Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mr. Sparkles

So, the part of our Destin trip where we hooked up with another branch of the Johnson Clan was interesting. Aunt Janet and her huge family went out with ours for an outing to Bay Towne Wharf. There's a place in Bay Towne that's a burger joint/diner sort of deal called Hartell's. Janet's husband, Rick the Cajun (hey, mafia lords aren't the only ones with cool nick names), chose the most interesting item on the menu--the Mr. Sparkles.

At $24.99, this burger features six grilled hamburger patties, layered with Swiss, cheddar and American cheeses, a fried egg, fried onions, sliced onions, diced onions, steamed onions, grilled onions (yes, five types of onions!) bacon, French fries, Hartell's Cincinnati-style chili, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, sautéed mushrooms, Hartell's special sauce, smothered with beef gravy served on a toasted bun.

And any competitive eater who can finish Mr. Sparkles gets the grand prize of a free T-shirt, which reads "I Beat Mr. Sparkles." The burger came to the table in a casserole dish with a white sparkler proclaiming this to be the mother of all burgers.

Rick took a deep breath, put his ball cap on backwards, and dug in. It was a sight to see, folks. (For those of you out of the southeastern region of the United States, turning the hat from bill forward to bill backward is the universal symbol for getting down to serious business.) Unfortunately, Uncle Rick didn't beat the Mr. Sparkles and left with major indigestion instead of a snazzy new T-Shirt, but it was a valiant effort.

Carter announced that it would make our meals more exciting at the house if I served them featuring a sparkler shoved into the middle of the food items before putting them on the table. I asked him if I should sing the Star Spangled Banner as I served. He shrugged, "Whatever, but maybe only when company comes."


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