The Empire Bites Back

Yes, it happened.

The advertising hype had led me to believe it would be available all February long, but my first trip to the local Quick burger joint left me sad and black-bun-less as I learned that the new official dates of its availability would be only from March 2nd-5th. The window of opportunity would be smaller than those womp rats Luke used to bulls-eye in his T-16 back home (extra points if you get the reference).

Saturday would be my best chance to get in on the freak show, but despite all the curious anticipation something sinister had crept into my life since the time I first found about the Darth Vader burger. A few weeks ago I fell victim to the unfortunate compulsion to start exercising and eating better. And any glimpse into my checkered fitness past would clearly show that the biggest threat to each of my fragile healthy streaks has always been my arch nemesis—the burger & fries combo. Cue the sinister Imperial March theme, Mr. John Williams.

But all this aside I wasn’t about to miss such a science experiment an opportunity. I got myself in line and allowed the flashy HD menu screens above the counter to whet my galactic appetite.

I let the unusual sentence “Un Dark Vador burger s’il vous plait” roll off my tongue, strengthening my resolve to avoid adding the workout-cancelling words of “frites” or “Coca”. As usual the girl gave me my order with a smiley “Bon appétit,” which already sounds a bit out of a place when serving low-grade fast food but considering this Franken-sandwich she’d just handed me the pleasantry was borderline laughable. I found a quiet corner of the dining room to be as alone as possible with my camera and my new subject.

My first thought was wow, when they say dark they mean dark! Before that day I had assumed two things in particular about Darth Bread—that the food coloring would turn it darkish blue at best, and that it would be a mere flashy façade masking a normal ol’ white bun on the inside. I was proven wrong one the first one, and as I reluctantly brought the beautiful abomination up to my mouth I soon found my other preconception shattered:

This is when things got eerie if I’m honest. I felt like this other-worldly bun was staring back at me, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame waiting to see if I found his hideousness frightening or endearingly charming. Honestly I’m still on the fence about it. As far as taste goes, besides the disappointment one faces when focusing on the taste of a fast food burger and realizing it has no distinguishing flavor whatsoever, this one did have some additional spiciness. You can see above there’s a little red pepper in there which was part of the zesty sauce slathered on the Hunch-bun, and a glance back at my paper place mat confirmed what they were going for: the Dark Side = very very spicy:

The bread itself tasted like it always does, i.e. nothing at all, but to me the texture was slightly tougher or resistant, not as soft and spongy as usual, making each bite a little unnerving. I suppose one could argue that’s what real bread should do in the first place, but it was a deviation from the normal burger experience you’d expect. Halfway through I started hitting the wall and whether it was dietary guilt or just plain heebie-jeebies I threw in the towel. We shared one more look before parting ways…

…and I bid farewell to what might not go down as the classiest, but certainly one of the most wonderfully odd and unforgettable culinary experiences I’ve ever had. It was just one of those once in a lifetime things that no respectable child of the 80’s could let pass him by. And as I reflect on it all, I’m left with really just one definitive conclusion—

The Quasimodo Burger needs to happen next.

*for more about French fast food, including my first reaction to the Vader burger idea, check out my post Force Fed.

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About A French Frye in Paris

An American living in Paris, savoring the city one secret at a time. View all posts by A French Frye in Paris

23 responses to “The Empire Bites Back

  • Betty Londergan

    Very funny post, wonderful photos .. I felt like I was there! (and that was also kinda unnerving as I don’t even eat burgers)! Great writing!

  • Sarah (@sazen)

    I was very curious to know what it would look and taste like, so thanks Corey for saving me the trouble of having to buy one. We have seen the ads on tele and my boys have not been anxious to get out there and try one so you are the only person I can use as a source of information.

    I wonder how they got the black coloured bread. I’m sure I probably wouldn’t like to know…

    • Corey Frye

      Yes Sarah it’s definitely better to not ask those questions. I think it was only recently McDonald’s came out and said “Ok we’re gonna stop putting that pink slime in our burgers from now on”. (For real, you can google it)

      Thanks for reading and take care.

  • hmunro

    Thank you for your excellent (and very humorous) réportage — and your equally excellent photos. I commend your adventurous spirit and bravery, Corey. I don’t think I could have bitten into something that looked so gangrenous.

    I’m curious, though: Did you hear any of your fellow Parisians comment on this gastronomic catastrophe? I wonder whether they’d think it was avant-garde — and therefore cool — or whether they’d view it with disdain as yet another hideous American export.

    • Corey Frye

      Thanks Heather. As far as my fellow Parisians, I haven’t heard of or seen anyone else giving a rat’s behind about this promo. In fact the whole time I stood in line to get my Vader Burger I watched a few of them sitting untouched under the heat lamps. But the initial advertising hype was pretty strong, so maybe it was a success for them.

  • David @ Frenchie and the Yankee

    This bun is the exact same color as a licorice macaron from La Durée. Seriously. It looks scary.

  • MommaExpat

    Creepy bun. Now I will take my husband to try it. =)

  • adavidsonfisher19

    Well Corey I’m proud of you for taking the plunge to try that scary thing! I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even if it didn’t live up to the excitement you were hoping for, at least you can put your mind to rest that you actually did go and try one like you wanted to!
    Since you didn’t eat all of it I would say that doesn’t count for real cheating on your new regime! You’ve probably gone and work that bit off already. Congrats by the way on becoming a new healthier you. Living in France with all the desserts and wine sure makes that a tough thing to do:)

    • Corey Frye

      Thanks for the encouragement Ashley. I was rather proud of myself for stopping when I was full actually. In the past I’ve been known to eat something for no other reason than it was there in front of me…so yeah, definitely a bit of a victory for me this time.

  • Dena

    First of all, I can’t stop laughing. Secondly, I’m speechless. I wish it was because I had a burger shoved in my mouth, but no – because, dude, that thing just looks weird.

  • A Frog at Large

    And after that, I still really fancy a burger. What’s wrong with me?

    • Corey Frye

      Nothing wrong with that Frog! Btw how are the burgers in England?

      • A Frog at Large

        well, we have Burger King (which failed miserably in France for some mysterious reason) and their Bacon Double Cheeseburger is to die for.

        I craved burgers when I was pregnant, had to have one every week but I did so in hiding as my husband goes ‘evil! Evil!’ if I mention McDonalds to wind him up.

        Still, back buns, no thank you.

  • dancingbeastie

    Eeech! Glad you lived to tell the tale. A Quasimodo burger would be just the thing in Paris. The bun would have to be green, I’m thinking: Esmeralda, you see?!

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