It's a marketing gimmick more disturbing than the zombie apocalypes.
Do you remember the first scene of the first episode of AMC's The Walking Dead?
Rick is wandering a wasteland of death and desolation, when he finds a young girl walking alone, dragging a teddy bear.
He calls out to her, and she turns to his voice, revealing a ravaged, zombified face, and he fumbles for his gun as she walks toward him. The shock of that opening moment helped propel the show to become an overnight phenomenon with the result that the show is still running more than 10 years later and has spawned two spin-off series.
But that initial excitement for the show has long since waned. Its ability to grip us with fake gore and jump scares faded over the first few seasons, and even the introduction of the thrillingly sadistic Negan couldn't quite restore the show's sense of horror.
But now a restaurant chain in Australia has done for fast food what even Jeffrey Dean Morgan's performance couldn't do for The Walking Dead. And we're more terrified than we've felt in years.
Grill'd, a popular chain of "healthy burger" restaurants operating across Australia, introduced a limited time burger this week in a tie-in with the Aussie streaming service BINGE, which recently added The Walking Dead to its library. And how better to celebrate such a momentous occasion than with a sandwich straight out of your nightmares?
Time is running out to get down to selected @GrilldBurgers restaurants to get your #BINGEBrainBurger. Are you brave… https://t.co/yd8snhf3W7— Binge (@Binge)1615071607.0
In addition to a black, charcoal bun -- reminiscent of Burger King's failed Halloween Whopper -- blood-red beetroot ketchup, an undefined "brainnaise," and some spooky lettuce (okay, it might just be lettuce), the star of the sandwich is far from the typical burger patty. In place of the standard ground beef, the BINGE Brain Burger features deep-fried panko breaded chunks of lamb brains. In promotional materials Grill'd boasts of the nutritional value of that organ meat, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and probably still tastes of the delicious, innocent thoughts of a baby animal.
You can make the argument that there's nothing worse about eating brains than any other part of an animal. In fact, if you're going to eat a lamb chop, isn't it better not to let that tasty brain go to waste? And the answer is, "Because it's gross."
Apart from the risk of contracting a prion disease, most people find the though of eating brains distasteful. If a restaurant wanted to overcome that stigma, there may be ways to prepare and present the brains to make the prospect slightly less disturbing. Panko-breading and deep-frying actually seem like great steps in that direction -- we would probably eat cardboard if it was breaded and fried -- but invoking cannibalism and gore in your sandwich really undoes that progress.
And what is this monstrosity for? What occasion required this kind of innovation in food-horror? A show that peaked 10 years ago is now available on a streaming service...
In capitalism's insatiable hunger for our money, some diseased marketing genius of yore came up with the idea that people will want to eat mass-produced food that's loosely inspired by a movie or a TV show. If he had known where it would lead, would he have hesitated even a moment, or was he so committed to his dark art that a vision of such a culinary abomination would only have served to spur him on?
In any case, that art has finally reached its apotheosis. With Grill'd concluding its limited run over the weekend, the BINGE Brain Burger managed to exceed the horror of The Walking Dead, and no future fast food tie-in can hope to match that feat.