For people who are into fine dining, there’s big news in our locale. The news revolves around the Texas chain of hamburger joints, Whataburger, now introducing their brand to northwest Arkansas. (Yes, the fine dining reference is written with tongue-in-cheek.) I think I’ve eaten at a Whataburger maybe twice in my life.
All the buzz about this new chain coming to town reminded me of other local burger places I’ve enjoyed. Though fast food is mostly off my list nowadays, I’ve relented from time to time when I’m entertaining my grandson (actually, when he’s entertaining me). He likes kids’ meals … cheeseburger (no pickles), fries and a toy. Recently, his parents have stressed healthier choices, so Sonic and McDonalds are slightly verboten.
Back in the 1980s when we didn’t know any better, my four children and I made a regular stop (almost daily) at the local Mr. Burger. I could feed all five of us for a minimal sum … and my picky children didn’t turn up their noses at the food! Maybe the food wasn’t particularly healthy, but like I say, we didn’t know better.
Here’s an interesting thing though. We were “green” without being aware of it. Mr. Burger had this great customer-friendly policy: free refills! Whenever we went there to eat, we’d bring our refill cups and drink all the refills we desired.
If I recall correctly, the refills back then were free only if you had a Mr. Burger cup, but later on, they refilled any cup. I could get a 32 ounce Dr. Pepper and enjoy my drink all day long! Eventually, I think they began to charge a quarter per refill, but that didn’t prevent us from motoring up to the drive-thru window and gratefully receiving a handful of refilled cups!
Today, refill cups usually reflect an earth-friendly inclination, the Refill Revolution to unite against disposable waste. From Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts, merchants are encouraging their customers to embrace reusable cups and mugs as a way of reducing landfill or roadside waste. Even home-brewed coffee in the age of K-cup brewers has adapted (somewhat) to refillable k-cups. (Personally, I think they’re a hassle.)
Looking back, I think I must have been slightly crazy to guzzle a 32 ounce Dr. Pepper almost every single day. They have no doubt adjusted their recipe since the 80s, but even with its high fructose corn syrup, 250 calories and 64 grams of sugar (in a 20 ounce can), I was oblivious and still loved it! Besides, the refills were free!
I haven’t been to Mr. Burger in years – and have no idea whether they still offer free or bargain-priced refills. Of the two Mr. Burger locations I used to frequent, I know one is in the same spot but I’m not sure about the other. In addition to the drink refills, they had pretty decent burgers and (if memory serves me) terrific onion rings.
At their grand opening, there will be a line-up of customers waiting in front of the Whataburger location. I won’t be there, though I might take my grandson one day. I hope (probably against hope) that this new franchise doesn’t drive Mr. Burger out of business, because I feel some loyalty to the locals for all those refills we enjoyed.
And even though my standard beverages today are water and coffee, in my heart, I’ll always be a Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?