A burger battle examined


“Kinda like sugar, kinda like spices
Kinda like, like what you do
Kinda sounds funny but I love honey
And honey, I love you”
“Yummy yummy yummy” - Ohio Express

Originally released in 1968, “Yummy Yummy Yummy” reached as high as No. 4 on the pop singles chart. The funny part is that you would never be able to hear the song live by those who recorded the song in studio, as Ohio Express was a group entirely created to record this one song and a B-side titled “Zig-Zag” and the group never really did any live work, simply getting together to produce various recordings.

The popularity of the song led to the production company, Super K Productions, hiring a band to tour under the name Ohio Express and perform this song and a few others that the musicians recorded in studio on the road.

In other words, if you’ve ever heard this song live by a group calling themselves Ohio Express, you’ve not heard any of the musicians who appear on the single.

It was not intentional deception, but likely not what many thought they were getting when hearing the tune live.

Over the month of February, Huron held a “burger battle” with eight area restaurants participating.

This is an event that has been popularized in many larger cities - I remember eating a contest burger at one of the campus eateries at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in the late 1990s - but it’s filtered down to smaller communities.

The Sioux Falls burger battle been going since 2013.

According to an article by South Dakota Public Broadcasting, as many as a dozen communities in the state now host some sort of burger competition.

This was a first for the community of Huron, and to have eight businesses participate in the inaugural event was an excellent turnout. Based on the community response, I’d wager a few more businesses will jump in to offer their take on a burger the next go-round in the community!

In college classes on business evaluation and consultation, we were taught that there wasn’t such a thing as a “good” or “bad” thing going on. There was excellence in execution or there was opportunity for improvement.

With that thought in mind, here’s one local yokel’s take on the past month’s burger battle.

First, I did end up finishing the punch card and enjoying all eight burgers. The participating restaurants were Big D’s, Coborn’s, Coney Island Cafe, Fire Pit Pizzeria, La Hacienda, Prime Time, Ryan’s Hangar, and Scoreboard.

Take into account that I do not assert that I am in any way a food critic, alhough anyone who knows me knows I know how to eat good food!

From my vantage point, here is the excellence in execution:

Best bun: For the lowest-priced burger in the group, I was impressed with the texture of the Coborn’s Philly cheesesteak bun. It held up throughout the entire burger, meaning no fork and knife were required!

Best burger flavor: The spicy aloha burger from Ryan’s Hangar had seasoning on the beef, and it showed as the burger really popped in flavor. My better half would say that the American fries also would qualify in a later category, but she ate so many of them I can’t really judge!

Best unique burger flavor: The Philly jam burger from Big D’s had a very tangy flavor from the mango habanero bacon jam, not something you’d typically get on a burger!

Best unique burger idea: The Fire Pit’s burger bites were a creative gem. Little burgers wrapped in dough and topped with a pickle had visual appeal, too.

Best side: The Coney Island California chili cheeseburger was excellent on its own, but the fries were tremendous! I’ll admit that I was unaware of Coney Island’s lunch offerings, but those fries will bring me back soon.

Biggest surprise: The “dirty Hawaiian” from Prime Time honestly didn’t look tremendously appealing visually as the pineapple and ranch combined for an interesting look. However, the first bite changed that opinion significantly as the flavor was tremendous!

Best filler: The burger from La Hacienda was plenty large by itself, but the chips and salsa and the chorizo chile rellano poblano only added to the amount of food. It was a meal that definitely left a big eater like me full!

Best filler, part two: The Halftime Burger at the Scoreboard was big on flavor and the avocado addition was a delightfully creamy surprise. What made it so filling, though, was the amount of tater tots - a family sized portion!

Okay, now my opportunities for the whole experience are less for any individual restaurant, and more for the overall event…

Six of the eight burgers retailed between $11-13 with tax. One was notably more, one was notably less, and I like the consistency of pricing, but I’ll admit being quite surprised by the cost of the more expensive burger.

The surveys for burgers were available via QR code at each establishment, but you could only do one burger at a time. In many cases, the opportunity to fill out a survey was not time convenient and you had no ability to go back at a later time (unless you took that particular burger’s QR code card on the way out the door). I ended up filling out just one survey for the eight burgers to add to the scoring for the event.

While I understand that this is a typically-down time of year for restaurants in the upper Midwest, choosing the shortest month of the year definitely left open the chance that weather could wipe out multiple days of opportunities for participants to consume the burgers.

To be honest, I’m not sure of a better time of year, it’s just a personal observation.

Overall, each participant sold hundreds of burgers over the course of the month, and I’m sure once the numbers are available from city offices, the tax revenue from this past month for the “bed, board, and booze” tax will be significant, so the event was absolutely a success!

Like Ohio Express, that success could build into something much more lasting and entertaining, and how it’s handled by the Chamber, Huron Connect, and other sponsors/organizers will be a very fun thing to see in the future!

Coming soon to a restaurant near you - Burger Battle II!