They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Because Brandon got served an unexpected platter of international fame after a snapshot taken in a local fast-food franchise went viral this week.
The nine-patty "T-Rex" burger at the local Wendy’s was apparently created years ago, inspired by a satirical ad in Sports Illustrated. After hungry customers here clamoured for a chance to try it, though, the Brandon Wendy’s put it on the menu and even printed it up on an advertising display board. It runs $22, or $25 for the combo.
Outside of a few sore-stomached Brandonites, though, no one really knew about this rogue Wendy’s burger — not even corporate headquarters — until one Brandon resident took a picture and posted it to the website Reddit.
Going by the pseudonym Nipplosis, he or she posted a link to the picture and the phrase "So this is one of the burgers at our local Wendy’s …"
At last count, that simple post had attracted more than 1,000 comments on that site, plus more than 2,200 of what Reddit calls "upvotes" (similar to a Facebook "Like").
But from there, the image went haywire.
A Google search for "Wendy’s T-Rex" brings nearly 2.5 million results. Websites across North America picked up the story and the image. It’s also made its way overseas, with one Irish website using it to bemoan excess.
It was featured on Internet heavyweight sites like the Huffington Post, Perez Hilton and Fark.
Universally, their tone was one of disbelief, tinged with pity.
Oddly, it’s not even as if the Brandon Wendy’s was particularly original. An American East Coast chain called Jake’s Wayback Burgers has been selling a nine-patty burger for years (theirs is $9 cheaper, too). A commenter on the original Reddit post boasted (with photo to prove it) that he had once eaten a 10-patty burger at his local Wendy’s.
There are even photos documenting an eight-person team’s success in eating a 100-patty burger specially cooked for them at a Las Vegas franchise of the In-N-Out Burger chain. (The photos are … uninspiring.)
None of those got the traction online that Brandon’s 3,000-calorie monster did.
Many of the commenters seem aghast, verging on being grossed out that such a burger even exists. Some take potshots at fast food in general, others point out that Manitoba cuisine has never been known for its subtlety.
And that’s too bad. We were just getting used to the fact that Brandon might finally be developing a reputation for better — not just bigger — things, thanks to graduates from the Manitoba School of Culinary Arts who are beginning to populate more and more Brandon eateries.
Sadly, for many people, their first impression of Brandon will now not be anything from the city’s tourism office or our economic development office. It’ll be this nine-patty monstrosity.
Perhaps in the future, we can take ownership of this scarlet letter. We can imagine a light-hearted (although thick-arteried) campaign to lure people to Brandon for an eating challenge, Nathan’s Hot Dogs style.
But for now, we echo the comment made by a Wendy’s head office spokesman:
"I don’t know if it’s possible to eat that sandwich."
The T-Rex may come with fries and a drink. It should come with a knife and fork, too.
And how about a side of shame.