Advances in the fast food world

An announcement in my Facebook feed this morning, from Adverising Age yesterday:

Burger King Introduces Whopperito, a Whopper Burrito: Tex-Mex Mashup to Be Sold Nationally From Aug. 15

Burger King’s latest new item is taking a cue from Chipotle Mexican Grill, which is still reeling from a string of foodborne illness outbreaks.

The Whopperito, which puts Whopper burger ingredients like beef, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and pickles inside a flour tortilla, will be sold nationally beginning Aug. 15 [after marketing trials in Pennsylvania]. A queso sauce replaces the mayonnaise from the hamburger.

I had two reactions. One, that the Whopperito as described in AdAge is very close to my conception of an American burrito, with (possibly) only the tomatoes and pickles outside the usual list of ingredients, though with beans (or refried beans) crucially absent, so the thing hardly looks like a hybrid food (Whopper plus burrito), but more like a stunted variant of a burrito — but then this is advertising (for Burger King, home of the Whopper), not food studies. Two, that althugh the name could be construed as a portmanteau (Whopper + burrito, with the shared r indicated by underlining), the first interpretation I got of the name was that it was a diminutive of Whopper, in –ito, that is, as ‘little Whopper’ — an oxymoron if I ever saw one.

Then I discovered that AdAge had spelled the name wrong. It’s Whopperrito, much more clearly a portmanteau.

The object itself:

Now, back to burritos. From Wikipedia:

A burrito … is a type of Mexican and Tex-Mex food, consisting of a wheat flour tortilla wrapped or folded into a cylindrical shape to completely enclose the filling (in contrast to a taco, which is generally formed by simply folding a tortilla in half around a filling, leaving the semicircular perimeter open). The flour tortilla is usually lightly grilled or steamed, to soften it and make it more pliable.

In Mexico, meat and refried beans are sometimes the only fillings. In the United States, burrito fillings generally include a combination of ingredients such as Mexican-style rice or plain rice, beans or refried beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream, and the size varies [the La Bamba chain famously offers “burritos as big as your head”].

The word burrito means “little donkey” in Spanish, as a diminutive form of burro, or “donkey”. The name burrito as applied to the dish possibly derives from the appearance of bedrolls and packs that donkeys carried.

To my mind, beans or (especially) refried beans are crucial ingredients for a burrito, so that the main thing that characterizes the fabulous new Whopperrito is leaving out the beans. Anyome could put some tomatoes and pickles in a burrito, but it takes a bold marketer to omit the beans.

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