I had never seen The Big One until Saturday afternoon. Every year, the El Reno Fire Department cooks up the world's largest fried onion burger, weighing in at about 750 pounds, but I never had caught a glimpse of the monster lunch. Last year I went to the annual Fried Onion Burger Day Festival, but I had to leave before noon, when the firefighters start cooking. I wasn't going to let that happen this year. Festivals are the perfect place for one of my favorite hobbies: people watching. An elderly couple in matching casino T-shirts wandered past the burger stand. Young men in matching Marines shirts chatted with a couple of women. Twins with pigtails rode in a red wagon pulled by their dad. The streets were packed with people in overalls, sun visors, tattoos, camouflage, clown wigs and square dancing skirts. Standing in the burger line was the best spot for watching others. A brunette woman fixed her onion burger with one hand and held a goldfish in a bag with the other. The guy in line behind me complained about his new tennis shoes. One is a size 10 and the other is a size 12. I couldn't help myself; I had to turn around and look. As I was waiting, an older woman shuffled up next to the burger line. "How much are the burgers?” she asked from the other side of the rope. "Two fifty,” I told her. "Two fifty for a little teeny hamburger?” she gasped. "That's outrageous!” I thought the price was pretty good for the burgers, but apparently not everyone agreed. Maybe she was waiting for The Big One, the onion burger as long as a Volkswagen bug. While the monster was cooking, festival visitors could watch the burger eating contest. The kids were up first. The five contestants had five minutes. Sounds like a choking hazard to me. The winner ate four burgers. The adults were up next, and the winner downed 14.
During the adult eat-off, members of the El Reno Fire Department finished cooking The Big One. At first blush, sharing lunch with thousands of other people sounds unsanitary at best. But I knew I had to try this famous onion burger. I bellied up to the cattle guard around the cook site with hundreds of other people and waited my turn. Adults pinched fistfuls of burger off The Big One, and children with baggy plastic gloves passed the free chunks out to the waiting masses. I'd already eaten a regular burger, so I flagged down a girl carrying a small piece.
Delicious. I mean, the big burger was even better than the regular ones. I couldn't even believe it. It was a burger even David Hasselhoff could love.
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