Burger Co
Christina O., Yelp

Many burger joints offer tributes to Elvis Presley and his love for peanut butter and banana sandwiches. (Order up variations at The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta and Grumpy’s Bar & Grill in Minneapolis.) At Boston Burger Company it’s The King, which is layered with peanut butter, bacon, and fried bananas, and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Have mercy!

9. DOUGHNUTS // CYPRESS STREET PINT & PLATE // ATLANTA

The concept of doughnuts-as-buns isn’t exclusive to famed Minneapolis food truck Eli's Donut Burgers—The Original in Portland, Oregon offers a glazed buttermilk donut slider appetizer, and Chicago’s Buzz Bar was known to serve up a doughnut burger with truffle aioli and caramelized strawberries. Presently, at Cypress Street Pint & Plate, the Sublime Doughnut Burger is served with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions sandwiched between local bakery Sublime's freshly baked doughnuts. (Sublime has their own take on the burger, as well.)

10. CAESAR DRESSING // LITTLE MIKE'S HAMBURGERS // OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

The specialty at this Oklahoma City institution is the Caesar Burger, which is drenched in the creamy dressing. Bonus: You can tell yourself you basically ordered a salad.

11. STUFFING AND CRANBERRY SAUCE // WAHLBURGERS // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

thanksgiving burger at wahlburgers
Wahlburgers

Celebrate Thanksgiving all year at Wahlburgers, the famous burger chain backed by Mark Wahlberg and his brothers Paul and Donnie. (So far there are locations in Massachusetts, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania.) The famed siblings crafted the Thanksgiving Day Sandwich with seasoned turkey, stuffing, and roasted butternut squash, and slathered it with housemade orange cranberry sauce and mayo.

12. JAM // WEST EGG CAFÉ // ATLANTA

At West Egg Café, burgers are topped with tomato jam, pimento cheese, and bacon to create the “PB&J." At Boston Burger Company, "the Sophie" uses fig jam with prosciutto, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and arugula.

13. CAVIAR // SERENDIPITY 3 // NEW YORK CITY

Ordering the Le Burger Extravagant at this Manhattan tourist landmark will get you a Wagyu beef burger infused with 10-herb truffle butter, topped with 18-month-old cave-aged cheddar, shaved black truffles, fried quail egg, and Kaluga caviar. Of course, you’ll need to plan in advance (48 hours) and pony up a whopping $295 for this burger, which is held together with a solid gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick. (You can finish off the decadence with the $1000 Tahitian vanilla bean and edible gold leaf sundae.) If that’s too rich for your blood, they also offer a more modest caviar burger with sour cream and cucumber, a steal at $18.50.

14. FRIED ICE CREAM // FLORIDA STATE FAIR // TAMPA, FLORIDA

Among the fare for sale at the annual Florida State Fair in Tampa: a bacon cheeseburger covered in lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes … and one sizeable scoop of deep fried ice cream.

15. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY // SLATER'S 50/50 // SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Peanut Butter and Jealousy Burger at Slaters 50/50
Aselicia S., Yelp

The Southern California outpost (there are also shops in Anaheim Hills, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Marcos) has no shortage of creative dishes. See: the Sriracha Burger and the Hawaiian, which comes with spam. But the Peanut Butter & Jellousy may be the most out there, with peanut butter and strawberry jelly covering a slab of beef and bacon (plus, it gets major points for its name).

16. FRITOS // FIFTH THIRD BALLPARK // COMSTOCK PARK, MICHIGAN

Each year, just north of Grand Rapids, fans of the city’s minor league baseball team the West Michigan Whitecaps are given the chance to vote a new food item into the stadium’s concession stand. The 2009 offering stuck: a giant slab of five patties, American cheese, chili, salsa, nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and Fritos. The burger can be cut into four pieces with a pizza cutter for sharing, but finishing the entire 5000 calorie sandwich by the end of the game earns you a T-shirt and your photo in the Fifth Third Burger Wall of Fame. Batter up!

17. FOIE GRAS AND TRUFFLES // BURGER BAR // LAS VEGAS

Indulge your late night cravings on the Las Vegas Strip with chef Hubert Keller's $60 Rossini burger. He tops Australian Wagyu beef with sautéed foie gras, shaved truffles, and black truffle sauce. Or feel free to add your own creation. The restaurant’s list of toppings includes coleslaw, macaroni salad, asparagus, pineapple, and large shrimp, among others.

18. KIMCHI // UMAMI BURGER // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

The popular chain—with locations in California, New York, and Chicago—offers a Korean barbecue-inspired dish that comes with Gochujang glaze, sesame aioli, Korean ketchup, and caramelized kimchi.

19. SHRIMP // BURGER & BEER JOINT // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

At this Sunshine State favorite, you can order burgers named after classic rock songs like the Paradise City, where the beef is thick (a half pound) and topped with poached and seared Cajun spiced shrimp.

20. MAC AND CHEESE // ZOMBIE BURGER + DRINK LAB // DES MOINES, IOWA

Walking ched burger at zombie burger
SanDee W., Yelp

At the quirky, undead-themed restaurant you can choose from cleverly named burgers such as the Dawn of the Dead, They’re Coming to Get You Barbara, and The Walking Ched. The last shoves a burger, cheddar cheese, and a scoop of macaroni and cheese between two pieces of deep-fried mac and cheese.

21. PIZZA // NOSH // PORTLAND, MAINE

This is no ordinary pizza burger. At Nosh, the Slab Burger uses two slices of pie to sandwich a beef patty, provolone cheese, red pepper, marinara, and pesto.

22. HOT DOG // MOTHER'S FEDERAL HILL GRILLE // BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

No need to decide between two barbecue classics at this Maryland eatery. Order up The Dog [PDF] and have your Angus beef topped off with an all beef hot dog, chili, and cheese sauce.

23. SUSHI // 26 BEACH // VENICE, CALIFORNIA

California roll burger at 26 beach
Christine T., Yelp

This oceanside spot claims to make the only California roll hamburger in the world. To make the one-of-a-kind burger, they take a beef patty then stack it with snow crab salad, avocado, sushi ginger, lettuce, tomato, nori, and wasabi shoyu mayonnaise.

24. BUTTER AND MAPLE SYRUP // BUTTERMILK KITCHEN // ATLANTA

Breakfast burger? Bring it on! Order the special Dad’s Waffle ($13 at this Southern eatery) and bite into a huge burger patty on a sourdough waffle, doused in butter and maple syrup.

25. COMMUNION WAFER // KUMA'S CORNER // CHICAGO

In 2013, the Chicago kitchen created a holy controversy with their "Ghost" burger. After local Catholics objected to the deity—a burger with ghost chile aioli, goat shoulder, a red wine reduction they dubbed the blood of Christ, and an unconsecrated communion wafer—the restaurant promised to donate $1500 to the Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese. Their offering was refused.

A version of this story originally ran in 2016.

The $13,000 Epiphany That Made Orville Redenbacher a National Popcorn King

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iStock.com/NoDerog

Happy National Popcorn Day! While you’re no doubt celebrating with a bowl of freshly popped, liberally buttered popcorn, here’s something else to digest: Orville Redenbacher originally called his product Red-Bow.

In 1951, Redenbacher and his partner, a fellow Purdue grad named Charlie Bowman, purchased the George F. Chester and Son seed corn plant in Boone Township, Indiana. Though Redenbacher’s background was in agronomy and plant genetics, he had dabbled in popcorn, and was friendly with the Chester family.

Eventually, Carl Hartman was brought in to experiment. In 1969, when the trio had developed a seed they felt really confident in, they went to market. They dubbed the product “Red-Bow,” a nod to “Redenbacher” and “Bowman.”

The product was a hit regionally, but by 1970, Bowman and Redenbacher were ready for a national audience and hired a Chicago advertising agency to advise them on branding strategy. At their first meeting, Redenbacher talked about popcorn for three hours. “Come back next week and we’ll have something for you,” he was told afterward.

The following week, he turned to the agency and was told that “Orville Redenbacher’s” was the perfect name for the fledgling popcorn brand. “Golly, no,” he said. “Redenbacher is such a ... funny name.” That was the point, they told him, and they must have made a convincing case for it, because Orville Redenbacher is the brand we know today—and the man himself is still a well-known spokesman more than 20 years after his death.

Still, Redenbacher wasn’t sure that the $13,000 fee the agency had charged was money well spent. “I drove back to Indiana wryly thinking we had paid $13,000 for someone to come up with the same name my mother had come up with when I was born,” Redenbacher later wrote.

Hungry for more Redenbacher? Take a look at the inventor at work in the vintage commercial below.

11 Secrets of Restaurant Servers

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iStock.com/andresr

If you enjoy eating at restaurants, it's worth getting to know the waitstaff. Servers are the face of the establishments where they work, and often the last people to handle your food before it reaches your table.

"People think it’s an easy job, and it’s really not," Alexis, a server who’s worked in the business for 30 years, tells Mental Floss. She says, jokingly, "You want a professional handling your food, because we have your life in our hands."

Even if they don't spit on your plate (which thankfully they almost never will), a waiter can shape your dining experience. We spoke with some seasoned professionals about how they deal with rude customers, what they wish more customers would do, and other secrets of the job.

1. Server pay varies greatly.

The minimum wage changes from state to state, but for tipped workers like servers, the difference in pay can be even more drastic depending on where you work. In over a dozen states, if a worker typically makes a certain amount per month in tips (often $20-$30), their employers are only required to pay them a minimum of $2.13 an hour. That’s how much Jeff, a video producer who’s held various jobs in the restaurant industry, made when serving tables in New Jersey. “Usually, if I had a full paycheck of serving I could just put a little bit of gas into the tank,” he tells Mental Floss.

Waiters and waitresses in many states rely almost entirely on tips to make a living—but that’s not the case everywhere. California, Oregon, and Washington each pay tipped employees minimum hourly wages over $10. Jon, who currently works at a casual fine dining restaurant in Portland, Oregon, gets $12 an hour from his employer. Including tips, he typically earns $230 a day before taxes, and brings home about $34,000 a year on a 25-hour work week.

2. They split up tips among the restaurant staff.

Here’s another reason to be generous with your tips: Whatever extra money you leave on the table may be going to more than one person. If you ordered a drink from the bar, or if there was anyone other than your server bringing your food and clearing it from the table, that tip will likely be split up. At one restaurant job, Jeff says he paid food expeditors (workers who run food from the kitchen to tables) 10 percent of whatever tips he earned.

3. Waiters and waitresses know how to handle rude customers.

In addition to taking orders and serving food, servers are often forced to de-escalate conflicts. For many people waiting tables, this means acting sweet and professional no matter how angry customers get. Jon’s strategy is to “treat them like a child, smile, tell them everything they want to hear and remind yourself that it’ll be over soon.” Similarly, Mike (not his real name), a server at a farm-to-table restaurant in Texas, likes to “kill them with kindness." He tells Mental Floss he tries to “be the bigger man and [not] return sour attitudes back to people who don’t treat me with respect. If nothing else I can hold my head high knowing I did my job to the best of my ability and didn’t let their negativity affect my day with other, more pleasant patrons.”

Alexis, who currently waits tables at a family-owned restaurant in California, goes beyond faking a smile and makes a point to practice empathy when serving rude guests. “There’s a hospital near my restaurant, and people come there for comfort food with hospital visitor stickers on their clothes all the time. And I know then that they’re going through something traumatic usually. So when people are acting badly, I put imaginary hospital stickers on their clothes and try to remove my ego.”

4. Your waiter (probably) won’t spit in your food.

While most servers have had to deal with a customer who treats them poorly, they rarely retaliate. On the old urban legend of servers spitting in their customer’s food, Alexis says, “Never seen anybody mess with anybody’s food out of spite or malicious intent. I’ve never seen it happen and I’ve never actually done it. I don’t need to get back at people like that.”

5. Servers do more than wait tables.

Most customers just see one aspect of a server's jobs. When they’re not refilling your drinks and bringing you condiments, they're doing side work—either before the restaurant opens, after the last guest leaves, or in between waiting tables. “It could be rolling silverware, filling sauces, cutting lemons, rotating salad bars, stuff like that,” Jeff says. “It’s not just serving and you leave; there’s usually something else behind the scenes that the server has to do.”

Alexis says that in addition to hosting and serving, she has to prep to-go orders, bus tables, and wash dishes. "We’re expected to be working every moment,” she says.

6. Waiters have some wild stories.

Though parts of the job are tedious, servers are bound to see interesting things. Alexis recalls a husband and wife who were regulars at the restaurant where she worked in the 1990s; the man was later arrested for murder. “I found out when a newspaper reporter started asking me questions about them,” she says. “I’m quoted on the front page of the LA Times as saying ‘A waitress in a local coffee shop said they were a nightmare!’”

Other stories are lighter. “When I worked at Red Robin there was a lady that came in every morning and would ask to sit in the same booth," Jon says. "She carried a bag [of] stuffed animals (mostly dragons) and situated them around the booth, always in the same spots, she’d talk to them throughout her dining experience.”

7. Waiters hate it when you don't know what you want.

The simplest way to get on your server’s good side is to know exactly what you want when you tell them you're ready to order. That means not wasting their time stalling as you speed-read the menu. If you haven't decided on a dish, let your server know and trust that they'll return to your table in a few minutes. “Don’t tell your server you’re ready to order if you’re not ready to order,” Alexis says. “I’m like ‘Come on, I know you’re not ready. I’m going someplace else and I’ll be back.’”

It also means not asking your server to make several trips to your table in the span of a few minutes. Mike says that customers asking for items one at a time is one of his biggest pet peeves. “[Customers will say] ‘I need salt. I need hot sauce. I need another [...] drink.’ I was away from the table for 30 seconds each time. Those requests could easily be fulfilled in one trip to the kitchen.”

8. Waiters hate when you ask to move tables.

Next time you get seated in a restaurant, think twice before asking your server to switch tables. Restaurants divide their floor plan into sections, and each server is responsible for a different group of tables. The hosts in charge of seating rotate these sections to distribute guests evenly to servers; by asking to move, you may be depriving one server of an hour’s worth of tips while creating extra work for a server who’s already swamped. According Jon, the worst time to complain about where you were seated is when a restaurant is busy: “Sometimes this isn’t a problem if we’re slow, but if it’s a Friday/Saturday chances are you were put there for a reason.”

9. Servers work when everyone else gets the day off.

Servers have to be prepared to work a different schedule every week, work late into the night, and work on weekends. This can make maintaining a normal social life challenging. “My schedule can be troublesome, my girlfriend/friends have the opposite schedule as me so I’m never able to make it out on weekends or holidays,” Jon says.

And on the days many 9-to-5 workers go out to celebrate, servers have to wait on them. “Where I currently work I have worked Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and I will have to work on Mardi Gras (in the South),” Mike says. “I was leaving for work as my family arrived at my house for Christmas. I missed a New Years party in my house. If I hadn’t requested if off as soon as I began working there I’m almost certain I’d have to work 15 [hours] on my birthday.”

10. Your server might give you a free drink if you order it at the right time.

Asking your server for a free stuff likely won’t get you anywhere, but there is one thing you can do to possibly have a drink taken off your bill. If you wait until after your meal is served to order something cheap like a soft drink, Alexis says there’s a chance you won’t get charged for it all. “Not alcoholic drinks, but I’m talking about a cup of coffee or a soda or something like that, especially if you’re already paying for other beverages,” she says. “The server might get too busy or might not be inclined to go back to the POS [point of sale] system and add them on to your bill. It’s more trouble than it’s worth sometimes.”

11. Waiters want you to learn their names.

There’s a reason most servers introduce themselves before taking your order: They’d much rather you use their real names than a demeaning nickname. “Don’t call me sweetheart! I’m wearing a damn name tag,” Alexis says. “Sometimes I respond well, and other times no.”

And if your server doesn’t introduce themselves and isn’t wearing a name tag, Jon says it doesn’t hurt to ask. “Ask what the servers name is and refer them by name when you’re talking to them.” He says it’s “refreshing when a guest does this.”

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