NOTE: The latest updates are at the bottom of this post.
The X-Men villain Apocalypse is like something out of Darwin’s nightmares. A devout believer in a twisted form of evolution, he repeatedly tests the mutants of the Marvel Universe. The weak are culled. Only the strong survive.
But not even Apocalypse would create a test as sick as this one.
Just in time for the home video release of X-Men: Apocalypse, White Castle has introduced their “New X Menu” featuring “X-treme flavors like fiery ghost pepper cheese, chipotle mayo, and spicy chorizo sausage.” Consisting of two new sliders, a breakfast slider, and a side dish of loaded fries, this tie-in menu will, per White Castle’s official site, “test one thing: How brave is your crave?”
Is it too late to edit Oscar Isaac screaming “HOW BRAVE IS YOUR CRAVE?” into his big scene with Michael Fassbender? That would be fun. In the press release that announced this titanic clash of grease and bhut jolokia, White Castle Vice President (and possible disciple of Apocalypse) Jamie Richardson boasted that the X-Menu sliders “aren’t for the faint of heart.” Each item, he added, is designed “to bring out everyone's inner super hero.”
Is “inner super hero” code for diarrhea? I’m about to find out! I’m going to try to eat an entire White Castle Crave Case — that’s 30 sliders, ten of each of the 3 X-Menu items — in one sitting, plus an order of Mutant Loaded Fries. (I’ve gotta have some kind of side dish, right?) And for the uninitiated: The Crave Case is a 100 percent real White Castle menu item. White Castle will sell you 30 hamburgers in a f---ing cardboard briefcase. What you do with them after that is none of their concern.
I’m not a mutant, but if I was my power would be eating unseemly amount of processed food that’s loosely connected to movies. Previously I’ve slogged my way through the Denny’s Fantastic Four and Independence Day: Resurgence menus, and the Johnny Rockets’ Allegiant menu. Why do I do this, you might ask? I do it because I believe blockbuster cross-promotions offer the ideal vantage point to consider the relationship between art and commerce in modern Hollywood. Also, I’m a masochist and I hate myself. So this really helps me kill two birds (and my lower GI tract) with one briefcase-shaped stone.
And so the apocalyptic test begins. Will I survive? Or will the Crave Case just become a hideous BM of future past? There’s only one way to learn the answers to these questions. To me, my X-Men! (And by X-Men, I mean White Castle sliders.)
This is really happening. And I immediately regret it.
Witness the X-Case. 30 sliders. In a cardboard briefcase. Who says we need to make America great again? It was never not great, and this is the proof.
If you missed the grand unveiling, here it was on Facebook Live:
Since it’s still breakfast time, I decided to start with the breakfast item: The “Apocalyptic Waffle Slider.” Here’s the beauty shot from the commercial:
A waffle sandwich? Only a sick f--- like Apocalypse would turn waffles into the bread in a sandwich. Here’s White Castle’s description of the slider:
A Belgian Waffle Slider with a fresh-cracked egg, spicy chorizo sausage and ghost pepper cheese.
Ooo, a Belgian waffle. And I can really taste the Belgium in there. Here’s one of these bad boys live and in the pig flesh:
And... it’s good! Granted, I probably should not eat 10 of these. And I question the decision to refer to this or any foodstuff as “apocalyptic.” That is not appetizing. (“New at White Castle: Get ready for the end times... of your colon!” No human (or mutant) should. But as fast food breakfast sandwiches go, this one ain’t bad. It’s spicy, but not overpoweringly so.
I was hoping I would be able to eat 10 of these then move on to the burger portion of the afternoon. But these sliders are dense. (Damn you, Belgian waffles!) I’m already feeling full. So I’m gonna stop after a couple and move on to the regular burgers. Let’s see how that goes.
“Ghost Pepper” is the lamest X-Men code name I’ve ever heard. What would his power be? I guess he’d have the ability to make people’s mouths burn uncomfortably. “Gah! Mild discomfort! Damn you X-Men! You’ve won this day, but the war is not over!”
Although it’s not quite living up to the hype of one of the hottest peppers on the planet, these burgers are pretty spicy. I’m definitely sweating a little bit, although at this point I can’t tell if that’s the heat from the ghost pepper cheese or the heart-clogging effect of the massive amounts of sodium and fat I’ve already ingested.
The Ghost Pepper Cheese Slider is up next. And here is how it looks in the commercial:
And here’s the spooooooooky description from White Castle:
An Original Slider with fiery ghost pepper cheese.
Here is one in front of me (I’m a little disappointed that it still came in a box, and not a little white sheet with eye holes cut out):
I’ve been known to eat a White Castle slider (or ten) in my day and this is basically your standard issue with a slice of spicy cheese on it. It still has the same burger and the fried onions. I’m not sure it’s an improvement over the classic. And I’m not sure it really has anything to do with the X-Men or Apocalypse or X-Men: Apocalypse. Apocalypse doesn’t have fire powers and he doesn’t burn any cities to the ground in the movie or anything like that. The only thing that makes this truly apocalyptic is my total and dangerous lack of portion control. Ah but what happens when I make my sliders totally X-TREME?!?!? We’re about to see.
Yo, this ain’t your grandfather’s Ghost Pepper Cheese Slider. This is an X-TREME Ghost Pepper Cheese Slider. To the max!
Now you might ask, what makes this slider so X-TREME? Is it served on a mini skateboard? Does it surf, and also rob banks on the weekends? No, this is what makes it X-TREME:
An Original Slider with ghost pepper cheese, crispy onion chips and chipotle mayo.
Your comparative real-world photo:
Let me tell you, these things really are X-TREME... x-tremely gross. Unlike the other two sliders, which had a nice level of heat, this one has an x-treme amount. Not only does it have the ghost pepper cheese, there’s also the onion chips (basically onion ring pieces) and a more-than-generous helping of chipotle mayo.
There’s way too much going on here. The chipotle mayo is everywhere, the onion ring pieces are these big bombs of breading, and then you’ve still got the burger and cheese too. This is what Apocalypse was talking about in this scene:
I, too, have never felt power like this before.
While I was sitting here struggling through these, a man came in and asked for five X-TREME Ghost Pepper Cheese Sliders. I almost ran over and tried to tackle him to the ground before he could finish his order. I should have just given him some of mine. There’s no way I can finish these. And I haven’t even tried the french fries yet.
Ooh, look! French fries!
Ew, look. French fries.
“Mutant Loaded Fries,” to be exact. For some reason, the fries didn’t make the final cut of the X Menu commercial, so here’s how they look on the glamour shot on the wall of this White Castle:
Here’s how White Castle describes them:
Crinkle cut fries topped with onion chips, cheese sauce, barbeque sauce and sprinkled with bacon crumbles.
And here they are:
Okay, first things first: “Mutant Loaded Fries” is a bad name for a food item. It sounds like these fries are loaded with mutants. Cannibalism is not okay, White Castle. I do not want to eat mutants.
Second of all: I’m not sure what I have in front of me lines up with the description. I don’t see any of the onion chips like the ones on my X-TREEEEME Ghost Pepper Cheese Sliders. Ditto any BBQ sauce. Instead, there seems to be two different kinds of cheese sauce, or maybe one cheese sauce and one chipotle sauce? They’ve all congealed together into an unappetizing glop. You’d have to have the mental powers of Professor X to figure out what’s going on in these fries.
Sorry, I had a little trouble focusing my eyes for a second. Okay, I’m back!
After a strong start, things have taken a turn for the worse. I’ve got a lot of sliders left, and I am really struggling to eat more. Unlike Wolverine, I don’t have a healing factor that repairs every bit of damage I do to my body. This is my darkest hour; like the moment in X-Men: The Last Stand where Magneto rips up the Golden Gate Bridge and uses it to bring his troops to Alcatraz. Will I rally?
I did not rally. White Castle’s slogan is “What you crave.” I know what I crave right now: The sweet release of death.
I am throwing in the towel a little less than half of the way through the Crave Case. I had seven Ghost Pepper Cheese Sliders, which ain’t bad, but I only had 3 Apocalyptic Waffle Sliders and 3 X-TREEEEEEEME Ghost Pepper Cheese Sliders. Plus I ate a handful of those fries covered in bits of dead mutants.
This may be for the best. Using the nutritional information available on the White Castle menu, it appears that this X Case (and cannibalistic cheese fries) contained 10,110 calories. That’s about five times what the FDA recommends an adult eat on a daily basis. Even falling well short of that goal I still had about 3,000 calories. I knew it was time to stop when I began seeing visions of ancient history, like Jesus and the Mona Lisa. Then I realized that wasn’t a vision, I was just watching the opening credits of X-Men: Apocalypse for the 35th time. Still, I didn’t want to explode, so I quit while my colon was still in one piece. Do not, as they say, try this at home.
As usual, the highlight of this generally unpleasant experience was reading all of your tweets about my stupidity. Here are a few of my favorites:
Here’s my Facebook Live post-mortem of the event.
To paraphrase Oscar Isaac in X-Men: Apocalypse when he touches that television screen, what have we LLLEEEEEEEEEEEEAAARRRNNNNNED here today? Well, we learned that it’s apparently never too late to release a tie-in menu attached to a movie. (X-Men: Apocalypse came out in May, but the X Menu launched earlier this month in support of its home video release.) We learned that Jennifer Lawrence must have a pretty good agent, because she doesn’t appear on any of the branded X-Men signs or my Crave Case along with the rest of the Apocalypse cast. We learned that there is nothing more X-TREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEME than pieces of onion rings on a burger.
We also learned that the race to innovate fast food is a lot like the race to innovate blockbusters: You take something we’re all very familiar with and try to render it new again. You add a couple of new villains or introduce an exotic cheese. But making a variation of an old thing doesn’t make it original; it makes it derivative. No amount of women in ninja bathing suits or chipotle mayo can’t mask the desperation.
That doesn’t mean studios or chain restaurants won’t stop trying in the hopes of pleasing their customers with novel twists on well-known formulas and recipes. For now, though, the battle between good and evil is over. But the battle between my digestive system and ghost peppers has just begun.