Food Challenge: Airbus Burger


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I was finally attempting to put my money where my mouth was — $19.44 at the Airliner, established in 1944. The restaurant’s Airbus is one of the few local food challenges I found listed online. It was going to be fun, right? Eating was fun. At least I used to think so. The menu’s description of the monstrosity reads:

“Over a pound of ground beef, four strips of bacon, four slices of cheese, and three onion rings on a ciabatta roll, sided with a large order of fries. If you eat this meal and survive, you get your own Airbus T-shirt, free (30-minute time limit, no helpers).”

Never had eating seemed so terrifying. Regardless, I was giving it a try. There was some confusion with the order (my poor server was on her third day, and I was throwing this at her) and a heads-up that I could/would receive a gift card for free pizza instead of the T-shirt.

The ground-beef beast arrived after 40 minutes, and because of my nerves, I forgot to take a picture. It stood (yes, stood) 8 or so inches tall, two charred patties patched with cheese and bacon, perched — almost precariously — on each other on a bun the diameter of a softball, capped by the bun’s other half and the three onion rings, all held together by a knife stuck through, like Excalibur in the stone.

Before continuing, the ambiguity in the words “over a pound” is worth analyzing. When a bag of candy advertises that it has “over 100 pieces,” you get 101. When the marketing decision to say “over” is made, it’s usually hot air to draw in customers. But what are numbers, really? “Over a pound” could mean five pounds, 10 pounds.

Twelve minutes into the challenge, I had no idea what it meant. I asked the server, and she, too, hadn’t the slightest clue. I kept going, opting for a fork-and-knife method, setting the carbs aside for later (they’re much easier to shove down; see how easy it is to accidentally eat an entire bag of Doritos) and treating the patties like enormous steaks. It had to be at least a pound and a half of beef. Both patties were so thick. They were severely charred (albeit delicious), clearly collateral damage from the process of cooking them thoroughly.

But when you’re made tired from the act of eating, crunchy meat is the enemy. Breathing is the enemy. Everything is the enemy. After sighing and burping my way through the first of the two patties, I started ripping the second apart. Underneath it sat some raw onion rings, pickles, and lettuce, all of which felt like the end of days. They were all extra, unexpected, that tiny little bit that stuck in my mind and crippled my pace. Despite slugging on for a few minutes after this discovery, two-thirds of the way through the burger and all of the way through the serving of fries, I was done.

The Wall had been hit and scaled. I was stuck at the bottom of the pit on the other side. I loathed everything. Mercy. Uncle.

Miss, I’ll take the check and the coup de grâce, please.

On this, only her third day, the poor server was tasked with cheering me up:

“I mean, I eat a lot of food, and I couldn’t have done this.” Sure. I asked for a box.

I was a broken man, and unless someone offers me $1 million to try again, or I suffer from some severe, brain-scrambling whiplash, I am completely defeated and done with food challenges. Props to the burger for bullying me into exile.

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