Buns of Sable: The Burger King Halloween Whopper

October 3, 2015 — It was the first day of October. I was in Salem. And I was eating a Halloween Whopper. It’s like I went through the jack-o-lantern-shaped door, folks.

We’ve gotten to the point of a highly mainstreamed Halloween Season where it’s impossible to keep up with all the new Halloween food products. New packaging, new flavors, new forms, new names, and new products cram the shelves of our food sellers from the cereal aisles to the beer aisles to the pet food aisles and all restaurants thereabout.

But Burger King has gone and outdone them all this year and possibly for a few years to come by creating something not even the maddest of our food makers has ever created: A Halloween burger. Actually, by changing their signature product, they went full Halloween Oreo, altering its name, its packaging, and, most shockingly, its appearance. Heck, they went further. They changed its taste.

We walked into the Witch City Burger King to find every horizontal space pointy with paper bone crowns, like we’d walked into whatever Hell dimension the Event Horizon disappeared into. On the digital menu above the register, the Halloween Whopper stood bold against a black background that flickered with lightning, staring down at us like it was the eater and we the limited edition food promo.

The Halloween Whopper is burger with a black bun and orange cheese. That simple. But its path went by way of Japan to get here. In that country, where people have an entire section of taste buds on their tongues dedicated to novelty, Burger King introduced what has become known as the Goth Burger, a black-bunned, black-patty, black-cheese, black hole of a burger. They used squid ink to dye it.

But knowing the United Squeamish of America wouldn’t be able to handle squid excretions all over their ground-up cow, Burger King repackaged it brilliantly, first by tying it to Halloween and then by ascribing the color of the bun to good old American A.1. sauce. And by American, I mean British. This wasn’t a huge jump for Burger King. The chain had already started doing A.1. as a burger sauce in markets earlier this year, and Five Guys has been doing A.1.-sauced burgers since I’ve been killing myself there.

But nobody has captured its essence in a bun. And for sure nobody has ever spelled Halloween as HA.1.loween.

Judging by the reactions online, it’s divisive, as brilliance often is. Some people are put off by the color of the bun, as if they’ve never seen rye bread before. Others make easy biological jokes that apply to everything on every fast food menu.

However, I’m defending this thing. To the point that I’m writing about something that every other blogger has already chewed up by this point in the season. I love the concept and want it known that I was there for Halloween 2015, the year of the Halloween Whopper. And I dig it not just in the they-stuck-Halloween-in-the-name-so-I-have-to kind of way. I also dig it aesthetically. Seeing the promo shots and television commercials for it, I’m starting to think that black or even dark brown burger buns are way better looking than the bland beige and white buns we’ve put up with for decades. I’ll never look at them as anything but boring now.

When we got the burgers to our table, plural because of course everyone in my family wanted a Halloween Whopper, we found it wrapped in a gorgeous mummy-themed wrapper that would have been Halloween news enough by itself. Even better, it made the black buns feel like an old desiccated mummy whose linen we had to unwrap to get to. That aspect was probably not mentioned in the marketing brainstorm meeting.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been praising this thing every which way you can except for the one thing it’s (arguably) intended for, being food. So how does it taste?

I don’t really have an answer for that.

See, I’ve never eaten a regular Whopper before. And I don’t mean that in an annoying-superior- health-conscious kind of way. I love fast food, but for some reason, with the exception of Wendy’s, I rarely order fast food beef at any of the big chains. I just don’t like, I don’t know, how soggy the sandwiches end up being. So I eat chicken nuggets and spicy chicken sandwiches and fries like they’ll make me immortal. And the chicken thing is weird because at nice restaurants you’ll never catch me in a million years ordering mere yard fowl.

The other oddity is that I’m not even close to being a Burger King fan. This visit plus one earlier this year where I found myself at an airport terminal in Atlanta with no other options is the only two times I’ve eaten at Burger King in years. Probably since the last time they had Halloween Simpson toys, I think. Come to think of it, I only go to Burger King during certain Halloweens. Like the year of the Universal Monster toys. I’m suddenly understanding the bounds of our relationship.

So I don’t like Whoppers in the first place. And I barely touched the Halloween Whopper. But they got me into their restaurant, got me to buy it, and got me to defend and congratulate them publically. And they got me to dry off its mummy wrapper and fold it neatly for eventual placement in my safe deposit box. Along with a bone crown.