Before we came back to Southwest Wisconsin, we lived in the same area code as the Green Bay Packers for almost 20 years.
To say that the Packers are ubiquitous in northeast Wisconsin is a gross understatement. All you need do is visit and see all the green and gold-painted anything and businesses whose names begin with “Packer.” When the Packers win, everyone’s happy that week. When the Packers lose … well, after a particularly egregious loss in 1995, the office I was in managed to keep it bottled up until about 3:30 p.m., and then it boiled out, about how the Packers could lose to that team, how can you miss a field goal that close, will Brett Favre ever not screw up in a game, etc., etc., etc.
A Milwaukee Journal TV critic once sniffed that anything Packer-related pushed “real news” off Green Bay TV stations’ 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. (That was an ironic comment given the fact that the TV critic’s employer has had Packer radio rights since 1929, and now has their preseason TV rights too, in part because it now owns a Green Bay TV station.) I argued, and believe today, that there is no business in northeast Wisconsin with the impact of the Packers. That area has seen some business sectors grow (health insurance) and others shrink (paper), but if the Packers ever left Green Bay, that would be an absolute literal catastrophe.
This came to mind, strangely enough, because Lambeau Field’s Curly’s Pub is selling hamburgers created by coach Mike McCarthy and players this month, presumably with the idea of making you hungry for football.
This is the sort of thing that was, or could have been, done here in Platteville during Bears training camp, back when the Bears had training camp here. (Along with one player ordering three pizzas from Steve’s Pizza Palace. For himself.) I don’t know how much opportunity there is to get another NFL team seeing as how teams seem to have gotten away from out-of-home-market training camp, but it might be worth the effort.
The other thing that comes to mind is the Packers, food and me. Back in 1996, I got invited to the rollout of that year’s Lambeau Field luxury box menu. Though I didn’t see this, I was told later that I was on that night’s TV news eating, which for those who know me is a thoroughly appropriate activity for video. That year also saw the worldwide debut of the Gilbert Burger, ordered at the Burger King nearest to Lambeau Field each night by defensive tackle Gilbert Brown — double cheese and triple everything else, but no pickles. My wife and I went to Lambeau Field the day before the NFC Championship that season, including a stop at that Burger King and a Gilbert Burger.
The first one, unveiled last week, was McCarthy’s Mac Attack Burger, topping the one-half-pound burger with pepperoni, Pepper Jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeño, mayonnaise, spicy mustard and French fries. This week features the Big Grease Burger of defensive end Ryan Pickett — bacon, pepper jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeño and avocado mayo — followed by the Jordy Nelson Burger, the Corn on the (Reggie) Cobb Burger, the Aaron Rodgers Burger, and Clay Matthews’ “Claymaker” Burger.
The burgers aren’t cheap — $15, including a commemorative photo — but they’re also scarce, with no more than 500 sold each week. You can hear McCarthy’s voice by reading his quote: “Eat ‘em. Eat as many as you can. It’s for charity and it’s competitive. I’m competing with a competitive group of guys, a little input from my family on the Mac Attack hamburger so it’s an eclectic approach to a hamburger. I ate one. I thought it was excellent.”
The other thought that came to mind, perhaps because I first read this around lunchtime, was what a Presteburger would have (other than a knife and fork and bib, that is), as if I have any other Packers role besides being a fan and shareholder. Similar to my tastes in pizza, I tend to be more of a purist with burgers. It’s not that I don’t like avocado, but I’m not sure it belongs piled in with everything else on the Mac Attack and Big Grease burgers.
I first encountered a bacon cheeseburger at the Kollege Klub bar on the UW–Madison campus, which served a Klub Burger — bacon cheeseburger, fries and a Pepsi – for $3.95 in the fall of 1983. (The Klub Burger is now $7. By itself.) Being hooked for three decades, along with marrying into a farm family that formerly raised hogs, mean we must begin with a bacon cheeseburger. (The bacon probably should be on the crisp side, though my only requirement about eating bacon is that it be cooked. The burger should be on the rare side of medium-rare. The cheese should be cheddar.)
Raw onions have crunch; cooked onions have that great buttery/beef grease taste. Since I can’t decide which is better, we’ll put both on. We’ll of course have a tomato slice, but fresh spinach instead of lettuce. The mayo should go on the side with the spinach and tomato, but on top of the burger? Barbeque sauce.
I’m not picky about the bun, except that the bottom half needs to be substantial enough to hold this monster without getting soggy. (See previous comment about how cooked the burger should be.) Few things are worse than soggy bread, unless you’re making French toast. (Keep this in mind for breakfast: Deep fried French toast.) On the side, steak fries and onion rings, and a dill pickle slice, to give to my wife, because she likes dill pickles more than I do. Finish with a brewed beverage — this time of year, say, a Potosi Steamboat Shandy — and you have the ideal lunch. Or at least I have the ideal lunch. Or an ideal lunch.