Yesterday, my wife and I made the journey to Akron, Ohio to attend the Akron National Hamburger Festival. Why did we go? Just look at the title. A celebration of the hamburger. I wanted to go last year, but I think I was on a crash diet in anticipation of my wedding at the time. This year I was not to be deterred!
But first, some context. This entire summer my wife and I have been on a diet. It's been hell on my mother, who keeps trying to find ways to make us cake and other delicious foodstuffs. It's been exceedingly difficult to say no. I haven't eaten a carb since June. That's an exaggeration, but not by much.
Yesterday, my wife and I took a break from that diet.
The Hamburger Festival is basically one big part of a main thoroughfare in downtown Akron that gets closed off to traffic for this event. The streets get lined with hamburger vendors, many of whom have some fairly creative interpretations of the classic hamburger. Evidently this event also features awards to the best hamburgers, but I don't get into politics. I was here for eating.
Most of the hamburger places have examples of their wares set out like this. Unfortunately I didn't try any of these particular hamburgers because they were right by the entrance. My plan was to go all the way to the end and work my way back. My plan was a bad one. My tummy couldn't handle the caloric hit. Alas!
In addition to the 'hamburger road' described above, the festival also comprised of this little city park that featured several stages and a bunch of people enjoying the sun. My wife and I sat here briefly for a much-needed break once the multiple ingested hamburgers within us began to sing their evil little song.
At first I thought it was a bit extreme of the Akron police to send a SWAT truck to the festival for security. Then I realized it's a food truck!
Hamburger hats! I couldn't find any of these for sale.
The first burger we tried was, by far, the very best. You are looking at the Gilroy 5 Cheese Garlic. This thing was amazing. Here's something I realized today: a lot of hamburger makers go for the 'shock factor' when designing their hamburgers. 'What if we take a hamburger, add gummy worms as a topping and call it the worm burger? That'll raise some eyebrows!', they think. Note: this was not one of the hamburgers at the festival. I exaggerate to make a point. And the point is this: they aren't thinking about the way the flavors interact. They're going for quantity and 'zaniness' over quality. The Gilroy was not like this at all, though. All of these ingredients locked arms and did the cha cha on my taste buds. I loved this thing.
This was the nameless festival special. Luckily, quite a few of these places offered 'half-burgers', which made the whole experience much more navigable. I liked the Nameless, but my wife wasn't a big fan because she doesn't enjoy spiciness quite like I do.
Being a fan of spicy, I had to try the Punch Your Mouth burger. It actually wasn't much of a mouth punch, which made me feel good about my ability to handle heat. Thanks for the ego boost!
This is The Leona, from A Twist of Leona. This was our second favorite burger. But oh my lord was it messy. I have an issue with my hands getting messy, and eating this burger caused me some emotional trauma, but it was worth it for the flavor. That's high praise.
Look at how proud and self-confident I am in this photo. It was clearly taken pretty early on in the day. There was one, *maybe* two hamburgers inside me at this point. Little did I know.
This was some kind of Tex-Mex hamburger. We were not a fan. The flavors did not dance!
This was the Texan burger. It features all the typical ingredients of a cheese burger, plus those fried onion things you see sometimes, as well as barbecue sauce. It was pretty good.
This guy was making balloons, but by the time we saw him, I was entering the danger zone in terms of hamburger consumption.
Look at that. A little school bus converted into a food truck! They only served funnel cakes and boy I would've loved to have tried one. But alas, it was not to be. All at once, my wife and I realized that we had eaten our last burger. I bought one more Gilroy for my dad to eat, and we headed for the car. My wife took a carb nap on the way home that looked every bit as delicious as the culinary decadence that preceded it. I took one selfie prior to departure that I think sums up the results of eating this many hamburgers in such a small time frame.
You can probably deduce where this selfie was taken. I think my expression pretty adequately sums up the way I was feeling by this point. This festival was awesome, but my frail human form could only handle so much! Next year perhaps I'll starve myself a few days longer beforehand.