Back in 2012, fast-food giant and all-American tax-dodger Burger King rolled out a new, terrifying service: home delivery. No longer would slovenly and undiscriminating eaters in selected cities have to suffer the slings, arrows, and confusing soda machines of the Home of the Whopper, or the mind numbing three-minute waits of its drive-thru. Now the only thing standing between you and an A1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger Combo was an Internet connection, a credit card, and that little voice inside your head that tells you life is still worth living and that it’s not time to end it all just yet. Needless to say, BK’s experiment was a huge success, and we’re now all officially doomed.
Two years later, with the arrival of a new Burger King location on the fast-food-lovin’ East Side (2045 E. North Ave.), BK home delivery has come to Milwaukee. So what does it feel like having a Whopper delivered straight to your door? What goes through one’s mind while dutifully filling out an online form that includes a “Delivery Deal” of 10 cheeseburgers, 10 French fries, and 40 chicken nuggets for $46.99? Because we care, Milwaukee Record swallowed our pride—before swallowing an order of Large Classic Fries—and gave it shot. Here’s to living in the future.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that as of this writing, only the East Side Burger King delivers. Perhaps this is due to the neighborhood’s propensity for cheap deliverable foodstuffs, or perhaps it’s due to the fact that the North Ave. location is strangely absent a drive-thru. Either way, until hungry and desperate East Siders prove the experiment a success—and you just know it’s going to be a success—folks in outlying areas will have to continue wolfing down their combo meals in the comfort of their own cars.
With that being said, the restaurant’s delivery area is serviceable, stretching north to Whitefish Bay, south to the interstate, and west to Hwy. 43. It isn’t exactly the Greater Milwaukee Area, but it ain’t too shabby for a mini BK precariously perched across from a Whole Foods.
Hopping on over to bkdelivers.com, we began our fast-food-via-delivery adventure. We were relieved to learn that though Burger King touts something called the “BK Loyalty Program” (let those words rattle around in your head for a bit), we weren’t required to create a profile, jot down a password, or risk public embarrassment by logging in with our Facebook. Instead, all we needed was a name, address, credit card, and lack of shame. Small shakes for being able to order a Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich Combo in your underwear.
Unlike many of the restaurant’s dining areas, we found bkdelivers.com to be clean, user-friendly, and remarkably helpful. We were warned upfront that a $2 delivery fee would be added to our order, and that we would have to eat at least $10 worth of shit (delivery fee not included) to be deemed worthy of this wonderful new service. Divided into sections like the aforementioned “Delivery Deals” (5 Whoppers and 5 large French fries for $26.99!), “Combos,” “Chicken & Fish,” “Snacks & Sides,” and the like, it was frightfully easy to find what we were looking for—and find a few things we didn’t know we could look for. Did you know that you can order a side of apple slices at Burger King? We didn’t. Also, the “Counting Calories?” section totally made us laugh.
As for the ordering process itself, it truly lived up to the chain’s on-again, off-again “Have it your way” slogan. We were allowed to tweak and customize our order down to the tiniest onion slice. Want delectable extras like bacon, tomato, lettuce, or jalapeños on your burger? No problem, just dial them up for a nominal fee. Not a fan of ketchup? bkdelivers.com feels your pain, and allows you to keep that demon condiment far, far away from your Whopper Jr. Would you like some extra mustard packs and 14 straws with that? Of course you would.
So, in the parlance of the site, what did we “Add To Bag”? Call us old-fashioned, but we stuck to the gut-busting basics: a Whopper Combo with Large Classic Fries and a 20 oz. bottled Coke ($7.09); one cheeseburger ($1.69) with onions (.10) lettuce (.30), and no mayo; and an order of large onion rings ($2.49). Just like in real life, Burger King seemed puzzled that we would dare order a cheeseburger and onion rings separately, and repeatedly asked if we’d like to make it a combo like a normal person. “YOU ARE JUST ONE CLICK AWAY FROM SAVING MONEY ON A SIDE AND A DRINK,” the virtual BK trainee politely informed us. But fuck that: We like to live dangerously, so we clicked “No thanks” and got on with our order. But not before we were asked about desert.
With a subtotal of $11.67, we were ready to make our fast-food-delivery dreams a sad, stak reality. We opted to pay with our credit card, though cash on delivery and MasterCard’s MasterPass were available, too. A shame-inducing space for a tip was also provided, with 15%, 18%, or 20% increments available at the click of the mouse. (We sprung for 20%.) Adding in the $2 delivery charge, our total for a meal that would normally cost about 10 bucks came to $16.83. We hit “Order.” We waited. We were told there was an “illegal character” in our name. We went back and got rid of the period after our middle initial. We hit “Order” again. We waited. We were told our order would arrive in 40-45 minutes. We looked at the clock. 5:07 p.m. We waited.
So now comes the long, dark, flame-broiled night of the soul: Has it really come to this? Fast food delivery? How far have we fallen as a nation? We were once a great country—we produced things, manufactured things, made things better. Hell, forget about the country: What about us? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were young and idealistic go-getters, unafraid of death and convinced that we would someday change the world? We were reckless, bursting with life, creating with our friends during the day, sleeping with our friends during the night, rearing our heads and laughing at the glorious, youthful excess of it all. And now, years later, we’re staring at a screen, trying to decide whether we’d like a Big Fish Sandwich Combo or a Double Whopper Combo with no pickles delivered directly to our door. My God, has it really been that long? Death…so close now…ever closer…
Our phone rings at 5:23 p.m. “Hi, this is Burger King. Your order is here.” We go downstairs and say hello to the man carrying our food. We sign the merchant copy of our receipt. The tip is already included. It reminds us of Uber. We thank the man. We go upstairs and inspect our loot. Everything is accounted for, everything still hot. We notice the Whopper is in some sort of space-age packaging that separates the top portion from the bottom portion. It reminds us of the old McDLT (“Keep the hot side hot, and the cool side cool!”) We think that’s pretty nifty.
We settle in. We eat. It tastes like Burger King, but better. We feel like we’re living in the future. We feel strangely young again. Maybe a world in which fast food delivery exists isn’t so bad. Maybe a world in which fast food delivery exists is a world of convenience, a world of happiness, a world of peace. Maybe.
We continue eating. We savor it. We devour it. We have it our way.