On 2006-10-26 I went Hardee's to buy breakfast of 10 people.
Like most places that are proud of their accomplishments, the store in O'Fallon, IL (15 miles outside St. Louis, MO) posted their City Search award for Best Hamburger in St Louis.
CitySearch is a dotcom company that hosts web portals for cities across the US. The residents of the area can vote for the best whatever in their town.
And in 2005, that meant the best hamburger in St. Louis was at Hardee's.
At first, I thought it was kind of silly. But then I realized how sad it is.
Sure, St. Louis is the corporate headquarters for Hardee's.
But it still means the best burger in this metropolitan area of 2.1 million people is a mass-produced fast food product. The epitome of the highest quality burger available to the people is reduced to the 3-Ring Binder of a franchise owner.
Often we hear complaints that American culture is becoming more homgenized than ever. Pretty soon the Wal*Mart-McDonalds-Starbucks-Microsoft beast will swallow the entire country and tunr it into one giant strip mall with Canada and Mexico nothing more than the parking lot wasteland of America.
The fact the Hardee's makes the best burger in St. Louis proves this is already happening.
A great burger doesn't have to be expensive. But surely there is some diner or pub in the town that makes a tastier burger -- the kind of place that would be distinctly St. Louis. The kind of place you can't copy and reproduce around the country as though you were some giant Kinkos.
A burger with the flavor of the region -- made by people whose lives are invested in success of their of business should be available someplace. The kind of burger that people put their heart into. The kind of place where the staff put their sould into the restaurant. Surely the people of St. Louis deserve that.