Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 13, 2013

Not winning at Whoppers

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Kaitlynd Lear can make a Whopper in 14 seconds. The 19-year-old Northwestern High School grad can sling tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mayo, ketchup and a hamburger patty in between two sesame seeds buns – which are bigger than her petite hands – at the Washington Street Burger King in, that’s right, 14 seconds. It’s a feat that may be simple, but its riches are not: Lear and her competitive digits are flying to Miami, Fla. to compete in the Whopper-making challenge, which could line her Dickies’ pants pockets with 10 grand; if she can “Have it her way” in the world of competitive Whopper building.

And that feat of a 14-second Whopper? Not as simple as you’d think. There’s a strategy to Whopper building, and Lear has polished it, perfected it and tucked it into a carefully-yet-quickly folded Burger King wrapper with a girl-next-door smile.

Lear, with barely there traces of makeup and a long-braided ponytail, sat across from me in a booth of her choosing as she told me the detailed events that go into a crafting the taste-bud tower that is the Whopper.

“There are a lot of rules to it,” she said as her tiny arms rested in her lap. “Do you want to know them?”

Of course I agreed, I was going to be racing to make a Whopper next to her moments from that point. So, I might as well get all her tips of the trade to wrap up a Whopper in 13 seconds. This thought I had was ridiculous, you’ll know why soon enough.

“K, first you start with the top. Then it’s mayo, lettuce, two tomatoes –but, they can’t touch or overlap. Then, the meat, four pickles – they can’t touch at all; then three rings of ketchup and then onions, which you use three of those. You know the Olympic sign? That’s how you’re supposed to place [the onions]. Then you wrap [the paper wrapper], fold it and tuck [the paper] under the burger,” Lear explained with modest confidence.

After finishing Lear’s interview, it was go time. I slipped into latex gloves with some notes of advice from Lear, “Those have a lot of powder in them, it’ll get all over your clothes when you take them off,” her slate-black Dickies, dusted with white in some areas, had the proof.

Her petite frame stood in front of the metal counter, hands gloved, mind focused, then done. Seriously, 14 seconds later there was a BK Whopper wrapped and waiting for its customer.

Then, it was my turn. Here’s how that went:

Lear laid out the two buns for me, the two of them vertically aligned.

The seconds hand cued my send-off into Whopper-building-warrior mode, when it landed on the 9.

Bam, there’s the mayo.

“Oh, that’s the wrong bun,” Lear said.

Bam, there’s the mayo again; other bun this time.

Pickin’ up the lettuce with the tongs, Woo! Woo! (I never said any of this aloud, by the way; I’m trying to make a Whopper not win a “Bro-talking” contest).

“Oh, that’s the wrong bun and you don’t have to use the tongs,” Lear said as we laughed at my already-lacking line skills.

Then, I started to move on and almost forgot the hamburger. Calling the little old lady from Wendy’s now, because I just about provoked a literal “Where’s-the-beef?!” moment.

“You can use the tongs to get the hamburger out of the drawer up there,” Lear said, preventing the possibility of a lettuce-tomato-onion sandwich; it’d at least cut a few cals.

Welp, there goes the meat – Welcome back, Wendy’s lady – because I just split the burger in two.

Note: When making a Whopper, go easy with the tongs; it’s better when half the hamburger doesn’t get pinched off. Plus, it helps your scored time when you’re not trying to piece a hamburger back together on a sesame bun, which is what I was doing.

After the burger-falling apart tragedy and breaking the lettuce and mayo rules, I was finally getting into my BK mojo.

Alright, onions you ready to feel like an Olympian today? Perfect “Olympian sign” formation. Done.

Ketchup, three swirls. Thank you very much. Done.

Pickles, four pickles. They can’t touch. Welp, thanks a lot you vinegar-drenched villains for sticking together and upping my time even more. Five pickles, one just couldn’t detach from its bestie, apparently. Thanks, pal.

Now, it’s wrapping time. And no I didn’t drop in some Notorious B.I.G., I did gift wrapping in 4-H (laugh it up, everyone. It’s true). And you don’t get grand champion in gift wrapping, for not being able to fold paper. Well, apparently those skills seized when I turned 10 because the clock was ticking while I turned the BK wrapper into a disaster.

Alright, what’s my time? One minute. 15 seconds. Yea, that’s a champion right there. Just a whopping (no pun intended) 61 seconds less than Ms. Lear. That’s why she’s going to Miami to rock the Whopper completion and I’m writing about it.

– Lindsay Eckert

[friday] editor/ Whop it up