Above: The idealized version; Below: The real thing

Above: The idealized version; Below: The real thing

Danya Henninger

Taste-testing Burger King’s new ‘Extra Long Philly Cheeseburger’

What qualifies a fast-food chain to describe its meat, cheese and onions as “Philly”? A critical look at the new menu item.

Gooey cheese and floppy onions. Does that scream “Philly” food to you? Apparently it does to Burger King.

The house of “Have It Your Way” — probably emboldened by the runaway success of its new grilled hot dog, which is selling like crazy even though critics slammed it — just slid another new item onto its U.S. menus:

The Extra Long Philly Cheeseburger.

Now, when food companies outside Philadelphia use “Philly” as a modifier for their sandwich-like creations, it usually means cheesesteak is involved. But not here — no sliced beef in sight. The only meat between this bread is two regular BK burgers, side by side.

The toppings are where the Philly-ness supposedly comes in. Each patty is topped with a slice of American cheese, a slathering of “smooth, mild and creamy cheesy sauce” and a heap of griddle-fried onions.

Mmmm?

Mmmm?

Danya Henninger

In concept, we get it. It’s a cheeseburger crossed with a cheesesteak — and you can’t flame-broil cheesesteak meat. Maybe, as Billy Penn’s Cassie Owens suggested, “there’s no other place in America that likes onions this way.” Plus, there’s the shape, which is sort of — sort of! — like a cheesesteak or hoagie. BK promotional copy even calls the long roll a “freshly toasted hoagie style bun.” If it’s Philly because it’s like a hoagie, then yeah, we could be down with that.

There’s also the artery-clogging nature of the thing, which is a rep Philly food hasn’t quite shaken. You can get two of these extra-long babies for just $5, making for a cheap and easy meal that’ll fill you up and then condense into an impenetrable ball of stomach grease.

But that’s later on, after you eat it. Should you eat it?

Surprisingly, it’s not gross. It might even be good.

A taste-test in the Billy Penn office produced almost zero negative comments. Which, for a fast food item that looks like a truck ran over it, is impressive. And on that front, managing editor Shannon Wink noted that it was “the least-flattened Burger King burger that’s ever been presented to me.”

Everyone agreed that the bread was definitely too mushy to be called a hoagie roll, but then again, BK didn’t claim it was the real deal, only that it was similar.

When the burger was first handed over the counter, the cheese cheesy sauce was actually pretty gooey, but within a few minutes it had sunk into the roll and was hard to detect. Still, not a deal-breaker.

“It’s utterly fine,” said editor in chief Chris Krewson, expressing the general feeling around the Billy Penn table, although a few of us were more enthusiastic. Sports editor Dan Levy said he’d order the Extra Long Philly Cheeseburger over anything else at Burger King.

And reporter/curator Anna Orso was an all-out fan. “I think it’s absolutely delicious,” she said, before adding this important caveat:

“I hope people don’t think this is what food in Philadelphia tastes like.”

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