The Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom has a large and diverse prepared foods section in the back of its ground level, and the department’s employees like to keep things interesting. One of their devices is an ever-changing special hamburger offering, available at the burger venue that leads into the prepared foods section.
Last week, for example, that store offered the ‘Crisp Burger,’ your choice of patty with lettuce, tomato, American cheese and fried onions, which lent the burger its name. Previous offerings have included the ‘Thurston,’ named after a George Washington freshman dorm.
the George Washington student who won the store’s name-your-burger contest. The Thurston featured a fried egg, fried onions, hot peppers, cheddar and Colby cheeses, smashed tater tots and ranch dressing.
But none of the offerings have been particularly insane, and none have been named after the seventh or eighth most popular player on the Nats. Until now, that is.
Because this week, that Whole Foods busted out the ‘Buffalo Ramos’ burger, named after the Nats catcher, Wilson. The Piece de resistance, of course, is the patty itself. It’s made from buffalo meat, in homage to Ramos’s nickname of “The Buffalo.” That really makes the concept.
But there’s more! Including a topping spread of guasacaca, a Venezuelan avocado salsa. Ramos, of course, is very proudly Venezuelan, and so the prepared foods folks are making this concoction specifically for the burger.
Then there are the rest of the fixins, including Gouda, lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, grilled onions, bacon and onion rings. The burger comes on a Brioche, and will cost you $7. Because this took slightly more effort than a typical special burger, it will be available for at least two weeks.
— WFM Foggy Bottom (@WFMFoggyBottom) September 3, 2014
Now, why is a Whole Foods designing a special buffalo meat and and guasacaca burger in honor of the seventh or eighth most popular player on the Nats?
“We really love what the team is doing, and we wanted to support them. We love the D.C. connection, so that’s kind of how we came up with this,” Jessica Carlin, the store’s marketing team leader, told me on Wednesday. “There’s the low hanging fruit of it — he’s The Buffalo, and we have buffalo meat. But also, we feel like he’s kind of an unsung hero. Like you said, he doesn’t get a ton of recognition, he’s not one of the most popular players, and it’s cool to highlight him.”
(Full disclosure: I used to work at two D.C. area Whole Foods stores, though not Foggy Bottom. I do much of my shopping at Whole Foods. My sisters got me gift cards to Whole Foods for my birthday. I lay in bed at night and dream of going back to work at Whole Foods. I was thinking about it in the shower just this week. It’s not hard to figure out the purpose of a grocery store: People need to eat, and people often enjoy eating, and grocery store employees facilitate that process. What’s more irenic than good food? Plus you get to meet lots of people. And they usually don’t send you electronic vitriol. And you get to see how things work. And open boxes of treasures. And drink beer samples, sometimes. And you virtually never have to transcribe sports radio interviews. Man. Anyhow.)
The burger, Carlin said, was a collaborative process between the prepared foods department, the marketing department and the store manager, although Joe Wood from prepared foods deserves much of the credit for the final concept. She said that it’s possible the store will start selling guasacaca, if enough people go bonkers over the topping. This is the first sports-themed sandwich the store has offered, and it proved fairly popular in its first day of sales.
So, are more Nats burgers on deck? Will there be special sandwiches throughout the postseason?
“That’s a good question,” Carlin said. “I think one of the great things about Whole Foods is we have a lot of freedom to do that sort of experimentation here. If something is successful, it definitely would be something that would be worth considering?”
First, though, there’s the matter of Ramos. The store reached out to the Nats to tell them know this was coming, and tweeted the finished product at Ramos, who re-tweeted it. Some store employees live near Nats Park, and it’s really a pretty reasonable commute. So….
“We would love for Wilson Ramos to come in and have one,” Carlin said. “On the house.”