Men of prodigious appetites often become known for their favorite foodstuffs. Elvis Presley had his fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. John Madden enjoys a good turducken when the season is right. "Joliet" Jake Blues famously ordered "four fried chickens and a Coke." And now, Luther Vandross has, as part of his legacy, the Luther Burger.
A nice homey Midwestern state like Wisconsin is the perfect place to find one. We love our massive cream puffs, and please don't skimp on the fried cheese curds. On any given day, we can walk into a place like The Old Fashioned and order a burger with a slab of braunschweiger or a sunny-side-up egg right on top. So why the heck not serve up a bacon cheeseburger nestled lovingly between two glazed doughnuts?
The legend has it that, in a bunless moment, the late R&B singer requested that his bacon cheeseburger be served between seized on the Luther Burger back in 2006 with their own "Baseball's Best Burger," adapting the monstrosity to the ballpark setting. Now Madison's own baseball team is joining in on the gluttony.
It's appropriate, I guess, that the Luther Burger at the Duck Pond isn't quite the Luther Burger of legend. It was only recently that I realized that the Mallards aren't actually MLB-affiliated, so calling the Northwoods League "minor league baseball" in the traditionally understood sense is a similar malapropism. But in both circumstances, the slightly inaccurate nomenclature is close enough.
Among the many Luther Burgers I found while researching this story, the version served at (of all places) the Google cafeteria in New York City looks like it would be the most solid effort. Google's burger, and others, keeps the traditional bun/burger relationship mostly intact. The doughnut is butterfly-sliced down the middle, and each cut side is toasted or grilled. The twist comes literally, as the doughnut "bun" is inverted so the unglazed cut surface is where hand meets fate. Convenient!
I have to admit that it was a slight let-down when I realized that the burger we'd be enjoying was not made with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but rather with the Maynard's Slide In at the Pond offers locally-sourced burgers made fresh, even these pre-made patties are substantial, fairly lean, and definitely flavorful. The bacon and cheese get washed out between the big flavor of the burger and the sticky sweetness of the doughnut. Beware that finger-licking glaze, by the way; small flies actually stuck to our hands after finishing our meal.
If you've been tempted by the McDonald's McGriddles sandwich, you're probably in the target demographic for the Glazer Bacon Cheeseburger. But even if you're just a fan of the Mallards experience, it's worth taking a flyer on. It's true: between the brisket, the brats, and the Curd Burger -- yes, a burger topped with cheese curds -- there's a lot to take in at the park. But this Luther Burger will be gone for who knows how long after Sunday.
Order one up soon. Like Luther's first solo single, one Luther Burger is never too much.