My travels led me to the local Sheetz, where I'd be able to keep eating the best gas station sandwiches around.
To keep tradition alive, I picked the two most outrageous "Burgerz" on the menu: El Gringo and Twisted Swiss.
The ingredient list is promising:
Twisted Swiss is the burger with topped with swiss cheese, cole slaw, pickles, bacon, and whatever "Boom Boom Sauce" is on a pretzel bun. El Gringo is the burger topped with pepper jack cheese, chili, Doritos, and BBQ sauce on a regular old bun.
I unwrapped them both and stood back to admire the majesty before me.
They're not pretty, but they do look a lot better out of the wrapper than many fast food burgers I've eaten.
I expected this sandwich to be an awful mess. It just seemed like a bunch of stuff thrown together. I prepared myself for the worst and dived in.
First impression: it's shockingly... good. The flavors are in balance. It's a little salty, a little sweet, some sourness, just a touch of umami. The coleslaw is everywhere, though. It's a mess. This is one of those sandwiches that you need to take a shower after eating.
The burger patty is weird. It reminds me of the ones from the high school cafeteria; kind of thin, not much flavor, and the texture is like they've been sitting in a tray of warm water for an hour. It's safe to say that the light from a grill has never shined on this burger. I'm assuming they're made in a microwave, so I appreciate that it doesn't have that chewy, reheated-in-the-microwave texture, but still... it's far from the pinnacle of culinary might.
Regardless, it's a weirdly good combination of flavors. It's better than anything I've had at McDonald's.
This sandwich has to be designed by the kid in 4th grade that dips his french fries in chocolate milk. If the first time this sandwich was served there was a volcano and earthquake because its presence angered the Gods, I wouldn't be surprised. I was intimidated, but I picked it up, closed my eyes, and took a bite.
It's not good. This is not something I want to eat. There's no flavor balance. It's just salt. Salt and Doritos. It turns out that the Primanti's approach to sandwiches and fries doesn't work with burgers and Doritos. It's like somebody emptied their lunch into a bowl, mashed it all together, and put it back in a sandwich. The texture of the burger is so close to the bun that it's just like eating a Dorito sandwich. With barbecue sauce.
There's chili in there but I don't know why. You could never tell, there's no trace of it in the flavor. The chili represents the lies we tell ourselves that we never believe, but for some reason keep repeating. This burger is nihilism in sandwich form. It values no relationships, it can only destroy.
I threw the second half away. Nobody should ever be subjected to this.
I went back to the weird coleslaw pretzel burger. By this point it had cooled down, and the loss of heat was not kind to this one. It's not nearly as good lukewarm as it was at first. Still, a bad Twisted Swiss is better than the best El Gringo.
I'm not happy I did this.