The “Crack” Burger Dedicated to Rob Ford Is Not as Tasteless as It Sounds

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 8 2013 4:31 PM

The “Crack” Burger Dedicated to Rob Ford Is Not as Tasteless as It Sounds

107277393
A regular, non-crack-themed hamburger.

Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

Comparing food to crack cocaine is tone deaf, inaccurate, and classist. Creating stunt burgers—beef patties surrounded by deep-fried Twinkies, for instance—is a hackneyed affront to everything a burger should be. So, on the surface, a “Crack Pepper Burger” invented by a Canadian restaurateur to poke fun at Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s drug-use scandal—as reported by the Canadian Press this week—looks like a very bad development indeed.

But Rob Ford’s “tribute hamburger,” as Grub Street called it, is not nearly as tasteless as it sounds. (“Tasteless” in the sense of “offensive,” that is; not living in or near Regina, Saskatchewan, I can’t vouch for how delicious it is.) That’s because Nicky’s Café, the inventor of the Crack Pepper Burger, is making a pun rather than implying that the sandwich has addictive qualities similar to those of crystalline cocaine. The name of the dish stems from a homonym: “Crack” refers both to the drug Mayor Ford was caught on video smoking, and to the action that renders peppercorns edible. It is, in other words, yet another example of a small business keeping the pun alive and well.

Advertisement

Even better, the Crack Pepper Burger does not invoke crack as some abstract symbol of gratification the way, say, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie does. It alludes to the fact that Rob Ford actually, indisputably smoked crack! Nicky’s Café is poking fun at one embarrassing public figure, not making a joke at the expense of crack addicts worldwide.

Finally, unlike the aforementioned Twinkie burger and its ilk, the Crack Pepper Burger sounds pretty good. Black pepper gets along famously with beef—consider steak au poivre—and, in addition to the cracked pepper, the Crack Pepper Burger contains three tried and true burger toppings: mushrooms, onions, and cheese.

I’m not saying the Crack Pepper Burger is a brilliant bit of political satire or a culinary masterpiece. But as foods named after drugs go, it’s in pretty good taste.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Doonan
Sept. 18 2014 2:00 PM On the Death of My Homophobic Dog I named him Liberace, but I couldn’t have chosen a less appropriate namesake for this coarse, emotionally withholding Norwich terrier.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 2:03 PM Ryan Adams’ New Song Is a Reminder That He’s One of His Generation’s Best Songwriters
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.