I Am Eating Everything on Johnny Rockets’ ‘Kong: Skull Island’ MenuMatt Singer |
NOTE: The latest updates are at the bottom of this post.
According to Johnny Rockets’ website, the burger chain was created over 30 years ago as a place where customers could “escape from today’s complicated world.”
No wonder, then, that the venerable restaurant has teamed with the new film, Kong: Skull Island. What better place to escape from today’s complicated world than a land completely untouched by modern society? And what better way to celebrate a movie built entirely on the concept of bigness — where giant monsters battle to the death in a world where God did not finish creation — than by eating the biggest meal of my life?
In honor of Skull Island, Johnny Rockets recently unveiled an entire Kong menu, including two burgers, one chicken sandwich, a side of “street tots,” and two different milkshakes. Banner ads on the company’s site instruct customers to “feed your inner monster” with the “monster flavor” of these monkey-inspired foodstuffs — which you can “Kong-size” with double the protein.
Today, I will follow these instructions to a borderline dangerous degree. I will feed my inner monster until he dies, along with most of my gastrointestinal system. And I will Kong-size my sandwiches — and then, presumably, I will Kong-size my bowel movements.
For reasons I currently visit a therapist twice a month to try to understand, this is something I do from time to time. In the past, I have consumed entire theme menus dedicated to movies like Fantastic Four, Independence Day: Resurgence, X-Men: Apocalypse, and The Divergent Series: Allegiant, which was my last culinary encounter with Mr. Rockets. I conquered that menu, but it only contained half the protein of the Kong-sized Skull Island one. What will happen this time? Basically, I am going to do to my colon what Kong does to Samuel L. Jackson’s helicopter in the film.
In doing so, I will gain unique insights into the intersection of cinema, commerce, and cuisine (In doing so, I will also gain unique insights into how many times an adult can take Tums in a 24 hour period.) Keep checking back here throughout the afternoon for course-by-course updates, and make sure you’re following along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook too. Now get ready. The kongfrontation between man and meal is about to begin.
The madness has officially begun. Before it began, I decided to get some advice on the mass consumption of food from a leading expert in the field: Bob Shoudt, also known as “The Notorious B.O.B.” Bob recently won Wing Bowl 25 by downing 409 chicken wings in 30 minutes. According to his alarming Wikipedia page, the Notorious B.O.B. has also set world records for eating french fries (7.9 pounds in 10 minutes) and penne pasta (three pounds of pasta with marinara in 1 minute, 47 seconds). He also holds a record for eating 23.4 pounds of salmon chowder. Most people won’t eat 23 pounds of salmon chowder in an entire lifetime. B.O.B. did it in six minutes.
In B.O.B.’s world, eating three burgers — even Kong-sized ones — and two milkshakes is like an amuse-bouche. For sake of comparison, we also had Bob eat the exact meal I am currently working on. Beforehand, he predicted it would take him “less than four minutes”
In reality, it took him two minutes and 45 seconds.
Readers, I witnessed this feat up close. It was incredible.
Having been fully food emasculated, it was time to get down to business. I chose to start with a burger — the Hickory Smoked Peppered Bacon Cheeseburger, to be specific. You can see the picture of it from the Johnny Rockets website above. It was, as Kong star Samuel L. Jackson once said, a tasty burger. The double patty element definitely didn’t hurt matters any. (It will hurt me, later. For now, though, I enjoyed it.) What any of this has to do with King Kong beats the hell out of me. Maybe there are a lot of hickory trees on Skull Island? If so, the topic is not addressed onscreen.
It wasn’t two minutes and 45 seconds, but I ate that burger pretty fast. (Technically two burgers, when you think about it.) Let’s see if I can keep up this pace. (SPOILER ALERT: I cannot keep up this pace.)
In Jurassic Park, Samuel L. Jackson speaks the immortal line “Hold on to your butts.” In a clever moment of self-homage, he repeats the line in Kong: Skull Island.
I’m beginning to worry that I will be holding on to my own butt in a matter of hours.
Up next is the Route 66 Mushroom Swiss Burger. Somehow this burger makes even less sense in Kongtext than the last one. Route 66? What? There’s maybe three scenes in Skull Island set in the United States; the rest of the movie takes place entirely in Vietnam (the film is set during the Vietnam War) and on Skull Island. And there’s no scenes set on, around, or about Route 66 (or mushrooms [or swiss cheese]).
All that said, it’s another solid burger. I mean that literally; with two patties, cheese, onions, mushrooms, this thing is solid. I suppose in that sense, it is faithful to the spirit, if not the text, of Kong: Skull Island, or at least its burly protagonist. And I guess you don’t want Johnny Rockets to get any more faithful to a King Kong movie than this. Nobody wants to eat actual monkey meat.
But things are about to get even more confusing with two words: Street tots. STREET TOTS. Stay tuned.
So. Street tots.
Cheddar. Bacon. Loaded. Street. Tots.
Okay, first of all, “street tots” makes absolutely no sense as a menu item for Kong: Skull Island. There are no streets on Skull Island, a land that is untouched by man before our intrepid heroes arrive there. There are also no children in the film; there isn’t even a cute kid for Tim Hiddleston to save from Kong. Street tots belong on an Oliver Twist tie-in menu, not a Kong one. (Unless it’s a Kong movie about Kong eating a bunch of orphans, which he doesn’t.)
But let’s set all that aside. That’s almost a secondary concern. Even more fundamentally, what the hell is a “street tot”? What differentiates them from a non-street tot?
(I put this question to Johnny Rockets on Twitter; at press time, they have made no comment.)
A street tot sounds like food you found on the ground. “Oh no, don’t eat that one. I dropped it. It’s a street tot.” Gross. No thank you.
They’re not that much more appetizing in person. I enjoyed both of the burgers I’ve eaten so far, but I’m slogging through these (street) tots. The bacon’s crispy but the “cheddar” is of the gloppy liquid variety. By the time I got to this course, the cheese had congealed, and made the (street) tots even soggier than they would have been otherwise.
Then again, the brutal march through all this potato, dairy, and pig definitely evokes the horrors the soldiers faced on Skull Island. And the sheer portion size here — easily three or four times the amount of street tots any normal human would want — definitely fits Kong’s subject too. So, in a weird way, this might be the most faithful food yet. It’s certainly the least appetizing. But there’s still one more course left.
How do you make a tie-in menu to a movie that stars Brie Larson and not do a sandwich with brie cheese? C’mon, Johnny Rockets. Get it together!
Instead, we’ve got the Avocado Bacon Chicken Flatbread.
It might be all the other food in my stomach talking, but this thing wasn’t nearly as delicious as the burgers. The flatbread’s a nice change of pace from the regular hamburger buns, and I think you can rationalize it making sense for King Kong, who smooshes a whole bunch of people in Skull Island by stepping on them. As I ate this sandwich, I enjoyed imagining a giant ape stomping on loaf after loaf of bread in a Johnny Rockets kitchen somewhere. Plus, think of all the calories I’m saving! I could eat three or four more courses! Bring it on! (Please, for the love of everything sacred, do not bring it on.)
Still, the combo of flavors doesn’t quite work. I think it may be the choice of cheeses; again, on both a formal and conceptual level, this really should have some brie in there somewhere.
At least Johnny Rockets managed to work Kong into the dessert portion of the meal, with two different milkshakes featuring apes’ favorite food: Bananas.
I preferred Chocolate Banana to Peanut Butter Banana, but these are both very respectable milkshakes. You can’t go wrong with either one — provided you only drink one of them after a sensible meal, and not both of them after three sandwiches with double meat and street tots which is what I just did. (Using the nutritional information available online, someone on Twitter estimated that I was consuming somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 calories.)
As theme menus go, I’ve had better. I’ve also had worse. Actually, the same could be said of Kong: Skull Island. It’s not the best reboot of an old monster movie, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, for example. So maybe this is a better work of culinary adaptation than I originally thought. At the very least, eating the Johnny Rockets Skull Island menu will leave you with the same exhausted feeling as watching the movie.
As I sit here after all that food, digesting and deeply regretting the life choices that have brought me to this point, I am reminded of the Kong from the original 1933 film, who is taken from his home and turned into a bloated spectacle on Broadway. Customers lined up to gawk at the beast, but the beast rebels, breaks free, and goes on a rampage, unleashing unspeakable horrors.
Today, I know how Kong feels. Or at least my stomach does. It wasn’t the airplanes. It was sodium killed the beast.
On the bright side, at least it’s going to be a few months before another restaurant does one of these! WAIT, WHAT?