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.

14 Secrets of Food Sample Demonstrators

Tim Boyle, Getty Images
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

Ever turn a corner in your local grocery store or warehouse club and see the aisle backed up? You might be able to blame a food sample demonstrator, those stationary sales representatives who invite congestion in stores by offering up free bites of food products in an effort to raise sales. (The strategy works—one study found that samples can increase sales by as much as 2000 percent.)

The task might look easy, but it isn’t. Sample demonstrators have to endure annoyed customers who can’t navigate aisles due to the traffic, unattended kids, and more—all while adhering to food safety regulations. To get a better perspective on the job, Mental Floss spoke with two former demonstrators. Here’s what we found out about life in the apron.

1. THEY’RE USUALLY NOT EMPLOYED BY THE STORE.

Food demonstrators are often mistaken for store employees, but they're usually not. The people working behind sample trays at Costco, for example, are often employed by Club Demonstration Services (CDS), a separate entity that hires sample representatives to present products endorsed by Costco and usually backed by the product manufacturer. (Companies can send their own reps out, too.) “CDS might have an office set up in the back of the store,” says Jim, a former food sample demonstrator for Costco locations in California. “We’d sign in, go through the warehouse, and get a quick brief on the product we were demonstrating.”

Though CDS is owned by Costco, CDS employees aren’t technically store employees, and don’t migrate to other work areas. But because customers figure the demonstrators work for the warehouse, they’re often asked for directions. “People just assume you know where stuff is,” Jim says. “I usually told them to find someone in a red vest.”

2. THEY CAN SPEND HALF THEIR SHIFT PREPPING.

A man mixes ingredients in a bowl
iStock

It may seem like a sample demonstrator is burning calories at the rate of a Queen's Guard, but they're usually very busy during the course of a six- or eight-hour shift. Food prep—including mixing ingredients for things like chicken salad or cooking steak strips—can take up as much as half of their time. It’s worth it, as cooked food has a huge advantage over ready-to-eat samples like chips. “There’s a kind of anticipation you build up when cooking something like steak,” Jim says. “It could take a few minutes or 45 minutes, and people are standing there asking when it will be ready.”

3. THEY NEED TO STAY WITHIN A 12-FOOT RADIUS OF THE CART.

Food sample demonstrators may sometimes work in a massive warehouse, but they don’t have the run of the property. Once they’ve settled into their work area—typically near where the product they’re demonstrating is stocked or wherever there’s free space in the building—they’re expected to never be more than 12 feet away from the cart. “The 12-foot radius has to do with the fact that you’re responsible for maintaining your station and keeping customers safe,” says Skyler, a former demonstrator for Costco. “If a kid sees an unattended station with a hot grill running and grabs a sample off of it and burns themselves, it’s a liability.” Demonstrators also need to make sure no one is grabbing a sample and then putting it back, which would be a gross (literally) violation of food handling safety. Once you touch it, it goes either in your mouth or in the garbage.

4. THEY FOLLOW AN ACRONYM FOR SALES SUCCESS.

Vice-president Joe Biden greets food sample servers at a Costco
Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

Food sample pushers don’t work on commission, but they can get bonuses if they sell through their inventory, so it benefits them to make sure people are consuming what they’re offering. One method for enticing customers is what Jim describes as a corporate acronym called SITGA. “It stands for Smile, Invite, Talk, Give Sample, and Ask,” he says. Demonstrators are also free to come up with their own strategy. “I liked to rhyme, like ‘come on by, give it a try,’ that sort of thing.”

5. THEY HAVE TRICKS FOR STAVING OFF BOREDOM.

Speaking with the Yes and Yes blog, Sam's Club food demo specialist Jan said that the hours spent sporadically interacting with customers can require demonstrators to make up their own fun. "I deal with the boredom in several ways. I practice standing on one foot and count the seconds before I lose my balance ... I count and rearrange samples. I reorganize the equipment under my cart. I alphabetize equipment. I grab items off the shelves and read the ingredient and nutrition labels, read slogans on T-shirts, or I try to engage customers in conversation."

6. THEY GET TIRED OF HEARING THE SAME RESPONSES.

A man in an apron looks tired
iStock

Sometimes it's hard to tell what's worse—going for long stretches without customers, or hearing the canned answers they love to give over and over (and over) again. "Customers make stock remarks about certain foods," Jan said. "If you serve sausage, they ask, 'Where are the pancakes?' If you serve a cold drink, they say it would be better with vodka. Coffee samples inevitably get, 'Now I need a donut.'"

7. THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH “SAMPLE NINJAS” ...

There’s usually no cap on the number of samples a customer can grab from a cart. Still, people can feel a degree of embarrassment going back for seconds—or thirds—and sometimes try to sneak a taste without being seen. Skyler calls these people “sample ninjas” for their attempts to go undetected. “People love free food,” he says. “They don’t want to be seen as freeloaders, they don’t want to hear a sales pitch, they just want snacks.”

8. ... BUT THAT SHAME CAN WORK IN THE STORE’S FAVOR.

A woman examines a supermarket shelf
iStock

When people are so addicted to a food sample they keep going back for more, they might opt to just buy the product rather than risk being perceived as a greedy shopper. “There have been cases where I’ve been shopping at Costco myself and went and bought something because my overwhelming shame kept me from grabbing a fifth sample,” Skyler says. “The system works.”

9. THEY HAVE A HEIGHT POLICY.

Kids represent a dilemma for demonstrators. If they’re unaccompanied by a parent, it can be potentially problematic to offer up a baked good or other food that could contain an allergen. Fortunately, most kids are aware of their food sensitivities. According to Jim, the unofficial rule of thumb is to give out samples to unattended children if they’re tall enough to see what’s on the cart. “We can’t really determine the age of a kid just by looking,” he says. “They just need to be tall enough to see the sample and discern what it is.”

10. THEY HAVE REGULARS.

Food samples are set out on a tray
iStock

Many Costco demonstrators stick to one store or district, making them a familiar face for people who shop there frequently. “There were definitely regulars,” Skyler says. “I would see old teachers from school, old friends, new friends, and regulars who would know my sales pitch and always play along—for more free samples, obviously.” Others were memorable for other reasons. “I was making cookies once and a woman grabbed the raw cookie dough and yelled at me because it was not cooked.”

11. THEY DEMO NON-EDIBLE PRODUCTS, TOO.

While Jim estimates that 90 percent of his time was spent demonstrating food, CDS also handles accounts for a variety of indigestible products, like Ziploc bags. “I’ve done dish soap and laundry soap, which is hard to demonstrate on the floor,” he says. “You have to give someone a sample and hope they try it and then come back.” Another time, Costco charged him with selling prefabricated outdoor tool sheds. “No one is buying a $3000 shed on the spot. They take a flyer. We didn’t get a sale the entire week.”

12. THEY HAVE A PLAN TO MAKE SURE NO FOOD GOES TO WASTE.

Food sits in a trash can
iStock

Toward the end of their shift, demonstrators start to estimate how many more samples they’ll need to meet remaining demand without setting out food that will wind up going to waste. “I do what I can not to waste anything,” Jim says. “We’ll usually make sure we’re done cooking by a certain time so nothing is left over.” Sealed food might go to a food pantry, depending on store policies, but prepared and unused food goes into the garbage. And no, it's not going to the demonstrators: They’re prohibited from taking the excess home.

13. NOT EVERYTHING THEY MAKE IS APPETIZING TO THEM.

Sample demonstrators are usually expected to taste their supply so they can make informed comments when a customer presses for details. While most everything is intended to be delicious, it may not necessarily be the demonstrator's own personal preference. "[I served] horrifying steak chimichangas, microwaved," Jan told Yes and Yes. "When cut into bite sized pieces, [they] squirt out a nasty brown liquid. Worse yet, lots of people liked them."

14. THEY APPRECIATE A LITTLE CUSTOMER ETIQUETTE.

Food samples are set out on a tray
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While free food can cause some of us to abandon civility and manners, food sample demonstrators always appreciate when customers acknowledge they have a job to do—and it’s not to hand out free stuff. Listening to their sales pitch is the polite thing to do in exchange for the eats. “Just try to remember that it’s a sales job and that final sale number is being held over the sample demonstrators’ heads,” Skyler says. “They’re not just someone being paid to hand out food to boost customer morale.”

What Did Elvis Presley's Famous Peanut Butter-Bacon-Banana Sandwich Taste Like? Try It for Yourself

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Elvis Presley was not what you would call a healthy eater. He reportedly loved bacon-wrapped meatballs, burgers, chicken-fried steak, fried pickles, pound cake, and of course, his signature PBBB sandwich, which took peanut butter, bacon, and banana and smashed them between two slices of white bread.

In honor of The King's favorite food, The Takeout decided to try the PBBB out for themselves. Although some may recoil at this artery-clogging concoction, the food news site gave the sandwich a big thumbs up, citing its balance of sweet and salty flavors and smooth and crunchy textures as major selling points.

According to Salon, Elvis's longtime cook, Pauline Nicholson, may have been the first person to serve Elvis a peanut butter and banana sandwich (but no word on when bacon was thrown into the mix).

The recipe is pretty straightforward, but it eliminates the sticky situation of having to put butter on one side of the bread and peanut butter on the other. Instead of butter, bacon grease is used to toast the bread.

For the ingredients, you'll need two slices of white bread, four strips of bacon, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and one sliced banana. First, fry up the bacon in a pan; while you're doing that, spread peanut butter on one side of each piece of bread. When the bacon is done, remove it from the pan, but leave the grease.

Next, place the bread (peanut butter side up) into the pan, and place the banana slices and bacon on one piece of bread. When both pieces are toasted to your liking, put the sandwich together, give it one more flip in the pan, and press it down until the peanut butter starts to ooze.

And there you have it: a deliciously, sinfully fattening sandwich. Enjoy responsibly.

[h/t The Takeout]

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