Food for Thought

Confessions of a Whataburger addict: Texas institution seduces a foodie who yearns to eat right

Confessions of a Whataburger addict: Texas institution seduces a foodie who yearns to eat right

Marene, Whataburger
And there it was. Just across the street. That iconic Texas orange sign beckoning me: Whataburger. Photo by Marene Gustin
News_whataburger_cup
There's one near you, just beckoning for a visit.
Marene, french fries, biscuit, bacon
Of course after just one bite of the little burger, only slightly larger than a slider, I was hooked liked a crack head.  Photo by Marene Gustin
Marene, Whataburger
News_whataburger_cup
Marene, french fries, biscuit, bacon

Some things fall by the wayside when you’re up to your ears in boxes, movers and bad tech support. Yeah, I’m talking about you, AT&T. Thanks for that smooth migration to U-verse that left me without Internet or even email for more than 24 hours.

But I digress.

This is about food.

I’m scared to go anywhere near a scale right now since for the past week my exercise schedule has flown out the window right along with my eating habits. I spent two days in sweats and no makeup and when I did remember to eat it was all about what was easy to grab and filling. I certainly wasn’t going out looking as I was and I couldn’t find cooking supplies let alone a bottle opener.

 No. No, I won’t give in to the addiction just because it’s right across the street. I’m strong, I can control myself. And yet, the next morning it was biscuits and gravy from Whataburger. 

So OK, I left my ban of fast food at the old place long with a half empty bottle of Topo Chico Agua Mineral and whatever was in that kitchen drawer I forgot to pack.

Please don’t judge me.

Normally I am the queen of eating healthy, eating local, eating all the so-called good foods. But come on. I was stressed out, dirty and tired.

And there it was. Just across the street. That iconic Texas orange sign beckoning me: Whataburger.

Just this once, I told myself. Just one time. I’m so hungry. And I’ll just get a Whataburger Jr. And a small fry. Yeah, that’s all. Just this once.

Of course after just one bite of the little burger, only slightly larger than a slider, I was hooked liked a crackhead. The soft bun, the never frozen ground beef cooked fresh to order, the chopped lettuce and tomatoes (no, do not tell me where they come from) and that smear of yellow mustard.

Yes, I devoured it. And I loved it.

Tossing the wrapper into the trash and wiping my lips I swore that was it. Tomorrow, I would be back to my regular diet.

But I was wrong.

The next day was the same mess of trying to figure out where the packers had put things and struggling with AT&T and . . .

So, it was back to Whataburger for chicken strips and gravy.

While unwrapping the sinful delight from the orange- and white-striped sack the Homeowners Association (HOA) president dropped by. I was embarrassed.

“Oh,” Dalton DeHart said.

I was horrified.

“That’s what I always get, too. You’ll get addicted to it.”

No. No, I won’t give in to the addiction just because it’s right across the street. I’m strong, I can control myself.

And yet, the next morning it was biscuits and gravy from Whataburger.

The Temptress

How can I explain?

Whataburger is a true Texas institution. From a small burger stand in Corpus Christi started by Harmon Dobson on August 8, 1950 to the franchise it is today, with 235 eateries serving 400,000 Whataburgers a day, the brand is iconic as Dr Pepper in the Lone Star State.

As Texas Monthly proclaimed in its Best Burger issue in 2009, “A Whataburger is by no means fancy or gourmet. Nor is it the best burger in Texas. But it has a way of hitting the spot exactly when it matters.”

Oh, and Whataburger is all over Twitter. They tweet and others tweet about them. I especially like @TexasHumor who often waxes semi-poetic about all things Texan, yeah, like Whataburger.

July 24: #ReasonsToLoveTexas @Whataburger with your friends after a night of drinkin' sure hits the spot.

Yeah, it does.

OK. So Whataburger is a lot tastier than any other fast food chain. But it is still just fast food. Too many calories, fat and salt.

Enough is enough.

At some point during the week I managed to get dressed up and slapped on some lipstick for a celebration dinner with friends at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar for some real food and great wine. Thank you chef James Cole for a memorable meal.

And then there was a wonderful lunch at Sorrel Urban Bistro, a place I love because of the wonderful farm-to-fork food. If you haven’t tried the wedge salad with pancetta and roasted tomatoes from Animal Farm in Cat Spring you are missing a summer delight. Oh, and the BLT?

Face it — all bacon is good. But then there is bacon that is beyond good. Bacon like manna from heaven. And that would be the bacon that comes from the pigs at Texas’ own Black Hills Ranch. This thick, crunchy bacon is on the list of foods for my last meal.

So at least there were two fabulous meals last week.

And still . . .

Standing on the balcony, looking down the street, there it is. The big orange Whataburger sign.

And the burgers are calling to me, whispering like a schoolyard crack dealer.

Psssst . . . come on down, just one, just have one more.

I feel my resolve weakening.