america burger
Something is clearly the matter with this burger.

America’s Top Burger Chains, ranked.

Now that Burger King is planning to defect to America’s Polite Hat, we are forced to reevaluate all our stances.

We know which are the top 16 burger chains. But which of these is the most American?

This is much more difficult to answer. The following ranking is an arbitrary set of winners and losers, which in some ways resembles America itself.

1) That burger Paula Deen made one time by sandwiching a hamburger patty between two glazed donuts

2) Arby’s Meat Mountain
This exists, so it has to rank. “Why did you climb the meat mountain?” as someone asked George Mallory. “Because it was meat there.”

3) Culvers.
Culvers’ offering is literally called a “Butterburger.” If there are four syllables more American than that combination of “butter” and “burger,” I have never heard them. This is less a burger than it is the Stars and Stripes in patty form, clasped in the strong talons of a mighty eagle.

4) White Castle
“When It’s After Midnight And You Are Too Disoriented To Find Taco Bell.”

5) Five Guys’ Famous Burgers And Fries
These are nice large burgers, and one of the five guys in charge is named Chad. Full points.

6) Carl’s Jr/Hardees
I don’t understand why these have to be different. Isn’t our country divided enough on partisan and geographic lines? Some divisions can’t be avoided. Regional dialects vary. Where some people say, “Hey, a sun shower!” others say “The devil is beating his wife.” This, while alarming, cannot be helped, but Carl’s Jr and Hardees can. Why are they doing this? This is the Jekyll and Hyde of hamburgers if Jekyll and Hyde were identical in every particular.

7) Fatburger
I’ve never had a fatburger, but it has “fat” in the name.

8) A&W
“All American Food,” says the slogan, and how can we doubt them?
These are better than the name implies, given that the name implies either that you are buying two relatively unhelpful letters for a game of Wheel of Fortune or that you are purchasing a mediocre fountain root beer. A&W started as a root beer stand to welcome back World War I heroes, their Web site helpfully informs us. America!

9) Checkers
If only because, at one time, this was their commercial. This restaurant knows where it is situated on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!

10) McDonald’s
I know, it’s lower than you expected, but with Burger King headed for the Canadian hills, their creepy clowns and logos have climbed to the absolute pinnacle of Ominous Fast Food Icons. (After the Colonel, of course, but that goes without saying.) Also their burgers are never as large as they look in the ads.

11) Jack in the Box
Open late with a large variety of options, none of them particularly good. (Like America?) In some ways the Cheesecake Factory of late-night eats. Would get more points if their slogan were Brad Pitt frantically yelling, “What’s in the box?”

12) Sonic
How American can a restaurant named for a hedgehog be?

13) In ‘n’ Out
People go here by choice. (Like America!) And get things “animal-style.” (I think this is where we part ways.)

14) Wendy’s
I do love a literal pun more than most, so I appreciate the fact that they don’t cut corners with their burgers and so consequently all their burgers have actual corners. This being said, no. This is American in the sense that American cheese is American — it is there always as a default option, but you never really want it.

15) Whataburger
I have docked this points for being ambiguous in its syntax, which could lead to Abbott-and-Costello-style highjinks. “We should get burgers for lunch!” “Whataburger?” “A burger a meat patty between two buns.” “No, no, we should get whataburger.” “Yes, a burger, that’s what I said.” (This gets old rather quickly.)

16) Dairy Queen
While “Dairy” is American, “Queen” is far from it. Anyone who goes to DQ for a burger is obviously unclear on the concept. It would be like a place called Shake Shack selling burgers.

17) Shake Shack
Too much line-standing to be truly American. Wait in a long line to have food distributed to you? What is this, Soviet Russia?

18) Burger King
Most Canadian Burger.