Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I miss it already.
Sure, I enjoy the “true” holiday season, but there’s just nothing like the spookiest night of the year. Now, staring down Election Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas, I thought I’d take a sec (after voting, of course) to repost this fun story I wrote for the Bainbridge Island Review about my experience with the Burger King “Nightmare King” Halloween promo sandwich.
Thanks for reading, everyone.
*Originally published in the Bainbridge Island Review, Oct. 2018
They say its shade is an impossibly, unearthly green.
They say even brave men shudder at the sight of it.
They say it gives you nightmares.
No seriously, they really do that say that last one. As USA Today reported, “Burger King says its new sandwich is clinically proven to induce nightmares.”
Oh, Burger King, you had me at unearthly green.
An unapologetic sucker for gimmicky promotions (to which BK is no stranger, to be sure), I immediately marked my calendar, belly rumbling in anticipation, after first reading about this new Halloween-inspired sandwich with three kinds of meat and a ghostly green bun. I long for the days of Pepsi Blue, hadn’t been this excited since I first laid eyes on Kentucky Friend Chicken’s Double Down. I wallow in Americana. This, I thought, could be the next Hardee’s Most American Thickburger, but with quirky science replacing that gut-buster’s heavy serving of ironic patriotism.
Apparently, Burger King enlisted Paramount Trials and Florida Sleep & Neuro Diagnostic Services to test 100 people for 10 nights to prove their headline-snatching hypothesis. Scientists who worked on the study reported that eating the entire burger shortly before bed made it 3.5 times more likely that you’d have a nightmare, as supposedly proven by participant feedback and recorded brainwaves.
According to ABC News, “Dr. Jose Gabriel Medina, the study’s lead doctor, said the unique combination of proteins and cheese in the Nightmare King led to ‘an interruption of the subjects’ REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycles, during which we experience the majority of our dreams.’”
The so-called “Nightmare King” consists of “a quarter pound of flame-grilled beef, a white meat crispy chicken fillet, melted American cheese, thick-cut bacon, creamy mayonnaise and onions on a glazed green sesame seed bun,” and it was unleashed in select stores Oct. 22.
Lucky for me, the closest BK to Bainbridge Island (19655 7th Ave. NE, in Poulsbo) also happened to be one of the select stores set to host this gastronomical grotesquerie (the consummate pro, I called ahead). I got it to go and ate it at home on Tuesday (while watching “Kitchen Nightmares,” seemed appropriate). It’s a fine enough fast-food sandwich, if a little dry. It is more than adequately salty, though, and I felt the need for a frightening amount of water afterward, if nothing else.
After, I swung by the aquatic center to cover the boys water polo match (a win over Roosevelt High), and then trekked back home to do some reading (Tom Hanks’ “Uncommon Type,” not exactly nightmare fuel) before calling it a day.
Of my dreams, I remember nothing.
Oh, well, maybe I didn’t eat it “shortly” enough before bed.
However, the true darkness at the heart of this Halloween promotion has nothing to do with the sandwich’s specious effects. You see, on the very same day that I saw the story about the upcoming “nightmare” burger promotion I also caught a fleeting glimpse, like a killer half-seen in a slasher movie just before he strikes, of my first Christmastime commercial of the year. It was more than a week before Halloween. And I don’t watch that much TV, so who knows how long ago this actually started?
Look, I know it’s a cliched complaint. It’s a grumpy old man thing to say (“Get your gingerbread off my lawn!”). I’m not even a Grinch, either. I actually like Christmas. But I’m starting to see where the green meanie was coming from.
When Christmas was a month long, I was fine with it. When Christmas began the day after Thanksgiving, I was fine with it. As it absorbed Turkey Day and New Year’s Eve, like a the famished Blob come from space to suck up all nearby holidays, I had no complaints.
But please, people, get your tidings of comfort and joy out of my Halloween.
We’re never going to make “them” stop pushing Christmas early, of course. The retail and commercial worlds depend too heavily on holiday revenue (such expenses are to the average person what the tab at last call is to a lush — less than real, a problem for the future), and in a harsh time of nasty headlines and hard truths the nostalgia and manufactured sense of community the most wonderful time of the year brings is downright alluring. I get it, I really do.
Thus, we must pace ourselves and protect that goodness.
In a world where everything is on demand and immediately available via streaming or download all the time, we will never again have to wait for the things we love, never again know anticipation. And isn’t that half the point? Isn’t the appeal of a holiday that it’s a special, fleeting thing?
Nobody wants egg nog in July. Candy corn in February is disgusting (it’s already kind of gross in October). Pumpkin spice in April? Get out of town.
Likewise, Christmas cannot be allowed to engorge to fill three months or we will all start to hate it, Grinch and Who alike.
So, this year, let’s agree to take each holiday in turn. Let Halloween be its own thing, channel your inner Ray Bradbury. It’s only one night a year, after all. And things will start to move pretty fast from here on in, folks. In no time at all we’ll be breaking out the holly and mistletoe, the lights, buying gifts, signing cards and (gasp) visiting relatives.
Now that’s nightmare fuel.