Theme Park of the Day: Knott's Berry Farm

Vote of the week: How to make a 'real' Krusty Burger?

April 19, 2013, 8:31 AM · Universal Orlando's got a problem.

Forget the challenge of building a Transformers ride in less than a year. Or coming up with a worthy sequel to the wildly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal's got both of those covered. The real challenge for the Universal Orlando Resort is…

How do you actually make a Krusty Burger?

Krusty Burger

Universal's making fast progress on its new (and, yes, still officially unannounced) Springfield area for Universal Studios Florida. Included in that newly revamped land will be the facades of Moe's Tavern and Krusty Burger, standing where the old International Film Festival food court once stood. Universal's clearly planning to open a new restaurant in that space, as it has advertised already for personnel to work the new facility.

But if Universal's building a Krusty Burger, aren't people going to demand that Universal serve actual Krusty Burgers?

This isn't as simple as the challenge of creating Butterbeer. As successfully as Universal Orlando's executive chef, Steve Jayson, and his team nailed that task, they had it easy. People were supposed to like Butterbeer. Krusty Burgers are "the unhealthiest food in the world," vile fast food that the restaurant's owner, Krusty the Clown, wouldn't imagine actually eating. ("Ewww! I almost swallowed some of the juice!")

So what do you do? Do you honor of the spirit of hard-core, orthodox fans (think Comic Book Guy) and remain faithful to the canon, even if that means creating a new, horrible-tasting Krusty Burger to serve Universal's Simpsons fans? Or do you sell out the story and opt to serve something tastier instead?

It's fun to imagine selling nasty burgers to a horde of theme park tourists (other than us, of course), but what would you do if you were running the Universal Orlando Resort? Maybe you just slap the Krusty Burger name on your regular burgers, saving yourself the expense of developing and serving another food product? Or maybe you look for a way to avoid the issue entirely, and ask Universal Creative to work with Matt Groening to come up with some story to explain why this Krusty Burger location is selling a different type of burger than Springfield's infamous original Krusty Burger?

It's Vote of the Week time.

Please explain your answer, in the comments. Or just tell us what you'd most like to see become "real" in Universal's version of Springfield.

Replies (30)

April 19, 2013 at 8:48 AM · They should do the tax burger jokes to the menu. When tax time comes, they could change the menu to the IRS burger very much follow when Krusty lost everything to the IRS episode.
April 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM · This may seem totally unrelated, but bear with me. On Rt. 80 W. in PA, there's a truck stop in a town called Emlenton. I had passed it several times, always noting the signage and billboards that proclaimed it the home of "The World's Worst Apple Pie." I finally stopped there one time on my way to Cedar Point. The place was jammed, not just with truckers. And I saw an awful lot of people with apple pie on their plates. I got a piece. Was it the worst ever? No, not in my book. But it wasn't particularly good either. The point is, I'm not much of a fan of apple pie. But that sign not only enticed me to stop, but to try a piece.

I answered "Create a new, awful tasting burger" to this question. Universal can market it as an awful burger six ways to Sunday, but as long as it's edible, people will go for it. "If you fry it, they will come."

April 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM · I think people have taken the fast food parodies depicted in the Simpsons far too literally.

I want an amazing burger for Krusty Burger. I want the best theme park counter service burger in the world.

April 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM · I think they should borrow/swipe the recipe from the Heart Attack Grill and use that over the top and greasy, yet tasty, idea to build a Krusty Burger.
April 19, 2013 at 9:24 AM · Charred black on the outside, but a nice juicy medium rare on the inside.
April 19, 2013 at 9:47 AM · I went for a new, aweful tasting burger, non-toxic and edible but memorably terrible. Make it obvious (and very clear to anyone ordering it) that you order and eat it at your own risk, that there will be NO refund, and price it high enough so that people can't order it acidentally. Perhaps signing a waiver(legally unenforceable but both fun and to reinforce how terrible the burger is) and perhaps a serving line dedicated to that burger, to not let the appetite-handicapped diners from slowing down the regular line.
It's a theme park- stay loyal to the theme!
April 19, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Universal's burgers are already terrible. Just slapping the name on their already horrible burgers will suffice and will actually be humorous. The burgers really are the equivalent to the Nescafe coffee Disney's finally replacing.
April 19, 2013 at 10:09 AM · I can see Creative getting with Matt and coming up with why they don't serve KB...something like the Springfield department of Health finally did something to put a ban on the production of the burger or maybe all the radio active cows that are used bought my Mr. Burns for his dogs...I see so many options with this.
April 19, 2013 at 10:21 AM · If I were to hazard a guess, the task at hand would be to make a hamburger that LOOKS awful, but tastes great.

Good luck!

April 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM · I'd question if it is possible to make a truly disgusting burger (in appearance) while maintaining a tasty standard. After all, if we consider the demographic that this is intended for, a "gross-out" factor is likely more appealing than a culinary experience. The Instagram hashtags would write themselves for family vacations with burgers that look repulsive...while still being edible, possibly tasty. On the opposite end of the spectrum look at high end NYC chefs at Atera that are creating dishes that look like bark and stones or an eloquent dish of squid ink pasta. Why would someone want to eat that? Gross (or not normal) appearance doesn't have to extend to the tasty -- and the kids will love it. I have faith the creative team and chefs can come up with something on-brand that isn't going to have to come with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
April 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM · They should have a selection. You could order a "real" awful tasting Krusty burger if you want. You can, also, order a regular burger called Krusty Special.
April 19, 2013 at 11:22 AM · I'm just hoping they finally get a decent veggie burger and prepare it far away from the meat. Every Florida theme parks fails big time with vegetarian options. :(
April 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM · Create a new burger that tastes great. I've had burgers at Universal's counter service and Hard Rock Cafe, and there's a BIG difference between the two.
April 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Slap the Krusty Burger name on your regular hamburger = creating a terrible burger worthy of the Krusty name.
April 19, 2013 at 12:48 PM · I say stick to the story. If its not healthy, well it not something you would eat all the time anyway. And if it is high in calories, you do enough walking around the resort to burn off plenty. There are enough good burgers in city walk anyway. It will be a novelty item so it should be true to the show.
April 19, 2013 at 7:05 PM · I think you miss the point with krusty burger. It's just McDonald's with a different sign. They even make the comparison in the show. They even do special burger events, like the ribwich. Krusty doesn't like it because it's common, he likes the finer things in life, even though he can't afford them. Standard burger joint food will be fine. People will buy it once because of the reference, and that's all Universal want initially.
April 19, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Like Jeff said, they should copy the formula for Las Vegas' Heart Attack Grill.

Obviously, health warnings would need to be made extremely clear, but not everyone wants to go to Las Vegas, but at least once in their life, everyone wants a REAL burger!!

April 19, 2013 at 3:26 PM · I agree with the post, chared on the outside, delicious in the middle.

Correct me if I am wrong, what about a Alligator burger. It is different, the meat is in abundance, but a healthier option at the same time? Make it heart smart burger for a change?

April 19, 2013 at 4:23 PM · I actually think they could have "two" signature burgers.

One could be a standard burger (i.e something everyone could / would order)

The second could be the gross "novelty" burger. (For the fun people who would buy it just because)

There is a market for those who'd try it. For example, those Jones sodas like turkey & gravy & green bean casserole sell pretty well considering the contents.

And I don't necessarily think it has to be super unhealthy, just "gross". (random foods tossed together)

April 19, 2013 at 5:00 PM · I'm not familiar with the Simpsons or Krusty Burger, but based on the description I would try to come up with a burger that looks like it would be terrible and completely unhealthy, but actually tastes good and is at least as healthy as the average fast food burger. If they were just looking for a terrible burger, they might as well call up Six Flags or Cedar Fair and ask for their recipe.

I also like Jeff's idea of copying the Heart Attack Grill, as long as they don't go and serve quadruple bypass equivalents to park guests (can't imagine that would sit too well after a spin on Transformers).

April 19, 2013 at 5:55 PM · I honestly don't think they will produce vile, inedible food just for the sake of theming. Theme park food is bad enough already!
April 19, 2013 at 6:21 PM · AJ, I can't speak for other Cedar Fair parks, but the burgers at Cedar Point have greatly improved. They are now fresh, not frozen, and show what appears to be a true dedication to improving the food quality across the board. Last year we made several trips to Cedar Point just to eat dinner at the Game Day Grill. The food quality was wonderful- the fruit plate was fresh and flavorful and the white chili there was just about the best I have ever had. It isn't to the level of Disney yet, but they are trying hard.
April 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM · ^Perhaps it's just Knott's Berry Farm and not all of Cedar Fair, then. I haven't eaten in the park in a few years, so it may have improved, but I remember it being the worst park food I've had anywhere, hence why I now generally go to the Pink's right outside the gate (way better than anything inside and about 30% cheaper as well). I still have no idea how the Chicken Dinner Restaurant outside is pretty good but the now defunct (as far as I'm aware) Chicken To Go location in the park (which is supposed to serve the same stuff) was terrible.
April 19, 2013 at 6:34 PM · My vote is to actually just serve the normal Universal theme park burgers. It's actually kind of genius, if you think about it. Those burgers are not very good. And the Krustyburgers are not supposed to be very good. So this is one restaurant that can never have people saying that the food didn't live up to expectations...because it is supposed to be bad.

The thing is, though, that I'd wager 95% (or more) of the people who'd wander in there for a burger would never know that Krustyburgers are supposed to taste bad (like on the TV show). The Simpsons is only casual viewing for most people these days and few will know the minutia of the show's history. If something didn't happen last week and isn't covered in TMZ this morning then most people will not know about it.

An interesting thought for Krustyburgers is actually to make them vegetarian burgers...and not use any meet. That could be an interesting inside joke...and also a riff on the "Doublemeat Palace" burger from the old Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode (where the big secret that the burger place was hiding was actually that their burgers were made from soy and vegetables and no meat). A lot of people will think a vegetarian burger tastes weird and odd...but it is edible and a vegetarian option would be interesting for guests. The backstory could be that Krusty saves money by using only vegetarian patties and no meat in the restaurant but he lies to customers and tells them it's real meat. Maybe Homer could "expose" this to guests somehow (so that people are aware it's all vegetarian burgers inside).

I'm actually more interested in the "Flaming Moe's" drink I am sure they will make. Remember it's supposed to taste like cough syrup and have that fire element. Obviously, real flame cannot be used but maybe special cups could have flames on them? I think the cough syrup was purple so I always thought that the Flaming Moe would taste like grape. Lisa ordered a "Virgin Moe" in that episode so there was a nonalcoholic version. They will probably have it straight or frozen...maybe they will even just call it a Frozen Moe instead of a Flaming Moe.

April 20, 2013 at 3:58 AM · Anyone eating amusement park hamburgers is probably not too concerned about what is in them. Perhaps the horse meat burgers from England would be a good fit.

I recommend calling them "Prion Burgers."

April 21, 2013 at 8:16 AM · Put up a sign saying Florida Health laws prohibit the sale of the KrustyBurgers sold elsewhere in the country, and that a few ingredient substitutions were required as a result.
April 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM · AJ, interesting you should mention Pink's. Cedar Point got the first Pink's east of the Rockies a few years ago. I get a hot dog there at least once each season.
April 22, 2013 at 1:12 AM · Whatever about the Krusty Burger as long as they have the "Ribwich" on the menu I'll be happy.
Krusty did announce that it would not be made anymore, as the unnamed animal whose meat was used for the burger had become extinct. But that just made me want it more.
April 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM · The Simpsons Ride is set in Krustyland, which is built up in the pre-show as an awful theme park, yet the ride itself is great.

Krusty Burger should follow suit. Plenty of jokes about the food and service around the restaurant but a good actual product.

April 24, 2013 at 7:23 PM · Not sure but the Moe's and Krusty's, individually, will be way too small for a theme park, so I expect them to flow together and form one place. Currently there is no alcohol on that side of the park, so Moe's will be a welcome addition. As far as the burger I think we all know it will be the same old burger as the rest of the park.

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